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.



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.


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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East Bay ABA logo karen mattrinn MBrionezLogo_1115

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!

Get to know our volunteer: Jacob Green

jacobJacob Green has been involved with All in Need since the very beginning. With AiN, he hopes to help make the lives of families who have children with special needs a bit easier. With his experience so far, he has really seen how what AiN is doing is really making a difference in the lives of these children and their families.

His favorite thing about AiN is watching the kids dance and participate during music videos and game time. Volunteering with special needs children has changed his perspective on working with special needs children dramatically.

In his free time, he likes to go mountain biking.

Parent Interview with Rachel Shirley

bridgeWhy are you thankful for All in Need? 

“I am thankful for All in Need because of the break I get during the couple of hours and the time I get to spend with my husband.” – Rachel Shirley

Did you have plans tonight?

“Me and my husband went out to dinner and went on a nice walk.” – Rachel Shirley

How long have you been a part of All in Need?

“This is my second month being a part of All in Need and I love everything about the program.” – Rachel Shirley


Interviewed and written by: Fatima Ali

Photo by Jacob Green

What My Marriage Ended Up Training Me For

April 10th happened to be our 16 year wedding anniversary and we were celebrating at Magic Mountain with our kids. It wasn’t an ideal anniversary plan,us but what could we do when Spring Break fall on the same week as the wedding anniversary? We figured after we got home we would celebrate in our normal fashion of dinner and maybe ask a friend to keep the boys for a night. That wasn’t nature’s plan, our youngest son who has Aspergers, ended up getting sick on that trip and ran a fever of 104.7 off and on for a week. He was later diagnosed with a sinus infection. You guessed it, because of this we weren’t able to celebrate our anniversary that week. Finally two and half weeks later we did have a small anniversary celebration for ourselves.

Celebrating our anniversary is actually very important to me.  It isn’t just about us making it 16 years. But it’s also about celebrating life and our kids’ life. March 26, 1999, two weeks before my husband and I were married he was in a head on collision and his car started on fire. Three people worked together to pull Jacob out of the car. Darryl who used six to seven fire extinguishers to keep the flames down while Leslie, who was side swiped by the same man that hit Jacob, and the third man (who never shared his name) pulled Jacob from the burning car.

The wreck, is what taught me to be able to deal with our youngest son and all the therapies and doctors’ appointments he’s had over the years. Think about wreckit, for the first year and a half I was married, my husband and I spent so much time with doctors and therapists.  Because of those hours and hours of appointments I learned how to ask clarifying questions. I learned medical lingo. I also came to realize the doctors and therapists didn’t have all the answers, and the answers they gave didn’t mean it was true for my husband’s life. For example, my husband having a head injury, I was told if he hadn’t improved within a year he would always have the same problems. Yet, five years after the accident I would say he was very close to the man I chose to marry.

Years after his wreck, we have a child who seems to visit doctors weekly and was diagnosed with pediatric Bipolar and later it was changed to Aspergers. I believe, the hours spent in the doctor’s office with my husband prepared me in dealing with our son. It gave me the knowledge of being able to communicate my concerns and what type of questions to ask. It also helped knowing the doctors don’t have all the answers, so we felt like we could be part of our son’s medical planning too.

16 years of having an amazing partner, husband, best friend, father. I cannot express how blessed I am. I just remind myself when my husband becomes a little annoying, that all of us go through tough times! All of us struggle in life, but it helps having someone there who helps carry those burdens and there isn’t another person in this world that can put up with me the way Jacob does.


AiN’s Second Annual Breakfast with Santa

IMG_2903All in Need, Family Support (AiN) offered their second Breakfast with Santa, Saturday December 6th at Oak Park Christian Center. Where Jennifer Palmer (Palmer) from American Automobile Association Club Partners (AAA) decorated the windows with a winter theme and Thing 1 and Thing 2 peeking through. A backdrop of many of the Dr. Seuss characters sitting around the breakfast table was a team effort that gave the children a chance to visit a Seussical world. They even painted Thing 1 and Thing 2 life size to stand next to Santa while pictures were taken!

This event, presented by AAA, gave children with special needs a chance to eat breakfast with Santa (including gluten free options!) in a fun and animated environment. Each child received three well known books donated by AAA. They also received a stocking with a coloring book (also donated by AAA), chocolate coins, and candy canes. These special gifts were also made possible by our other sponsors Vi Ibarra at Mary Kay and Emily Wallin Photography. Emily also donated her time and talent to make sure each family member receives a digital photo of their child with Santa. The UPS Store on Crescent also donated a banner. Because of AiN’s wonderful sponsors parents were able to receive one and a half hours of respite during this delightful event!

Having 18 children, Santa, and Mrs. Claus to feed there was a lot of food and food preparation required. Trader Joe’s, Sam’s Club, Costco, Sprouts, and Safeway (Both on Contra Costa and on Patterson) donated gift cards to make sure the Claus family had plenty to eat after there long trip. Jennifer Tipton, Ally, Vi Ibarra, Jacob Green, Karolyn Green, and Audra McDonald made sure food was prepared and warmed for this special occasion.

An anonymous donor, generously donated money for scholarships, making it possible for five children to attend this once in a life time event and it was their gift that lit up the parent’s life with a break and the child’s life with Santa’s magic.

As much as the event couldn’t have happened without our sponsors. We cannot forget to thank all our volunteers whoIMG_2956 made it possible. Ariana and her high school club came in the night before and helped setup. They did a wonderful job! A special thank you to Ariana who put up with my unreasonable corrections of the Christmas tree. We had Girl Scout troops # 3096 and #30262 helping us out at this event. The girls were simply amazing! Vi, there isn’t enough positive things that can be said about this lady she is an amazing asset to the special needs community, to AiN, and even to my own personal life. Ariana and Sofia also came from their school club; Ariana has been an AiN volunteer for a year. She has a desire to work in special education, specifically speech. She will be a true advocate for the children we serve! Monica an AiN volunteer who can always counted on. Austin though he is my son and I could simply brag about what an amazing child I have raised I won’t. I will just say thank you for blessing the child at AiN with your presences and your patients. Jacob Green, as you guessed the man that holds me up! He is always there to volunteer, encourage the children and myself. The kids love him and AiN is lucky to have a man who is so supportive to the cause! Al & Karolyn Green these folks drove from Oregon to help with this special event! All that can be said about them is, isn’t Autumn Green lucky to have in-laws that believe in the cause and her! Lastly, this event couldn’t happen without the board members. Audra McDonald, Chair. Audra is always there to make sure the big events go without a hiccup. She has plenty of experience working at We Care. Angie Barber, the secretary who started out as an AiN volunteer and has moved into a board position. AiN is lucky to have her!

Likewise, Sherly Morles also started out as volunteer and moved into a board position, treasure. Jenny Vargo, background is special education teaching. Jenny has been part of the Green Family’s life since their youngest son was 5 years old when she was his Kindergarten and then first grade teacher. They cannot thank you Jenny and her husband enough to continue to be part of their lives in this way! Emily Wallin, as you know was there taking pictures but also is an AiN board member. It is her dedication to students as a teacher that made Autumn ask if she would be interested in being on the board. It is with great gratitude that we thank all the volunteers that made this event special! Thank you!

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!

Preparing for the Easter Bunny 2014

Preparing for the Easter Egg Hunt that AiN is putting on for children with special needs has been so much fun. Togos-Medallion
We have had a lot of support within the community. ToGos has sponsored 15 baskets for children with special needs. They also added coupon’s for a free meal with a purchase of an adult meal. What a great place to eat after the Easter Egg Hunt.

David Levien from Prudential sponsored 10 baskets for children with special needs, and added information to the basket on how he can serve you and your family!

Tanner and Reichhold Orthodontics helped purchase candy for 500+ eggs!
TRC Energy Services employees came together and donated over $175 to help out with the event!
We also had eggs donated from community members: Anne, Cathy, Marilyn and Sherly!
We are not even close to being done yet! These locations have agreed to support an Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt!
Slow Hand BBQ
Round Table
Sunshine Café
Music Encounter
It is with the support of these amazing businesses that AiN is able to offer your child this opportunity! I cannot wait to see the fun we have at the egg hunt!

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?


It is just an EEG, so why the Tears

20130919_084123The night before the EEG was such a long night. We were given directions that our son could only sleep three to four hours before showing up for the test the next morning. Those doctors have no idea what they are asking of us keeping up most the night. Yaakov, our eleven year old son, is in bed at eight and fast asleep not much after and wakes up at 6:30 with me just saying it is time to get up.

We kept him up at until 2 am. I say we because I was awake for most the time except for when my husband turned off the TV in our room and I took a 15 minute nap. We got up at 6 the morning of the test and allowed him to play video games so he wouldn’t fall back to sleep.

I had explained to Yaakov what the EEG does and they were going to take some pictures and see if he was going to have seizures. I told him he had a similar test when he was nine months old called an EKG and it wasn’t bad at all.

Checking in at the appointment I verified that there wasn’t any flashing lights or anything to do with noises, because I wanted to give him a heads up. The kid suffers from sensory intergradation and then migraines, so flashing lights will just put a damper on the whole test. They told me no. They were wrong. L

We get back there and Yaakov was thrilled to see a big black chair that he could relax on after having such a long night. The technician started measuring his head and marking him with a green marker to know where to place the wires. After the measurements were done she placed 22 wires on his headed. I couldn’t help, but smile because when I told him what they were going to do he said, “I will look like a robot.” The technician moves over to the computer and my husband moves to sit next to Yaakov offering to hold his hand. He refuses and as he opens his eyes I can see tears filling up his eyes and my heart starts to break. The strobe light starts and the tears start to fall down his sweet little face.

1235493_10200708426134894_1238768911_nMy heart is being torn; this test is nothing compared to the others he has had why is he crying? Two tears run down my face, I knew they had escaped because I could see the torture look written all over his face. The next two that fell I was trying to fight it, because I am supposed to be strong for him. Yet tear three and four only fell because I cannot help but wonder how much he has suffered over his short little life, and tear five, six, and seven came because I couldn’t control them any longer but finally pulling it together. I sang our go to song off key, Jesus Loves Me.  Making me flash back to the adventure in the hospital when his older brother was kind enough to share a bottle of Tylenol with him and at the emergency room they had to give him chalk or the first IV he had at nine months started this, because me telling him I loved him never seemed like enough. Even when I whisper in his ear, “I love you to the moon and back.” They don’t seem to calm him and I watch feeling helpless and that I am failing as his mother.  The feelings aren’t of self-pity but fear that he doesn’t know I would do anything to take him away from all the doctor’s appointments and stresses of school if I could. It is allowing him to see me as a human, as a mother, and showing him I don’t have all the answers but the faith that will carry us through.

As we leave he asked about the strobe light, “why did they do that?”

I said, “they were trying to stress your brain out to see if you would have seizure.”

“why would they do that?”

“Because the doctors need to know if that is what is going on with you. If it is see if they can help you in anyway.”

I guess I didn

I am grateful that my sons have a father who is there through medical issues and IEP not just for them, but for me too. I cannot imagine going through this being the strong one that my child depends on and not having someone to lean on myself. I am truly grateful for a father’s love.
’t explain what the EEG was for when I explained what they will do when they run the test.

Now the waiting game to find out does he have seizures?  It has been a long couple of weeks waiting for the test, but now that it is over I can breathe again.


Note: The articles is not be the belief of AiN Board Members or AiN, but only the writers.