Saturday, April 30, 2011

Autism Awareness Month comes to a close but Acceptance never ends

Hello Aspierations Friends,



Another Autism Awareness Month in the USA has come to a close but that certainly doesn't mean that acceptance or advocacy ends here at Aspierations or for many different proactive individuals, families and organizations.

At the beginning of this month, I pledged to write and post a new blog at Aspierations - Come as you are... Let your light shine... for every day in the month of April.  This is something I also did in 2010 and since I have now successfully completed two years of April blogging, I guess I'm going to make it a tradition.

For this last blog of the month, I was going to go ahead and do a summary and provide links to other blogs I wrote throughout this month but plans have a changed a bit.

Justin and John are away camping at Boy Scout Camporee and so I am here with Ryan tonight.  His schedule is a bit off and we've been spending a lot of time together this afternoon and evening.


We played fun games like Goofball and Wii Party, shared a nice dinner of macaroni & cheese, tortilla chips and snickerdoodles (I really know how to put out a spread... domestic diva that I am....) and I hung out using the iPad while Ryan enjoyed a luxurious bubble bath.  It was a special treat because I let him take a bath in our bathroom with bubbles, jets and rubber duckies and we played a Knock Knock, Who's There game where one of us had to guess who was at "the door."  (Visitors included Scooby Doo, grandparents, teachers, friends from school, bus drivers and even Angry Birds.)

Ryan and I miss Justin and John but understand how these camping trips they go on with the Boy Scouts bring a lot of benefits for both. Justin builds life skills, social skills and great outdoors skills.  John gets experience as a leader and a mentor and gets bonus bonding time with Justin. 

John and I have been doing a lot of talking this month about what we can personally do to help empower, encourage and enrich the lives of those on the autism spectrum as well as the families, caregivers and friends who love them.  Each of us has our own ideas of how we want to help.  

John's main project ideas revolve around Autism, Scouting and Disabilities Awareness.  He now has Autism and Scouting on Facebook, the Autism and Scouting blog and yesterday, he signed up for Twitter @AutismScouting.  He started working on a book around the beginning of the year and although finding time to write can be a challenge, he has made a fantastic start.

I have ideas of my own... including building Aspierations into an awareness and empowerment website, writing a couple books of my own, including a children's book and working on special projects that can benefit those in our direct community as well as those throughout the nation and the world.  I am in the process of researching, finding funding and allocating the time to make this happen because I want to do it right and my husband and I want to create resources that our children will benefit from and be proud of.  

A lot of things happened in the past month that have convinced me that we are heading on the right path now. Our children mean the world to us. Helping them and others on the autism spectrum be successful and happy with their lives is something I feel in my heart that I have been called to do.  

I look forward to continuing the journey with my Aspierations friends.  We are all a work in progress...




Wishing you happiness and joy, acceptance and peace,
Karen

Friday, April 29, 2011

Helping Those with Autism Relax & Have Restful Sleep

As I was starting to blog tonight, I noticed in my Blogger Dashboard that yesterday's blog was a milestone. It was my 200th posting here at Aspierations - Come as you are... Let your light shine!




When my husband John completed his 100th blog, I got him a cake.  For my 200th... or I guess now, my 201st blog, I'm hoping for a nice long two handed back massage tonight.  My shoulders heartily agree.

Relaxing is a skill I have never mastered.  Even in a hot tub with tranquil surroundings and peaceful music, my mind still has the tendency to race and contemplate all the things I think I need to be accomplishing. There have been times when I do actually remember relaxing and when I close my eyes, I try to recapture those moments but I truly need to be in the right frame of mind.

My husband is very good at relaxing and can fall asleep about anywhere.  From zero to snore in 60 seconds... (Hooray, nose strips!)  The boys spend their days actively involved in some sort of activity and even if we were to try and hang out in front of the TV, chances are they would be multi-tasking unless it was a particularly favorite show.

It seems like challenges with relaxing are characteristic of those on the autism spectrum but if you'd like to chime in with your own opinion or personal experiences, please feel free to do so.

I know there is definitely an impact on my sleep for I find it very hard to fall into a restful night's sleep unless I am snuggled up underneath the covers (I have this great plush tiger comforter), there is a fan going on in the room to block out outside noise and I am physically feeling very tired.  I have tried melatonin with varying success.  When I have a cold, nighttime liquid medicine like Nyquil puts me out after about a half hour but the problem is that I when I take this stuff, I don't want to wake up again until at least 8 hours later, a novelty not always available in our household.

Our oldest son who is 11 1/2 tends to have trouble falling asleep as well.  A weighted blanket does help him stay asleep.  Our youngest son who is almost 5 falls asleep fairly easily but tends to wake up one to times a night and rather early in the morning. (It used to be much more frequent...)

I found a useful article online tonight at WebMD called Helping Your Child With Autism Get A Good Night's Sleep.  Researchers estimate that between 40 - 80% of kiddos with autism have difficulties sleeping. There wasn't a statistic for adults given but I wouldn't be surprised if most adults with an ASD like autism or Asperger's fell into that range.

The biggest sleep problems among children include:

1) Difficulty falling asleep  <-- Check for me and check for our oldest!

2) Inconsistent sleep routines <-- Our kids do have pretty good routines during the school year and although we try and have a summer routine as well, it doesn't seem to work quite as well.

3) Restlessness or poor sleep quality <-- Check! Ugh...  Nightmares and occasional restless leg syndrome plague me.  Our oldest goes on a fair amount of boy scout camping trips and those always throw his sleep schedule off for a couple days afterwards.

4) Waking early <-- Check for our youngest and subsequently, anyone in his path.  It is not uncommon for him to wake up with a really loud urgent request... usually for ice... but occasionally just to share something important that happened at school.

Obviously sleep problems can have a significant impact on a person's health and their performance in school or work.  Parents of children with sleep problems are also adversely affected because their sleep schedules are often thrown off as well.  


Ryan used to only be able to fall asleep in our office recliner... until we got him a big boy bed!

There are certain things you can do to help a child or adult with sleep problems.  Since people on the autism spectrum may have heightened sensitivity to sound and light, doing things like making sure to have heavy curtains on the windows to block out the light and padded carpeting may make an impact.  

Relaxing music can help one fall asleep.  Having a fan with a cool breeze pointed away from the one sleeping has proven very useful in our family. When it's bath night for the boys, they are usually taken about an hour before bedtime to help relax them.

We don't allow sugary snacks, drinks with caffeine, video games or computer time for at least an hour before bedtime.  The PBS Kids Sprout channel has a Good Night show every evening so we do allow that for Ryan and we encourage quiet activities such as reading for both boys.


Bouncing before bed? Well... sometimes just a few bounces are okay....


I think probably the most important thing for the boys to have a successful chance at regular sleep is that they have a nighttime routine.  On weekdays they go to bed at the same time and on weekends, we give them an hour extra.  I know this sometimes throws things off but we try to make sure to have plenty of physical activity packed into the weekend so that when it is time for bed, they are ready to sleep.  Conversely, during the week, even though they go to bed an hour earlier, it may take 30 - 45 minutes to fall asleep.  

I'll admit that for me, I end up doing one regular thing that experts say not to do.  This egregious mistake is watching TV every night before going to bed with my husband.  After long days with the kids and work, it's nice to just have some relatively mindless "us" time snuggling and watching our favorite shows.  I do not want to give that up.

Being that we both enjoy murder mysteries and crime dramas, the subject matter isn't always the lightest and I look away at the really gross and graphic stuff.  The thing is that watching TV at night before falling asleep has actually become my routine and on nights when it doesn't work out to do it, those are often the hardest nights for me to fall asleep.  At least when I get my mind thinking about some show, it's not racing around contemplating everything else I feel I should be doing in the present and future.  

Here is the link again to the WebMD article - Helping Your Child with Autism Get A Good Night's Sleep.  It's a fairly quick read and worth looking at if you haven't read anything on this subject before.

Regarding helping a child or adult with Autism learn to relax or calm down... some occasions are much easier than others.  When you're in the midst of a huge meltdown, be prepared to be creative and use many of the tricks in your arsenal.  For anxiety, we have found success using calming music.  Others try yoga or meditation. (I haven't yet been able to successfully meditate, although I have tried many times.)

Our boys have learned a few self-regulation techniques to calm them down when they're upset such as doing Dots and Squeezies, wearing a weighted vest or swaddling with a weighted blanket, doing heavy work (carrying weighted items such as a gallon milk jug), practicing deep breaths or pressing against a wall. I have found that singing familiar lullabies or personal nighttime songs to my sons will often help as well, perhaps because it reminds them of a time when they relax before falling asleep.


Sleepovers in brother's room aren't always best for falling asleep, but they sure are fun!

Do you have any other tricks of the trade for calming yourself or a friend / family member on the autism spectrum?  For me, if the weather is cool outside, I enjoy a nighttime walk or listening to music and IF (the operative words) I can get a nice warm bubble bath with candles and music and no interruptions, that often does the trick too!  

Tomorrow is the last day of April and since I've been blogging each day this month in support of Autism Awareness, I'm going to do a review of blogs I've written throughout the month as well as some thoughts for continuing awareness, empowerment and enrichment for the future!

I hope you'll visit again.  Thanks so much for dropping by!
Karen

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Disaster Preparedness Links for Families Affected by Autism

Hello!

This morning when I walked down the hall from our bedroom to our home office, I heard the sound of the TV and walked in to see shocking and devastating images of the damage caused in many southern USA states as the result of recent tornadoes and heavy storms.  It was very sad to watch the images.  I wanted to do something to help and although this blog posting is a very tiny contribution in the big scope of things, perhaps someone happening in will find use out of some of the links I will be providing below.

We have family, childhood friends and Count Your Beans customers who live in states that were impacted.  Some showed pictures on Facebook of the devastation in their neighborhoods. Others asked for prayers and well wishes for family members, neighbors and people in their communities adversely affected.  Others we have not yet heard from.

As we went to do our shipping today, I checked to see where we were shipping to as I know there will be delays with both UPS and Fed-Ex since both have major US hubs in impacted areas.  We're praying and thinking about so many that are having to go through the pain of all of this and I was reminded in watching the images of other natural disasters in recent news such as the horrific earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan.

Being in the midst of a natural disaster would be scary and heart-wrenching for anyone.  I was in the Loma Prieta earthquake in California back in 1989 and helped to find temporary housing and furniture for Oakland fire victims but I have no experience with tornadoes even though one did hit a part of Vancouver, WA a couple years ago.  

For those who have children with autism or other special needs, natural disasters have an even greater complexity.

I looked around to see if I could find some good references for Disaster Preparedness for those with autism or other disabilities and although I know they're out there, they don't seem to pop up very easily on Google.  Maybe I just need to find the right search words.

Dr. Stephen Shore, a well-known speaker at many autism conventions, wrote an article back in 2006 for Autism / Asperger's Digest:


So many natural disasters have occurred since 2006 that I expected to find more updated information around the web but most of the links I came across were very basic.  I did come across this PDF file by renowned emergency preparedness expert and father of a son with autism, Dennis Debbaudt.  

Disaster Preparedness Tips for Families Affected by Autism - You can print this out and keep it with you to help you prepare your emergency kit.  Dennis also has an excellent website providing training in Risk & Safety Management.

AutismRiskManagement.com

From a financial standpoint, I came across a non-profit organization that provides grants and support to individuals with autism and their families during natural disasters and other life catastrophic events.


I know that there are also many Mommy (and some Daddy) bloggers out there with children on the spectrum that have written about the subject recently.  Here's one for you to check out!

If you have any helpful resources you'd like to share, please feel free to leave a note in the comments section.  Let us work together to help each other be prepared and empowered as unfortunately, many of us will also be part of natural disasters in the future.

Thanks for any support you can provide!
Karen

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Goofball - It's all the Rage!

Today's blog is admittedly a bit goofy and I'm not talking the Disney dog!

One really fun thing about being a mom is making up silly songs and games with my sons. I've been singing to both since they were babies and one of these days, I'm going to record all the songs for posterity and in case I'm blessed with grandkids in my old age and I've forgotten the lyrics.

We also enjoy playing made up games and helping to foster the boys' imaginative play.  I've found that "therapy" is much more fun when it isn't a chore to be checked off but instead a fun game where multiple people have contributed to the rules.

We are currently working on helping Ryan with the ability to throw, catch and kick a ball and practice skills that he would use during recess time. Not only does this help him physically with his motor skills but we think it will help him socially too once he enters Kindergarten and has more chances to interact outside during recess and lunchtime with his peers.

The game that Ryan and I came up with is called Goofball.  Since Ryan is funny, charming and can be very silly and goofy at times, Goofball was a perfect name for our game.  We also wanted to carry on the Krejcha family tradition of funny "ball" sounding games.  His previous favorite game and still a family favorite is "Eyeball".  He even recruited a babysitter to play the game with him one night...

So... I bet you're waiting for me to share what on earth Goofball entails?  I'm glad you asked!  Goofball is a goofy game where the adult (in this case Mom aka yours truly) takes her place by sitting on one of those big medicine balls next to a little wading pool without water that is filled with dozens of balls of varying sizes, shapes and textures.


I'm not in this kind of shape yet but who knows... after another 1000 rounds of Goofball this week, I may be well on my way!

Ryan is then about 8 feet away and is either sitting in a soft recliner chair or he is standing.  (This game is played in our playroom / therapy room aka what would be a family room in most homes.)  We could play this game outside but as it has been raining in beautiful Vancouver off/on most days since the beginning of the year, we have chosen at this point to make it an indoor game.

The game starts by me picking up a ball from the pool, calling out the type of ball and the color (i.e. soft blue ball or yellow SpongeBob football or Ryan's absolute favorite, Cornball) and then throwing the ball to him while I stay seated on the medicine ball.  

Cornball, straight from Wisconsin, a favorite gift from Dad. (What's next, Cheeseball?)

Ryan's job is to try and catch the ball and then throw it back to me.  If he can do so without the ball landing out of my reach, then we get a point and keep the process going with the same ball as long as we can.  He keeps track of the points through counting.  We get negative points if we miss, positive points if we score and if additional members join in as guests from other parts of the room, their score starts at zero but ours is cumulative.  That was Ryan's rule, not mine!

If the ball goes astray and I can't reach it from where I'm sitting, then I pull another ball out of the pool and we try again.  We either play to one of Ryan's favorite numbers (54, 154 and 200 are all good markers) or until Mom tires out. 

The kinds of balls we have include soft squishy balls, footballs, kickballs, hacky sack balls (did I date myself?), cornball and the round, plastic balls you jump and crash into if you're a kid playing in one of those big inflatable pool things. (I think there is a name for it but it escapes me now.)

It's really great therapy because Ryan gets to throw and catch balls of different texture, shape and size, he gets to practice addition and subtraction and he hears me call out colors and names. He has to focus on throwing to me to get a point and he gets to make up funny rules like if a ball accidentally hits him in the cheek, he gets to throw that ball backwards.  

Today we played the game twice.  Ryan and I played before dinner and then the whole family joined in after dinner.  It's a little more difficult with 4 but I love having Justin and John there too and it's fun playing around with rules and trying out new things like keeping multiple balls going at the same time.  

As we have a lot of hard balls (i.e. bowling, baseball) around, we try to remove those so no-one gets too excited and launches one of those.  Somehow a racquetball made it into tonight's game and met my nose. The racquetball was subsequently disqualified and hidden from all future Goofball games.  Who knows, if the game catches on and there are tournaments around the world, we might reconsider bringing the racquetball back for advanced levels of play.

Now that you know the basics of Goofball, your life may not be complete but I certainly hope it has been enriched!  If you see the game catch on like Angry Birds or something of the sort, remember folks that you saw it here at Aspierations first and it was the creative inspiration of a 4 year old boy!  (Almost 5, Mom... sheesh!)

I'll be back again tomorrow!
Thanks for stopping by!
Karen

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sensory Processing Disorder - Sharing Information

Hello Aspierations Friends!

When my youngest son came home from school today, he had on his weighted vest.  That often is a sign that he had a little "wild body" going on at school and there may been some self-regulation issues.  The teachers have a whole arsenal of techniques they use with Ryan and some days some strategies work better than others.  This was a weighted vest day.




As I saw him with his vest on, it got me to thinking about a topic I haven't talked about on this blog this month, but wanted to make sure to get in before Autism Awareness month was over.

Many children and adults that have autism also have Sensory Processing Disorder.  SPD is not an autism spectrum disorder and there are people who have SPD that do not have autism. That being said, since many people I have come across in my personal experience happen to have SPD, I wanted to share some information that I found from the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation.

Sensory processing (sometimes called "sensory integration" or SI) is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Whether you are biting into a hamburger, riding a bicycle, or reading a book, your successful completion of the activity requires processing sensation or "sensory integration."
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as "sensory integration dysfunction") is a condition that exists when sensory signals don't get organized into appropriate responses.
Sensory Processing Disorder can affect people in only one sense–for example, just touch or just sight or just movement–or in multiple senses. One person with SPD may over-respond to sensation and find clothing, physical contact, light, sound, food, or other sensory input to be unbearable. Another might under-respond and show little or no reaction to stimulation, even pain or extreme hot and cold. In children whose sensory processing of messages from the muscles and joints is impaired, posture and motor skills can be affected. These are the "floppy babies" who worry new parents and the kids who get called "klutz" and "spaz" on the playground. Still other children exhibit an appetite for sensation that is in perpetual overdrive. These kids often are misdiagnosed - and inappropriately medicated - for ADHD.


Justin, Ryan and I all have sensory processing issues and I will cover this later in a future blog as our issues vary and it would take awhile to explain.  In the past, our children have had occupational therapy and physical therapy at NeuroTherapeutics in Oregon and we highly recommend their services.  We wished we could have used their services more often and certainly would be open to going back in the future.

Unfortunately, I don't have much time to blog right now but before I go, I would like to refer you to an excellent website for information, the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation.

Hartley's Life with 3 Boys also published an interesting blog about the subject and I recommend you checking that out too for a more personal perspective:


If you have any experience with Sensory Processing Disorder that you'd like to share or have any references, suggestions or techniques to suggest, please feel free to leave a note in the comments section!

Best wishes,
Karen

Monday, April 25, 2011

One more week left in Autism Awareness Month for 2011

Wow, it's April 25th already? 

For those of you who are not aware, I made a commitment at the beginning of the month to post a new blog at Aspierations every day in the month of April in support of Autism Awareness month. This was something I successfully completed in 2010 and I'm proud to say that I'm on track for 2011 as well.


Since we're coming up on the end of the month, I wanted to take the time to ask you if you had any specific topics you'd like me to address or if you have any questions about me and my family?  Any areas of concern where you would like some referral links?

Although autism and Asperger's is more prevalent in boys, there certainly are a lot of women affected and a great resource for women on the spectrum is the Autism Women's Network.  The mission of the network is to provide effective support to autistic females of all ages through a sense of community, advocacy and resources.

http://www.autismwomensnetwork.org/

I have found in my seemingly countless hours of researching autism online that there are a lot of women on the autism spectrum who do a great job writing and communicating their opinions and feelings about living life on the spectrum.  You will find a lot of these women at the AWN and you will find many varying and interesting perspectives that may just make you rethink the way you look at autism in women.

Since I outed myself in my blog on January 18th, 2010 as a female adult living with Asperger's with the blog, "The Outing of A Gal with Asperger's Syndrome, What Did I Do?", I have had varying reactions from family, acquaintances and those I considered friends.

Some (the cool ones out there) have been quite supportive. Many which I sadly must confess include extended family members have chosen not to address or bring up the issue with me.  I don't know if they're in denial, if they're on the spectrum themselves, if they feel guilty or if it's just too awkward to be around me now but it certainly can be confusing and hurtful.  I suppose some attach a stigma to the "label" of autism or Asperger's however as I've said many times before, I don't let autism define me or my sons. True, autism is part of our makeup and part of our daily lives but I am not going to let it hold us back from pursuing our dreams, special interests and passions.

I would say it is because of my Asperger's (even though I did not know back then I was an Aspie) that I had the tenacity and fortitude to leave my secure Silicon Valley managerial position in an employment firm and join the Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour in my late 20s.

God doesn't make mistakes.  I sure make a lot but I believe He doesn't and whatever neurological variances that our family has, that is part of who we are. It is part of our journey and we will do our best to make the most of what we have been blessed with.  I'm not the kind of person who has ever been content to live at status quo and I don't ever want to settle when I know I can do more to make a positive difference in this world.  My children are fantastic and I want to provide them amazing opportunities to learn, play and grow educationally, emotionally, socially and spiritually.

My picture of their future may be a little different than it was a few years ago. It is ever-changing and constantly developing.  If they are happy and have a healthy sense of self-esteem, life skills, a career or passion they enjoy, a personal relationship with God, friendships, family relationships and love, all the other stuff will work itself out.

Before I go, I promised a few more Easter pictures from Easter day.  For some reason, the picture quality doesn't seem to look as good here on the blog but you'll get the general idea.  We had a fun day and everyone in our family found their Easter basket.  Thank you, Easter Bunny!











That's all for tonight, Aspierations visitors!
Until tomorrow,
Karen

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Reflections on Easter Sunday in Vancouver, WA


Good evening and Happy Easter to all!

I hope that you had a pleasant day however you chose to spend it!  I realize that not all Aspierations visitors celebrate Easter and for those that don't, I hope you had a lovely day as well.



When I was growing up, Easter didn't have a particularly religious impact in my life. Our family was spiritual in our own way and believed in God but we didn't attend church unless one of my Grandmas was in town and since they usually came near Christmas, that meant that I didn't spend Easters at church.

I contemplated that today.  This is our fourth year in a row that we have attended a church Easter service.  The first and second were with Journey Community Church in Camas and the third and fourth have been with LifePoint Church in Vancouver.  So the first time that we went to church in Washington was in 2008 and that was on Easter Sunday, March 23rd.  

We moved from California in summer of 2007.  From time to time John and I both talked about finding a church to attend here locally.  John was raised in the Catholic faith and although we had gotten married in the Catholic church in California in July of 1992, we were not regular church-goers. I wasn't sure if being Catholic was the right fit for me and although I believed in God and Jesus and considered myself a Christian, I wanted to learn about different denominations and find a church that was not what I perceived as exclusive or particularly judgmental.  I was looking for a neighborhood church that accepted us for who we were and where I felt I could belong. 

We received a postcard in the mail from Journey in March of 2008 and it had a welcoming picture of an Easter bunny with eggs and invited us to visit their church for an Easter service where there would also be an egg hunt for the kids.  I realize (especially after seeing how packed it was today) that there are many people out there that mainly attend church on Easter Sunday and around Christmas and I thought that going the first time to a new church when we were still relatively new to Washington would be a nice idea for the family and perhaps a way we might begin to meet other people. (Okay... I was idealistic on the last part for myself but I wanted my husband and kids to make connections.)



So we went... and the service was being held in a middle school.  Living in California, my idea of going to church meant going to a physical "church" that looked on the outside like a church and on the inside like a church. (Think Catholic...)  Up here in Washington, I am amazed at how many churches start out by meeting in schools and you know what?  My view of what church should look like changed that day and I do believe in a more positive light.  I actually kind of liked meeting in a middle school when we were at Journey.  It wasn't really intimidating and yet I felt God's presence and was touched by the music more there then I had been in a very long time.

Eventually our family transitioned to LifePoint Church because it was closer to our home and turned out to be a bit of a better fit for our boys as far as kids' programs went but I will never forget the people at Journey and the first time that John and I were in the back singing "Amazing Grace" with tears in our eyes the Sunday after Ryan was diagnosed with autism.  This was only a few months after our first visit there and I am SO thankful that we had a church to go as we began our family journey learning and living with autism and soon a diagnosis of Asperger's for Justin and about a year later, my own self-realization and acceptance of my own place on the autism spectrum.

Interestingly enough, our first visit to LifePoint was as the result of them hosting this HUGE (25,000 eggs) Easter egg hunt in 2009.  Ryan was a little under 3 years old and we attended an autism support group meeting at his future preschool.  While there, we received a flyer and it told of this egg-hunt at LifePoint for ages 2 and up where they had a special area for kids with autism and other special needs to hunt.  It also mentioned there were inflatables and well... even back then, Ryan LOVED to bounce!


Bouncing on his big boy bed!

We didn't switch to LifePoint at that time but when Journey was in the process of making a transition to move out of the middle school to a new location, John and I decided in late August 2010 to see if LifePoint might be a possible fit for us. We did really like Journey and loved their music, however their new location was a bit farther away and we were concerned about the size of their new rooms for their youth program and whether there would be people still available who could watch both Ryan and Justin.

I share all this because it seems that Easter eggs, even though they are not the "reason for the season" so to speak, helped guide us to places where our family would end up embracing and strengthening our faith.  As the kids would do their hunts among the company of others in the community, we were on our own family hunt to find the right place where we could celebrate, worship and learn more about the teachings of God and Jesus Christ.

It is an ongoing adventure as is our journey with Autism and Aspergers.  I find the names of the two churches we have been to (Journey and LifePoint) so fitting considering our personal family situation.

Yesterday when we went out to do two egg hunts with the boys (see yesterday's lighter and picture rich blog "Easter Egg Hunting we will go, Easter Egg Hunting we will go"), the day was bright, sunny and warm, one of the first we had in this area for awhile.  Today on Easter Sunday it was a bit rainy and gloomy in the sky and yet for me... it was a day filled with hope and promise.

John tells his own version of the Krejcha family Easter on his blog tonight and it has a lighter tone so I invite you to visit "Hoppy Easter To All" to read his take on the day and to share lots of family pictures hunting for baskets and all that good stuff.

As for me, I was very proud of myself at church.  It was PACKED and I anticipated that. Although I'm not big on milling around in a big crowd, I gave myself a pep talk in advance to be prepared. We got there early and got the boys into their respective Sunday school areas and went to sit up in the first row of the balcony.  I like the view from overhead and I don't have to worry about people right in front of me. I can sing to my heart's content and stretch out my legs a bit if I need to.

There is a part of every service after a couple songs of worship where the music pastor asks everyone to stand up and greet a few people around you.  Admittedly, this is not my favorite part of church because it always feels a bit forced and not genuine.  I respect and understand social niceties but being told to say hi to people just seems a bit strange.  I like saying hi and smiling at people on my own because it's my choice... so I told myself in advance that this would be my choice and I would make eye contact, smile, shake hands and wish each person around me a Happy Easter in a genuine and warm loving way.  Since I figured most of the people around me were not regular attenders, if I made any social mishaps, so be it. I would try and it would be real.  

It actually felt pretty amazing and you know... as I made eye contact and smiled, many of the people seemed a bit more awkward than I did... and I got that because I had felt that feeling many times before. I'll tell you another secret too.  I'm pretty sure I was sitting very close to another Aspie traveler as his mannerisms just shouted out to me. (I sensed the quirkiness in all its wonderful glory.) I made extra sure to look into his eyes and smile and make sure my handshake was as genuine and real as possible. 



It felt good...

I thought of something else too.  I recently did a blog Easter Egg hunts in the Vancouver, Washington area and the feedback is that it got a lot of local viewing.  I'd like to think that it was possible that as a result of that blog posting, there were families that found their way to LifePoint & McKenzie stadium on Saturday to participate in an egg hunt that showed generosity, love and kindness of volunteers.  

In that group, I'd also like to think there may have been a family somewhat like mine a couple years ago... maybe new to the area... 
or new to attending church... 
or going through a life transition... 
or finding out they had a child diagnosed with autism... 

and perhaps, God used me and my writing as a vessel to help provide the map for someone to find out more about Him in church today on Easter Sunday.

Wouldn't that be wonderful... a way of paying forward our positive egg hunt experiences that turned into so much more spiritually for our family.

I want to make a positive impact with this blog and with Aspierations.  I have begun to understand more in the past couple of weeks how to make that happen and I look forward to sharing more about that with you in the future.

For tonight... I'm looking at the clock and told John I'd be done blogging at 11:30 p.m. and here it is 11:47 (sorry!!!) so I'd better bid you adieu and wish you a wonderful week ahead!  Sorry... no time to edit so if I goofed, I'll have to come back and edit in the future. :-)

I'll post some Easter pictures in my blog tomorrow but here is one with the boys that I did like.


HAPPY EASTER from our family to yours!!!

With love, hope and faith....
Let us shine our lights together!

Karen

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Egg Hunting we will go, Easter Egg Hunting we will go!

Hoppy Day before Easter, Aspierations Friends!

Today was Easter Egg Hunt day for the Krejcha family!  The kiddos had been looking forward to this all week long and I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when Ryan came hopping into the bed egg-stra early and very eggcited about the day's events.

"What time is the Easter Egg hunt?"  (Mumble, groan... "not now")...

5 seconds later... "WHAT time is the Easter Egg hunt?" (Mumble, groan... "11:30 ish...")

10 seconds later... "WILL SOMEONE GET UP????"  ("Someone" can refer to various members of our household but usually can be translated as "the person who is going to get me my juice...")

John and I really wanted to sleep in but it just wasn't happening...

My husband at Life and Times of John Krejcha did a blog today which summarized our sequence of events very nicely and included pictures as well.


The two egg hunts we went to were at LifePoint Church in Vancouver in the late morning and at McKenzie stadium behind Evergreen High School in the late afternoon.   

The first hunt at LifePoint Church was amazingly well-organized.  It was a beautiful, sunny and warm day here in the Northwest (the best in awhile) and there was an amazing turnout and such friendly and gracious volunteers.

As in years past, they had a specific area for children with special needs and since there were so many people around (over 2,000 between the first and second hunts), it was nice to have a smaller area where our youngest could have a great time, get a lot of eggs and wouldn't get too revved up or risk being run over.  Our oldest son decided he would like to participate in the regular egg hunt with kids of his age group and have a chance to find a gift card or a golden egg and so he gladly did that.










Ryan got a prize egg where he won a Rubber Ducky! He loves rubber duckies!


Searching for the elusive Golden Egg worth $50!!!



Justin had a nice score in his area as well!




After a science magic show in the church, egg hunting and time for Ryan to get a few rounds of bouncing and sliding in, we headed home where Justin and John proceeded to head out to the store for grocery shopping and picking up our ham dinner from QFC for Easter Sunday.  

Ryan and I hung out.  I wasn't too much in the mood to work.  Taking time off is something I find difficult to do but when I'm doing it, I certainly do enjoy it.  My family is a lot of fun and doing fun things together around the holidays build traditions that I hope the boys will look back upon fondly when they are older.

At about 4:45 p.m., we headed off for our second egg hunt.  This one was primarily for children with physical and developmental disabilities and had been hosted by the Multnomah County Corrections Deputies Charitable Trust.  This was their 11th year and our first.  We definitely would like to return again next year as everyone and everybunny was so friendly, the field was very easy to walk on and there were more than enough eggs for everyone to fill their basket.

Not only did the boys get to see the Easter bunny but they participated in two back-to-back egg hunts, got to keep all their eggs and candy and at the end of it all, each got a special duck to bring home as a present. 

















The boys had a great day and when we got home, John culminated the day's events by cooking a fantastic spaghetti dinner for the family. It was delicious and I was so impressed with John doing this considering how exhausted we all were from the past week's events.

We are all looking forward to the Easter Bunny visiting tomorrow, going to church, celebrating the special day in a spiritual family way and enjoying ham, potatoes, noodles, green beans, rolls and Gram's snickerdoodles!

We feel so blessed and so fortunate to have had the opportunity to share these experiences and we appreciate you taking time from your busy life to glance in on our lives.

Best wishes and blessings for a very Happy Easter!
Love,
Karen