A Parent’s Fight For Special Education Services


There are many things in life that I take for granted and, before becoming a mom, I assumed that public education for my children would be one of them. I was wrong. My children go to public school but I no longer take their education for granted and that’s because I’ve had to go through numerous fights with the school districts to get it. This is a fight that many parents of children with special needs know too well.

Lucas is on the Autism Spectrum so he is protected by a Special Education law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which says it is his right to receive free appropriate education (FAPE) from the school district. Appropriate education should be uniquely designed to meet his needs. The problem develops when the parent and school differ on what “appropriate” means and sadly, as I’ve learned, this doesn’t mean they need to provide the best education for him, just an adequate one that’s enough to get him from one grade to the next.

My fight for my youngest son began before his first day of school even started. Having been in the state’s early intervention program, his first day of public school was the day he turned three years old which happened to be during the district’s extended school year (also known as ESY or summer school). The school insisted he be put in their general education preschool room even though I was adamantly against it for a number of reasons. They told me they’d see how it went then we’d meet once the new school year started and if he needed to be moved to their special education classroom they’d do that (after the school year had started). I repeatedly told them I didn’t agree with that decision but in the end had no choice but to let the school put him where they wanted to put him for ESY.

His first day of school went horrible, as I had expected. The environment in that classroom became unsafe for both him and the other children. He had numerous meltdowns and had escaped the room a couple times. The staff in there was not trained to handle children with special needs. And I’ll never forget the homework he came home with that first day. My child, who had just turned 3 that day and had a speech delay, was being asked to “describe a baseball game using your five senses”. This child who spoke only a handful of words, didn’t know what baseball was and didn’t know any of his five senses, was definitely in the wrong classroom.

The teachers in the room, and finally the Principal, also ended up realizing that the general education setting was not appropriate for him but I still had to fight for weeks to have the meeting scheduled for before the school year started. They kept insisting we’d just have another meeting once the school year started and then he was would be switched to the other program. To me, it didn’t make sense to start the school year in one program and move him a week in and I believed that would be detrimental to him, causing unneeded stress and problems. They finally agreed to have the meeting before the school year started and changed his placement to a Special Education classroom.

He was put into an appropriate classroom for the school year that was specifically designed for children who had Autism. It was a small class size with numerous aides and therapists in the room at a time and ran a couple hours longer than the typical preschool day. There were picture schedules, repetition, built in therapy and everything my son needed- including a room staffed with people that understood and had experience working with children on the Autism Spectrum.

Lucas had two great years of preschool. The last year he even started taking a daily trip to the general education classroom (accompanied by an aide) to spend 15-30 minutes at a time in there, testing a new environment. Having found success in those short periods of time in the general education class, Luke’s team decided to give him a split day when he went to Kindergarten. Since our neighborhood school didn’t have an Autism specific classroom they bussed him across town, to the school that did. Though our district only had half day kindergarten, Luke would spend the whole day at school because they felt that academically and socially just a couple hours was not enough for him. He would go to AM Kindergarten in their Autism classroom, eat lunch, and then spend the second half of his day (accompanied by an aide) in the PM general education Kindergarten classroom. It was the best situation that I could have dreamed of and it was designed to give him everything he needed to learn. He’d have one on one assistance and a smaller group for some of the day but still get some time to interact with children who were higher functioning and could model language and social skills which is what he had been missing in the Autism only classroom.

A few months into the Kindergarten school year we ended up moving to a new district and I found myself fighting for his educational needs again. This was a smaller district with a smaller Special Education staff and budget. The district didn’t offer full day kindergarten and wouldn’t allow him to go to both the AM and PM sessions. They also did not offer a special education classroom or would bus him somewhere that did like the other school was doing. So they cut his school day in half, took away his time in a special education classroom, took his bus services away and reduced the amount of time he worked with therapists. They still gave him an aide to help him as he navigated the school day but I felt completely defeated. Almost everything I had fought for was gone. To make matters worse, my son went from being in the middle of his class academically, to being in the bottom one percent by the end of his Kindergarten year.

So he started off first grade extremely behind and, though I think he made huge advances during his first grade year, he is still behind. Now he’s headed into second grade next year and I’m back to fighting the school district again. This time I’m trying to get him in our district’s extended school year program (or ESY) for academics. This program helps children who have shown academic regression in the past so that they don’t fall even farther behind than they already are. Though my son has in fact shown regression previously, and was in summer school last year, I was told that this year the Special Education director of the district said he doesn’t qualify because of his test scores. My son, who is going into second grade and can’t put letter sounds together to read words, does not qualify for academic summer school because his reading test score, at the bottom 27% of his class, is not “low” enough? That reading test score of 27% was with assistance, since my son requires help taking all tests, which only makes me wonder what his test scores really would be if he had taken it himself and not had help. In my eyes he is qualified because he has previously shown regression and is behind academically so I have to call the Special Education Director and try to get her to reverse her decision by asking her to actually look at his file, his IEP, his teacher’s notes and perhaps even talk to his teachers and therapists (who all felt he would benefit).

I just wish that parents of children with special needs didn’t have to fight for Special Education services that our children need. Our children are entitled to an education that is tailored to their special needs and a placement that will allow them to make educational progress. I’m not satisfied with my child just barely making it to the next grade. Scoring in the bottom 27% on a reading test (that he had help with) and being told the school district views that as “acceptable”, when reading is the basis of almost everything else he will do in school, is not okay. I want him to have a shot at success, like every other child does, and I’m going to fight until he has an even playing field.

Have you been through a similar struggle? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


10 Great Educational Products For Children On The Autism Spectrum

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Thanks to Lakeshore Learning for sponsoring this post.


In honor of Autism Awareness Month, I wanted to share 10 great educational products for children on the Autism Spectrum. Most of these are products I’ve used with my own boys or in a classroom setting. They also have the added benefit of being great for all kids so even siblings or classmates not on the spectrum can enjoy them!


These are fun to build with and were a favorite in my classroom when I taught Pre-K. I love these for children on the Spectrum because they are magnetized and stick together which helps minimize frustration for children as they are trying to build. Many children stick with simple designs but kids can really use their imaginations and build something fun with these.

Good For Me Reward Kit

Sticker charts work amazingly well for Lucas and many children on the spectrum. Being able to see his progress and how far he has to go is very motivating for him and encourages him to continue good behavior and other tasks we want to see him do. A clear goal and reward planned ahead of time are ideal for these types of charts.

Following Directions Building Sets

Have a little one who has a hard time following directions? This building sets bundle is perfect for them! I like this for Lucas because he has a hard time following directions that are more than just a step or two and this will help him practice the skills he needs to work on. It also allows children to start with easy creations and then build up to more complicated ones which gives them a sense of accomplishment.

Flip & Read Sight-Word Sentences

Learning sight words is all about one thing- repetition! Every child learns things in different ways and I love this set of books to help kids practice the sight words they need to master before they can start to read. I think this is great for Lucas because he hates plain flashcards and teacher or parent directed tasks. With these he creates the sentences he needs to read which gives him just enough control of the situation to actually be willing to sit down and do this.

What Should You Do? – A Game Of Consequences

In this fun-filled game of consequences, players face everyday dilemmas that deal with topics like honesty, bullying, manners and more. As children race around the game board, they take turns deciding what they should do in each situation—moving closer to the finish line with each correct answer! For children who are still learning social skills this game is perfect!

Understanding Addition & Subtraction Using Manipulatives

Kids learn best through hands-on-learning, especially when the concepts are as abstract as mathematics. This set of manipulatives help children connect an object to a number for learning addition and subtraction.

Sensory Ball Set 

This set can be used for a number of things, from playing catch and practicing hand-eye coordination to using the smaller ones as fidgets. These balls are also a great way for kids with tactile sensory issues to get used to touching different textures.

Real-Working Cash Register

Once children start learning about money this cash register is perfect for helping them practice money skills. We love setting up a little store with empty boxes and then “shopping” and paying for our items.

Kids Can! Resolve-A-Conflict

With siblings, conflicts are bound to arise so having this can of tools on hand is wonderful. Whether children decide to pick and number, draw straws or roll a dice, they learn to solve their own problems. We are really enjoying using this set and I feel that our house is much more peaceful now.

Engineer-A-Coaster Activity Kit

This fun kit lets children create a “roller coaster”. It provides hours of play as children learn to follow directions and learn from trial and error. I like that it’s large enough for two children to play at the same time so children can work together to build it (or at least side by side).

Find more toys and educational products here. What products do your children love to use to learn and practice important skills?

How To Host A Playdate That Includes Children With Autism

Autism playdate

What if your son comes home from school wanting to invite a new friend with autism over for a play date? Perhaps there is a new little girl with Asperger’s in your daughter’s class who could use a friend? For parents of non-autistic children, the idea of having a child on the autism spectrum over for a play date can be a little scary.  But it doesn’t have to be! Cara Kosinski, long time pediatric occupational therapist, speaker, author of The Pocket Occupational Therapist Book Series, and mom to two boys with autism, has ten insightful tips for parents about what they can do to create a great playdate among children of all abilities.

(Alicia’s note: I know a list of how to host a playdate may seem a little extreme and this might seem like a lot to do to have a kid over for an hour but don’t let that scare you. Giving your child opportunities to interact with children of different abilities is a great way to raise a compassionate child and enables them to see the similarities, not differences, in their classmates. As a parent of a child with Autism, I can tell you that even if your playdate isn’t perfect, the fact that you cared enough to try means so much!)

Here are Cara’s tips:

Practice playing. It may be hard to believe, but the act of playing doesn’t come naturally to some kids.  For example, children with autism often have difficulty with taking turns, having conversation, and interpreting nonverbal gestures. Practicing and explaining this to your child may help him to feel more comfortable. Together, discuss strategies that can be used to help facilitate play. What is a facial expression?  Make different faces and ask your child to guess your emotion.

How do I find children with common interests?  Teachers are amazingly insightful and may provide wonderful help to identify the children who tend to play together and enjoy similar interests. Volunteer in your child’s classroom to see who your child is interested in playing with. Additionally, birthday parties are great opportunities to observe those children who may be a good match for a playdate. Clubs and activities allow children with similar interests to enjoy each other’s company.  My son showed an early interest in chess. I often arrived early to pick him up from chess club and to determine who showed interest in my son. The same is true for Lego club, music classes, art, or sports.

Remember that parents of children with special needs are used to answering questions about their children and are often quite comfortable discussing ways to help create successful social interactions. Also, be mindful that many families’ schedules are busy but a child with special needs may have additional appointments for therapy, medical, and developmental concerns.  Be flexible in scheduling and do not be offended if the playdate needs to be re-scheduled.

Shared interests can make a playdate successful.  Identify what the children have in common.  Build activities upon mutual interests. So, set up Legos and build Angry Birds or Minecraft structures.  If the children like the same movie, set up puzzles, art, baking, or sensory play based on the movie. Consider meeting at a location such as a park or museum. Siblings should not be a part of the playdate to allow for targeted friendship building between the two participants.

Make a plan and then review it with both children who are participating.  At the beginning explain what the playdate will look like:  First, we will work on a puzzle, and then a snack, etc…. Many children who have special needs benefit from a visual schedule and knowing exactly what is coming up next.  ALL of us enjoy predictability and feel more confident with a specific plan in place. However, be flexible if any difficulties or disagreements arise.

Consider food allergies and sensitivities. When planning a snack contact the other child’s parent to determine which foods are safe for both children. It can be very meaningful for the other parent and is a critical step to avoiding potential life-threatening reactions to foods.  Do not be offended if the children do not eat what is set out for snack.  The kids may just be too excited to eat!

Be mindful of any physical limitations. For example, many children with sensory issues do not prefer to get messy, dirty or wet but they can be super at doing other things such as building or creating.  It’s always a sensitive topic to talk about someone’s weaknesses, instead ask, “What is Billy great at doing?”

Provide adult supervision and support throughout the playdate.  Since children of all abilities have different personalities, disagreements may arise.  Consider ways to resolve conflicts such as asking both kids to take five deep breaths or closing their eyes and counting to ten.  Make sure to ask the other parent which strategies are used when their child becomes stressed or upset.  Preparation is a key ingredient in successful interaction when facilitating a playdate.

Begin with short playdates of an hour. Keep the first playtimes shorter until the children become more comfortable with each other.  Consider having more short yet frequent play times with the same friend since relationships can take time to build.  It’s important to end on a good note. So, if the children are in any type of conflict, help to facilitate a peaceful ending.

There is NO such thing as a perfect playdate! Do not put unnecessary pressure on yourself.  Both typically developing kids and children with special needs are learning while practicing play and social skills.  When learning a skill we all make mistakes. Our children benefit from every social interaction opportunity. Give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy watching new friendships bloom and develop.

What would you add to the list?

Why I’m Still Fighting For Autism Awareness

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Today, April 2nd, is Autism Awareness Day which many people have changed to Autism Acceptance Day. Here are my thoughts on why I’m still fighting for Autism awareness when many seem to have abandoned that cause in exchange for acceptance….

Yesterday, one of my Facebook friends posted about Autism saying that everyone is already aware of Autism. I’ve seen comments like that before from various people about how we don’t need Autism Awareness anymore but that we need Autism Acceptance instead. I agree that we need acceptance but I think we still need to be fighting for awareness. Until we have awareness of not only Autism existing but WHAT it is, we will never get the acceptance our Autistic community deserves.

You may be thinking that people *know* what Autism is already but I completely disagree. I believe most people have heard of it but I still believe that most people do not know what it is. Wondering why I think this? Because of comments I get like this….

  • “Your child doesn’t LOOK Autistic.”
  • “Will he outgrow it?”
  • “How did he get it?”
  • “My ______ (insert random person they know) has Autism and they _____ (insert random fact that makes them think they know what they are talking about)” and then assume my child is JUST like that person they kind of know.

The truth of the matter is that EVERY person who has Autism is different. It’s a spectrum disorder so no two cases of Autism will look exactly the same though there are sometimes similarities. Some of the above questions are asked by well-meaning people because they have questions and want to know more. Only after we (the Autism community) educate them on what Autism is will the process of acceptance truly be able to start.

So today, as everyone else pushes for acceptance, I’m going to continue pushing for awareness. The newest numbers show 1 in 68 children have Autism (it was 1 in 88). Autism is not going to disappear so I encourage everyone to learn more about it and then let’s talk about acceptance and inclusion.


Tips For Parenting A Child With Sensory Processing Disorder

parenting a child with spd

Today’s guest post is from Celina Miller, a fellow special needs parent who is a passionate advocate for children affected with Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

How much sensory can my kid with Sensory Processing Disorder {SPD} take?

This is a question I’m faced with daily. My 12 year old has Asperger’s and with that comes the complex and confusing world of Sensory Processing Disorder. I never know what’s too much, or what’s not enough, sensory input for him. The other day, I’d finally convinced my son to help me clean up our playroom. As he put away toys and straightened up, I started the vacuum. Immediately, he put his hands over his ears and stood completely frozen. He was so overwhelmed he couldn’t even ask me to turn it off, nor could he leave the room. I was taken aback – this wasn’t like my high-functioning sixth grader who plays basketball and loves to dance. I knew the vacuum would bother him, but I thought he would get through it and we would move on.

So why was it that this time the vacuum completely shut him down – whereas before it didn’t? Or why is it that sometimes on the basketball court he covers his ears after the crowd roars and sometimes he’s completely unfazed? I never know how much sensory exposure he can take and so I never know how much I can expose him to – which often leaves me feeling just as uncomfortable as he is.

I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to my son’s sensory issues. How can I know what he’ll react to, and when? The answer is I will never know, and the truth is he often doesn’t know as he’s still learning what works…or how he can make it work for him. If you’re a mom with a child on the spectrum or who has sensory integration dysfunction, you totally understand how I feel like the rug has been pulled out from underneath me, which is probably how my son feels when he’s overstimulated.

Here are five thoughts that help me, and may help you, get through a day in the life of the maze that is sensory integration disorder.

1. What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger. A phrase I live by personally, but I have found it translates in the sensory world as well. I don’t avoid stimulating things. Exposing my son to different types of sensory stimuli helps him learn to cope with it and to be prepared the next time he comes across it. And while he may be bothered, it really won’t kill him. He will get over it. I never want to hinder him by what I think he may or may not be able to handle. In this world, I have to take his lead, give up control, and let him learn what works for him and what doesn’t.

2. Every day is a new day, and every day is different. I have learned that each sensory experience is interpreted differently every day. And depending on what else is going on during that experience, my son’s reaction may or may not be different. I’ve come to know that even a slight change in body temperature will make his sensory dysfunction… more dysfunctional. Just like he wakes up every day prepared for the unknown, so am I.

3. Talk about it. When I’m able to talk to my son about his sensory experience, we both understand it better. When I ask him to verbalize what he saw, heard, smelled or felt, he is able to learn from his experience and perhaps handle it differently next time. This conversation also helps me to better understand what’s going on in his world.

4. Don’t sympathize, empathize. I will never feel sorry for my son, I think he’s an amazing person with amazing gifts. He also has challenges to overcome and I do have empathy for that. I hurt when he hurts, and I smile when he smiles. When he’s left overwhelmed, in a different way, I am too. It is in this way that I can empathize with him.

5. Be an advocate. This will help you both. When I’m able to go before my son and tell people he has asperger’s – like at school, church or in sports – I’ve removed the elephant from the room. Is my son amazing and remarkable? yes. Is he also quirky and unbelievably inquisitive? yes. And when others have the opportunity to prepare themselves for the possibility that he may become overstimulated on the basketball court or during a burst of applause in the middle of the school play, everyone has the benefit of more understanding. And this understanding gives them the ability to see my son not for a quirky kid, but for that amazing boy who is gifted and overcoming challenges most of us couldn’t imagine. It gives people an opportunity to admire him – just as I do.

Celina Miller’s Bio

Celina Miller is the mother of Jim, who was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome when he was in the 2nd grade in 2009. Celina has worked tirelessly to gain the education support for her son’s civil right according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Celina has worked with the Oasis Center for Women and Children and has spoken on the importance of supporting children with mental disorders and their families. She has also been active in fundraising and reviewing grants with Autism Speaks in the Birmingham, AL area

(All thoughts above are those of the guest post Author.)


Sevenly’s Weekly Cause: National Autism Association

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I was so happy to see that Sevenly, a for-profit social good company that I love, is supporting another Autism related cause this week! $7 from every single item sold goes directly to the National Autism Association to provide behavioral therapy or communication tools to children with Autism. If you have a loved one with Autism this is a great way to support the cause both financially and with a conversation provoking shirt.

I want to get this fabulous shirt for Lucas:

And this is my favorite one I’d wear myself:

Totally cute, right!? Learn more about this week’s cause and/or purchase an item from Sevenly to support those with Autism here {but keep in mind that each week they change causes so hurry!}

Free Disability Awareness Activities for Kids

disabilities awareness

As a parent of a child with Autism I am anxious for the start of the school year. As much as I worry about how well my son will do, I worry even more about how others will treat him and accept him. I was really excited to get an email from Easter Seals about their free FRIENDS WHO CARE® disability awareness program that helps parents and educators teach kids about children and adults with disabilities. My hope is that every parent will teach their child compassion and acceptance for others.

Sponsored by long-time Easter Seals partner, Friendly’s Restaurants, LLC, FRIENDS WHO CARE is an interactive program that helps students learn how kids with disabilities go to school, make friends and play. It encourages kids to accept their peers with disabilities as people first, and to find ways to include everyone in school and after-school activities.

FRIENDS WHO CARE® is also fun! The curriculum explores a range of disabilities and includes specially crafted learning activities, hands-on exercises, guided discussions and guest speakers. It starts with an introduction to disability, and looks at vision, hearing, and physical disabilities and then at learning disabilities including ADHD, autism and intellectual disabilities.

Visit their Web site to download the free FRIENDS WHO CARE materials!

National Autism Associatio​n’s Give A Voice Program

Give A Voice

I wanted to share about the National Autism Association’s new Give A Voice program. If you have a child with Autism and are in financial need, this is a great program that can help you get a communication device for your child. If you are looking for a great cause to donate to, this post is for you, too. The information below is from the NAA.

The intent of this program is to provide communication devices to individuals with autism who are non-verbal or minimally verbal, and whose communication challenges put them at increased risk of injury or harm.

The NAA has very limited funding to begin this program and will provide communication devices to only fifty applicants during this initial round. Every application will be carefully reviewed and all information submitted will be verified by NAA staff. This program is intended for families who are in dire need of financial assistance and are otherwise unable to attain a communication device.

NAA’s Give A Voice Program will provide qualifying individuals with an assistive communication device including:

- A 16GB Apple® iPad® Mini (WiFi version)
- AppleCare+ Protection Plan
- Proloquo2Go Augmentative and Alternative Communication Software app
- Gripcase Protective Case with Stand – generously donated by Gripcase USA.

Grant applications must be postmarked by July 31, 2013.

For full program details and eligibility requirements, click here.

Funding is desperately needed for this program. To make a tax-deductible donation, please click here.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for posting this and I am not a member of the NAA. I just thought this may help another Autism family.)

Free Online Autism Conference 2013

autism conference

As a parent with a child on the spectrum I want to learn as much about Autism and parenting a child with ASD as I can. There are some conferences that I learn about but leaving to attend them is usually not easy to do.

When I learned that this online Autism conference was happening again this year I quickly signed up. I only got to hear a couple speakers last year but I took a ton of notes and learned some valuable information.

If you have a child with Autism I suggest that you sign up for this FREE conference even if you can only make one or two of the webinars. Hurry though! The conference is this weekend!

Register here: http://www.momsfightingautism.com/#register

Products To Help Keep Kids With Autism Safe

tattoos with a purpose

Now that Lucas is getting a little older and more independent I am looking into safety products for children with Autism because he has no fear, often acts without thinking, and will run off if given the chance. Since we will be out and about this summer I want to do everything possible to make sure he is safe.

For today’s Autism related post I wanted to share some products that I’m looking at getting for Lucas who is preschool age. Obviously these products are not substitutes for the watchful eye of a caregiver but instead should be used in addition to correct adult supervision. I am not recommending or endorsing any of these products and am not affiliated with any of them. Check with your child’s doctor first before using any of these.

Tattoos With A Purpose {sold here}


Angel Guard for Seatbelts {sold here}


Kid Safety Bands {sold here}


Window/Door Alarms {sold here}


Lucas is a little young but I’d get this shirt if he was older…

Alert: I Have Autism Shirt {sold here}

What safety products do you use? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the post comments!

Light It Up Blue For Autism {April 2nd}

light it up blue

As many of you know my youngest son, Lucas, is on the Autism Spectrum. I’d be honored if you’d join me and Autism Speaks in the “Light It Up Blue” campaign to raise awareness for Autism.

Each April 2, Autism Speaks celebrates Light It Up Blue along with the international autism community, in commemoration of the United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day. Light It Up Blue is a unique global initiative that kicks-off Autism Awareness Month and helps raise awareness about autism. In honor of this historic day, many iconic landmarks, hotels, sporting venues, concert halls, museums, bridges and retail stores are among the hundreds of thousands of homes and communities that take part to Light It Up Blue.

Here are some ideas of how you can participate as an individual or family:

  • Where blue clothing tomorrow
  • Purchase a blue light bulb (Walmart and Home Depot stores have them) and change your porch light to a blue bulb
  • Spread the word via social media by updating your Facebook status or tweeting out an Autism fact.
  • Sign the petition to ask President Obama and Congress to develop and implement a comprehensive national plan to address autism.
  • Participate virtually by taking photos on your smartphone and lighting them up blue with a festive picture frame. Email them, or share on your social networks to become part of the Light It Up Blue movement. (Get the app here)
  • Make a donation to Autism Speaks

Here are some facts from Autism Speaks that you can share:

  • Every 11 minutes, a child is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
  • Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys
  • Autism prevalence figures are growing
  • Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
  • Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average
  • Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases

If you participate I’d love to see pictures! Feel free to share them on the Making Time For Mommy Facebook page :)

Blue Flowers For Autism Awareness

blue flowers

In the month of April you will see a lot of reference to the color blue here on my blog and elsewhere. This is because on April 2nd it is Autism Speaks’ “Light It Up Blue” day to raise awareness for Autism. Some buildings even turn blue! I’ll be sharing more about it on my blog in a few days but wanted to share about FTD’s deals, donation towards Autism Speaks, and especially their BLUE flowers! What a great gift to give a parent raising a child with Autism.

Here’s more information:

FTD is going blue for Autism Speaks! FTD has created a website for all supporters of Autism Speaks! All customers get a 15% discount with orders bought through here: http://www.ftd.com/34384/

PLUS they’re offering an additional 10% of each purchase to be donated back to Autism Speaks. Their network of more than 12,000 florists offer a huge selection of fresh flowers, plants, premium gourmet foods, gifts and gift baskets. Let’s Light It Up Blue and buy something special for your special someone!

(Disclosure: I’m not affiliated with FTD, just had to share what they are doing to help families like mine who have a loved one with Autism.)

AutisMate: iPad App For Children With Autism {$149.99 Value Giveaway}


AutisMate, a new iPad app from SpecialNeedsWare for those with autism, stands among the most respected and innovative options to help children develop communication and behavioral skills despite the challenges of autism. Individuals are given a comprehensive set of tools to navigate life with ease, providing for the lifelong learning, development and changing experiences of those across the spectrum.

While most autism apps on the market focus singularly on promoting one expressive form of communication, AutisMate recognizes the unique nature of every case of autism and works to first build comprehension on a personalized level to unlock a more varied set of expressions and needs. It allows children with autism along with their caretakers and teachers to easily import personal images, video, audio and other information into a visual scene-based platform.

To save time and effort, users also have the option of uploading videos, stories, and schedules geared specifically for autism from a vast content library. A GPS feature allows scenes to change according to the user’s location, making the software even more intuitive and applicable in real-time. This platform grows with the user and caters to his or her unique needs.

The research-supported app has already helped hundreds of users to fully express themselves and improve connections with their families. Many users have expressed their support for AutisMate and shared stories of success and progress. One testimonial that SpecialNeedsWare has received is from a mother of a 7-year-old boy with autism: “I recently used [Autismate to help my son] understand what would be happening at a hospital visit to have tubes put in his ears (a procedure he had done before and had gotten very upset). This last visit he was calmer and cooperated really well! Thank you so much for providing a tool that gives me a way to help my sweet, loving son find understanding by allowing him to ‘think in pictures’.”

You can learn more about AutisMate at www.autismate.com. To purchase the app on iTunes, click here. Please follow AutisMate on Facebook and Twitter.


One reader will win a download code for this app (a $149.99 value)


{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me why you need this app

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Share this giveaway directly with another parent of a child who has Autism

4) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

5) Follow @autisMate on Twitter

6) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

7) Like AutisMate on Facebook

8) Comment on another one of my posts

Giveaway ends March 3, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must be 18 or older to enter. Note: This giveaway is for the app only and does not include the iPad.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post and do not have an iPad so I have not used the app. I am posting in hopes that it will help one of my readers. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.)



Ability Path’s Holiday Gift Guide For Children With Special Needs

ability path logo

I’m excited to share the 2012 Holiday Gift Guide For Children With Special Needs put together by Ability Path. The guide features gift ideas from many bloggers, including a suggestion from me. If you have a child with Special Needs on your “to buy for” list you have to check this guide out.

You can find the Holiday Gift Guide here. Enjoy! :)


Something To Think About This Halloween….

halloween patience

Last year on Halloween this was passed around on Facebook and I thought it was really great so I wanted to share it with you all this Halloween:

Tonight a lot of creatures will visit your door.

Be open minded.

The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy might have poor fine motor skills.

The child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy might have motor planning issues.

The child who does not say trick or treat or thank you might be shy or non-verbal.

The child who looks disappointed when he sees your bowl might have an allergy.

The child who isn’t wearing a costume at all might have SPD or autism.

Be nice.

Be patient.

Its everyone’s Halloween.

This Is What Autism Looks Like In My Child {A Response To 50 Cent}

this is what autism looks like

{UPDATE: On July 8th, 50 tweeted this: “I realize my autism comments were insensitive, however it was not my intention to offend anyone and for this I apologize.”}

Some of you may have heard of rapper 50 Cent’s recent comments on Twitter about Autism. I only heard about this today and as a parent of children with special needs, including a child with Autism, I am furious.

Here are the statements he made in response to someone who tweeted him:

‘yeah just saw your picture fool you look autistic’

‘I don’t want no special ed kids on my time line follow some body else’

{You can read the details over at the Huffington Post}

So in response to 50 Cent…

THIS is what Autism looks like in my son, Lucas

Want to support our family and all the other ones who love someone with Autism?

You can tweet: “Hey, @50cent this is what #Autism looks like! http://wp.me/pibQB-3cA via @aliciamarie112″

OR you can share your thoughts on his Facebook page

Autism Doesn’t End In April…


image from cafepress.com

Throughout the month of April I have posted every weekday for Autism Awareness Month. This will be my last daily post but definitely not my last Autism related post. The support that I have gotten from those that are also affected by Autism has been overwhelming and I have enjoyed sharing personal stories, resources, and quotes I have found along the way.

What kind of Autism related posts would you like to see here at Making Time For Mommy?

What are you doing? – A Film About Autism {Trailer}

Here is more information on this film from Autism Awareness {Australia}:

“What are you doing?” is a short film, created by Autism Awareness, which aims to teach school aged children about acceptance and understanding of their peers with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The film addresses some of the fears children may have about ASD, answers their questions and helps show them how they can be a great friend to a classmate on the autism spectrum. The film includes enlightening interviews with the brothers, sisters, cousins and friends of children on the spectrum. These friends and family members share their thoughts and experiences on what it is like to share their life with someone on the spectrum.

Through beautiful imagery, engaging narrative and quirky animation, the film sends a message that children with autism should be accepted, supported and encouraged by their peers to be a part of their community.

“What are you doing?” will be screened at schools across Australia later this year and we hope, in the future, throughout the world!


Here’s my question:

How do we get this film shown in schools here in the States?

This is a film that desperately needs to be seen by children in our schools.

Sensory Friendly Films At AMC Theatres

sensory friendly films

AMC Theatres offers sensory friendly movies once or twice a month at many of their theaters across the nation. I’ve written about this program before but wanted to share the newest movies being offered. Here are the movies they plan on showing from now through the end of the summer:

May 5 – Pirates! Band of Misfits

June 16 – Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

June 30 – Brave

July 21 – Ice Age: Continental Drift

August 11 – Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days


*More details can be found here*

The Stories Of Autism Gallery Is Live

stories of autism

Last month I told you about Stories Of Autism and the great photography experience we had with Megan of Firefly Nights Photography. {If you missed it you can find that post here}. I have been checking to see if the gallery was live pretty much every day and I’m happy to say that it went live this past weekend! Along with the beautiful photography are some stories and words full of love from the parents that raise these amazing children. {You will notice mine is a little short but that’s because I thought we were only supposed to write a couple sentences.}


Donate To Autism Speaks With Swagbucks

Swagbucks is an online portal dedicated to helping you earn digital dollars called “Swag Bucks”, which can be redeemed for exclusive Swagbucks.com merchandise. You can earn points for doing various things like using their “search” function when looking for something online, taking quizzes, watching videos, and a variety of other things. I earn most of my points by searching for information on the web and then redeem my points for gift cards.

Along with great products, Swagbucks normally features a charity of the month that you can donate your Swagbucks to. This month they have teamed up with Autism Speaks so people can donate their Swagbucks to Autism Speaks. Here are more details from the Swagbucks website: “The Swag Bucks you donate all this month will be turned into a cash donation, given directly to Autism Speaks. Every Swag Buck you donate will help make life easier and more manageable for those with autism and those supporting them. Every Swag Bucks donated equal $0.01, so donating 1,000 Swag Bucks is equivalent to donating ten dollars. The deadline for donations is Tuesday May 1st at 12:00pm PT.”

Want to donate your Swagbucks to Autism Speaks? Click HERE to find out how! Not a member yet? It’s easy to join and start earning. Click HERE to join!
(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I have used my Swagbucks referral link though so when you win, I win!)

New Android Phone Apps For Children With Autism

autism apps

You can download the apps in the Google Play store here. Some are free and some cost 99 cents.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I received this email today and wanted to share this resource.)

Autism Graphics

I came across a site today called My Autie Space that’s full of amazing Autism related graphics that can be shared online {they even have code boxes for easy sharing!}. Here are some of my favorites:

For Kids:

For Parents:

For Teachers:

For Autism Awareness Month:


Find many more graphics at My Autie Space!

A Mother’s Autism Prayer

A Mother's Autism Prayer

by Elizabeth Scott, author of Raindrops on Roman
Overcoming Autism:  A Message of Hope

© 2009 Robert D. Reed Publishers

Missing Pieces {A Song For Autism Awareness Month}

Came across this song today. I am normally not a fan of country music but this song, sang by a father of a child with Autism, is very touching.

Autism & Learning {Infographic}

Autism & Learning
Via: Online College Advice

{Please note: The statistic on how many are affected by Autism is an old statistic. It was recently changed to 1 in 88.}

Autism Awareness Wreaths

ribbon wreath

How cute is this wreath from A Modern Day Fairy Tale? I will be searching for old puzzles at garage sales this Spring so that I can make one for our door. View her post here

This cute ribbon shaped wreath can be found on Etsy in the Charlee Rose Designs shop. You can purchase it here.

This wreath was uploaded to Pinterest by the person who made it. She also has photos of two other ones that she made. See her Pinterest board here.

Free Online Autism Conference {Autism Awareness Month}

autism conference

A mom in one of my Facebook groups shared about this free online Autism conference. It’s a week long and has over 40 sessions for parents of children on the spectrum.

Sessions Include:

- How To Be An Effective Advocate For Your Child

- How to turn deficits into strengths

- How to use specific sensory activities to positively impact behavior

- 6 Tools For Managing The Emotional Aspects Of ASD Parenting

- Practical Solutions For Real Life Challenges

…and MORE!

To get more details and to register you can visit the site here.

(Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. I am sharing information from their website because I think my readers would be interested. I have registered to attend this online event but have not attended one of their previous conferences.)

Special Cookies {Autism Awareness Month}

autism speaks cookies

When I discovered these cookies on Pinterest I just had to share them. I clicked on about 15 different images taking me to spam websites but I kept searching and finally found where this picture originated from. These cookies are from the blog, The Sweet Adventures Of Sugarbelle. The cute labels can be found over at the blog, Thirty Handmade Days. What wonderfully creative women!

I am definitely ordering a puzzle piece shaped cookie cutter for next year so that I can recreate these. Anyone know of any stores that sell this cookie cutter shape?

Puzzle Piece Jewelry {Autism Awareness Month}


Puzzle pieces are a well known symbol for Autism awareness. Here are a few of my favorite pieces of jewelry for the mother or grandmother of a child with Autism. {Click on the images to be taken to the websites they come from}






1 In 88 Is Not Just A Number {Autism Awareness Month}

mommy and lucas

(Update 4/2/14: The new numbers are 1 in 68.)

1 in 88.

That’s the new number that’s being given from the CDC.

1 in 88 children have Autism.

My son, Lucas, is one of those 88.

I see it when he plays as he lines up his cars and then gathers them into a pile.

I see it in his eyes as I desperately try to understand what he is trying to tell me.

I see it as I watch him contort his little mouth into a scream at what seems like nothing.

I see it as he spins around, on tippy toes, and moves his arms to the music he hears.

Know what else I see?

I see a little boy whose smile lights up the room.

I see a little boy who couldn’t be happier cuddling in the crook of daddy’s arm.

I see a little boy who will laugh with delight as he runs around outside.

I see a little boy who is just the same as he was before his diagnosis.

1 in 88 is not just a number.

He’s my son.

The same little boy that stole my heart the day he was born.

DVD Giveaway- A Mile In His Shoes {Charity Hopping Around The World Giveaway Event}

charity hopping

Welcome to the Charity Hopping Around the World Giveaway Hop
Hosted by:
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
Reading Away the Days
Reading a Little Bit of Everything
Purpose: To promote a charity that you support.

All bloggers will be giving away an item related to their charity or something book related.


The charity that I am featuring for this event is Autism Speaks. My youngest was diagnosed with Autism recently and Autism Speaks has really been a great source of information. They even have a 100 day kit they provide to families {free of charge} to help them get through the first 100 days after their child is diagnosed. See my post about their free resources here.


My giveaway for this event is the DVD ‘A Mile In His Shoes’. This movie is about a child who has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism.

Here is more about the movie:

“Only a miracle can help baseball coach Arthur “Murph” Murphy (Dean Cain) and his losing minor league baseball team. As Murph sets out to recruit new talent, he stumbles upon Mickey (Luke Schroder), a young farmer with an incredible pitcher’s arm. However, Mickey’s parents are reluctant in allowing him to join the team because he has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. Murph convinces Mickey’s parents that life in the minor league will benefit their unique son, but he doesn’t realize just how much his new recruit will help the team’s game and, more importantly, their spirit. Based on a true story, A Mile in His Shoes is an inspirational film that celebrates faith, determination and the power of friendship.”


Leave a comment telling me why you’d like to win this movie.

For an extra entry you can share this giveaway with others through social media.

Giveaway ends April 4, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US Only.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post but did receive a copy of the movie.)

Find more giveaways at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer

Stories Of Autism & Firefly Nights Photography


In December, Lucas was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We found out about this wonderful non-profit, Stories of Autism, that is “dedicated to heightening autism awareness through the exhibition of its portraits and stories of children and adults on the autism spectrum.” They match children who have Autism to a local photographer to tell the children’s stories through a picture and we were matched with Megan of Firefly Nights Photography.

I was kind of nervous because our last experience {at a department store photography studio} was an absolute disaster. My children were antsy and didn’t want to sit still which made it difficult to get a good picture but, even worse, was the negative attitude of the photographer. Every minute or so she’d make a comment or disgusted noise every time my 3 year old son moved. Not only did she do this in front of our family but she made the comments loud enough for people outside the room to hear. I was embarrassed and furious at the behavior of this so called “manager” of the studio so I finally just blurted out that they had special needs. It stopped the constant stream of comments on her end and I got a “sorry, I didn’t know”. I was so upset that, after over 3 and a half years of going to the same photography studio, I never returned to get pictures taken there again. I even received a coupon for free portraits as an “apology” from their corporate office but my experience was so horrible that I don’t intend to use it. I didn’t want anything free. I just wanted assurance that these photographers would receive training on dealing with children who had special needs so no family would ever have to go through what ours went through.

I didn’t know that there were photographers out there who specialized in taking pictures of children who have special needs.

After being matched with Megan I looked through her site and saw that she took stunning pictures. That was wonderful but what really excited me was that she had experience working with children who had special needs and was the mother of one herself. Even more reassuring was the contract that I had to sign that had a rule saying parents could not apologize for their child’s behavior. It was comforting to know that I was not going to have to stress out if Lucas didn’t sit still or if he had a meltdown. She would understand because she’s been there, too.

On St. Patrick’s Day we headed over to her photography studio. My mom came with so she could help with Jacob while Lucas was getting his pictures taken. The Firefly Nights Studio was nice and spacious and Megan encouraged my two little sensory seekers to run from one end of the room to the other while we got set up. Deciding that it would be tough to get pictures of Lucas while his brother was there my mom took Jacob out for a walk. We started with trying to take pictures of Lucas jumping on the bed but he didn’t want to do that. Megan did get some great shots of him on the bed laying down. Here’s one of them:

Megan was very patient and had no problem switching up what she was doing depending on Luke’s cues. She didn’t try to force any poses {which my little opinionated Lucas would not have allowed anyways}. Eventually he ended up sitting on a crate in another part of the studio, eating a lollipop and playing with a box of band-aids. Megan assured me that she could edit some of the shots so those distractions wouldn’t be in the pictures. She ended up with a beautiful photo to send in for Stories of Autism that I absolutely love. You can see which image she chose over in her blog post.

I am so thankful for Megan donating her time to Stories of Autism. I wanted to share that she also does something special for Autism Awareness Month in April. She has two days that she offers mini sessions to families with no session fee and no minimum order. April 14th she is offering sittings for children with Autism and on April 22nd she is having “sibling day” and taking pictures of children who have a sister or brother on the spectrum. You can learn more about these very special days on Megan’s blog. Sessions are filling up fast (if not full already) so make sure to contact her as soon as you can.

If you take your child, with special needs or not, to Firefly Nights Photography I’d love to hear about your experience and see the pictures you get taken!

(Disclosure: My son received a free photography session and we are receiving a disk of images since we visited through Stories Of Autism. I was not compensated to write a post about our experience but I wanted to because we had such an amazing experience and I want other families in the Chicago area to know that getting pictures taken of their special needs children can be a great experience.)

Free Resources For Families From Autism Speaks

Lucas was diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum on Tuesday and since then I have spent hours looking for resources to help me understand Autism and how best to help him. I came across some free resources offered by Autism Speaks.

One is a 100 Day Kit to help families make the best use of the first 100 days after their children are diagnosed with Autism. It  is downloadable or, if your child has been diagnosed in the past six months, can be mailed to your home or picked up from a local FedEx Office location. The second resource is an Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Tool Kit. Both resources are FREE.


If you know of any other resources I’d love to hear about them :)

Sensory Friendly Films at AMC


I was so excited to find this that I just had to share… AMC Entertainment is partnering with The Autism Society to bring Sensory Friendly Films to select communities on a monthly basis. According to their website, “the program provides a special opportunity for families to enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment. The auditoriums dedicated to the program have their lights up, the sound turned down and audience members are invited to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing!”

The tentative upcoming Sensory Friendly Films are:

(Updated Movie Schedule 9/23/11)

October 1 – Dolphin Tale

November 5 – Puss in Boots


*The site says that all shows are scheduled for 10am on these days but that dates and movies are tentative so be sure to call ahead.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.)

World Autism Awareness Day

The month of April is Autism Awareness Month and today, April 2nd, has been declared as World Autism Awareness Day. I will be wearing blue today as I join in on the Light It Up Blue Campaign.

What is autism? According to Wikipedia.org- “Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. These signs all begin before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood.”

What amazed me was reading how many children were affected by Autism. According to Autism Speaks- “one in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined.” Wow, and this site says that in the United States (where I live) the “current estimates” are that ” one out of 70 boys is diagnosed with autism“. That number seems so high to me and this website says that the number of children being diagnosed is growing each year!

So once I learned a little about what Autism was and how many of our children it’s affecting I wanted to know the warning signs of Autism. I found this list of “red flags” to look for. This site, and many other ones that I have looked at, suggest that if your baby shows a couple (or more) of these “signs” then you should take your child to the doctor for an evaluation.

I will do another post later this month about Autism and will hopefully have a special giveaway related to Autism then, too. As for now let’s all wear blue to raise awareness for this cause that is affecting more and more children every day.