Therapy Thursday: Stuck on a Ride We Can Never Get Off- Tricare’s ABA Policy in the News Again


We, as parents of children with special needs, boarded this roller coaster of emotion sometime back, assumed at one point we could get off. Ok, maybe I am the only parent who thought this and now reality has adjusted my once jaded view, but I am getting tired of these hills and valleys we ride. And I am not talking in reference to my children. I am talking about what we all must do to provide them with the treatments they might need.

So prepare yourself this coming July 25th when Tricare once again throws another 360 loop onto our rails.

In an article published June 18, “Tricare is consolidating its disparate autism therapy programs into one Autism Care Demonstration Project for children of active-duty, retired and reserve component personnel starting July 25.”

So there you have it folks. Make sure that seat belt are tightened and all arms and legs remain inside the cart at all times. Although it appears for now the ride won’t get much more bumpier; it’s never smooth sailing.

Mommy Mondays: Count Your Blessings; no ER Trip This Time


Well about 4 years ago we packed up our home and moved to Hawaii. We were idealistic and thought this would be an adventure of a lifetime. Id never thought I’d move away from my home Midwestern state and here I was, with kids in tow, hopping a plane to live an ocean away.

So four years later and hear we are again. Watching all our belongings being wrapped like mundane brown Christmas presents and loaded into a wood crate to shipped to our new home.

When the movers first arrived today, three hour late, I stood in the garage like a stalker and watched them pack it up. I would like to say I got teary eyed, but that would be a lie. I was sad to see it all go but more numb. Should I be happy? Sad? Excited? Nervous? I really didn’t know. Hubs seemed to be overly excited. Trying to help where he could and pacing back and forth like an expectant parent. It was then I reflected back to our first and disasterous pcs.

It went something like this:

We lived in southern Alabama. A rural town on the outskirts of another semi-rural town. The movers drive up from Florida straight into a storm; both literally and figuratively. Within an hour of them arriving I notice Diva was acting lethargic. Not only lethargic but lifeless. After taking a temperature, I realized something was seriously wrong. The themointer read 105.

Through wind, hail, thunder and lighting; I drove her to the nearest ER. After some tests, it was reviled she had some sort of infection; which to this day is still unknown. Diva and I spent the next six hours in the ER during a hail and tornado producing storm while Hubs was left in charge of the movers and Bug. Upon our release I frantically called Hubs. Letting him know we were on our way. With no cell service in the ER I thought he would have been panic stricken. However, he seemed oddly calm.

When I arrived home I found out why. Because he was trying to do his best to watch and help the movers, he had left Bug unattended in front of the tv. Only problem was he wasn’t in front of the tv. Bug had wandered into another room and found a open bottle of weed killer; which he drank!

So when I arrived poison control was on the phone with Hubs and the packers were wiping up Bug and the floor.

Needless to say Bug was fine. But not our car or the suitcases we had packed in a car topper on the roof of our car. Seems our car topper wasn’t as water proof as advertised. Instead, the storm had drenched our suitcases causing the black dye in them to leak onto our clothes dying and staining them permanently.

So here I sit 8 hours after our packets started this morning feeling blessed nothing dramatic or drastic has happened. Any why? Because I pawned my kids off on other people for the day. Lesson learned.

At least no one ended up in the ER

Tip{py} Tuesday: Tips to Help Teach Your ASD How to Wash Themselves


Sniff. My children are growing up. All those cute little quirks they used to have aren’t so cute anymore. I’ll admit some are annoying, aggravating and time consuming. At the end of the day all I want to do is have some clean and happy kids. However, it took awhile for those two little unassuming words to be used in the same sentence. I’m talking years people! How did we get there? By force.

It all started two years ago when we had to move to a new house on post. As luck would have it we got a HAH (handicap accessible house). It was a one story with lowered light switched, toilets and a zero entry shower. Up until this point our children had only taken baths. Yes, we could have continue to give them baths in the master bathroom, but to me that wasn’t an option; it was an opportunity. At some point in their lives they would eventually have to take showers. They would also have to take them unassisted. Issue was they hated showers; loathed them. They would all scream in unison when we would try. Baths were just easier on the ears.

But I was determined. I wanted those few precious minutes of my life back eventually. So we threw them in cold turkey.

Tip:: At first, pick one night a week to do a shower; the rest baths. Gradually add more nights as shower nights and lower the number of bath nights.

We basically lied. Yup. We are great parents. We told them they had no option. We did make it fun though. Here is how we did it:

We treated it like a play time at first. We had the kids shower in their swimsuits!

They thought it was a so cool we let them shower in them. It honestly took a little persuasion getting Bug into the shower. Why? Because you aren’t suppose to wear clothes in the shower. Duh! Sometimes this kid….

Next we used bath toys. We went to the store and had them each pick out a few different ones. We then got some shave cream and made colored shaving cream.

We also used music. Our children love music and to dance. So we had a little dance party in our swimming suits.

I realize some peoples showers may not be as oversized as ours. At that point in time we were lucky to be able to shower all three at once. Now, due to age, we shower Bug alone. However, you can easily use all these tips for showering one at a time.

So the actual washing part- this is an example of how my kids washed themselves: 0.1 milliseconds of actual scrubbing time.

Of course that will not work when they are 13 and are a walking deodorant stick. So to keep my children from public embarrassment, I need to teach them how to actually clean themselves.

Basically, it is the same set up at washing their hands. I said they lick music, so…. They now sing the washing your hands song to clean their bodies. Of course we adapted it a little.

“Wash, wash, wash you arms
Get them nice and clean.
First the bottoms, then the tops,
And everywhere in between.”

Yea, we are cheesy. But it works. So we sing that about three times. More when dirtier. Then interchange the words for each appendage.

Lastly, you want to look at your shower space and see how it is set up. If you are sharing a shower with you entire family, you will want to move dangerous items out of their reach. I suggest buying a few of the bathroom caddys that suction cup to the wall. Then you can place your razors and other dangerous objects high out of their reach. I also suggest to but additional ones for each child. Place them lower within their reach. Add in such items as their toothbrush, toothpaste, wash cloth and other items.

We are not yet to independent shower taking, but at least we have set up our kids to succeed.

Wordy Wednesday: Social Stories


New experiences are scary. I get so nervous and frightened when I have to drive somewhere I have never been and approach someone I have never talked to. Yes, me who loves to talk, gets nauseatingly nervous to talk to new people. Knowing how I feel, I can’t begin to imagine and feel the anxiety and fear that builds up in my own children when they are experiencing something new. This similar thing happens a lot to our children. Luckily, there is a answer and a solution to help make new experiences a positive one. All we have to do is take away to fear of the unknown.

In comes the social story. It is just as it sounds; a story. What is great and impressive of this little aid is it can become completely customizable and a fun DIY project.

So what exactly is it? It is much along the lines of the Bearinstein Bears books. Each story can have your child as the character or another person. You write the story explaining all the steps (in simple detail) of all the events that will happen before, during and after the new experience.

There a multiple ways of creating one. Here are just a few:

1. Snapfish, Blurb, or any photo publishing site that allows book printing.

2. Purchase a cheap small 4×6 photo book and you but the author, artist and publisher.

3. Find clip art or other images online, copy and paste them into a word processing program and add text. Next print and I suggest additionally to laminate them. You can bind them with punching a hike in the corner and clamping with a binder ring.

4. Use a app or computer program, such as a Windows template for creating social stories.

Our ABA introduced them to use years ago to help with experiences from toilet training, air plane rides, new siblings and more. Since then, I have been using the above methods to create my own.




Tricare/Therapy Thursdays: My Child is Diagnosed with ASD. Now What?


When Bug got diagnosed with PDD-NOS I was completely ignorant to the types of therapy that might help him. I of course had heard of ASD and all its components, but I really didn’t know what there was in types of assistance to help them. My misinformation and misunderstanding was there were none.

I pictured a family with an ASD child like this:

Screaming child…everywhere. Screaming in the house, at the park, in every public location he went to. All his screaming was unintelligible (no, I did not think they were all stupid) because I thought not many of they could actually talk. I thought they went through life in a normal school environment just with the understanding that the child has ASD and there is nothing you can do for them; because there is no cure right? Then I pictured the parents and them crying every night after the child goes to bed because they are beyond tired, worried and stress. They are smelly (the parents not the kids) because they are so busy giving 24 hour attention to the ASD child, they don’t have time to take a shower. So they also have stock in Old Spice and Dove deodorant and their stock portfolio looks amazing. The parents are also so skinny they look like Ethiopian children because their intake of calories isn’t enough compared to the use of calories in a day chasing around an ASD child who can’t speak but sure as heck can run. Lastly, are the siblings. They are druggies, or don’t even live at home because they have run away. If they do live at home, they are never given attention and often are at the receiving end of the abuse from the ASD child, who can’t talk, can run and is violent when he can’t express what he needs; which is all.the.time.

After we got home from the doctors I looked at us and our home. No telling when Bug actually got ASD, but we looked average. I was over-weight, personally well taken care of. Our daughter was happy and healthy as well. Bug could tell us what he needed to a point and our bank account did not reflect income from stocks, since we didn’t even have a portfolio. So I waited. I waited for that shoe to drop. I waited for him to stop talking, for him to start running and for us to wither away to nothingness. But we never did.

Instead, Bug was given an IEP and started at a special education preschool. He thrived. He was the only verbal child in his class and because of that he was a amazing model for his peers. The doctors soon wrote prescriptions for therapy and the influx of therapists started entering our homes and our daily lives. I quickly learned what they all did in terms of helping ASD children. However, it took me some time to get it all down.

When faced with a new diagnosis, it is always overwhelming, even the second time around. With two ASD children, I felt in control and prepared when handed her diagnosis. But I wasn’t. I was less prepared actually. I quickly feel back onto Bug’s therapists for advice and help. And soon I was maneuvering the road down ASD again like a pro. So I thought I’d share some of the foundations of therapy that are often prescribed with a ASD diagnosis. Remember every child is different. I have two ASD children and besides them both receiving ABA, they receive different services.

OT– Occupational Therapists (OT) Autism Speaks describes OT as “brings together cognitive, physical and motor skills. The aim of OT is to enable the individual to gain independence and participate more fully in life”.

PT– Psychical Therapists (PT) “focused on any problems with movement that cause functional limitations,” as stated by Autism Speaks.

Autism Speaks lists speech – encompasses a variety of techniques and addresses a range of challenges for children with autism.

ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis), to me, is the most important type of therapy a child with ASD can receive. Autism Speaks states that “Since the early 1960’s, applied behavior analysis, or ABA, has been used by hundreds of therapists to teach communication, play, social, academic, self-care, work and community living skills, and to reduce problem behaviors in learners with autism.”

All this information and more can be found by visiting Autism Speaks.