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

 

Yak and mom tea

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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Get to know our volunteer: Sydney Polich

Sydney Polich has been a member of All in Need for three months now as a group leader for the younger kids. She joined AiN with the hope of helping an organization whose mission she believed in as well as to improve her leadership skills.

sydney89Her favorite thing about AiN is that it is designed to help families as a whole as opposed to individual children. AiN has something to offer every family who has a child with special needs, whether it be support, a relaxation break, or just a place to hang out.

“AiN has embedded in me the truth that each child, with or without special needs, has a unique set of talents and an even more distinct personality”, Polich said.  “A disability is not a label, but only a part of what makes an individual that individual.”

Her favorite part of the events is the Wii Dance portion of the evening where all the children have fun and interact with each other.

For fun, she loves to run and is a member of her school’s cross-country and track team. She also enjoys other sports and outdoor activities.

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

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!

 

 

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!

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!

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!