AiN’s 3rd Annual Egg Hunt for Children with Special Needs

May 19th brought the celebration of spring and an early Easter Egg Hunt for children with special needs and their families.  AiN hosting their 3rd annual egg hunt was Saturday, where AiN volunteers and Pleasant Hill Chamber Members packed 1,200 plastic eggs for 31 kids to find.  Each child received an AiN Easter Basket (this year an AiN bag) which included bubbles, slinkies, sensory toys, sunglasses and so much more.

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Because we had the budget AiN reached out to two other organizations that serve children with special needs. One of the organizations used the egg hunt as an Applied Behavior Analysis social group outing.  While the other organization used it as a family day out; offering networking between parents while children joined in the egg hunt.

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#AiN #AllinNeed #AiNEggHunt #SomeBunnyLovesYou

Cookies with Santa 2015 an Event for Children with Special Needs

Santa had contacted AiN’s Executive Director, Autumn Green explaining that he couldn’t make it to Breakfast with Santa this year. Autumn was disappointed she had already planned on making Green and Ham for the Dr. Seuss Christmas theme.  She understood the schedule conflict, so she agreed to have Santa join the kids on Saturday, December 12, 2015 for Cookies with Santa.

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What a hit! 30 plus kids registered one of the two 45 minute sessions.  Kids rotated through four stations: Cookie station, art station, sensory station and Santa station. While they waited to see Santa they were able to look at books.logan2

With donations from Maggie Wolf each child received a stocking stuff full of goodies, and of course Santa had presents for each child. (2 books) which was possible by the sponsors of this event. Santa, Mrs Claus and Karen De Jager at Spectrum Photography worked extremely hard to make sure every child had a positive interaction with Santas Claus.  Santa was even willing to pop out from behind a chair so that the family had one photo with Santa and their daughter.

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Thank you to all our sponsors: Matt Rinn at State Farm, Debbie Smith at AHA Movement, Margret Miner at VinoCruising, Joe Stokely at Stokely Properties, and Michael Bronies at J. Rockcliff Realtors. We cannot forget all the other 1volunteers that put hours into preparing for this event. This event wouldn’t have been successful without you. A special thank you to Jen Tipton, who made dozens and dozens of cookies for this event.

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I am a Mother! I am a Mother of a Child who has Special Needs & it is Time to Give Thanks!

I am thankful! I am a mother!  Us mothers have those moments that we look at our child with pride and are grateful that they were put in our lives.  As a mother of a neurotypical developing child, I want to give myself a high five or a pat on the back because I rock! I look at myself in the mirror and think no one can do it better than me! I am raising this boy, who is now 15 years old to be the man he was designed to be! A sophomore in high school he is already planning on moving to Oregon, so he can study to become on Occupational Therapist. He has a love for children and kids love him. His desire is to work with kids that have special needs. Of course, I know there are many wonderful mom’s out there and I would have not gotten this far if it wasn’t for my son’s father. Lets face it, it took both of us to bestow our values onto our son, and with guidance from us and our son’s own spiritual beliefs he is where he is today. I am not saying he will not have hard times, and I am not saying these next two years as he becomes more independent I will not go crazy with his rolling of his eyes, or snottiness. But, hey I cannot help but be grateful for the young man he is turning out to be. How can I not be thankful for this gift from God! As a mother we love unconditionally and only our own children can teach us this love! I am thankful! ( The oldest makes faces when it is time to take pictures because he is too cool to hang out with mom.) austin and me

 

I am thankful! I am a mother! I am a mother of child with special needs. Our life hasn’t always been easy, but I would be crazy not to be thankful for this gift from God. This gift has taught me to love unconditionally; this love has been thrown in my face by my son. Fear has tested the love, love has brought away from the shame that at times would eat me alive while being in public with a child who was out of control, frustration that my love wouldn’t be enough, at times feeling helpless knowing my love wasn’t sparing my child from a life his brother was living.  Yet, I am thankful my love accepted the adventures we faced raising a son with special needs. Thankful for the struggles we faced as a family; it was those struggles that allowed me to share our story with others and to be able to offer respite at All in Need. This same little boy set the stage for his older brother to have a desire to serve others with special needs. I am thankful!

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I am thankful I am a mother of two amazing boys who bring me joy that I could never have imagined. I am thankful that my path was paved by a very special child who has taught our family to love unconditionally other families who have similar issues. As Madam Blueberry said, “A grateful heart is a happy heart!”

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Happy Thanksgiving from the Green Family!

Meet Our Volunteer-Deb Deur

11147082_1123227761028061_4454931570207503356_n1. How long have you been a part of AiN and what is your position? From the beginning, I’m a nurse.
2. What do you hope to accomplish with AiN? Bless the families and children we serve and care for.
3. What experiences have you gained so far with AiN? The special needs childern are SPECIAL!
4. What is your favorite thing about AiN? Knowing that the parents trust us with their children.
5. How has volunteering with AiN changed your perspective on volunteering with special needs children? From the beginning, I made it no secret that I do NOT like children but working with these special children, I found myself falling in love with each and everyone of them.
6. What do you look forward to when attending the events? Seeing how excited the children are to arrive at AiN.
7. What is your favorite activity? That’s hard to answer, I usually keep myself available to help with those doing 1:1’s, so I don’t participate in many activities, it is fun to watch from a distance, those doing the activities how excited the children get.
8. What is the hardest part of attending the events? Having the rare child that cries when the parents leave them but it’s good to see how when the parents return, the child doesn’t want to leave or are so excited to tell their Mom’s & Dad’s what they had done while the parents were gone.
9. What do you like to do for fun? Camp
10. What is something interesting or fun about yourself? love to tent camp in Yosemite

Science Fun at Respite

May 16th’s Revive theme was Science.  We came up with a fun ways to incorporate science into our obstacle course! We decided to have the kids walk on eggs to see if they break them. We even had a little girl try to run over an egg with her wheel chair to see if the egg would hold up. Check out the fun!

 

 

Girl Scouts Working on Their Silver Award While Supporting Children with Special Needs

11149546_936231416407314_4458186565040245904_nTo be honest Autumn Green, Executive Director, was looking forward to the 8:45 pm on April 18th. After having her youngest son sick for a week, running a fever of 104.7 throughout the week, than participating in the Mito Walk, then heading directly to Concord Sportsmen’s Club for their fundraiser that benefited All in Need, Family Support (AiN), she still had to get through Revive!

However, this Revive was special event where the Girl Scout Troop 31090 came out to teach the kids about aromatherapy. This group of girls have been working on their silver project award, and decided to help AiN out! The group of girls did an amazing job, and I was impressed how the leaders allowed the girls to take control of the project and work with some very little guidance.  We at  AiN were thrilled to have all the girls there, but one of those girls holds a special spot in our hearts. We had our very own AiN Youth member there leading along with her troop.

Troop 31090 did a fabulous job and it was wonderful to have typical developing peers working along side peers with special needs.  We are truly grateful that we could partner together and support learning between AiN kiddos and the Girl Scouts!11118858_936231369740652_3946584694929388655_n

Disneyland and Our Child with Special Needs

Disneyland Family Trip

I have heard nothing, but complaining from the parents in the special needs community about Disneyland’s recent policy change for families that bring their child with special needs. First, I should say my son has Aspergers and is high functioning and we took a family trip to Disneyland the first week of June 2014.

yaakov carryHe wanted to try Disneyland without using the disability pass, and we supported his desire to be like his brotherand cousins. Though, I should have taken him in to get it first thing and if he didn’t want to use it would have been available if needed. Waiting in the line to go into Disneyland, he turns white and says I am getting a headache which is his first sign of being overstimulated. He still refused to go get the pass, and then he and cousin took off on their own I received a call saying he has a migraine and he was in line for the Cars ride. I happened further up in line on for same ride, and asked if he wanted me to come back and get him. He said no. As we loaded onto the ride we saw him and his coloring was bad. When he got off I offered to go get the pass again. It wasn’t until he was upset by a lady who started yelling at my sister, my mom, and me that he gave in and got the pass. The lady had him so scared, because of her behavior that I couldn’t get him calmed down and I finally told him lets go get the pass. (Thank God, he didn’t hear the lady threatening us; otherwise, I would have never gotten him to ride on another ride.)

At this point, I still had no idea how the pass worked. I just knew we were on the first day, he had rode on two rides and he already had three different issues. I went to the customer service area with my son and told them what was going on. The lady was amazing! She asked me if I knew how the pass worked and then explained it.

1. You signup for a ride with a long wait for example Splash Mountain had a 90 minute wait. They write down 80 minutes instead of 90.
2. You DO NOT have to wait in line those 80 minutes.
3. They recommend eating, shopping, or go on the rides that have ten minute waits or less.
4. They asked how many were in our party. In our case there was 10. They asked to see all 10 people to verify.

They took his picture and put it on the front of the pass with how many were in the party. They also told us they had customer kiosk booths throughout the park where we could add the next ride on to the pass AFTER we finished the ride. We would find a kiosk and I would tell them the ride he wanted to go on next. Then they sent us on our way.
The only thing I found annoying about the whole things is the kiosks were not always easy to access. They were small and far apart so they were not easy to find; however, the customer services was friendly and very helpful.

Day 1 had a few more meltdowns. I met my cousin who lives in Southern California for drinks and left the boys with my mom and sister. The older son’s phone died, so the younger one had a meltdown because his brother was lost. (He was in the meeting place waiting patiently with his cousin for an adult to come find them.) Then after his brother was found he had another meltdown because his brother was lost because he didn’t get the message on the phone in time. (Can you tell I waited too long to get the pass?)

Day 2 was better and Bubbie and Papa (grandma & grandpa) rented him a scooter to ride around on. Now it may sound stupid, but let’s think about this. I walked 20+ miles on the first day which means my boy wasn’t too far behind me in distance walked. His feet were hurting bad and he was already overstimulated. This took one thing out of the equation which really did help. Day 2, myself, hubby and our youngest did our own thing on his schedule. He chose to sign up for a ride and set and wait a lot on day 2.

Men in the familyDay 3 we hung out with family that day, but Bubbie took Yaakov on some of the more quiet rides like canoeing and that sort of thing. But, of course we had to have one last melt down. Family pictures and the photographer had him tears. It never fails; pictures with the whole family and he ends up in tears.

We as a group of ten only used the pass once with all of us there. The rest of the time, family members did their own thing. I felt Disneyland allowed our family to enjoy Disneyland as a whole group. Supported my son and his disabilities, but mostly I felt it was fair that my son had to wait like every other kid that goes to Disneyland, but I appreciated that we didn’t have to wait in line. We have worked hard teaching our son that even though he has a disability it doesn’t mean things in life will be handed to him. I think the staff at Disneyland did a very good job at trying to balance the experience for families with children with special needs.

Thank you, Papa and Bubbie for the fun and Disneyland thank you for making this vacation possible!

Children with Special Need’s Some Bunny Loves You Egg Hunt

Some Bunny Loves You - 1It has always been the founder’s dream to hold an Easter Egg Hunt for children with special needs. Of course this dream came from watching her youngest son, many years ago, try to pick up Easter eggs and having issues with his gross motor skills he would drop the plastic eggs and spill them out of the basket around him and other children would grab them all. Of course, he was younger so he didn’t grasp what was happening but being a mommy it just broke her heart to watch.

Togos-MedallionFor several years it has been a goal to offer this event to children with special needs, and finally this April AiN offered Some Bunny Loves You Egg hunt. It was successful due to ToGo’s and Dave at Prudential’s donations which allowed each child to bring home their own Easter basket! Dr. Tanner and Dr. Reichhold Orthdonics also donated to make sure we could fill over 500 eggs! Colorful plastic eggs came from Ann at Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce, Sherly, Cathy, and we even had 250 of them donated by a supporter from New Jersey! But, that isn’t even close to being all that helped out in this event. We had local boy scouts come in and volunteer, AiN volunteers, and two board members came in and helped out, Erica who did registration and Emily who took the pictures. We had five local businesses that partnered with AiN to giving children the opportunity to participate in an Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt: Slow Hand BBQ, Safeway, Ann’s Sunshine Café, Encounter Music, and Round Table Pizza. Of course, we cannot forget the Easter Bunny that was there, thank you Austin Green for taking on this role, and the bunny costume was made possible by a supporter in Oregon!PRU_TAG_LOCKUP_SM_042511

We had about 8 kids all younger children or children who needed more support to start the morning off with the field egg hunt where the Easter Bunny gave the go to hunt eggs. Many of the children filled up their basket and dumped it out on the side lines and went back for another basket full! The event was calm and children took their time hunting their eggs and with 8 kids having the opportunity to grab more than 20 eggs each they were sure to get their sugar rush and miniature toys.

egg hunt rath 8The photographer, Emily, took pictures of the event but also took pictures of the children with the Easter Bunny. Also, children could get their face painted by Ka’ae and have balloon animals made for them by Yaakov after the field event.

slow handsunshineAt 9:45 the older kids headed down Oak Park Blvd with volunteers. Where their first safewaystop was Slow Hand BBQ. First the children had to outline their hands with chalk then go ask Maureen for their egg and the next clue. The next clue sent them to Safeway where the kids had to purchase something under $2 and thenrequest their eggs and get next clue. Next they went to Ann’s Sunshine Café where the children had to wait patiently for Easter eggs and the next clue which sent them to Music Encounter. The children had to perform their best air guitar while the owner played his guitar for them. He made sure each child got an egg and then gave the next clue. The last stop was Round Table Pizza where the children had to make their own pizza with play-doh and have the staff judge which one of these play-doh creations they would serve. The kids then headed back up to the field where they started where 100 eggs waited in the field to be grabbed up and put in their Easter baskets.music encounterround table

As the children left the event they grabbed the baskets that ToGo’s and Dave at Prudential made possible.
It was a calm successful event that couldn’t have been done without so many supportive community members, and Autumn, the founder, was in heaven being able to offer this event to the community!

Closing my eyes so you can fly!

I was out with some friends recently, and they always seem to believe that I have the answers or that I just don’t want to hold on as tight to my son. No, it isn’t that. It is more I want to allow myself to let go and allow my son to spread his wings. One said you are way better at letting go then I am. I don’t believe I am good at letting go, but there are a few things I do know.

1. I know that I want him to be as successful as possible. If I hold on and try to protect him and not allow him to learn from his own mistakes won’t I hinder him?
2. I know I cannot protect my typical developing son, so why do I believe I can protect my son with special needs anymore then the other.
3. I am scared to let go! But, to see him fly is one of the best blessings I could ever ask for.
4. Some times to let go I have to close my eyes and not watch or walk away, because to see the failure or the fall will break my heart.

There are days I feel like a mean parent and I feel my expectations for my son might be overboard, but when he reaches those expectations then what am I left to do, but to raise them again.

Yaakov was placed in Special Day Class-Learning Handicapped in Kindergarten and at one time I believe it was the teachers who set those goals for my son. I felt like I failed as a mother because he was a special ed student and my struggles in school must have ruined my kid. Those fears were real, and though I questioned that he would ever read. I trusted his teachers and took him to his therapies and saw him blossoming. Then it was time to raise the bar, move him into more mainstream. Keep him in mainstream sports and so on. Sure, I saw he was different and if people asked I explained I didn’t try to hide who he was. Was I scared people wouldn’t accept him, MOST DIFFERENTLY. But, I knew they would be missing out on all the things he has to offer to the world. Soon, academically he moved to mainstream and was later placed in to the Magnetic Program in middle school where we have seen major growth.

Last week, he was struggling with the science teacher still not at the point where he can confront the teacher he didn’t want my help instead he went to the behaviorist who works in the magnetic program and asked for their help. If I hadn’t stepped back as his mother or pushed him to more independent he would have never hit this expedition of ours and when he hits the work and college world in seven short years then it just maybe too late.

“Mom, I want to go down that hill” Watching my youngest son at the top of a muddy hill on his new mountain bike we had just spent 10 minutes climbing that hill. His older brother is telling me to tell him no and the fear of watching him fall and getting hurt is just about to move me to say no you cannot go down. When his father yells from the bottom of the hill, “this isn’t a good hill for a new rider to go down.” The older one still telling me say no. I look at my baby and say you are old enough to make the choice you know you can fall and get hurt. Do you want to go down?” Yes! I take a deep breath and say then go.” As I watch him head down the hill I close my eyes for a second or two because I know I will see him fall and I open them and watch him descend down the hill stopping next to his dad. Next his brother and I go down and as I hit the bottom. My baby or should I say my boy, says loudly I did it!

In my heart I hear mom, you let go and I flew! It is okay, Mom sometimes I have to fall to fly just let me go!fall

Taking Care of Yourself While Taking Care of Others

I Run Because I CanIf I haven’t asked before, let me ask now. How do you take care of yourself? At AiN we want to make sure you are doing things that are taking care of yourself. I know for myself being able to leave my son, who has special needs with anyone wasn’t the easiest thing. Yet, I tried to make sure I made it to the gym knowing if there was a problem them would call me. They called me more than once and they quickly learned that Yaakov didn’t like to be touched.

I have wrote before, that I know one thing I have to do is exercise to make it through my daily up and downs with having a child with special needs, working, and now let’s adding schooling on to it.  Even though I know that working out keeps me balanced yet it is what goes first. (Then my clean house) I was cross country runner and long distance runner in school and even when I start exercising at the gym it doesn’t take me long to start running. It is imbedded into who I am. So, imagine my delight to find out about a nonprofit called Irun4. Irun4 partners runners with a person with special needs. You log miles for your partner and send encouragement throughout the week on Facebook. This being my opportunity to make sure I am taking care of myself, yet in the meantime I am going to make sure I get my workouts in because I am doing it for someone else not just myself anymore.

A night run for my buddy!
A night run for my buddy!

It took months before I was placed with my buddy, but it was well worth my wait. I was thrilled to find out that my buddy was nine years old and like my own son on the Autism spectrum. The best part of the adventure is our whole family runs 4 Jahdiel! My oldest tumbles for him and target practice with him in mind. My husband dedicates his miles he walks to and from work and then when he runs he makes sure I have the miles to add to my buddy’s mom’s Facebook page. As I learn more about my east coast buddy. I decided how I will dedicate my runs and workout for him. For example he loves Dr. Seuss so I am thinking I may have to get Cat and the Hat’s hat so I can where it on my 10K!

Even more as a parent of a child with special needs there is time I feel overwhelmed and my spirit is just crushed. Wishing that someone was there to help me encourage my son throughout the week I wondered why I hadn’t requested a buddy for Yaakov. I felt guilty considering it because Yaakov does fairly well in soccer and baseball and it very competitive. Yet, with some support from the Facebook group, I applied for a runner for Yaakov. Though my wait for a buddy was months; Yaakov, was placed with buddy within four hours.

Yaakov’s buddy is on the East Coast and her name is Stacy and like Jahdiel Yaakov received an additional buddy, whose name is Aaron I wasn’t sure how my eleven year old would feel about having a buddy, but during Christmas vacation he wanted to make cookies for Stacy and Aaron.  He messaged her on Facebook (through my page) just the other day complaining that his school was making him dance and he couldn’t remember the dances. So, she said her and her friend would make a video and post it on my Facebook page so he could practice.

Why carry all the burden when their others who want to encourage you! Sign up your child to get a running buddy. While you’re at it why don’t you take care of yourself and get a workout in and let benefit another person out there. See how you can support someone who uses  Irun4 or how they can support your family?