How to help your child stay safe at home when he is a runner

My son was diagnosed with autistic disorder at the age of two. He displayed a slew of behaviors that a lot of kids with autism have such as insistence on sameness, meltdowns, biting on things that he shouldn’t be biting on, and bolting. Before Jaiden was born I had only my son Julian and I would go to a lot of different places and some of the places you guys are familiar with, such as the grocery store, the mall, the post office and even church without any worries of my child fleeing. Jaiden was an active little child right from the start and when he started walking he had this so many interesting things. He took much interest with spinning objects such as a cartwheel spinners on lawns, doors that would open and shut, lights that would flicker on and off, ceiling fans and shopping carts.

I never thought that I would ever have to hold onto my child for dear life when with a group of friends at church, at the zoo or at a childs birthday party. I found myself super stressed out whenever going to these places as Jaiden would just bolt out of nowhere. My husband and I would find out the hard way that Jaiden needed constant supervision after he would flee from our presence out into a neighbors yard because he liked the door or the porch lights. This did happen on a handful of occasions thankfully. Back then when he was young I didn’t know that this was called “elopement”. I would then frantically secure Jaiden with various items after figuring he could at any time just leave us. These items are more for the 4 and under group of kids and these items to note are:

  1. I used a monkey back pack leash Animal 2 in 1 Harness http://amzn.to/2q8PUPX he was so in love with it I couldn’t stand It cause I used it for safety he was just using it for tug of war!
  2. I used a chair with a strap and tray, looks like a big high chair what’s called Rifton chair http://www.abledata.com/product/rifton-toddler-chair-models-e760-e770-e780 we used for meals and story time because he could not sit still I thank God for Andrea who was Jaidens occupational therapist at the time as she was the one who recommended we get this for Jaiden.
  3. We loved to take the family on walks by the lake as we lived right across the street from it so we would keep Jaiden secure in a  Maclaren stroller http://amzn.to/2poeQGc We used this stroller for years and well past the age of four for him though he looked big in it. I was thankful we were able to have something like this as I feared for his safety daily when going out on trips to the park, zoo etc.

It took a lot for my husband and I to go anywhere with the family because of how out of nowhere Jaiden would just get up and run or have a huge meltdown when we stopped him until we started to understand what his running, bolting and elopement was all about. According to research done on children with autism it is said about 49% of kids with autism elope. It is a scary thing for parents especially when you have a child who is newly diagnosed you may have a child that bolts, but I want you to understand that it is not your fault and that it is truly something that happens to our kids with special needs and autism. It is the scariest thing for any parent, stepparent, or caregiver to go through. There are stories all over the news where kids with special needs and autism are found in lakes and rivers because they have just left with no notice and wander off.

The way that I have dealt with the bolting, running and the wandering is that I have made sure that Jaidens areas are secure. That is making sure we put in a fenced in yard, placing locks on gates, locks on doors and windows to where he can’t reach them. Jaiden also has some great help from his teachers at his school in Westlake, Ohio where they do applied behavior analysis (ABA) which is a form of behavioral therapy that rewards them with a reinforcement upon achieving a desirable goal. More on ABA therapy in another blog to come.

The national autism association has an article about the percentages of our kids that flee, run, wander and or elope. Please educate yourself and others about this as you will be helping a family that may not know the risks. The article is found here:
http://nationalautismassociation.org/new-study-highlights-lethal-risks-of-missing-persons-with-autism/

Working with our Police Departments is also another great way to inform your community if you have a child with autism and you can explain that you are new to the area or that you have a child who is at risk for wandering. I would always keep their safety first and ask if you can have them fingerprint your child and update dental records just in case your child does go missing. I know this is a lot to take in for some of you, however it is a MUST if you have a child who does wander off.

As my son Jaiden has become older, he understands more now that he cannot wander off and he does know that he can get into all sorts of troubles if he does. It is hard for both kids that are non verbal and verbal to understand safety when they are young. As time goes on my hope is that you and your family find ways to help your child and keep him safe. Rely on God and run to him when you are in distress. Have a great week! 

“Those who know your name trust you, O LORD, because you have never deserted those who seek your help.” Psalm 9:10 (GW)

A few options concerning Autism and Early intervention

As a parent we always have a hunch as to when we believe something just “isn’t right” with our child.

Early signs of autism can include:

  • Abnormal social approaches such as not being able to voice interests, back and forth conversations, showing little to no emotion
  • Poor eye contact for some, lack of facial expressions
  • Barely interested in playing with other peers
  • A need for the same routines, difficulty with transitions
  • Fixed interest on certain objects
  • Sensory issues meaning indifferent to sounds, lights, smells and textures

All of our children are different, however these are some of the traits that kids with autism will exhibit.

There are a lot of websites, books and articles on what to look for when concerned about your child and their behavior. One resource I like is the national autism association and I have provided their link below.
http://nationalautismassociation.org/resources/signs-of-autism/

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism now affects about 1 in 50 children. Don’t quote me, but I believe that is 1 in 42 boys as boys are more prevalent to have autism vs. girls. That is a scary statistic, considering the rate was estimated at 1 in 88 in 2007 and 1 in 1,000 just ten years ago.  https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all kids are screened for autism at ages 18 and 24 months. Please get your children screened as soon as they are 18 months as this will help you to figure out your next steps if your child does show any red flags. All you have to do is call and make an appointment for your childs well child appointment and ask them about the MCHAT questionnaire. When you arrive at the appointment the pediatrician or nurse will ask you a series of questions about your child and their behaviors and will discuss any red flags with you and then refer you out to a developmental psychologist or autism center for further testing if needed.

A resource I believe would be most helpful when caring for your child with autism is milestones which is a great website to start with as it has lots of information and the center is located right here in the Cleveland ohio area. They have a lot of helpful information to help you care for your child and hold an autism conference every year and will provide a scholarship for parents upon writing an essay as to why you would like to attend . Here are a few links from their website to get you started. I’ve included links for financial questions you may have, and  early intervention for your child and where to start.
http://milestones.org/resource-cat/financial-planning-agencies/
http://milestones.org/resource-cat/early-intervention/

There are lots of wonderful people I have met on this journey and one of them is a developmental psychologist who helps families with newly diagnosed children. She has years of experience and she asked me to read a book that her colleague wrote about early intervention and autism. I took the time to read the book and was moved already in the first chapter. I wish I would have had this book when Jaiden my son was initially diagnosed as it has a ton of information on helping your child at home with behavioral approaches, as well as encouragement. I am not selling anything or receiving any compensation for mentioning this book, I just want you all to check it out and buy it if you have a child that was just diagnosed I promise it will help you with your child.

You can find “An Early Start for Your Child with Autism: Using Everyday Activities to Help Kids Connect, Communicate and Learn” at https://www.amazon.com/dp/160918470X/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_c_api_KP9bzbNEXC8PN

I’m always praying that those of you with newly diagnosed kids be blessed have a peace that surpasses all understanding and be lead to where ever it is you and your family need to be. Keep hoping and believing for better things.

“The word is life, healing and health to all who find them.” (Proverbs 4:20-22)

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Have a great rest of the week!

-Maritza

The Importance of Being a “Special Needs” Parent


There is no higher calling than that of a mother or father. I was listening to Alistair Begg truth for life podcast and he explained the life of a mother and the importance she brings to family. I also want to add that there are wonderful fathers out there that take the time to do what they have to do to make sure their children and stepchildren are taken care of.  I bring this up as the last blog for May in the series of information I have about families and autism.
Parents together are so important in the lives of their children as they are the ones who teach their children right from wrong, life skills, to love, know God, how to pray and to be nice to others. We teach them so many important steps to take in life and pray that when they grow up they will take these lessons to heart. At least that is what I strive to do for my guys. Having three boys, one with autism has taught me about what is most important when it comes to parenting them. A few important things are :

  1. Taking care of myself I have learned over the years to manage my emotions when parenting my kids, however I still lose it from time to time and when I do I apologize love them and move on. It can be hard parenting let alone parenting three different boys and I know how to take care of each of them in their own unique ways. I have the energy to do that only when I am putting God first praying, reading the word and worshipping, getting adequate rest, eating well and getting physical exercise. This is what I do to take care of myself and it is what works for me. My husband will watch sports, take some time to play basketball with friends and will go to our local rec center to relax and unwind in the pool and hot tub. Whatever works and helps you to de-stress. Check out www.theautismdaddy.com he is one of my favorite parents that talks on all kinds of subjects concerning having a child with autism. He also works with Sesame Street which makes him even cooler.
  2. Participating in their activities This can be hard for working mothers, however it is still manageable when you prioritize your week. I do my best to find out what each of them is interested in and then when I am not working will make time to be involved in those activities with them. Jaiden loves swimming, music and food 🙂 Sebastian loves sports, going on walks and games and Julian loves movies and gaming. They all bring something interesting to our family and it is so much fun to hang out with them individually when we do have that chance. Doing family activities together is a challenge but also worth it and so much fun.
  3. Asking for help when needed I used to feel bad asking family for help as time has gone in in order to stay sane I now ask for help. If my family cannot help out I have a caregiver lined up just in case because when you need an extra hand it makes parenting so much more peaceful when you have the help you need.

I am blessed beyond belief because I have a good support system or a “village” of people to help out when I need it, I hope if you are reading this that you and your family are ok and that you are not stressed. If you are, I pray that God bring you a village of people who care. I know life can get rough at times and having family or friends that love your kids as much as you do is such a blessing and it makes it more manageable for the family as a whole.

There will be times when you want to punch, kick and cry it gets so bad and I know it does and will for some of you. That is why it is important to have those in your child’s corner and yours to help when the going get crappy rough. It is a challenge for most parents when raising their children and it is an even bigger challenge when you have a child with special needs. Keep loving your children no matter what and tell them that too. Have a blessed week.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)

www.strategies2cope.com

April Autism Announcement

"Picture courtesy of "GAGA Photos"

Hello everybody I am back to writing strategies2cope as I have not written anything in a long time. As you all know, sometimes we get hit with a ton of bricks in life a whirlwind of problems can arise and you just have nowhere to go so I took some time off from doing the things I enjoy which doesn’t really make sense. However, I was trying to figure things out in my own life with my family ,with myself, my career and now I have decided to start writing to YOU again as I gain some clarity in what I am supposed to be doing and also in delivering in my blog.
I will be beginning a series on “Autism in the Home” starting in May and for those of you who don’t know April is autism awareness month and is coming to the end of the April month here soon. I want to invite you all to read strategies2cope and if you think any of the information provided is helpful please pass it along to those who it may help.

I have three lovely boys ages 16, 10 and 5 my middle child Jaiden is with autism. Challenges come and go and through it I keep fighting for my family and I am believing that you will to. Keep moving forward in your daily life and do what’s best concerning your child. I would like to say a prayer for all the parents out there who have children that are newly diagnosed with Autistic Disorder.  This prayer is for you as I know how hard it is to receive that initial diagnosis of autistic disorder and not know what to do or where to turn.

“I pray for all the parents reading this who feel overwhelmed, I pray for freedom in their spirits I pray you make every unexpected twisted turns straight, that their families embrace and accept their children for who they are, seeing the good, seeing the best in their kids, mold these parents into who you want them to be Lord, I pray for the children facing autism experiencing physical, emotional and mental symptoms that your hand be with them at all times keep them safe, help them to feel secure. I pray for more clarity , guidance and extreme love to be in the hearts of these families.” In Jesus name, AMEN.

I just want you guys to know that you are not alone in this fight for your child’s health my son Jaiden is now 10 years old so I have navigated my way through countless appointments countless therapies countless schools countless forms as you will soon start doing this. I know this will be a rough road for you I will not lie to you about that, however a few things I deem important for you right now are:

  1. Be your child’s best advocate because no one will be that advocate for you and your child if you can find somebody that’s in your corner that is such a blessing hold onto that. I have many people in Jaiden’s corner and I thank God for them daily I know that some of you are less fortunate to have someone help you through this difficult journey that’s OK I’m here to tell you that I’m here for you believing in you and to let you know that God is there with you even if you don’t believe he is he is still there, pray talk to him ask him what he thinks you should do for your child’s health for his life her life seek out a Bible-based church as church is a place of peace and community.
  2.  If your married make a choice to strengthen the bond you have together as you will be faced with many challenges and join a group for couples and go on marriage retreats, if you are single join a women’s group just so you can have at least once a week time for yourself to be with other people most church churches do have childcare to help out for a bible study hour or two I highly recommend joining a group like that especially if you don’t have a lot of support.
  3. If you are a single parent don’t forget to take a deep breath and  in the midst of all of your research and planning for you and your child pray and ask God to guide you and lead you to the place he needs you to be.
  4. You parents that have newly diagnosed children I want to let you know that you will cry lots of tears some of you will research so much your brain hurts and that’s OK too but just don’t forget to take care of yourself that’s so important to step away and do something you like to do such as singing, dancing, painting, gardening or sports anything that makes you smile and happy do it! 

Figure out what your next steps will be in helping to heal your child with autism. I will be praying for you and your families.

Biggest blessings to all of you and more to come in the next coming weeks.

“They will have no fear of bad news; Their hearts are steadfast, trusting the Lord.” (NIV) Psalm 112:7


Maritza

Work life Chaos?

  
I recently have started back to work full time and am happy about the decision. I have been doing ministry work, mothering, being a wife and studying in the meantime which is basically full time work! I came home from work the other day thinking I would be greeted lovingly by family and it was actually the opposite of what I thought. There was screaming and crying and frustration and my husband all the while trying to hug me and be happy for me on my first day back had the look on his face of whoops! LOUDNESS. That was all I was hearing in my kitchen as I walked in the house ready to hug everyone.

 I am learning that sometimes our expectations of our family members are way too high and that we need to Not expect so much from them so that we in turn are not so easily frustrated or hurt. Are you guilty of expecting too much from your family too? Here are a few tips to help you to center yourself after a day of working:

1. Have a relationship with God. I truly mean this. In the moment of my frustration I sent the kids to another room of our home and I closed the door to our kitchen. I prayed and cried and prayed and asked God to please center me, give me peace and to help me do the right things. He hears us and HE is with us.

2. Do something happy. I don’t care if it’s jumping and screaming, working out, singing or eating a piece of cake just do something to settle down. I guess jumping isn’t settling down but it does help to release stress. 

3. If you have one…hug your spouse. Kiss your spouse. Tell them you love them and you are so happy to see them. 

4. Drink some calm or comfort tea that has chamomile and valerian root in it to soothe the nerves. 

It’s tough getting back into a new routine and for children it can be worse at times and they will act out. Hopefully these few things will help you to regroup and feel some peace in the midst of the chaos. Love your family and do the best you can to make things peaceful. Have a great weekend!!

“Know, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37, NIV)

How not to give up when life gets rough

  
Life gets rough sometimes and for some of us it gets super rough. Some things we can do to help our minds, body’s and spirits is to start getting rid of all the junk in our lives and start adding good. Eat better (that means no donuts and I truly love donuts and will eat one once in a while), drink more water and herbal teas, work out, pray, read the bible, worship, sing a good song, dance cause you have feet and get rid of the junk in your home, office and wherever else it is you spend most of your time.

New year new you. You have what it takes, so what if you grew up in poverty or maybe you grew up rich and your parents were never there it’s all good now, you have the power to change your life for the better make 2016 a success and don’t give up when life gets rough. According to Lawrence McCahill from The Happy Startup School the happiest people aren’t the richest or most successful he gave a huge list of what happy people do and here are just a few.

1. They do things their way
They’re happy for others to take the credit
2. They don’t read newspapers
They surround themselves with people that inspire them
3. They are happy to ask for help when they need it
4. They place more value on relationships & experiences than material goods
5. And ironically, they don’t chase happiness… or success!

Be an example to those around you as well as your children and allow them to see you doing good and making good choices for your life and doing what’s right so they can model the same.
Biggest Blessings!

Matthew 5:16 NIV
” In the same way let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven”

What to do when you wanna run or drive away


Sometimes it’s super hard to take care of your child with special needs especially if they have a tendency to become aggressive or are non verbal. Sometimes it feels like you have lost yourself and your soul because you keep pouring all you have physically, and mentally but what I have learned from God and not from anyone else is that you must keep going and not quit. God is always with us during the trials and yes you may want to spank, you may want to scream, and you may want run away and never look back, but God knows your pain, he knows what you and your family need.

Who cares what anyone else thinks about you and your family. You can tell them yes I’ve lost my mind, yes I may be doing things that you don’t agree with, but God knows me and my heart. Some days may hurt like hell ,others you may have victories. The important thing is to not lose yourself spiritually and mentally and physically too. I believe the enemy wants us to get into our own heads so we can become depressed and we can start to think that there is no other way out of and that you are in a horrible situation. Don’t run away from your family, don’t run away from God in the time that “feel” horrible run TO God. It’s in those hardest moments when you want to run that you need to cling to God The most.

Don’t be hard on yourself thinking that just cause you are a Christian you shouldn’t feel this way or that way. You are a person and Christians aren’t magical beings we are people who go through awful things just like non Christians! Don’t listen to the people that judge you and say “well your supposed to be Christian aren’t you!?” Keep your eyes, ears and head up.

For the single man taking care of kids with special needs take a break get in a good work out or whatever it is you need to feel refreshed and get into a good church to have a good support system. For you ladies that are alone with a special needs child I encourage you to do the same thing as well as go get your hair done, get a pedicure or just go to church and just worship and sit and listen to the word of God get into his presence and out of your own. For you husbands and wives that have a child with autism or special needs find time to connect with one another and when somebody offers to watch your child take them up on that offer and run with that! This road is a bumpy road but with God you will make it through. No one in your circle may know how you’re feeling inside but I know and God definitely knows too. Don’t give up on God and don’t give up on your child do whatever it takes to make sure that your child and you have everything you need to make it through. Such as:

1. A good support system that includes a good church a good friend or friends that can understand you’re hurts and your frustrations.

2. A good school that knows what you’re going through and will help you to do the best that you can for your child and give you tools necessary to help you mange your child’s negative behaviors

3. Some good resources. Research at the library all that you need to to understand your child more. I have read a plethora of books on autism, special needs and books for spiritual development too. Take advantage of help available at your fingertips. Some good reads are ” let me hear your voice” by Catherine Maurice, “Ordinary Families, Special Children” Milton Seligman and ” Battlefield of the Mind” Joyce Meyer

4. A good prayer life. Make sure you do not leave God out of your life and out of your family life. He will get you through every step of the way.

Please understand that I know you will cry and you will hurt but he will never leave you nor forsake you and I say over and over no matter how bad it stings “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord” and we will also worship even when I don’t feel like it! Sometimes that is the peace you need for your soul when there’s no other way put on some good music and just sing and dance your cares away.

If it’s really hard for you I am asking you please seek professional counseling as it will help if you want and need it. I’m always here praying that you and your family have peace and all you need to stay sane 🙂 I pray you have a blessed Christmas and New Year’s!!
Biggest blessings

Maritza
Ephesians 3:19 New International Version (NIV)

19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.