Ho Ho Ho! #SensoryFriendlySanta

This past weekend, we were lucky enough to go back to an area Sensory-Friendly Santa event.

We started going to these four years ago, when I stumbled on one event at big outlet mall. It was fun and I knew we found a good thing.

Then, I found Northern Virginia’s Housewives event that is co-sponsored by POAC-Northern Virginia. We’ve been going back the past three years. This event has become so popular among area families – this year, the event sold out in under a day!

For those that have never heard of or are curious about a “Sensory Friendly” Santa event, these are special events geared towards families with an individual either on the spectrum OR may have other special needs (as we all know, autism is not the only diagnosis that can cause sensory overload). Usually the events are before the mall “opens”, as to not have as large of a crowd. The list is quite limited and usually by a time slot – you would need to register prior to the event (hence the “selling out”).  If you are lucky to get a slot, you would just show up at your allotted time, and have a substantially less wait time to see the man in the big ole red suit.

This year, the mall’s theme was “Peanuts”, which was nice since both kids were able to see the movie recently. After checking in, we were able to check out some of the cute things while in line. And while the line is shorter, it may not be SHORT. That’s because staff really try to get the kids to see Santa, no matter how tough it may be?

Remember this last week? Santa lies down on floor for boy with autism

Or this one? Mother shouts out Santa who talked about autism with her son

So – I had to calm B a few times since he as thisexcitedohmygodtoseeSantacouldyoujustdie? LOL But he knows the drill and once it was our turn, they both sidled up to his lap and he had no problem giving Santa his letter. Miss Diva M, surprisingly, had no issue with him either – it’s hit or miss with “larger than life” people. lol

They had a grand time and I hope they heed Santa’s advice to be good!

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The Play At The Plate, aka #Autism & Little League.

Our fall has been pretty busy.

We continued with team sports. Mainly for the physical activity and to work on muscle tone – but also to work on social skills.  After playing spring baseball, we gave B a choice whether he wanted to play football like last year or play baseball again.  Last fall’s flag football wasn’t all that great so I was happy to hear he chose baseball.

We moved him up one step to Single A – which is still “machine pitch”, but with an inning that a boy will pitch to a batter.  Single A is also the first division that coaches “draft” – another potential disaster. I always disclose B’s diagnoses and had been relatively lucky with the Tball coach for Spring 2014 and his coach last spring for Rookie Machine Pitch.

My luck continued – his spring coach became his fall coach! I’m still wondering if that was deliberate or if by chance, truth be told. B became a Blue Claw. There were only other four teams in the division – the rosters were a little stacked. Practices started right before Labor Day and Husband became sports chauffeur to the sports star.

Of course, practices were hard, with lots of distractions. Most were Friday evenings, after school – and September in DC is still hot. But he got better with practice.

The very first game he hit the game-winning RBI. Not too shabby.

Image posted: B's game-winning RBI in the first game of the season

Image posted: B’s game-winning RBI in the first game of the season

Games were twice a week – Tuesday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Saturday afternoons were nice because he still could attend his adaptive karate classes if he wanted.

Now,  it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I’m pretty sure most of the parents think I’m the loony helicoptering mom that constantly hollers at her son to “stop”. Stop standing on the bench in the dugout, stop wandering around left field, stop kicking dirt in the infield, etc. He would have meltdowns when things were not going exactly the way he wanted it. You know – the hootin’, hollerin’, screechin’, squealin’ meltdowns that cause the stares and sideeyes. I tried very very hard to be patient – but he is “smarter than the average bear” and can push my buttons. There were some very hard moments during a few games that I didn’t want to go ballistic – all I can say is personally he knows my limits.

And then there were the times he would have no attention span at times to field the ball. It was absolutely maddening. And because there were 13 kids on the roster- some innings he was on the bench. That also can cause trouble so I was very close to the dugout to make sure he was appropriately behaving. Yes, we all know kids can be like that – but for “our” kids – it’s multiplied by 100 and highlighted in neon paint. It just stands out so much more.

Image Posted: One of our more eventful in-game moments: B pulled out his tooth while playing third base!

Image Posted: One of our more eventful in-game moments: B pulled out his tooth while playing third base!

But when he could hit, he did. He knew he could run, not necessarily the fastest, but rarely he got thrown out. And slide? No fear! In fact, he loved it – slid into home even when it wasn’t necessary. He got better with throwing (at least not throwing it way out of play) and even played catcher at times. We all know how wearing extra equipment can be daunting.

Image Posted: B playing catcher. At first it was ok, but one time he fell forward, got yelled at, and now doesn't like it. Oh well.

Image Posted: B playing catcher. At first it was ok, but one time he fell forward, got yelled at, and now doesn’t like it. Oh well.

Image Posted: Last game of the season. B beats the play at the plate. Turns out this is the tying run, and his team becomes the Season Champs!

Image Posted: Last game of the season. B beats the play at the plate. Turns out this is the tying run, and his team becomes the Season Champs!

The team was pretty good too. They lost the second game but they all played with heart. And not one instance of bullying, at least what I was aware.  And all the coaches worked really well with B.

Well, the team wasn’t just “good”. They were ggggrrrreeeaaatttt! They won the regular season. Then, much to my surprise, we had playoffs.

So, we played again. We were the top seed and defeated the first team. Then the Championship, which was a battle of changed conditions. First off, the game was at 6:00 PM on Election Day, which meant schools had the day off. Then they were at a different field so different playing conditions, plus it went long! Poor B was definitely all out of sorts.  He struck out his first time up, which I missed because I was stuck in traffic getting there from work.😦

But, it was a good game from both sides…just that our team had better bats. We won!

Image Posted: One of B's hits from the Championship Game. Like I said, some of his hits were strategically  placed!

Image Posted: One of B’s hits from the Championship Game. Like I said, some of his hits were strategically placed!

Image Posted: The Playoff Champions. B was working on his balancing skills, clearly. :)

Image Posted: The Playoff Champions. B was working on his balancing skills, clearly.:)

Last Sunday, the team gathered one last time to have a celebration dinner at a local pizza place. There, the coach rattled off a lot of stats and fun facts. Among them – guess who had the MOST hits on the team? That’s right – B! Guess who also scored the most – B again! That meant that not only was he a good (even strategic at times) hitter, he was either fast enough or sneaky enough to score, sliding and all.

So, no more baseball until the spring. We’ll see where we end up, division-wise. He expressed interested to continue practicing – we’ll see where it goes from here. Both Husband and I are proud of him, through ALL of the moments, and hope B sees it as well.

Posted in Little League, Magic Moments, Ramblings | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Our Vacation As Written By B

We went  to the beach. We stayed in a tall building that had a lazy river, and then another pool where I got to jump into like 8 feet deep. It rained some days too so we couldn’t get onto the beach. I had some fun with my sister even though she would bug me sometimes.

Mommy asked me what I liked about our trip. So this is what I told her to write.

What I Liked About Vacation:

  1. Night swimming. “Night swimming” is when you go out at night and swim. It’s fun because the sky is dark and you saw the moon and it was lighted up. The water was both cold and hot. The lazy river was definitely colder. Daddy didn’t enjoy staying in the pool that night and Mommy definitely didn’t go in.
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  3. Beach. I got to dive under the waves. I collected lot of seashells too.
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  5. We went to the gaming pizza place. We played some awesome games and I got some cool prizes.
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  7. I got to take some pictures of railroads on the way back from vacation. Daddy even stopped the car in one town so I could get a nice picture. I showed them to Grandma when she came home from her vacation.
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  9. Water park. I got to go one of the coolest slides. It was like eight feet tall and then arms crossed and like the slide you couldn’t even see your bare hand it was so black.Daddy called it the blackout slide. There was a white one that you had to be all crossed too.There was a chute one too. There was one Mommy went on too but she hated it. I refused to ride any that I had to use an inner tube like the one that looked like a big toilet bowl.
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  11. I got to jump on a big trampoline like a big pillow. It was more than three feet!
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  13. I liked the Upside Down Museum where I played a lot of cool things. But I didn’t like the rope course where I got up high and got really scared. But the big Lite Brite (Mommy and Daddy said they played with a small one as kids) was neat.
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    – B

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Is This Thing Still On?

So, er, hi.

Yeah, it’s been a while.

Like, yeah, months.

Seriously, there are reasons.

It’s not for lack of trying. There are days I want to post, but something – ANYTHING will get in the way. At work, any social media is verboten on the computer, and working by cell is very limiting. By the time I get home (dinner, homework, baths, etc.), I’m too damn tired. Or there’s a Real Housewives of Some Rich Ass Place that allows my brain to shut off and turn off from any other form of “real life”.

The weekends fly by between sports (oh yeah, BOTH kids played some sort of baseball, and Diva does gymnastics), errands, and maybe a few winks of sleep. I even get some laundry washed and perhaps put away. Clean clothes trumps the blog, hate to tell y’all that.

Or, I sit to start typing, and inevitably have to get up and referee one of the gazillion arguments the kids have over some “important” thing. Like, oh, which toy makes the loudest noise. Why one kid has the blue push-pop and the other has pink. Or perhaps they like to make our first floor the Indianapolis 500. Who knows – each time they make it sound like there are 20 kids, not 2, in my house, by the volume of their voices.

However, I will say that it’s been busy. There have been some really neat things that happened, some crappy things that have happened, and some “meh” things that have happened.

One of the biggest things is that B is on the DD Waiver List for Virginia. [Note: I write “DD Waiver” but the official title is The Individual & Family Development Disabilities Support Waiver (IFDDS)] This is a different Medicaid waiver from the EDCD Waiver which we were denied back in January. However, this was not without drama as well. We had to drive to Harrisonburg, VA (2 hours one way thank you very much state budget cuts) for a 30 minute screening. Yeah, that’s what you read. Two lovely women met with us, asked us questions (to determine levels of functionality for B) and sent us on our merry way.

On the way back, our van met an untimely demise – we were involved in a car accident. We are all fine no worries! However, B was definitely freaked out – the airbags did deploy, sending plumes of dust throughout the van – so he clearly thought we were on fire. After the first responders arrived, we got a fun ambulance ride to get him checked out (safety first!). I’d like to say we were “spreading autism awareness” that day in the county, lol.

Again, we are both fine…the van did NOT make it, sorry to say. We had to say goodbye and now we have a new car which both kids have gotten used to.

Anyway, like I said, B is officially on the “wait list”. What does this mean?

Well, the DD Waiver has “slots” that are funded by the Virginia General Assembly. During sessions it’s debated about how many “slots” will open on the Waiver.  Currently, it’s a first come first served waiting list – but that may be changing.

During the last General Session, as The Arc of Virginia’s Policy Blog highlights, notes:

  • “The budget bill retains the funding required by the U.S. v Virginia Settlement Agreement for 450 new I/DD Waiver slots for individuals on waiting lists and in Training Centers. These slots will be available beginning July 1, 2015. These slots were included in the budget passed by the 2014 General Assembly and remained in the Governor’s proposed budget this year. The breakdown of these Waivers is as follows:
    • 325 ID Waivers for individuals on the ID Waiver Waiting List
    • 40 DD Waivers for individuals on the DD Waiver Waiting List
    • 85 ID Waivers for individuals exiting Training Centers
  • The budget bill does not increase funding for I/DD Waiver slots.
  • The conference committee report eliminates the Day Support Waiver Redesign language from the Governor’s proposed budget bill and eliminates the 200 “Building Independence” Waiver slots which is likely to result in delaying the implementation of the redesign initiative by The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS). (301 #5c).”

At this rate, we are talking, literally, YEARS, on the waiting list. Which is why originally I was so depressed about the process – B will most likely not see any fruition of my efforts until his teen years. But, I guess if something is out there – one must try, no?

We have selected a case manager – Moms In Motion – who I actually met at last year’s Surfers Healing event.  This past week we had our first meeting which went well, considering there isn’t much to do. We need to work on qualifying B on Medicaid, but it’s ideal to do it on his income, and not on ours (for obvious reasons). I did get some new resource leads, which is encouraging.

And, of course, we have nothing but time, right? Time to work on these things, I suppose.

If after reading this, you are still wondering about applying for the DD Waiver (in the state of Virginia) – consider checking out The Arc of Northern Virginia for a handy step-by-step guide.

Posted in DD Waiver, waiting list | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment