Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Holidays!

I don't know about you, but the Holidays tend to get a little crazy around here. We get the benefit of hosting the festivities at our house, which is nice because it gives Calvin a home-court advantage (being at home helps him relax and participate better within the large group.)

The downside, though, is that we have to host the festivities at our house – cleaning, preparing, most of the cooking, and in general being on our "A game" for 3 different holiday events, 3 days in a row! Add in the fun of shopping and wrapping presents, and it's no surprise that life is going to get a little hectic between now and the new year.

I'm sure most of you can relate!

This will most likely be my last post for a couple of weeks – my goal is to both survive and enjoy the holidays, and it's going to require as much time & energy as I can give it! ;-)



I hope everyone out there has a wonderful holiday season, and we'll look forward to great things in 2008!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Spotting Red Flags at Soccer Practice

One of the unintended consequences of living with autism, and everything that goes along with it (therapies, diets, sensitivities, learning styles, communication, etc. etc. etc!), is that you get to be very proficient at spotting red flags in other children. This has become even more true as we've been able to watch our NT child grow. I'm not sure if this is necessarily a good thing; it is just something that comes with the territory.



Last weekend we were watching Jonas' soccer practice (a loose term to be sure, since coaching a group of 3-4 year-olds can be like herding cats!) At first glance it looked like complete chaos; there were never more than 2 or 3 kids actually paying attention at any one time. But somehow it was soaking in – once the coach got a drill/game underway, the kids inevitably fell into line and participated (to varying degrees of skill level). All except one.

One boy seemed to struggle with tasks that weren't necessarily easy, but which the other seven all managed to complete independently. These included running a "slalom course" through a series of cones and then kicking a goal (Dad had to help him navigate the course), shouting "GOOOOOAAAAALLL" after scoring (Dad reminded him of what to say), making a mess by spreading cones out all over the place (he placed his in a nice, neat straight line), and in general his running and kicking motions were less fluid than everyone else's.

I'm not saying this child has anything wrong, or is even on the ASD spectrum at all. But I know from first-hand experience how easy it is for parents to ignore (or not even see) these warning signs, and to make excuses for their little angel. But that's the wrong thing to do.

Early intervention is one of the key factors in determining a child's ability to reach his/her full potential, and the earlier the better. Not every kid is destined to be the next Pele, but if you notice that you're little guy is the only one who consistently needs parental 'guidance', putting your head in the sand is the worst thing you could do; it's time to start asking some very difficult questions.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Hope Wine does things right

Hope Wine donates 50% of their profits to charity. No gimmicks, no caps, no limitations. They sell a bottle of wine, they make a donation to charity. They are currently offering 3 different types of wines, with the profits from each type of wine being tied to a different charity:



Cabernet Sauvignon profits support Autism related research and charities

Merlot profits support AIDS related research and charities

Chardonnay profits support Breast Cancer related research and charities

If you're the person in charge of buying the wine for this year's holiday festivities, you might want to consider supporting a company who supports these causes.

Read more about Hope Wine in an article by AZCentral.com or by visiting their website at http://www.hopewine.com/.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Special Night for Special Kids

Last night we joined hundreds of other families at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale for a great evening to celebrate the holidays. This has become one of our favorite nights of the year, and one that we look forward to every holiday season. The park does an awesome job of bringing the season to life, and on this one night they invite the entire special needs community to be their guests, with free train & carousel rides, cookies & hot cocoa, popular TV characters like Elmo and Cookie Monster, and even a chance to meet Santa!

Even though we try to lead a robust life, and to participate in many different activities, this one's always special. We enjoy bumping into old friends, and meeting new ones. And it's always nice when you can let your guard down a little bit, because everyone there shares a common bond – there's a lot of support, encouragement, and understanding going around.



ps – I've never embedded a slideshow into a blog post before.. How's this look?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Arizona autism insurance bill is on the Hill

Have you heard about the Autism Insurance Bill being proposed in the Arizona State Legislature? If not, then listen up – this has the potential to be an extremely important piece of legislation.. Maybe even life-changing for many families.

I can speak from experience on this one. When I left my job at a Fortune 500 company to go into business for myself, health insurance was one of the most challenging pieces to put into place. We wanted to include Calvin on our family insurance plan, and we were willing to pay for his premium. "Heck, we thought, why should the State be required to pay for his doctor's visits?"

Well, we eventually found one company who would insure Calvin on our plan, but with an exclusion rider so that any care which could conceivably be connected to autism would NOT be covered. We were out of options, so we accepted. However, when the dust settled and we actually had a policy in place, they had excluded Calvin entirely! So the State of Arizona has been providing his health insurance coverage ever since – not by choice, but by necessity.

This law will not only require insurance companies to provide coverage for "non-autism" treatments, it will also give some help for the very real, very necessary, and sometimes very expensive treatments and therapies we've come to rely on to improve the quality of Calvin's (and our family's) life.

Please visit http://www.azautisminsurance.org to learn more about it, or to find the contact information for your district's senator and representatives.