Thursday, March 26, 2015

Five Things Friday-Autism Products

Our 8 year old daughter is on the autism spectrum and certain situations are very hard on her. It has taken us several years to find certain products or lifestyle changes that have made life a little bit easier on her. We still have lots to learn but I thought I would share what has helped us in our journey!

1.) The very first product we found that helped Kaetlyn was a weight blanket for her to use it a bed. It is a twin size and is weighted according to her weight. You can purchase these through eBay, Etsy, and there are several shops I've found on Facebook away. If you google weight blankets you should find several options. 

2.) The second product was actually a freebie with her weight blanket and I'm so thankful we got it with her blanket. I plan to order another one if Kaetlyn ever wants a new design or something happens to it. It is a weight pillow. Kaetlyn loves to sleep with it and this along with the weight blanket have made bedtime much easier. 

3.) The third product I'm going to share is my favorite. We found them back in November and they have changed our lives a bunch. They are Peltor noise reducing headphones by 3m. Kaetlyn can't handle loud noises so these have been a lifesaver. We use them when we go out to dinner, at Walt Disney World, and she wore them on our recent cruise. She has learned to ask for them when the noise is getting to them and she loves them. These allow her to participate in activities with the family but not be tortured by the loud noises. 

4.) The next item I want to share with you is and Amber/Hazelwood necklace. In all honesty I have no idea how this works but it does. I ordered it based on a recommendation from a friend and soon after getting it we noticed Kaetlyn was a little bit calmer. When she takes it off for bath and forgets to put it back on we noticed a difference. Like I said I have no clue how this work but it does and we are also thankful for it. 


 5.) The last thing I want to share is something we just discovered last week on our cruise but I think it has been the biggest help in making things easier for Kaetlyn. When she gets mad or upset she will shut down and refuse to speak. She will just mutter sounds and it's like she just can't communicate even though she wants to. Last week on the cruise I took Kaetlyn and two of her sisters to an animation class where they teach you how to draw Pluto. Kaetlyn missed a step and became confused. She got very upset and all of a sudden on her paper started writing things like frustrated, Sad faces, stop, bad Pluto, and other things. She was get flustered so I took her out of the room so she could calm down. Once she was calm I asked her where she learned to write down her feelings and she said she didn't know. I asked her if it made her feel better to get her feelings out and she said yes. She said it was easier to write how she felt than say it.  I then asked if I were to get a book that was just for her, daddy, and I if she would write down things to us when she was hurt or upset and she said yes. So off the gift shop we went and we purchased a Mickey Mouse journal and pens and the rest of the cruise she would ask for her book when she was upset and we would communicate. She would calm down a lot faster and it made things a lot easier. I now carry the journal in my purse and she knows when we are home she can go and get it anytime she needs to. I really wish we could have found this solution earlier as it has been a tremendous help. At any rate I'm glad we found this tool and I hope it continues to help like it has.

Each child on the spectrum or with sensory issues is different and these products may or may not work for your kiddo. They have certainly helped Kaetlyn and so I just wanted to take a moment and share them with you.

If you have a child with autism or sensory issues I would love for you to leave a comment sharing what things you have found to be helpful to your family! The journey is a lot of trial and error and we could all use the support of each other.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Flounder's Reef Review

Last week our family of 7 sailed the ocean blue on the Disney Wonder.  Before we left we had scheduled some time onboard for our 2 year old, Ava, to spend time in Flounder's Reef Nursery. To be honest, I was extremely nervous about this. I am not going to lie I have coddled Ava. My pregnancy with her was extremely hard and I ended up in the ER several times. I ended up passing my illness onto her so I guess in a way I feel guilty and I've kept her close to me. She does go to a babysitter but it is one of my dearest friends but other than that she hasn't really had other people watch her. I know this isn't good for her and I am working on getting ready to send her to a mother's day out program so my hubby and I figured this would be a good experience for her and us.

The first time we took she was very excited to go to her club since her we would always drop off her sisters at their clubs. All of the nursery staff was kind and friendly and made the transition of dropping her off extremely easy. To my surprise I wasn't nervous leaving her. The nursery staff made me feel at ease and I just knew they would take good care of her. So Ava was off in her club, the older girls were all in their clubs, and hubby and I went to an adults only lunch at Palo.

About half way through our meal we got a text message on our wave phone that Ava was a bit upset but that they were trying to calm her down and just wanted us to know. I tried to just let it be and wait for them to call us if she got worse to come get her but my anxiety got the best of me so hubby called the nursery to check on her. They said that right after they sent her the check they gave her a snack and some milk and she was fine and was watching a movie cuddling with one of the staff members. They made sure to let us know she was fine and we could go on enjoying what we were doing.

When I went to pick her up I peaked in the window to watch her and she was having fun playing with the other kids. When she came out she had a big smile and I got a big smile. Our next time dropping her off wasn't as easy. She cried when we handed her to the staff member so we stayed outside of the nursery and waited for a few minutes and then we peaked in on her and she had already stopped crying and was having fun playing.

Even if she cried when we dropped her off I felt ok leaving her with the staff. They just loved her and would comment on how cute and sweet she was and how excited they were to have her come play with them. They were all so kind and caring and I felt Ava was in safe hands.  I also felt comfortable leaving Ava with them even with all of her allergies. We made sure to bring her snack and soy milk and they made sure she didn't get anything but what was in her bag. When they put a tag on her back they made sure to note she couldn't eat anything but what was in her bag. I had no worries of her eating anything she was allergic to.

The experience was such a wonderful one and it gives me hope that when we move to a mommy's day our program I can handle it. I highly recommend that anyone with a child 3 and under to take advantage of Flounder's Reef Nursery or It's a Small World Nursery on the bigger ships. You do have to pay for this service but it is well worth it.

Now I just have to get used to the thought of her going to the Oceanere's Club for our December cruise. Her sisters are very excited that she will get to be in the club with them!