Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Things Kathryn Does That Make Me Smile!

Some days it is easy to get discouraged.  Then I take a moment to remember all the things that Kathryn does that make me smile!

She turns the bathroom rugs upside down because she doesn’t like to step on the soft side.

She often hides clothes that she knows she wants to wear in the next couple of days.  I think she wants to make sure they are not in the wash when she is ready to wear them.
She loves to sleeps in her coat and boots.  One time her boots were dirty and I had to wash them up.  I wouldn’t let her wear them to bed because they were still too wet.  When I checked on her after she had gone to bed, I discovered she had put my boots on to sleep in.

When she gets dressed, she pulls up her underwear/pull-up and pants only to the bottom of her rear, gets completely dressed (including boots and coat), then pulls them up the rest of the way.

She likes to have me bounce a ball with her back turned to me so she can hear the “music” it makes.  She nods her head to the rhythm and says “music” in the sweetest in-awe-of voice.

When she is mad at her brother, she comes and gets me, takes my hand and leads me to him.  She stands me in front of him, making sure I am facing him, and then just stands there with her hands on her hips.

She wakes up laughing, sometimes hysterically, for reasons only she is aware of.  She will sometimes lie in bed and laugh for five to ten minutes.  Sometimes she will do the same thing in the car, just randomly.  That girl must have some dang funny thoughts going thru her head.

She likes to “drum” with pencils on different surfaces.  Her favorite is to set up the remote control upside-down, a lotion bottle on its side and a can of cat food.  She will set them up on my bed and tap each one gently to listen to the sound they make.  Always in perfect rhythm to the song on the TV or radio, or sometimes just the song in her head.

When I walk into her classroom at school, she gets so excited.  She skips around the room making happy noises, then runs over to me and takes my hand.   I love the big smile on her face.

She makes sure every door in the house is closed.  At all times!

Some mornings I will hear the back door open and close at a very early hour (5ish).  I will look out my window and see her swinging on her swing in the back yard in her pajamas.

She waits until the last minute and then wiggles and dances while she tries to get her coat off and pants down.  She walks in a circle while she does it. 

When she is going to do something she knows she shouldn't do, she says: “Turn around.”  Or “Turn over.”  As if that’s not going to make me curious.  

Friday, November 11, 2011

Don't Wash the Pajamas

One morning last week, when Kathryn woke up…. At 4:15 AM…. She was very insistent that I do not wash her reindeer pajamas. I guess she wanted to make sure they were not in the wash when she wanted to wear them that night. As the morning went on, she brought me one set of pajamas after another to fold. I figured she was just checking on them and putting them back on the shelf. But no… she was sneaking every pair of pajamas she owns and putting them in her backpack and she took them all to school with her. I guess that’s one way to make sure they are not in the wash when she wants to wear them. I sure love that girl and her creative thinking!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Purple Noodles, Brown Bridge and a Schwan Man Named Jason

Purple Noodles, Brown Bridge and a Schwan Man Named Jason

Communication is such an interesting concept. Imagine having just a fraction of the words in your vocabulary to use. Imagine being super smart, but the average person can’t understand what you’re saying. That’s my Katie-Bean!

She kept telling me over and over what she wanted for dinner, but I just couldn’t understand. Finally she was repeating over and over: “Purple Noodles, purple noodles”. Racking my brain, what are purple noodles? Duh, Panda Express. The building is purple. She loves their noodles. Once I asked her if she wanted Panda Express, she was so happy that I understood.

We went to my parents’ house this past weekend. Kathryn was so excited to see Grandma Sheldon and Teacher Pop. She was getting squirmy and a bit whiney the closer we got and kept telling me “Bridge”. I knew that she knew we had to cross the Columbia River on the Biggs Bridge. Once we past The Dalles Bridge, I told her it was the next bridge. Well, silly mommy, I forgot about a train trussle bridge. When we came around the corner and she saw that bridge, she started freaking out saying “No white bridge, brown bridge!”. OK… the train trussle bridge is white, that would be just too weird if the Biggs Bridge is brown. Guess what, she remembered that it was brown. Did I mention the last time we saw the bridge was in November, nine months ago?

Every two weeks, the Schwan Man stops by; sometimes we order, sometimes we don’t. Last month we got a new Schwan Man, he stopped by and introduced himself. Two weeks later when he stopped by again, I had to ask him his name again. Before he could say anything, Kathryn chimes in with “Jason”. We both just looked at her.

Every day she amazes me with her ability to make me understand what she wants using just a few words and a lot of association. One more quick example: we were at a baseball game and she wanted to use the black toilet (don’t ask). I didn’t understand what she was saying so she ran over to a lady watching another game and pulled on her BLACK t-shirt and then showed me her diaper. OK… black toilet.

I just hope that someday, I can be as smart as my Katie-Bean!!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Serving our Special Needs Kids at Church

I love educating people about autism and watching them get involved and grow! At our church, we have 4 wonderful young spirits that are on the Autism Spectrum, ranging from severe/no verbal to high functioning/verbal. We have developed a program that allows them to be part of our church family while giving others in our Ward the blessing of getting to know them and serving them in a Christ-like way. Getting to the point we are at now has not happened overnight. I will have to tell you that patience and education along with prayer where the tools involved. The final piece of the puzzle before we actually put things into action was a meeting with the Bishopric where I educated them about Autism.

The name of our class is the Stars and our theme song is Every Star is Different (from the Primary Children’s Song Book). Every week we have one or two Primary kids join our class. I went into sharing time and talked to the kids about this wonderful opportunity they have to be a special friend to our Star class. I told them all the fun things they get to do and how they can help and that they will have to show they are responsible. We choose kids six years old and older; making sure there is always an older child in there. They love it so much that every Sunday they are asking if it is their turn yet.

We have a room designated for our Star class that is set up just for them.

We use a strip visual schedule for the day.

We have an area for circle time/lesson,

a table for snack/art (with a string on the wall for hanging their works of art),

a "calm corner" area when a kiddo needs a break, a cabinet for books and toys, and a file cabinet for snacks and teacher supplies.

There are two teachers called to the class.
I have made slip covers for the backs of the chairs so they know which seat is theirs with a second set for the Primary room to be used during music/sharing time.

Their favorite activity is "Where’s Jesus". We have a picture of Jesus that we "hide" somewhere in the church and each Star and Helper has a matching picture. The kids go for a walk using a rope with canning rings tied on it to hold on to. They walk through the church matching their pictures with all the ones they see on the walls until they find the one they are looking for.

The kids get so excited when they find it. We are having such a great time with this class and love seeing these children's love for the gospel grow on so many levels.
We have four lesson plans that rotate: Love, Prayer, Heavenly Father has a Body and so do I, and CTR (Choose the Right). Each lesson is very simple with lots of songs and an art project that goes along with the theme.
If anyone would like more detailed info, please don't hesitate to email me.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I hate it when someone rains on my parade!

GREAT WALK for Autism Speaks on Saturday. The media decided to focus on the half dozen protesters instead of the hundreds of people there doing good. Following is my "letter to the editor":

6:00 AM, the alarm goes off and, if I am not already up, I try to quietly get up and shower before my 7 ½ year old, Kathryn, wakes up. (This morning, she was up at 3:00 AM, so the alarm meant nothing.) I balance getting ready for work, getting Kathryn ready for school and getting my 13 year old son, Christopher, up to start his day. Typical morning? Yes! Typical family? NO! Kathryn first needs her diaper changed and, hopefully, the diaper made for a 2 year old, held up to her 7 year old bladder. Got to find her clothes. She knows what she wants to wear and will not except anything different, but she doesn’t know the words to tell me. We get to play the "game" of me finding clothes, hoping I call them by the right name, and her crying and hitting herself because it is not what she wants. Finally, I get it right.

Fast forward to 7:15 AM. Kathryn is ready for school except for brushing her hair. Only daddy can do this and only with his brush. He is running 10 minutes late because of traffic. Kathryn is getting anxious. Finally he is home from work and I have about 5 seconds to say hello and goodbye before I leave so I am not late for work. After she gets on the bus, he gets a few hours of sleep before he has to wake up and get her off the bus.

My daughter can not speak for herself. She can not tell us what she needs, how she feels, what her dreams are, and her fears. She can not run an organization. She loves to laugh, play and loves music. I love her with all my heart! She is not autistic… Kathryn has autism.

Time is very precious for my family and me, yet we felt it was important to help raise awareness of autism and raise money for research and family resources. I, as well as other committee members, spent hours preparing for the Autism Speaks walk held in Portland, Oregon on September 26, 2009. We did it because we love our children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters and neighbors who have autism. We did it because we will not sit back and wait, hoping some day those we love will be able to speak for themselves. Over 20 young people and their parents volunteered their time, their entire Saturday, to help. They met us at 6:00 AM the day of the walk and worked tirelessly putting tents up, helping all day, and then tearing the tents down. They left the South Park Blocks looking better then when they first arrived.

Your coverage of this event sent a message! It said that the two hours six protesters spent was more important then the thousands of hours spent by hundreds of walkers and dozens of volunteers. It said that negativity wins and positive action looses. It said that the media really isn’t interested in creating a better America, a better planet. If that was the message you wanted to send, then you succeeded. If you wanted to portray a community that cares, that loves their family so much they will do anything for them. A community that wants to work toward a better America, a better planet. If that was the message you tried to get across, I will be the first to tell you that you failed!

I know that your time is valuable, as is mine, but please give me the courtesy of responding to this letter. I do want to know why you felt a disability that effect more than one in one hundred children in Oregon, and therefore, hundreds and thousands of your viewers, was less important that any other thing you could have possibly reported that day.


Friday, July 17, 2009

What it is like to have a child with a disability – retold by me.

What it is like to have a child with a disability – retold by me.

You are so excited, this spring you and your closest friends are going to Paris. You have spent months preparing; learning the language, reading books, shopping for all the right clothes, looking through pictures with your friends of their prior trips (some of them have been there before, but this is your first time). You board the plane, excited yet nervous – this is your biggest adventure yet. The plane starts it’s decent, the captain gets on the speaker and says those magical words: WELCOME TO DENMARK.

Denmark? All your friends go on to Paris and you are stuck in Denmark. At first you are sad, and then you become mad. But when you take a moment to look around, you realize that Denmark is beautiful. You keep in touch with your friends in Paris, but they don’t really understand. You meet new friends; some have been in Denmark for a long time and help show you around. They show you the places to go, where to see the best sights, how to find your way without getting lost. After a short time, new arrivals come and turn to you for guidance.

Sometimes you get sad to realize you will always be in Denmark, this trip was a one way ticket. But then you remind yourself of all that Denmark has to offer that you cannot find anywhere else. You realize that you wouldn’t trade it for the world

When I heard someone tell this story a few years back, I thought: WOW. That sums it up exactly. If life has led you down an unexpected road that you cannot change – hang on and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


OK, so at the end of this post you are going to say to yourself: that was way too much information.

Kathryn is smart. She may say few words spontaneously, but behind those big brown eyes, there is a brain that is ALWAYS working! She has a strange sense of ‘if this, then that’. Example: When I walk in the door, I don’t get a “hi Mom”, I get “Bra off, bra off, bra off.” “Change shirt, bra off!” A bit strange? Not at all. You see, Kathryn notices many things: she notices if you put the jelly on the bread before the peanut butter (you’ll only make that mistake once). She notices if you are using the wrong pillow on your side of the bed (and she will rip it out from under your head to correct it). She notices if you skip a page when reading Dr. Seuss to her (at which point you have to start over). But what Kathryn notices the most is that mommy will never, ever leave the house without a bra on. I may go out with no makeup, even with no shoes, but will never go out with no bra. It is common for her to sporadically look under my shirt to make sure I didn’t put one on when she wasn’t looking. It’s just her way of telling me that she loves me and wants me to stay home with her.