As a mother, I will never give up on my child. As a mother of a child who has autism, I will never give up hope.
I look into his eyes and I see all the potential that he has to offer to this beautiful world and I just know that one day the world can see what I see.

Follow my blog as I share my life and my experiences as a person who loves someone with autism.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Month of Hope

Tomorrow is April 1st, the beginning of a month full of autism awareness in the United States and across the world, a month of hope.

I hope the world makes an incredible fashion statement wearing multi-coloured clothing to represent the autism ribbon in support of autism awareness throughout the month of April.

Put on the Puzzle! The Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon is the most recognized symbol of the autism community in the world. Autism prevalence is now one in every 110 children in America - that’s 13 million families and growing who live with autism today. Show your support for people with autism by wearing the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon this month – as a pin on your shirt, a magnet on your car, a badge on your blog, or even your Facebook profile picture - and educate folks on the potential of people with autism! For suggestions, resources and graphics, visit www.autism-society.org/ribbon.

Autism Awareness

I hope the world opens their hearts and wallets and donate towards research and organizations so we can better understand autism.

Donate to Autism Society of British Columbia
Donate to Autism Society of Canada
Donate to Autism Society of America

And lastly, I hope the world stands up for autism.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

“It’s Ok, I Understand.”

Recent research indicates that 1 in 91 children are diagnosed with autism. Now is the time to educate yourself on autisms characteristics, not only because early identification leads to early intervention, but because chances are, you will meet someone in your lifetime who has autism.

Autism Characteristics

I can’t even count on one hand on how many times a day I feel the need to explain Bryce to people. It’s not that I have to, but some people just look at these characteristics as misbehaving children or look at me like I’m a bad parent. I’m the number one advocate for my son and if talking to people makes them aware of the characteristics of autism, then I will talk all day.

I love the days that we’re out in public and Bryce is doing something that the world looks at as ‘inappropriate’ or ‘misbehaving’ behaviours and I start the whole talk and I get responses like, “It’s ok, I understand, I know someone who has autism.”

It is such a great feeling to know I’m not alone and more people are informed.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Monday, March 29, 2010

Autism - There's an app for that!

I'm a huge iTunes fan. HUGE! I love the technology that is behind all the products, and I love the insane amount of apps you can get for free! The first app I ever downloaded was myLighter, 'Fun for parties, rock concerts, and even entertaining the kids. See the flame but never get burned with your own iPhone or iPod touch lighter'. I was sold, even if it was free, and barely used. Since that day, I've been sucker for free apps.

Awhile ago I was searching my iTouch for apps when I came across the Autism Test. Yup, autism, there's an app for that! 'Have you ever wondered if you, your child, or someone you know is on the Autism spectrum? Now you can.'

Now I was skeptical at downloading this app, even if it was free. I mean, it took a month of testing and doctor visits before Bryce received his diagnosis, and now you're telling me a bunch of questions is going to give me the same results? So, of course I had to see for myself.

After answering just under 40 questions (which knowing what I know now, are really great questions to be asking) and answering very truthfully to get an accurate conclusion, here were my results:

I knew it! Ok, ok, I know, it's not a diagnosis, but it's still something I can smile at. They do make a note on the app website stating that '... AutismTest is NOT a definitive answer to having ASD. These tests have extensively been researched ... and have shown that there is a clear link between the score of this test and an actual diagnosis. But again a high score doest NOT definitively suggest you have ASD.'

According to the details about the app, 'this test ... is used in many places for online screening.' Many places?? Online screening!?? Seriously? No offense to the developers, but I hope we haven't reached a point in this day and age where we no longer feel the need to see a doctor and trust the Internet to give us our answers.

If you're a parent or a friend of somebody who you think may be on the autism spectrum, please, go see your doctor. Early identification is key to intervention. I can't even begin to imagine how many people have taken that online test. Can you imagine how many children haven't been diagnosed? What if the numbers of 1 in 91 were actually higher?

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Caterpillar Craziness!

Today Bryce decided to draw caterpillars and tape them up all around the house.

At least they're smiling.

Daniel

Friday, March 26, 2010

April is all about Autism Awareness!

World Autism Awareness Day

Friday, April 2nd, 2010 will be the 3rd Annual World Autism Awareness Day.

World Autism Awareness Day shines a bright light on autism as a growing global health crisis. WAAD activities help to increase and develop world knowledge of the autism epidemic and impart information regarding the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with autism and is a day when individuals with autism are warmly welcomed and embraced in community events around the globe.

The Autism Awareness Ribbon

By bringing together autism organizations all around the world, we will give a voice to the millions of individuals worldwide who are undiagnosed, misunderstood and looking for help. Please join us in our effort to inspire compassion, inclusion and hope.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Security Blankets

This is Bryce's blanket. It is definitely a security blanket and one of the few objects Bryce attaches himself to. It goes everywhere with him, except outside. He attached himself to this blanket when his first blanket had to be thrown out because he got into a habit of chewing on it and chewed a giant hole in it. Daniel and I spent a good month prior to throwing it out trying to find a replacement for it because it meant that much to Bryce and we knew it was going to be hard for him to accept a new blanket in his routine. Fortunately, Bryce accepted this new blanket very quickly when he knew his other one was gone.

The only other object that Bryce has ever attached himself to is a paper towel roll. We discovered this one day when we found a pile of paper towel in the kitchen. He would carry this paper towel roll everywhere we went, even outside (we didn't mind). Some days we wouldn't be able to leave the house until we found where he had it last. Occasionally he'll bring a paper towel roll to school and on his own he will put it in his backpack until he's out of school. I guess he just feels comfortable knowing it's close by. It's even come out to dinner with us a couple of times and we've learned to make sure it comes home with us because accidently forgetting it at the restaurant is definitely not an option.

We've noticed that Bryce has a hard time letting things go. Sometimes it's like the end of the world when he loses something or forgets where he put it or a friend has to leave. I hope he'll eventually realize that he can live without security blankets.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Baby Pictures!

Today I thought I'd share some baby pictures!

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sick Day

Oy! Me and Bryce are sick! We woke up today with runny noses and sore throats. :( Since we were stuck inside for the day we decided to make the best of it.

Bryce loves his Nintendo DS. It's very helpful to calm him down when he becomes too stimulated. He really enjoys playing Mario Kart and New Super Mario Bros.

We also played on Starfall, a free public service to motivate children to read with phonics. Bryce enjoys every aspect of this site but his favourite thing is to play the Gingerbread, Pumpkin, and Snowman interactive games.

One of Bryce's resource teachers gave him Kid Pix Deluxe 4 Home Edition. This is an awesome program! It's like MS Paint but with way more features and very kid friendly. It's a virtual art studio for your PC right at your fingertips with no messy cleanup. I highly recommend this to any parent to bring out the creativity in your child.

Now I know you're probably thinking that televisions and videos games aren't good for children, but they can be very educational if you take the time to turn them into a learning experience.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Monday, March 22, 2010

Why We Need Your Help

Today I'm going to tell you why we're in need of your help and $7560 worth of donations.

Through the work of Canadian Hyperbaric Institute using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) to treat autism, they have helped many parents find their kids again. I want that chance, even if the odds and peoples thoughts behind it are against me.

I know you're probably thinking that their is no cure for autism and I'm wasting my time, or peoples money. But as a mother, I will never give up on my child. As a mother of a child who has autism, I will never give up hope. I look into his eyes and I see all the potential that he has to offer to this beautiful world and I just know that one day the world can see what I see. I'd do anything to make that happen.

Here is some information I gathered from the Canadian Hyperbaric Institute website. More information including studies and evidence that HBOT can treat autism can be found at: http://hbotcanada.com/autism.html

Promising research, as well as numerous reports from parents, shows that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can have a positive effect on autism disorders to improve behavior, cognition and motor movement abilities.

Autism is a complex developmental disability. Theories about its cause include reduced blood flow to areas of the brain, birth trauma, infections, exposure to toxic chemicals, reaction to vaccines (especially the MMR vaccine), and deficiencies in certain vitamins, minerals and proteins.

HBOT can speed the repair and regeneration of injured brain cells.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases blood flow to the brain, providing more oxygen and nutrients. Viable brain cells “wake up” with this increase in blood flow, enhancing brain functioning and improving symptoms. Hyperbaric oxygen also reduces inflammation, reduces oxidative stress, increases metabolism of cells and mobilizes stem cells from bone marrow.

Recent studies on HBOT and autism are showing promising results. Reports from health care practitioners and families, as well as the research here at the Canadian Hyperbaric Institute, are very encouraging.

We typically see improvements in eye contact, language, socialization, appetite, gastrointestinal symptoms, motor movements, and a significant reduction in tantrums.

So with all that hope comes actual facts. It isn't free, and it's not covered by the MSP (Medical Service Plan) and only $500 a year is covered by our extended health care. Our naturopathic doctor, Dr. Tasreen Alibhai, recommended we do 60 sessions for treatment.

The 60 sessions is $7560 including tax. And that is why we need your help!

Anything you can donate to help us reach that goal is not only appreciated, but forever in our hearts as you are contributing to our lives and Bryce's future.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bedtime Routine

Many children with autism require a structured approach to completing the day-to-day tasks that each of us do without thinking about them.

Bryce does too.

In his earlier years, we were forced to use non-verbal instructions to assist Bryce in managing his day. He had to use sign language to tell us things he wanted and needed. We posted picture schedule boards around the house and at school for activities like going to the washroom, or transitioning between activities at school.

Now that Bryce is older, and is able to verbally let us know what he wants and need, we've still found that without a specific structure around activities it can often derail him or negatively effect his mood.

Today's post is about the bedtime routine that we've found Bryce enjoys and helps us get him to sleep.

1) Say goodnight to mommy/daddy depending on whose assisting him in getting ready
2) Find & bring his blanket upstairs to his bedroom
3) Start the bathtub & put the bubbles in (Bryce loves bubbles)
5) Brush teeth & getting ready for the bath
6) Bath time
7) Story time
8) Pajamas
9) Kiss & hugs & lights out

Bedtime was always challenging and in his younger years he would always find his way to our bedroom in the middle of the night, now, he looks forward to his bedtime routine and story time and is able to sleep throughout the night, most nights.
We find by sticking with this structure, Bryce is happier and easier to get to sleep.

Daniel

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet

Today I will be briefly discussing the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free (GFCF) diet. I am not an expert by any means, so a lot of the information I mention are through my personal studies and talking to professionals. Always consult your doctor or nutritionist before changing your diet.

A little about GFCF:

The GFCF diet eliminates the intake of the naturally-occurring proteins gluten (found naturally in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains) and casein (found in milk). The Autism Research Institute and other advocacy groups recommend the diet as a treatment for autism and related disorders.

The science behind this diet can be sketchy but their are a lot of stories of this diet having a huge impact on children with Autism by lessening symptoms such as impulsive behaviors, lack of focus, and even speech problems. Here are some Gluten-Free testimonials.

Since the GFCF diet removes wheat and dairy from your diet, it may contribute to calcium and vitamin D deficiencies, so vitamin supplements are necessary decrease the risk of weak bones.

The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet

At our consultation with our naturopathic doctor, Dr. Tasreen Alibhai, suggested we purchase 'The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet' to introduce to Bryce. This book is full of everything to do with GFCF diets, and includes super easy recipes with step by step instructions. I personally have heard a lot of positive results behind the GFCF diet and really wanted to give it a shot. So today we grabbed our cookbook and went headed to the grocery store.

Let me first thank the staff of our local Price Smart Foods for the insane amount of patience they had with me. I am clueless when it comes to foods that you actually have to sit and prepare to cook so a lot of the ingredients in some recipes that we were going to test out required things I never knew existed. The Sheppard's pie recipe, for example, called for 'ghee'. I had no idea what that was so I was asking every single staff at the store if they knew where it was or what it was. It wasn't until we reached the butter isle that a very experienced employee informed me that ghee was made by simmering unsalted butter until all the water has boiled off and the milk solids, or protein has settled to the bottom.

It took us 2 hours of running around looking for ingredients for 3 GFCF dinners, spaghetti and marinara sauce, Sheppard's pie, and honey chicken. We also bought some of our 'regular' meals so we're not disrupting Bryce's system too much at once. We're trying the spaghetti and marinara recipe for dinner tonight, will let you know how it works out.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Friday, March 19, 2010

Balloons!!

Bubbles make him smile... but balloons are his favourite things in the world.

 

Every single day we would go to the dollar store in the mall and buy a balloon. We did it so much so that they would give us the balloon for free, knowing how excited Bryce was just to have the balloon! When the mall wasn’t opened we would go to the local grocery store where we usually get it for free too! Balloons became a huge part of Bryce’s life! Any picture he drew, he would incorporate a balloon somehow. If the picture had somebody with a hand, he would draw a balloon on a string and attach it to the hand. If their wasn’t anything with hands, he would just draw a balloon floating around in the picture. It became almost like an addiction and not so much of something to enjoy.

Sometimes he would want a balloon so badly, but once he brought it home it would just sit in his room. We finally came to the conclusion that this wasn’t something that should consume his life. Now Bryce is learning that balloons are more of a treat and that he doesn't need to have one everyday.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Springtime

Bryce, and a lot of children with autism, are almost oblivious to dangerous situations. Bryce has some knowledge of things that are dangerous. Sometimes he will know something is hot from steam coming from it, like soup and he’ll say “That’s hot, blow blow” knowing that to cool down the soup he has to blow on it, which is great! He is very aware that the oven and stove is hot too just from feeling the heat from it. A lot of the elements that I can control and make safe around my child, I try to make safe, but it’s not always in my control and that's the scary part.

I am a very firm believer of holding hands. We have hands and they were designed to be able to be put into another persons hands safely and securely, so every opportunity we get, we are holding hands. I’m personally not a fan of using those backpack leashes and things of that nature. What works for some doesn’t work for others. With that said, Bryce has been famously known to take off lately. At school he’s run out of the gated areas and into the street a couple of times and has even run out of the classroom and out the doors to run outside. We’ve implemented child proof door knobs in his classroom and stop signs on the inside of doors (this is very helpful when your child knows what a stop sign means).

Getting out of the car the other day Bryce decided to dash down the underground parking lot to the entrance gate laughing and making it a ‘chase me’ game almost. He runs ahead of you and turns around and looks at you like he’s asking for permission, or sometimes it’s to see what your reaction is, almost like he’s testing you or your patience. He will be completely unaware of any danger from running in the middle of the parking lot, or a street, until it’s too late.

Spring is finally setting foot here in Vancouver, and we actually had sun for the whole day! I’m not a huge fan of sunny weather because it gives a lot of opportunity for Bryce to be outside (since it’s not raining) and run off into so many unknown dangers. As a mother, it really just sucks that I can’t control everything and protect him all the time.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sports

Today Bryce went to UBC Thunderbird Arena to watch the Vancouver 2010 Paralympics Ice Sledge Hockey game between Czech Republic and Italy. I wasn’t there, but I heard he had a lot of fun and enjoyed the event.

Daniel really wants to get Bryce into sports but I don’t think he’s ready. He probably would be really great at a lot of sports, but a majority of sports involve communication and talking to your team mates, and although Bryce is verbal, he does a lot of parroting. He will repeat almost word for word or add a couple of his own of anything you say. Sometimes it’s very funny when he does it, like when two adults are talking and he’s overhearing it and repeating it, but of course it has its inappropriate times too.

Don’t get me wrong though, Bryce is very capable of compiling his own ideas and thoughts and sometimes verbalize them. Sometimes we help him with the conversation, like he’ll say “water” and we’ll say, “Do you want some water?” to which he repeats, “Do you want some water” and we say, “say please” and he says, “water please”. Other times he’ll tell us things in a full sentence by himself like “want to go to pee”. But if I ask, “How are you today?” he replies, “How are you today” and that’s parroting. He learns how to say a lot of words by parroting, but if he actually knows what they mean, well that’s another story.

I’m still undecided on when it will be the right time to get him into sports or what sport to try him out in. One of Daniels hobbies is playing hockey (floor hockey, ice hockey, and even Xbox Live hockey hehe). Hockey is around this house all the time so Bryce is very familiar with that sport. We’ve even taken Bryce to a couple of Canucks and Giants games and he seemed into it. Maybe that will be the first sport we get him into.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hello! My name is:

Hello! I’m Bryce’s mom.

This is my first time blogging so please bare with me. I’m going to start by giving a little introduction to me and my family. We’re from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and yes, we’re Canuck fans! My name is Tanaya and my husbands name is Daniel. We have an 8 year old son named Bryce. Bryce was diagnosed with autism before his third birthday.

Like many people at that time, we didn’t know what autism was, or if it was life-threatening, contagious, or treatable or anything! We were completely uneducated! It really was a learning experience for everyone that ever entered our lives. I have to say though, there’s no amount of knowledge about autism that you can read from a book or research about online that makes it easier to understand this diagnosis. But as a mother nobody knows my son better than me.

Let me tell you a bit more about our son. Bryce is the type of child that when you meet him or get to know him, you can’t help but want to be his best friend. He has a very positive energy and if his cute laugh and hugs don't grab your heart, his big blue eyes will! He is just a beautiful person.

I’m not going to sit here and say that my life has been difficult or easy raising a child with autism. It has really tested our strengths and weaknesses as parents and people. We have learned to have more patience, be more understanding, and compassionate. We do have our struggles from time to time as a family, as husband and wife, as child and parent, but we’re learning everyday.

So why the blog? A lot of hope.

We hope to generate more autism awareness. We hope our knowledge and experiences we will be sharing helps someone. And lastly, we hope to open the hearts of everyone who reads this to help us with funding Bryce’s therapy.

Bubbles Make Him Smile

Follow our blogs as we share our lives with you and our experiences as people who love someone with autism.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya