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.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Get Involved!

We will be participating at this years 6th Annual Vancouver Walk Now for Autism Speaks in September. Thousands of people attend this event in hopes of raising awareness and funds for autism.

Autism Speaks Canada

We will be blowing bubbles and selling our bubble blowers with partial proceeds benefiting the event. We are looking for a sponsor or generous donation to help secure a booth at the event. We can display anything you like, hand out anything we’re allowed to, and wear your merchandise, etc!

The walk is on Sunday, September 29th, 2013 at Lumberman’s Arch in Stanley Park. This will be our third consecutive year blowing bubbles and selling bubble blowers at the Vancouver Walk Now for Autism Speaks event. We have a great relationship with the events manager and our bubble blowers contribute greatly to the wonderful atmosphere and draw a lot of attraction. In previous years our booth fee was waived, but due to costs and space, we endure the registration fee this year. The booth is $250 and comes with a 6 foot tent and two chairs and access to 2,500-3,000 registered walkers of all ages and demographics.

The only restrictions for booths are that we’re not allowed to sell merchandise or material, raffles or draws are not allowed due to permit restrictions, and no food, candy or drinks may be distributed due to public health restrictions. Pamphlets, business cards, hand-outs, free swag, etc are allowed.

The walk is a great way to promote your services to the Greater Vancouver Area’s autism community!

If you’re interested or know someone who may want to sponsor us please contact us!

Thanks so much!

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya, Daniel, and Bryce

Check out our previous years at the event:

Here’s a video we made of the Vancouver’s 4th Annual Walk Now for Autism Speaks 2011.

Here’s a blog we wrote about Vancouver’s 5th Annual Walk Now for Autism Speaks 2012.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Getting ready for events with Home Depot

Bubbles make everyone smile all year round, but the summer sunny months bring out the biggest smiles!

We go to a ton of different events throughout the year sharing our story, blowing bubbles, and selling our bubble blowers. Like I’ve mentioned before, we’ve missed out on some really great events because we didn’t have the supplies required like providing our own table, chairs, and canopy tent. We didn’t want that to affect us this year, so we already got our tent and now we have table and chairs! All of our event supplies came from The Home Depot. More Saving. More Doing.

Home Depot

We got 2 GSC Enduro folding chairs that are super strong and extremely durable and lightweight. We also got a GSC Enduro 6 foot table that is also super strong and extremely durable that folds in half for super easy storage and portability with a soft-grip handle making it easy to carry and it’s lightweight too. Both are perfect for any indoor or outdoor events we will be attending! We can’t wait to use them!

I’d like to thank Laura from The Home Depot Burnaby (store #7047) for helping us by lower our costs and keeping us in budget for our event supplies by knocking off $13.00!!! from our bill! It was absolutely generous and really appreciated! We’ll be thinking of you and Home Depot when we set up at our next event! Thanks again, Laura!

We get bigger and bigger every year and it’s all thanks to your continued support and generousity! Thank you!

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya, Daniel, and Bryce (and all our volunteers)

PS Huge thanks to one of our friends, and a BMHS volunteer, for his helping hand shopping with me today.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

*@$&%ing autism

There is nothing, NOTHING more frustrating than not knowing what is wrong with your child when he’s not able to communicate it. You can’t fix it if you don’t know what’s wrong. It’s frustrating! It’s annoying! It’s challenging! It’s draining! It’s just, it’s my reality.

Last night Bryce went to bed around 9:30pm. At around 11:30pm my husband and I were woken up by Bryce screaming in terror. Daniel jumped out of bed to check on Bryce. I can’t even describe the scream and if I could I wouldn’t even want to because it just sends chills down my spine thinking about it. We’ve heard this scream before though, usually associated when he’s scared, but it’s not very common at all.

Something was wrong.

Being paranoid and/or overprotective, I got Daniel to check the window to make sure it was locked and to check under the bed. Nothing.

“What’s wrong?” “Are you ok?” “Why did you scream?” “Did something scare you?” “What scared you?”

We kept drilling Bryce and asking over and over and over again. He either kept parroting back what we said or didn’t say anything at all. This went on for 20 minutes.

I felt completely helpless.

I just kept thinking to myself, ‘Just tell me what’s wrong already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’

Helplessness soon turned into complete frustration which then turned to unimaginable anger. I freaked out and screamed, “*@$&%ing autism!”

I love someone with autism, but I hate autism! It doesn’t define who my son is, but it can limit what he can be capable of.

I just kept thinking to myself, ‘If he didn’t have autism, we’d be able to know what’s wrong and we could fix it. I could fix it. That’s my job. I’m mom. I fix things. And this, I can’t fix.’

He asked to come sleep in our bed and wiggled his way in-between Daniel and me.

We still don’t know what made Bryce scream and probably never will. We assumed he had a nightmare.

Thanks for reading (and understanding and listening),
Tanaya

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sapperton Day Street Festival 2013

The 2013 Sapperton Day Street Festival is a non-profit community event put together by the Sapperton Business Association with some help from both the McBride Sapperton Business Association and Wesgroup Properties. This year will be the events 11th consecutive year after returning from a short hiatus. Sapperton Days has been around since the early 1970’s.

Sapperton Day Street Festival

This will be our first year participating at Sapperton Day Street Festival where we will be blowing bubbles to make you smile and selling our bubble blowers! Partial proceeds of our bubble blower sales will benefit the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation for critically needed equipment, research, and innovation to ensure the best medical standards for the future. Feel free to come by and check out our booth!

When: Sunday, June 9th, 2013 - 11am to 5pm – Rain or shine
Where: 400 Block East Columbia Street, New Westminster

Come join us to celebrate the beginning of summer. They will be having bouncy castles, clowns, jugglers, games, live performances, mini-donuts, pancake breakfast, rock climbing wall, vendors, and of course, bubbles, and much, much, more!

Hope to see you there!

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

For more information about this event, please follow Sapperton Day Street Festival on Facebook and Twitter!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Getting ready for events with ShadeTech

Bubbles make everyone smile all year round, but the summer sunny months bring out the biggest smiles!

We go to a ton of different events throughout the year sharing our story, blowing bubbles, and selling our bubble blowers. We’ve missed out on some really great events because we didn’t have the supplies required like providing our own table, chairs, and canopy tent. We didn’t want that to affect us this year, so we got a tent from The Home Depot!

Home Depot

We got a 10x10 feet (100 square feet of shade) ShadeTech Instant Canopy from the Burnaby Home Depot. It has a black canopy top that blocks 100% of UV radiation providing 50+ UPF. It doesn’t require any tools to set up this straight legged, one piece frame that has a smooth glide PTFE bearing system which reduces friction for quicker setup (and setup is ridiculously quick!!) It weighs less than 32 pounds and comes with a wheeled carry bag. We can’t wait to use it! 

We get bigger and bigger every year and it’s all thanks to your continued support and generousity! Thank you!

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya, Daniel, and Bryce (and all our volunteers)

PS Huge thanks to one of our friends, and a BMHS volunteer, for her helping hand setting up our new tent.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

An #Autism Guide to Playland

I will admit that Playland isn’t the first place I think of when I think ‘autism friendly’ environments for my child, who can easily be overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds that this amusement park usually is full of, but in lighter crowds and familiar faces, it’s not too bad!

Playland at the PNE Vancouver

Bryce’s school had a Playland Day. Playland Day is when Playland is only opened to certain elementary schools and closed to the general public. The crowds are smaller, the lineups for rides are shorter, and while there are still people running around and screaming, it feels a lot calmer.

Tip 1: If Playland Day is coming up and you have a child with special needs and large crowds are a concern, take advantage of Playland Day! If you don’t have a Playland Day in your neighbourhood, try going to the amusement park during the week to avoid chaotic line ups and heavy crowds as most people are busy or at work during the week.

Daniel and I decided to tag along for the school field trip and make some memories. We have all been to Playland before, but never together as a family. It’s mostly because I’m scared of fast rides and heights (something I’d conquer one day.) Bryce was a little hesitant when we entered the gates. I mean, who wouldn’t be? It’s PLAYLAND! There’s a LOT to take in! It’s the oldest amusement park in Canada with over 30 rides and attractions!

Tip 2: If you have a child with special needs you can go to the Guest Services in Playland and request a free ‘Exit Pass’. This allows you to skip the lineups for rides and enter them from the exit side giving you priority seating and time to get on the ride without feeling rushed. This is especially great if you have a child that can handle the rides but not the wait. Most amusement parks have this perk. (Thank you Ms. S for sharing this information with us!)

Speaking of rides, Daniel and I argued about what rides Bryce could and couldn’t go onto. Of course, I was anti-almost all of the rides worried that Bryce would get scared despite being accompanied by Daniel each time and Daniel wanted Bryce to be a go on whatever rides he wanted and said to me to “let him be a kid”. You could imagine the expression on my face when Bryce ran past a few rides and went directly to the Merry Go Round. Yes! Go be a kid on that ride! I can handle that ride!

Tip 3: “Let him be a kid.” I’m the last person to say when my husband is right, but by letting Bryce be “a kid” and not “a kid with autism” I was able to enjoy myself more. Bryce was able to enjoy himself more. I hope that makes sense.

I guess Bryce had a thirst for more adventure after the Merry Go Round because he went on the Scrambler, Wave Swinger, Flume (log water ride), Breakdance, Gladiator, Music Express, Wooden Roller Coaster, Pirate, Westcoast Wheel (ferris wheel) and Super Slide. I nearly had a heart attack when he lead us to the Wave Swinger which was the only ‘non-accompanied by an adult’ ride Bryce went on (but Daniel was right behind him). He was so brave. He was on top of the world! Check out the video I made of Bryce going to Playland!

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

PS So if you’ve watched the video you may of noticed that I went on a couple rides too. I don’t know if I conquered the ‘fast rides and heights’ fear but at least I poked it.

Oh, and here’s a picture I took of Daniel and Bryce at the very top of the Westcoast Wheel. Yup! I took the picture. THAT was super scary! Swaying so high in the sky. Gives me chills just looking at the picture. Baby steps.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Welcome to Holland. #ILoveSomeoneWithAutism

“Welcome to Holland” is an essay, written in 1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley, about having a child with a disability. The piece is given by many organizations to new parents of children with special-needs.

The essay, written in the second person, employs a metaphor of excitement for a vacation to Italy that becomes a disappointment when the plane lands instead in Holland.

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy.”

The metaphor is that the trip to Italy is a typical birth and child-raising experience, and that the trip to Holland is the experiencing of having and raising a child with special-needs.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

In the end, however, the reader sees that the “trip” is still well worth it:

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things... about Holland.

Here’s the essay:

Welcome to Holland
by Emily Perl Kingsley

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome To Holland”.

“Holland?!?” you say, “What do you mean “Holland”??? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills... Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things... about Holland.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya, Daniel, and Bryce

PS Special thanks to Jackie V. for sharing this with me.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

“To Mommy, Thank You For Everything You Do For Me”

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s who do everything for their child.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya, Daniel, and Bryce

Saturday, May 11, 2013

As we venture through this journey together.

An incredible couple, Jackie and David, (and our new friends) invited us into their home for a party to celebrate their son, Jason’s, one year anniversary of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). (Awesome job, Jason!!)

ABA is an intensive education therapy for children with autism that helps develop their social, academic, self-help, and behavioural skills needed to interact with others and to cope with the challenges of everyday life. ABA therapy takes the form of a highly structured program design to meet the individual requirements of each child, while building the foundations for life-long learning.

Jason was diagnosed with autism last September and Jackie and her family have created an amazing support team that has grown ever since. She was a complete stranger to me but I could relate with her on so many levels. She shared one story with us that just proved how important and necessary autism acceptance is to understanding autism. It literally broke my heart to hear it. I won’t go into details, but just to be clear, autism is not contagious!

So the celebratory party is going to be impossible to top for any of Bryce’s upcoming birthday parties! It had a bouncy castle, a netted trampoline (which Bryce loved), little ponies, and Korki the Clown (thanks Korki for the balloon Iron Man)! Their was tons of food, lot’s of family and friends, and of course, we had to bring our bubble blowers! The whole place was just full of so much love and dedication and we were very honoured and thankful to be part of it. These pictures don’t do justice, but I promise Bryce had a great time! I’m pretty sure it was his first time on a real pony, too!

Thank you so much, Jackie, for inviting us! We send you all of our love and hearts as we venture through this journey together. Never alone.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya, Daniel, and Bryce

To read more about Jackie, David, and Jason’s journey please check out their story in the Peach Arch News.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Vancouver’s Walk Now For Autism Speaks Kick Off Event

Walk Now for Autism Speaks logo

Join us for Vancouver’s Walk Now for Autism Speaks Canada Kick Off Event!

When: Sunday June 9th, 2013 at 9:30am

Where: Join us at Playland for a FREE morning adventure of over 30 rides and attractions, including two new family rides.  Let’s celebrate autism awareness and announce exciting 2013 Walk details!

This is Walk Now for Autism Speaks Canada’s way to say thank everyone for their fundraising support and volunteer efforts for the Vancouver Walk Now for Autism Speaks event while they welcome new and returning teams!

9:30am – Registration, Puzzle Piece Colouring Station, and Refreshments

10:00am - 2013 Vancouver Walk overview and a special autism research presentation by Dr. Pat Mirenda (Director of The Centre for Interdisciplinary Research and Collaboration in Autism (CIRCA) at UBC)

11:00am - Free visit to Playland!

Reserve Your Spot Today!

This event is FREE, but space is limited. Please email vancouver@autismspeaks.org to RSVP before June 6th, 2013. Please include your team name, and the number of adults/children in your group.  This event is open to everyone, so please invite new families to join in this wonderful day. If you haven’t already registered your Team for the Walk, please register here and help us reach our goal of raising $230,000 to support research and family services!

Team Fundraising Contest!

They’re giving away free tickets to Go Bananas Playcenter! 3 lucky Teams will win 2 tickets each!

Grand Prize includes a weekend accommodation for a family at the Century Plaza Hotel & Spa!

To be eligible to win, your Team thermometer must reach $500 by June 8th, so continue your fundraising today!  We will randomly select a winner from the teams eligible. Check out the Team Captain Tools on our website for some great fundraising ideas!

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya, Daniel, and Bryce

Hope we’ll see you at our Kick Off Event!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

#Autism 101: What We Know Today

Autism 101: What We Know Today
Image compliments of Guide to Nursing Degrees

 

Autism 101: What We Know Today

Despite growing awareness and advances in treatment, this fast-growing developmental disorder has enormous personal, family, and economic impact - and no known cure.

  • 1 in 50 children have an autism spectrum disorder
  • At 10-17% annual growth in cases, it’s the fastest-growing developmental disability
  • Effects 1 to 1.5 million Americans
  • Symptoms appear by age 3
  • 5x more prevalent in males
  • $60 billion in annual costs, $3.2 million over an individual's lifespan
  • No known cure, but early treatment can help
  • Surge in cases may be due to better diagnosis, wider awareness, and broader definitions

Autism Spectrum

  • Autistic disorder - impairments of social interaction, communication and play, and restricted or repetitive interests and activities
  • Asperger’s disorder - social interaction impairments and repetitive behavior, but usually without significant language delay
  • Atypical autism - core autistic behaviors are present, but the criteria for autistic disorder are not fully met

Signs of Autism

  • Impaired social interaction and communication
  • Restricted and repetitive behavior, such as stacking or lining up objects
  • Symptoms of autistic disorder children age 1-3
  • no babbling or pointing by age 1
  • no single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
  • no response to name
  • loss of language or social skills
  • poor eye contact
  • excessive lining up of toys or objects
  • no smiling or social responsiveness

Autism and Adulthood

  • Increasingly, parents are seeking help as their child transitions to late teenage and adult years
  • Challenges include education, living arrangements, supervised day care, and more
  • Young adults may qualify academically for college, but can’t cope with other aspects of college life
  • “Adults face discrimination that comes from a lack of understanding about autism. The tolerance that is extended to children with autism is often lacking.” - Pamela Dixon Thomas, PhD, LP, psychologist with the University of Michigan Autism and Communication Disorders Center (UMACC)

Science of Autism

  • Neurodevelopmental disorder
  • Strong basis in genetic mutation
  • Evidence for environmental causes such as vaccines, foods, and heavy metals is anecdotal, but extensive studies are underway

Autism and the Family

  • Marital stress: 80% divorce rate in families with children who have autism
  • Lack of rest due to difficulty in finding child care
  • Challenges involving diagnosis, services, adolescence, and post high school
  • Siblings may develop a greater sense of responsibility, or may feel resentment at the extra attention the child with autism receives “Having a child with Autism can mess with your head: You feel like you can move mountains for them yet you’re powerless at the same time.” - Stuart Duncan Treatment
  • Educational/behavioral interventions targeting social and language skills and family counseling for parents and siblings of children with autism
  • Medications including those to treat anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive behavior; in severe cases, antipsychotic medications

Controversial treatments

  • Chelation - attempts to eliminate metals such as mercury from the body (a potentially hazardous medical procedure)
  • DAN! (Defeat Autism Now) - includes nutritional supplements, gluten-free diet, treatment for allergies and intestinal bacterial/yeast overgrowth “When living with a neurological condition (or with a loved one who has one), it can be very easy to focus on the challenges and limitations. But in my life, I have found that focusing on abilities, finding new ways to adapt, have been crucial to my successes in life. Seeking those solutions can even be seen as a form of creativity.” - Lynne Soraya (nom de plume for a writer with Asperger’s Syndrome)

Significant Findings from Recent Studies

  • High-quality early intervention for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can do more than improve behaviors, it can improve brain function.
  • Being nonverbal at age 4 does not mean children with autism will never speak. According to research, most will, in fact, learn to use words, with half learning to speak fluently.
  • Though autism tends to be life long, some children with ASD make so much progress that they no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for autism. High quality early-intervention may be key.

Timeline

  • 1943 - Dr. Leo Kanner publishes a paper about a condition he calls “early infantile autism”
  • 1966 - A British Study estimates the rate of autism in at .04%
  • 1967 - Psychologist Bruno Bettelheim promotes a theory that “refrigerator mothers” cause autism
  • 1977 - Studies of twins reveal autism as a largely genetic disorder
  • 1980 - “Infantile autism” listed as a distinct disorder in the DSM
  • 1987 - Psychologist Ivar Lovaas publishes a study showing positive effects of intensive therapy
  • 1988 - “Rain Main,” starring Dustin Hoffman as an autistic savant
  • 1991 - At federal prompting, schools begin identifying and serving autistic students
  • 1994 – Asperger’s disorder is recognized, expanding the autism spectrum to include milder cases
  • 1997 - National Institutes of Health Autism Coordinating Committee launches
  • 1998 - A Lancet study suggests that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine causes autism (later debunked)
  • 1999 - California reports 12,000 autism cases, an increase of more than 200% in a decade
  • 2005 - Autism Speaks founded - now the world’s largest autism advocacy group
  • 2007 - Autism Centers for Excellence launches, coordinated by the NIH/ACC
  • 2009 - The CDC estimates that 1 in 110 children have autism spectrum disorders, up from 1 in 150 in 2007

Sources

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Andrew the Crazy Canuck and Kyle the Canuck Piper

Meet our new friends Andrew the Crazy Canuck and Kyle the Canuck Piper!

Andrew the Crazy Canuck is, well, for lack of a better word, crazy... crazy-awesome that is! Kyle the Canuck Piper is an award-winning bagpiper, kilt and all! The duo are big-hearted local celebrities and crowd pleasing entertainers participating in tons of charities, parades, events, and of course, are hardcore Vancouver Canuck fans! (Go Canucks Go!)

We briefly met the pair at the Canucks Autism Network Family Festival while we were blowing bubbles for everyone.

Andrew contacted us yesterday to get a couple of our bubble blowers to bring with him to entertain the crowd at game 2 of the Vancouver Canucks versus San Jose Sharks Stanley Cup Playoffs home game. Andrew and Kyle blew bubbles and even shared our story with everyone! We are so honoured!

Here’s some pictures of Andrew doing his signature pose with our bubble blowers! (Photographed by Gerry Kahrmann)

We’d like to thank Andrew and Kyle for sharing our story and helping us promote autism awareness (and smiles!) Thank you Andrew and Kyle! Seriously! Thank you! We’d love to work with you two brilliant and beautiful people in the near future!

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya, Daniel, and Bryce

To learn more about ALL the amazing things these guys do, please visit their website: Andrew the Crazy Canuck and Kyle the Canuck Piper and don’t forget to ‘Like’ Andrew The Crazy Canuck on Facebook and join Andrew The Crazy Canuck’s (Official Fan Page) and ‘Like’ Kyle Banta on Facebook, too!