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Trunk or Treat 2017

Austin Green teaching kids about archery

38 children and their parents came and joined AiN for their 3rd Annual Trunk or Treat!  This was made possible by more than 40 volunteers coming together volunteering their time!  Children were able to Trick or Treat at 27 different trunks.  One trunk the kids were able to try to be Robin Hood. While another trunk they could visit Alice and Wonderland.  Other trunks setup a zoo or AiN (Animal in Need)  This year, AiN had a contest for the best trunk where the children could pick their favorite trunk. Kimberly Gillem won a $100

Best Trunk

gift card to Dead Fish donated by Bank of America Anti-Freud Department.

Many of the kids lined up and played JENGA with the College Park Interact Club while others played Connect Four and Corn Hole.  This year AiN added Carnival games. One carnival game was made by Nate Klug from recycled materials from his home. Jacob Green made a pig race from an old table. They also could catch rubber ducks, ring toss.  Several family stopped by the green screen for pictures.

Of course, we cannot forget that many of the kids and several of the adults took a moment and threw pies at the Executive Director, Autumn Green in one of their newest fundraisers!

AiN was able to offer this event because of our sponsors: AHA Movement and Land Home Financial Services, and from two grants: Pleasant Hill Community Center and SMPS Family!  Thank you to those who donated for our drawings!

Enjoy looking at some of this years fun!

 

Spread compassion for special needs children

The high school boys purposely kept the frisbee just out of the reach of a special needs student. Ariana knew she had to step in. Thankfully, her experience volunteering with All in Need came in handy. “I simply asked if I could play with him instead…it made me realize how much unfair and underserved treatment the special needs community receives.”

Ariana Whitmarsh had no experience working with individuals with special needs when she found All in Need. She had been introduced to the special needs community through a high school program and knew that was where she could make a difference. After two years of consistently volunteering with All in Need, Ariana currently volunteers at respite sessions when her schedule as a nanny, marketing coordinator and student at the University of the Pacific allows.

During the three hour respite, Ariana likes to spend one-on-one time with a special needs student, although she also helps out with arts and crafts and story time. She says “The best part of volunteering for AiN is to see the development of the children throughout the years.  You form relationships with the children and the families, and to see new accomplishments every month is very rewarding.”

We need your help! With your support, we can serve more children and attract more kind volunteers like Ariana. Your contribution is fully tax-deductible and several payment options are available. We appreciate all donations and recognize all our contributors.

Our success depends on the generosity of the community.Please help us work to be a resource for families who face extra challenges — after all, everyone deserves a break here and there!

 

 

Help Spread the Word!

Provide support for families of children with special needs

Zoe, a 14 year old girl with special needs had a tight bond with Tyra’s sister before she left for college. Now Tyra is excited to continue that volunteer relationship. There aren’t many non-profits that with multiple volunteers from one family, but All in Need is one of them.

Although they recently met, Tyra, a high school student, and Zoe already have a tight bond. During All in Need’s three hour respite session for families with special needs, they happily play with balloons or watch all the fun activities other children are participating in. This allows Zoe’s parents to go to dinner, spend time with siblings or just have time to themselves.

I was unaware that so few programs like AiN exist to support special needs families and I want to continue to work with this community and help in any way that I can.” she says. Most of all, Tyra’s looking forward to creating many happy moments with Zoe. “I am very thankful that Autumn has organized this amazing program and feel very lucky to be a part of it.”

We need your help! With your support, we can serve more children and attract more kind volunteers like Tyra.. Your contribution is fully tax-deductible and several payment options are available. We appreciate all donations and recognize all our contributors.

Our success depends on the generosity of the community. Please help us work to be a resource for families who face extra challenges — after all, everyone deserves a break here and there!

Don’t Say NEVER-Medication is now part of our lives

It was Yaakov’s freshman year he tried out for the high school soccer team and didn’t make it. We noticed some depression happening, and his anxiety was becoming evident in his daily life. Even teachers were complaining about his behavior.

We felt he needed to be involved with some sort of activity, and he didn’t like high school track. I had heard that a local competitive soccer club was still looking for players. He played for the team several years ago but we have removed him from the team when they were short players for a team. As we were driving to his tryouts he tells me he wanted to play for Heritage Soccer Club, so his skills would improve so he could make it onto his high school team.

When we got to the field he panicked! The panic was bad, worse than what I ever I had seen in the past.  In the past, we always had coach/teacher/friend  there that could step in and allow me to walk away. Taking me out of the equations was typically enough to jump start him. Yet, there wasn’t someone there that could offer him or me that support.  I’m was trying to get a run in around the track,  so he can do the tryouts and he’s yelling at me don’t make me do this mom don’t make me do this!  Yet, on the way there he had told me he wanted to play so he could get on his high school team.  And to be honest I yelled at him and used language towards him that I don’t do with my kids. I told them I was tired of his bull shit  and we are always putting so much extra time in with him and it obvious was a waste of my time when he wasn’t grateful for all we have done for him. Somehow or another I use the word hell in there. Another words I was not helping him be successful and I myself had a massive meltdown and this may have been the first one towards him ever. (I have meltdowns, but they are in the shower were no one can see me crying. So, he doesn’t know how much I struggle with dealing with certain situations with him.)

His dad and I been talking about doing something for his anxiety, but we had no idea what to do. The tools that been working for years were no longer working and the next step was medication.  After seeing him paralyzed with fear knowing how much he loves soccer I had to make a decision.

The coach later came over and told me that Yaakov has enough skills to play, but there is probably a better fit for him.  He told me to go ahead and take him to the following day practice with a team that was older, but a little less aggressive and see how he feels about it. The next day Yaakov was excited about being able to tryout and that the coaches saw that he could play will enough to be successful to tryout. But, that all changed when we got there and once again like the day before he started melting down. This time,  I left the field to go run I came back forty five minutes later and he had not moved, but this time there was no coach to help him get over his anxiety. I told him to come to the car told him I’m done trying to help support him and that  we are going home we will pack up his computer and he won’t be playing his video games and computers anymore. I know it’s harsh and I knew once again it was anxiety but I also knew he needed a big push to get him out on that field. He started crying he asked me to pray with him. I did, and then I sat in the car and cried as he went back out in the field.

After tryouts the coach came over with form and said he wanted Yaakov on the team. With the coach standing right there I felt it was important that Yaakov to say he wanted to play, so if another meltdown happen it was clear Yaakov want to play and I wasn’t making him. So I asked him, “do you want to play for Heritage?” He said, “yes.”

As we left the field,  I told Yaakov that we’ve been considering putting you on medication for his anxiety. I asked him,  “how do you feel about that?” He asked, “what does that mean and what will it do?” So I explained,  “when things are bad and we use our tools like prayer, like hugs, taking deep breaths, and everything that has worked in the past is no longer working you possibly need more. A couple of these tools maybe medication and even some therapy.  I also told him that fear,  being scared, and nervous is all natural.  As  a Christian, I believe it is a way for us to check in with God and ask for help. But, with that being said when your anxiety is so bad and you can’t function God has given us other tools and that is having good doctors who can work with your symptoms”.

As all of you guys know of for my past post this was very hard for me because I’ve been so against medication for my children. Yet him hitting his teenage years,  I’m realizing that he needs more tools than what I can give him,  and my own fears cannot control his life. So another words I had to do exactly what I’ve been telling him to to do trust God and move on and get him help.

We did put him on medication and he’s been on in about 3 months now and I can honestly say it made a huge difference in our lives. It wasn’t too long after we put him on medicine that we lost his dog. And though we thought he was going to have a huge meltdown and there was a big possibility that the police would have to be called he said what he had to say,  he cried and he is moving on. In June he had to have surgery;  don’t get me wrong he was nervous, but he went in there with quick prayer and faced what was coming and did a wonderful job. I guess what I’m trying to say is there is a time and a place for medication and I’ve always thought that for other families. But it was very hard to accept that same reality with my own son. Yaakov cannot tell any difference, but with less meltdowns and less anxiety attacks our house is a little bit calmer. Yaakov is a little more at peace.

Lastly, I want to make it clear this not a blog post on preaching, or trying to put my beliefs on others. It isn’t how AiN staff or board members feel, but the writer’s own thoughts.

AiN Recieves $450 from Pleasant Hill Rotary Club

AiN received a $450 grant from the Pleasant Hill Community Rotary Club for a pop-up tent for our Special Events! Thanks to Joyce Blom, who put the grant request together!

All in Need plans on serving 50 special needs children and their siblings at our Trunk or Treat in 2017 and 45 children at our Cookies with Santa event.

For these children, attending holiday or other community events is so challenging that they may choose not to participate at all. Some children with special needs are unable to wait in line, or lack the motor skills to coordinate picking out candy from a candy bowl. While others cannot tolerate wearing costumes or do not have the language skills to say “Trick or Treat” or “I want ____ for Christmas”. All in Need Trunk or Treat and Cookies with Santa allows children to be able to participate in the same type of popular community events as their typical peers, but in a safe and nurturing environment that supports their needs.

 

Thank you, Pleasant Hill Rotary!

 

Photo taken by Allen Vinson

Welcome Home Zeus!

It wasn’t even two days after we lost Sam, our beloved pet, and Yaakov came to us and said I cannot make it without a dog.  Our neighbor offered to allow Yaakov to have cuddle time with their small dog. I offered it to Yaakov and he said, “the dog is too small. I need a big one that is heavy to lay on me to get my input out. I want a German Shepherd.” I told him we would start looking.

I told him we would start looking knowing Yaakov had always used Sam to help deal with his Anxiety and deep pressure for his sensory needs.  We started the search with local German Shepherd resuces. Then we found out ARF (Animal Resuce Foundation) had a German Shephered. It was five years old. I was hoping for a two year old dog who would be able to be around for Yaakov. The dog wasn’t adopted out after a couple of days, so my husband asked me to take the boys to see it. We walked into ARF and the German Shephered was there, but he had a room mate with him who was also a German Shephered. I asked to meet both. The first one, who was the five year old, wanted nothing to do with the boys. Just the ball! So, I asked to meet the second one, whos name was Rojo and we were told he was two years old. Rojo, came out first licked Austin hand, then mine, then Yaakov’s, and finally sat down in front of us and leaned against us. The three of us looked at each and said he is it.

We were not fond of the name Rojo. So, I said to the boys sepereately, you and your brother both like Greek Mythology. Why don’t we give him a Greek god name? ” They both said, “Zeus!”

So, Almighty Zeus became our new family member.  It didn’t take long for Zeus to bond with Yaakov. However, he isn’t the cuddler that Yaakov needs. We are working on that!  Zeus seems to fit into our active home enjoying two long walks a day. Working on getting him to be able to run with me. Loves playing in the kids pool!

They aren’t best friends yet, but you can never replace your first pet. The relationship will continue to grow and Zeus will soon be an important part of Yaakov’s daily life. Though it was a little fast to replace our Sam, we are thrilled to welcome Zeus into our home!

 

 

No Medication For Our Son!

Our son’s original diagnoses was pediatric bipolar and because of the diagnoses and what seemed to be extreme self-hurting behaviors we had decided to put him on medication. Let me explain, when we put him on medication it was one of the hardest decisions of my life. I was always against medicating children. Yet, when your child is trying to jump out of moving cars, run into the street, and all he keeps saying is I want to die. Then you turn around and he is scrubbing a spot on the floor​ for an hour, I was at a loss what to do. We tried many different cocktails, but nothing seemed​ to work for him. During his Kindergarten year another diagnoses was added to his records along with Bipolar. He was also diagnosed with Aspergers.

March of his kindergarten year was a living hell. There was academic placement issues. We couldn’t get the cocktail figured out. The doctor had put him on Lithium and after a blood test had us increase the dose. The first night after raising the dosage he showed signs of lithium toxicity. We rushed him to the hospital. At that point, my husband and I made the decision to remove him from all medication. We were questioning the diagnoses of Bipolar by this point. After reading about Aspergers and hearing further information on Sensory Processing. We were pretty sure the behavior we were seeing: trying to jump out of moving cars, run in front of cars, and pushing me down stairs all had to do with overstimulation. With a new doctors help we tapered him off all medication understanding if he indeed did have bipolar we would have to be put him back on medication.

The first year, we spent time building trust with him. So, if he said he was done and ready to go. We left or removed him from the situation. It didn’t matter if we were visiting my friends and family, on a playdate, or even somewhere fun with his brother. If Jacob, my husband, was around one of us would take Yaakov and other would take Austin, his brother. This way Austin wasn’t always paying the price.

As time passed, we saw that he didn’t need medication for Bipolar but really was suffering from Anxiety. Yet, after the last experience with medication I didn’t want to go that route. We had a huge support system. Coaches, teachers, friends, and family would help us in dealing with his anxiety. So, we had been able to give him the tools to be successful!

As time passed, I was gratefully that we didn’t have to put him on medication. With that being said, it wasn’t that we didn’t have meltdowns we did! Medication just didn’t need to be a tool for the meltdowns. We talked through the anxiety and we pushed him to be successful even when he didn’t think he was going to be a success. Through this experience, I recognize there is a time for medication, but I also believe research is very important. The doctors hadn’t asked me the right questions. Before trying to jump out of the car, how long were you in the car? 6 hours. Before he bit you and didn’t let go what were you doing. We were driving for hours and hours. He was getting more upset and wanting to jump out of the car. If these questions were asked we would have saved ourselves and Yaakov a lot of heartache and fear.

Pleasant Hill Community Grant Recipient 2017

AiN received a $500 grant from the Pleasant Hill Community Foundation for our upcoming Trunk or Treat.

All in Need plans on serving 50 special needs children and their siblings at our Trunk or Treat in 2017. For these children, attending holiday or other community events is so challenging that they may choose not to participate at all. Some children with special needs are unable to wait in line, or lack the motor skills to coordinate picking out candy from a candy bowl. While others cannot tolerate wearing costumes or do not have the language skills to say “Trick or Treat”. All in Need Trunk or Treat allow children to be able to participate in the same type of popular community events as their typical peers, but in a safe and nurturing environment that supports their needs.

This year, we are adding carnival games to the nights events! Nate Klug, a young man who is 15 years old and lives with ADHD, who is talented leather maker, and is learning how to work with wood designed and made a fishbowl game for AiN!

The intended benefit is to expand All in Need’s current special event programs to serve more children and families in the local community. As an underserved population with limited community supports, children with special needs and their families will have greater opportunities to participate in the same types of events as their typically developing peers. Gaining the foundation in which they can move towards participating in the community based events which offer no support.

Thank you to the grant selection committee.

Saying Goodbye to His Best Friend and Companion

Saying good bye is hard for everyone. Watching Yaakov have to say good bye to his best friend and lifelong support was horrible to watch.

We adopted Sam from a rescue in Oregon when Yaakov was 3 years old. Sam was a hound Shepard mix. Was very protective of his family especially his “boy” Yaakov.

Moving to California we had to give him away, but after living down in East Bay we were able to find a place where we could get an animal again. Instead of rushing out and getting one. We asked if the people who had taken Sam would be willing to give him back to us. Thankfully they said yes and our family was reunited with our much loved pet.

It didn’t take long for Sam and Yaakov to become buddy buddy again. You would tell Sam to go lay down with his boy and he would go find Yaakov. If you said where is your kid he would go locate Austin. Jacob would hug me and Sam would go crazy barking.  He never took food off of a plate even if it was left in the middle of the living room on the floor. He was will trusted with human food, and even more so with Yaakov and Yaakov’s mood swings. He sensed when Yaakov was upset and he would go locate him and allow Yaakov to pull the 75lb dog on to him to help him ground himself. If Yaakov was just upset and asked Sam to get in bed with him the dog would lay down next to him until Yaakov’s mood would improve.

Then Friday early morning Sam woke up throwing up in the middle of the night.  He seemed happy enough as we cleaned the mess up. In the morning, I noticed that Sam had made it out to the living room but didn’t eat breakfast and didn’t want to go out. When I got home from dropping off the boys and by 9:30 am he barely was picking up his head. My husband came home and make him chicken and rice and was able to get water down him.

Saturday morning, Yaakov had a soccer game and I decided to stay home just to make sure Sam was okay. As the day progress he seemed like he was improving. Yet, my gut feeling was he will not make it truth the week.  By Saturday evening, he wasn’t going outside for enjoyment, but he was getting up and going outside to go the bathroom.

Sunday, Yaakov had another soccer game and Austin stayed home with Sam and gave him water every hour. When we came home Sam couldn’t stand anymore, so we knew it was time to take him in and say our goodbyes.

It was hard on all of us, but extremely hard on Yaakov. Losing his dog was causing massive anxiety and he used his dog to help control the anxiety.  After laying Sam down.  With tears running down Yaakov face he said to me, “they killed him”

But, he was my best friend……