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

The Giving Tree-Volunteer’s Rock Party

As much as I love my volunteers. Giving parties aren’t my thing. So, it was a very quiet night. However, I tried to do a few things to show my volunteers how much I appreciate them.

The theme was The Giving Tree. Each one of my youth volunteers received the book. I quickly recapped the book, and told the volunteers that I know often times as volunteers  we feel like give and give until we feel we don’t have anything left to give. But, often times families just need us to allow them to sit down and let them regroup.  It seems like so little on our parts but it is huge for the families.

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Jennifer Tipton catered the meal for us. We did a mash potato bar using martini glasses, and she did pudding in shot glass.

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The best part of the evening for me is that our volunteers got together and did a dance for one of our kiddos who is no longer able to join us at AiN.


Thank you to all my volunteers. Thank  you for supporting AiN families, and thank you for making my dreams come true.

 

Revive, AiN’s Respite Care January 2016

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January Revive was themed Fun with Food. Autumn, executive director hid a toy felt sandwich, and had the kids do animal crawls while gave them clues (you’re hot or you’re cold) on how close they were to the hidden sandwich.  During crafts the kids made pizza with corn tortillas, red sauce, and cheese.

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Of course we didn’t catch any photos of the productive ball throwing and chasing after balls, but Autumn and several of the kids did get several selfies in.  While Ariana enjoyed a relaxing evening with her charge.12573044_1304396809577821_5936514250492590701_nCome volunteer at an AiN Revive. Where the volunteers are allowed to have as much fun as the kids are having.

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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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Strength of the Special Needs Parents-Angel Fund Awarded for 2015

angelfund2Working with families at All In Need, Family Support (AiN) has taught me that parents and caregivers are strong. Each child that comes into AiN worms their way into all the volunteers’ hearts, and as volunteers we hear the parents’ stories of their child’s success and struggles.

As the Executive Director of AiN, I often times cry after hanging up with a parent hearing how their child is taking a turn for the worse or their child’s behavior is out of control. I hear desperation in the parent’s voice as they are struggling to support their child’s needs. Having a child on the spectrum, often times, I can understand their feelings and can tell parents it will get better. But, sometimes I cannot relate to what the parents are saying. All I can do is listen and try to hold it together while parents give me the latest updates on their children. Then I hang up and cry. I cannot even imagine your child having additional medical issues on top of the daily fight of Autism. I cannot imagine the fight of a wheelchair, because your child is too tired to stay on her feet. I cannot imagine hearing the words “your child will not make it to adulthood”.  So, this parent tries to relate to what parents must be feeling, but instead I crawl under the covers and cry for the families who are hurting. Yet, I see these parents go on and advocate for their children. Knowing they are exhausted, but amazingly strong.  Yet, as a spectator in their lives, I get to learn what love is and what dedication and strength is. It is humbling that these families allow us at AiN to be part of such an intimate detail in their lives.

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At AiN, we know we only can help carry their burdens, and we do that through offering respite care to the families. Their child has an opportunity to socialize with others and play games. We also offer three special events a year. This gives them the opportunity to participate in mainstream events and parents to network with one another.

Lastly, we offer the Angel Fund. We choose one family who has attend at least one Revive event in the last year.  The goal of this fund is to help the family who is in need of additional support due to unforeseen circumstance. We are proud that we were able to provide $250 to the Cook Family to help cover medical expense for their son who suffered a stroke early in 2015.

 

Photos taken by Karen De Jager: Spectrum Photography

 

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!

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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Feeding His Autism-I Mean His Obsession

As I shared in an earlier post, we took a trip to the East Coast so that I could run a half marathon for my buddy who has Autism. To hear about that part of the trip visit I run 4 Jahdiel. But, what I didn’t mention was we decided it was a once in a life time chance to  for our youngest to experience Boston. So I apologize up front for all the photos in this post, but to see your son enjoy a vacation in itself is huge, but giving him this experience was awesome!

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Yaakov, our youngest who is on the Autism spectrum, loves American History! He loves the American Revelation and loves the Boston Tea Party. We took him to the Boston Tea Museum where he reenacted the night the colonist threw over the tea. He saw the only remaining tea chest. Of course, then sampled the tea in the tea room.  It was a dream come true for him and to see his actual smile was worth the long drive from New York City to Boston!

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Next we walked the Freedom Trail, and visited the Burying Grounds where Samuel Adams and Paul Revere, and many other famous historical men were laid to rest. He also learned that the people who died in the Boston Massacre was buried near Samuel Adams.  He was pleased to stand where the Boston Massacre took place and hike up the Bunker Hill, and of course he finally got to visit the Old North Tower Church.

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Boston was everything that he thought it would be, and more. He told me it was hard to say good-bye but he has decided to become a historian and focus on the American Revolution and to do that he will move back to Boston to go to college and get a job there. Sure, he is in 8th grade and things may change but it was so good to be able to be part of sharing his love for history.sam

As Yaakov, showed his passion for history. I was able to see Austin, my oldest son use his phone to take pictures and I was shocked to see some of the photos he came up by using his camera on his phone. If you are wondering why there isn’t any photos of Austin. That is because he is 15 years old and too cool for pictures.

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Before we left Boston, my husband and I dragged the boys to Cheers!

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We also thought we would take him to Philadelphia, but it wasn’t where he wanted to be. We enjoyed being together as a family but the four of us agreed that Boston was way better!

Here are my boys in Philly!

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Meeting My Buddy-I Run 4 Autism I Run 4 Jadhiel

How many of you have heard of I run 4? The I run 4 webpage says:

We all have friends who say, “run some for me,” because they don’t WANT to run. But what about those who can’t run for physical or developmental reasons?  Having been inspired by a close friend battling bilateral hip dysplasia, Founder Tim Boyle discovered a whole new inspiration to run.

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I have always been a runner. Through middle school and high school I ran Cross Country and Long Distance Track. After graduating I would run off and on for exerciser, but when life got busy I would quickly give it up. Once again I started running it was a needed relief for dealing with my son and his IEP and teachers.  It wasn’t too long after I started running I heard about I run4. I quickly signed up to be a runner for someone who has special needs. I figured it would give me an excuse to continue taking care of myself and in return I could share my adventures and love for running with my buddy. I was paired with Jahdiel, a boy who has Autism, in December 2013 just a few days before Christmas. I cannot express how excited I was to meet this guy and his mother through Facebook; me living in California and them in New Jersey. Before I was paired with Jahdiel I had ran a 5K color run and though it was a fun run, I had got bit by the race bug. So, in March 2014 wearing a Cat in the Hat Shirt (Jahdiel’s passion at the time.) I did my first 10K, and I struggled through it. Determined to not stop running for Jahdiel; I finished but thought I was going to die! Yet, now I was determined to run a half marathon for him and ran my first half marathon in June of 2014 where I was hoping to not get anything under 2 hours and 15 minutes for my time, and I finished2:05 and my first half for my buddy! Now I was hooked and in 2014 I ran nine half marathons, a 6 hour endurance run, and a Tri Sprint!

In 2015, I had two goals running a full marathon and running a half in New Jersey where my buddy could greet me at the finish line. In March I ran my first full marathon. It wasn’t as successful as I had hoped. I had injured myself two weeks before the race. I was able to get out and run it, but I didn’t do as well as I would have liked too.

Our familyjahdiel planned a trip to the East Coast for October 2015. I had a race planned and finally would be able to meet my buddy in person! Two weeks before we left I fell off my bike while cross training and broke my elbow! Though I told all the doctors I was going and I was running. I was told I had to take it easy, because if I fell I would be down for good.

October 3rd, I ran a half in Brooklyn, New York where Jahdiel, his mother, and his little sister were waiting for me at the finish line. I cannot tell you the emotion that ran through me breaking my PR by 3 minutes and 6 seconds and having Jahdiel there.

It was a dream come true and now going into November I cannot wait to run some Turkey Trots for Jahdiel! #irun4jahdiel #irun4autism #heismysuperhero

Get your child a runner today, signup at whoirun4.com

Get to know our volunteer: Yasmin Shamloo

yasminYasmin Shamloo has been volunteering with All in Need for a little over a year now and her position is a group leader for the older participants.

“I love working with children with special needs because I feel as though I am not only giving back to my community, but also rewarding myself by feeling a sense of accomplishment and gratitude for all the amazing people I have gotten to know and all the beautiful things I have been granted in life,” Shamloo said.

Shamloo would like to enter a career involving special needs children. She has gained valuable experience and knowledge through AiN that she believes will aid her all throughout life.

Her favorite thing about volunteering with AiN is all the amazing people she has had the privilege of meeting. Volunteering with AiN has given her a deeper understanding of what it is truly like to make a meaningful connection with a child with special needs.

Her favorite activity is the music time when the kids bring in instruments and sing. She loves playing soccer in her free time and having Saturday night movie nights with her mom! She is also probably the “best karaoke singer you will ever meet”.