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 Not a Depressed Mom Though the Anxiety May Just Eat Me Alive

 

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Just recently, I read an old Facebook post from 2010 where I said “I have been looking for hours, where did I put my of How to Parent Special Needs Kid’s Handbook?”  Within the comments I wrote “I set Yaakov off today, so bad that he wanted to kill himself. Yelling at a car that went by to run him over.”  It is hard to believe that five years ago this was our daily life. I felt like I was walking on egg shells, so as not to set my child off. Today our lives are easier, to say I don’t set him off now would be lie, but I guess I can go with the flow better than I use to, or maybe now I don’t know if he is going off because of his special needs or if it is because he is a 13 year old boy.

When he was littler and seeing a psychologist regularly the doctor would often ask me how I was holding up. He would remind me a lot of parents in my shoes would be on antidepressants and it was okay if I was depressed. It was odd back then that I didn’t feel depressed, determined would be the word I would have used. I wasn’t going to live through hours of therapies with my son, advocating for my child just to be a parent who had a child with special needs, but wanted to be a parent that made a difference for my own child and other families. So, depressed wasn’t an issue.

Yet, looking back I can now see things that I have done because I had no control of our situation. Like my house was always clean. I worked out when Yaakov was at school for several hours. All of these things are normal to a degree, but I took it little further.  My house was always clean, I mean I woke up and cleaned it, and kids went to school and I mopped and vacuumed. Kids came home I mopped and vacuumed as soon as their homework was done. I would walk my oldest to school, run home to the gym, and spend an hour and half at the gym and run home to shower. Getting done in time to walk to school to pick him up and bring him home.  Things changed when I started working at an elementary school four years ago. My house is very rarely clean and though I run and ride bikes I don’t put 6 plus miles on daily. I look back and I see what it really was I wasn’t depressed, but the only place in my life I had control was cleaning and working out. Because everything else in my life seemed to be about raising a child with special needs.

As I said, it is different now, my house isn’t clean all the time like I wish it was. I don’t workout all the time. I only run 25 miles a week and try to get in 50 miles on the bike. I have a life outside of my family which consist of work, All in Need, chamber events, and so on. But, over the years the control has changed into anxiety, massive anxiety.  I love a clean house and there is nothing like running for fun or playing in the mud but it is a healthy love not an obsession.

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I cannot handle being around people or should I say adults. I do everything I can to avoid having to be in social situations. I can typically pull myself together if it is a one on one {1:1) situation and if I can make it into something about All in Need with people I are already know, then I can typically do it.  But put me in a room of people I don’t know, and the fear of them talking to me and me falling apart is frightening. If you put me in a room of mixed people I know and don’t know it is almost worse. What if they don’t think I have my life together. What if they know that I doubt myself as a parent of a child with special needs? What if I am not classy enough for this situation because I have a child with special needs? Hell! I don’t even know if I will use the right fork during dinner.

I know some of my social issues stems back to me coming from a small town, my family didn’t have parties and I don’t remember anything formal like a gala in the small town of Oakridge,OR that I grew up in. But, it is more than that because as my youngest got worse I dreaded having people come over for dinner or for get togethers.  It became a joke, that my son got his social issues from his mother.
Just recently I was asked to go to the We Care for Children Services gala by one of their board members and I jumped at it because more than anything I wanted to support her and show how much her little boy meant to me. Then of course the anxiety stepped in. What if I don’t use the right fork. My mom jokingly told me that I had seen “Pretty Woman” with Julia Roberts and had learned everything that I would need to know. I didn’t think I would make it through. prety woman

Meeting up before the gala I was lucky enough that the people there didn’t even bat an eye that I was shaking so bad and fighting back tears. As, we got to the gala, I recognized a lot of the faces and many of those faces knew I was pushing my boundaries further than I have ever done before.  With the support of many wonderful ladies I didn’t just make it through, but actually enjoyed myself.  I did have a laugh, because when I seemed to have issues was during transition time which seemed all to familiar. Just like when my own son seems to struggle during transition times as well.12191407_10153724168892162_841754733445004776_nI even went out after the gala for a little bit!  A special thank you to those ladies who were patient with me. I would have never made it through the night without your support. You too Vi and Audra!

 

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Crowdrise Campaign Results Keep Rolling In

condeAll in Need, Family Support (AiN) brought you two stories this last month for our first ever fundraising campaign. Special Needs Means Special Parents where Doug and Kellie Conde shared their story of raising a son with Autism and how it affects their every day life. How their communication has become a list of To Do’s, but not a chance to share their days with one another. In their story they are able to find some relief, and focus on their marriage once a month through AiN’s Revive Program. Revive allows parents to drop off their children once a month for three hours. While the kids are in AiN’s care the kids are working on fine motor, gross motor, speech, and social activities. Everything therapist gave to Autumn Green, the founder of AiN, to work on with her son she took it and incorporated into the program. This first story pulled in $1,000 with Matt Rinn, a State Farm agent who made a large donation pushing AiN overall our goal.

AiN never expected that the first campaign would reach their goal, so they up it to $2,500 with the release of their second story. Greatsean joni Couples Make Great Teams, this story is shared by Sean Posadas and Joni Fortini about raising their daughter Zoe. Zoe has been coming to AiN’s events for years and Sean even mentions that they feel like they are leaving Zoe with family. AiN makes sure Zoe has a 1:1 in place, so that the couple can enjoy their evening once a month. With this additional story AiN brought in another $750!

Here is the campaign breakdown as of November 11th. This campaign brought in $1750 and a donation also will be matched by a donor’s employer, pulling the total up to $2000 after fees AiN will bring just below $1,750!

Here at AiN, we would like to thank Doug, Kellie, Sean, and Joni for sharing their stories! Because of you our campaign was a huge success! Thank you all who support our campaign. We look forward to serving East Bay families another year!

 

Making it A Permanent Decision to Bring Awareness to Autism

First I want to make it clear this not a blog post on preaching. It isn’t how AiN staff or board members feel, but the writer’s own thoughts on why she had the tattoo designed the way she did.

Many years ago Austin, my oldest son, chose this verse as his life verse: Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13. Which is interesting because watching him develop into a young man I see how he loves others unconditionally.

I struggled choosing something to represent my youngest son, Yaakov. In truth I knew I could do Autism puzzle pieces, but didn’t want to portray that Autism was our life. It is part of our life it is what led me to find All in Need but it is just a piece of the puzzle. After a long decision process I decided to have Jeremiah 29:11 which says For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.. This verse would show no matter what piece of the puzzle we no there are plans that will be used for all.

I got the Brooks running shoe, because I love brooks and because I love to run and I love to run for a child who has Autism, Jahdiel. I asked the tattoo artist to some how add the puzzle pieces in the shoe because I run for a boy has Autism. I didn’t want the pieces too big but wanted it part of the art work of the shoe.

Lastly, I wanted to show the seasons which represented two things: running year round and that no matter time of year AiN would be here ready to serve others.

When I got there the puzzle pieces were way bigger than what I thought they would be, but it was everything I could imagine! Now when hitting the road for a run I share my dedication to Autism Awareness for my buddy, Jadhiel and share my love for families and their children that use All in Need!

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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

Animal Planet at Revive!

DSCN2851Autumn Green, founder of All in Need, hosted her June event on Saturday June 20. The theme of each event varies from month to month, and this month was “animals near and far”.

   On Saturday, there were about 10 children and 10 volunteers who came to support the event. Autumn hosts all the events herself by organizing different activities for the children.

   The activities began with animal racing between all of the kids. They did ape walks, frog jumps, bear crawls, and crab crawls.

    After each kid participated, they moved on to arts and crafts.

    The arts and crafts are divided up into two groups consisting of one for the smaller children and another for the youth. They do one activity which could either be painting or drawing. These crafts require the children to use basic skills such as cutting, gluing and painting.

    Following the arts and crafts, the kids did yoga, had story time and watched a series of educational videos. Then, they danced a long to some songs and ended the program with some more interactive games.

    All the children participated in these activities and had fun interacting with all of the other kids.

     The next event will be on July 18.

 

Written by: Fatma Ali

Photos by: Ally Tipton

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!

 

 

Mother’s Day Laugh (A Kid On the Spectrum With a Sense of Humor)

Mother’s Day 2015, Yaakov, my son with Aspergers, got me a Mother’s Day card that read on the front a good mom let you lick the mixer. When you open it up it says a great mom turns it off first. After reading the card I said, “I guess I’m a great mom after all!”

He replies, “except for the one time when you didn’t turn it off. That’s the reason I was in speech for years.”

I couldn’t help but laugh and reflect on the fact that at one point in his life he can’t even make a joke. Now he makes me laugh and smile everyday. Who said kids with autism do not have a sense of humor! I hope all you mommies had a wonderful Mother’s Day!

 

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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.

 

I Can Be A Leader!

Picture taken by  http://www.brittanyerinphotography.com/
Picture taken by Brittany Erin Photography visit her at
http://www.brittanyerinphotography.com/
I would like to join Leadership because I want to make a difference in other people’s life’s who have special needs. I have been there. I have persevered through my challenges in my life, and a good leader does not give up even when times get tough.

When I was in kindergarten I threw a chair at a teacher because it was very hard to keep up with the work. So they put me in to Special Ed. They moved me to Fair Oaks Elementary School and my new teacher was Mrs. Vargo. At first, I was mad because they made me move schools but, then I felt school was getting easier. When I was in third grade they moved me to Ayres and my friend moved to Aryes too. Placed in Special Education Classrooms I only had one friend. My teacher at Aryes was not the best fit for me, and she didn’t believe that though I was in Special Ed I was capable of learning and achieving the goals that were written for me. My biggest goal was going back into mainstream. My parents moved me to a different school again. This time, to Valhalla Elementary where I was placed into Special Ed but this time with an IEP team that believed that I was capable of mainstreaming, so for the first year Mrs. Young worked hard to get me ready and mainstreamed me a couple hours a week. During the summer before my fifth grade year, my mom told me that I was going to mainstream full time. My teacher for fifth grade was Mrs. Hewgley. That year I made 6 friends! I did really well that year in school. I reached my goal of making it into mainstream. Even though some of the students who are in special ed may not have the same goal doesn’t mean they don’t need support from peers.

I started soccer when I was in first grade. I didn’t want to do it but I faced my fears and joined the team. The year before, my parents had me try basketball and it was loud and there were people coming towards me, and though I did what was asked during basketball practice I stayed off to the side and did not want to be part of the team. Therefore, my parents put me in V.I.P. Soccer which is for children who have special needs. The coaches and parents said I was really good. The first game the parents asked my mom if I’d done soccer before. I was so happy that I could actually do a sport. In second grade I joined AYSO in the mainstream team and played a year down. I was one of the main people scoring on my team. In fourth grade, I was asked to play the Elite Team in my age group. I didn’t play that well that season because the kids were rude and they didn’t pass. In fifth grade I joined Heritage Soccer Club, Heritage is a competitive soccer club. The Team name was Rampage and, I was number was 10. My nickname was Rusty because of my hair, and I played hard. My coach had away to encourage me and not allow me to give up on myself. The first half of the season I would only talk to him. He told me that was fine as long as I was willing to listen and talk to him, I did not have to talk to anyone else. By the end of the season, I was a team member who talked to everyone. One day, my coach went to my mom and said I got in trouble for talking to another player and had to run laps. They gave each other fives like they were happy about that. This year in soccer my AYSO team was USA made it in to northern California championships. In the championships we took fourth. Even though some thought I had limitations I persevered and told myself I have no limitations and I can play my best and my best is better then others. Not everyone has the same gifts or strengths, as a leader I want to recognize their strengths.

Two weeks ago I ran a 5k I thought I was not going to be able to complete this but, I don’t like giving up. I completed the race and did it 28:34. I didn’t even train for the 5k. I liked it so much I want to run a 10k. So I am now training for a 10k. Now I am learning to keep my pace, and my mom and I will be running the 10K Mother’s Day Run together! Today on the training I ran two miles in 24 minutes. As a leader it is important to me to assist others in trying something new even though it could be scary.

At times I feel like I do not have many strengths, but I know I believe in myself and know that I can overcome challenges. To be a leader you must not give up, and to be a great leader you need to believe in others and stickup for those who are still learning to believe in themselves. As a person, you may run into challenges but, you can work pass them. Being on the leadership team I believe I can help those who are struggling to work past their challenges and help them feel more confident in themselves and our school Community that they are part of.

This was written by Yaakov who is applying to be on leadership for his middle school for next year. He gave permission to allow me to share it. I have taken out what school he will be attending, but other then that these are his words.

Make sure you wish him luck!