Today was the first day of Kindergarten for my 5-years-old. People constantly ask me if I was sad or worried and my answer was nope! Sophia Rose has been in school since she was 2- years – old, this summer was the longest she hasn’t gone to school. When she was one and a half years old is when we realized that she wasn’t quite like other kids her age. I had a couple of friends who had kids the same age as Sophia Rose and I know they say never compare your child to other children but I couldn’t help it and I’m glad I did. She wasn’t talking at all when she should have been and people would constantly tell us “oh any day now” or “I was 5 -years- old when I started talking” for me waiting that long was unacceptable so we went to the pediatrician to see if maybe she had hearing problems or if she could shed light on why Sophia Rose wasn’t talking and she said the words no parent wants to hear “I think your daughter has Autism”. Absolutely terrifying. She said we could go through our local regional center for an Autism diagnosis or through Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, she also said CHOLA would be faster and she was right.
We got an appointment in a week with the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Can you believe Regional Center of Van Nuys was almost 2 months? We definitely wanted to start therapy immediately and felt 2 months was to long. When we got to CHOLA, we were introduced to six different people, a pediatrician and his assistant, phycologist and her assistant speech therapist and occupational therapist. We all sat in a tiny room and they interacted with her. When that hour was done we had to make another appointment to see each doctor individually which took about a month. After about a month and a half we got the diagnosis that Sophia Rose had Autism. The diagnosis they wrote on paper was huge! It looked like a novel, till this day I have never read it. The best part of going to CHOLA was they recommend a place called McRory Pediatrics for our services and it was a group based therapy not a typical therapy that most people think of like a speech therapist coming to your home. They recommended her learning with other children which we felt was the best thing for her. Children with Autism have a hard time socializing so we thought killing 3 birds with one stone by getting speech, occupational therapy and learning to interact with other kids her age. McRory was the greatest thing that has happened to my daughter. Within three months she was talking and making incredible strides and had “graduated” to a more advance class for children who were higher functioning. Don’t get me wrong it was hard and for the first month or so I was there everyday learning so when I was at home I could implement what they did in therapy at home. There was a lot of crying, kicking and biting but luckily, she was so young and she won’t remember what we went through to get to where we are today. So, I can’t express enough how important an early diagnosis and early intervention is! Now she is 5-years-old and most people don’t realize or believe me when I say she has Autism. Sophia Rose still gets speech at OT therapy but a classroom based environment, they don’t take her out of the classroom. So long story short, no I wasn’t nervous I was excited on the first day of kindergarten! The only thing I was nervous about was her taking the bus to school which she loves by the way! When she got home from the first day of school she was talking so much! Telling me about the new friend she made and how she played on the playground and that she was shy. It was incredible! I’m a happy and proud mama!
First Day of Kindergarten 8/24/17
*Warning: TMI post, if you can’t handle the word poop turn away*
So my child lately has been pretty amazing. Her speech has improved! She doesn’t stop talking, a problem that I don’t consider a problem at all. I love it. She can pee pee in the potty like a champ! We have some misses especially if she is really into an activity she won’t say she has to go or she’ll just go in what she’s wearing. So sometimes if I know she will be doing something for a long time like watching a movie, playing video games or outside playing I’ll set an alarm every hour to remind her to go and usually without an issue she’ll agree and go. This is a huge win as we have been trying to get her to go potty for over a year! I really wanted to jump this hurtle before the babies arrived so I’m so proud and never get tired when I hear her on the potty and she yells “mommy!!!!! I go pee pee!!!” And she yells it 98% of the time.
Now to the struggle…. poop. I’ve read online that this is a common struggle amongst children/ people with autism. So I knew I wasn’t alone. Lately she has told me she needs a diaper which is code for I gotta poop, so step in the right direction a direction that I’ve been waiting for. They say when they’re ready they’ll let you know and she lets me know. So now how do I transfer this to the potty? One day she asked for a diaper and I said let’s try to poop on the potty and it followed with tears, anger and screaming. My goal is to not traumatize her so we got off the potty and a diaper we go. I didn’t give up. Every time she asked for a diaper we went straight to the potty and each time she’d cry, scream and protest. I eventually tried to just not put a diaper on, she won’t poop if it’s not in a diaper so maybe if she isn’t wearing anything she’d go on the potty (this is how we did it with pee pee and it worked) but let me tell you, this kid can hold it!!!! She’d hold it for days!!!! Obviously not healthy so I needed to try a different approach. Again I didn’t give up. So I brought the iPad in the bathroom thinking maybe the distraction will ease out the poop…. nope that didn’t work. Then I had her stand up since she is used to pooping standing up right? That actually kinda helped. She’d stand for a bit, start to panic and when she would panic that seemed to of meant we’re almost there!!!! We’re on the verge!!! SHE’S PRAIRIE DOGGIN!! But still nothing. I’d be lucky to get a tiny little nugget in the toilet but she’d be happy and say “I did it! I small poopy in the potty”. I didn’t want to rain on her parade and it was a step in the right direction so I’d praise her, hug her and get excited with her but she’d still want a diaper and finish the larger poop in there. Again After the second time I got a small poop in the potty I didn’t put a diaper on her but at night we’d still put a diaper/pull up on and one night at 3am she woke up because she pooped!! So frustrating. I’m obviously headed in the right direction but we aren’t quite there yet.
I remember when she was around one years old we bought her a little potty. So we put that in her room and when she’d ask for the diaper we said “heeeeeeey try sitting on this” and my husband and I would sit with her in her room, talk with her and read with her and then the panic started happening, like if she was scared. So just as she was giving birth to this poo we said “YOU GOT THIS!!! Just push! You can do it!!!” We gave her a stuffed animal and said “squeeze and yell into that” and she did….. and then she POOPED! Not a small little nugget it was a log!!!!! We have never been more excited then we were in that exact moment!!! We cheered and applauded, we did everything short of yelling from the roof top to celebrate this amazing and monumental moment in her life. We stop and realize she isn’t celebrating, she’s totally freaking out. Crying and screaming “noooooooo”. We look in the potty and this sucker was huge!!! We thought maybe it hurt and that’s why she wasn’t celebrating with us? I don’t want to sound mean but heck she pooped!!!!! Yay!!! After we of course hugged her and reassured her this is amazing and great! We then took her out of her room far from that poopy and we said “do you want to play Minecraft?” She sucked up her tears and with a tremor in her voice she said “yes”. Once she started playing Minecraft it’s like nothing ever happened. It’s been a few days and we haven’t needed to poop again but hopefully it’ll be just as successful!!! Cross your fingers!
Minecraft is her zen
My daughter is 4 years old and about six months ago we took her to see Finding Dory in a movie theater and she sat for maybe 30 minutes before she wanted to run through the aisles, she was a complete nightmare. Unfortunately this was to be expected. She had never been to a movie theater before so I expect the unexpected which is being completely uncooperative. It was hard because my husband was trying to teach her a lesson that if she didn’t sit and watch the movie we’d go home. So of course he picked her up whisked her out the theater and said “because you didn’t sit and watch the movie we are going home” she cried the entire way home, screaming that she wanted to see Dory. She cried so much and so hard that her voice was cracking every time she’d try to talk. Without my daughter noticing I too cried the whole way home, it’s so hard and so impossible to let your child cry like that. Am I torturing her? Am I being a terrible parent? Will she ever forgive me? Will she hate me now? It was taumatizing for me as I’m sure it was for her.
Fast forward to today. I’m 17 weeks pregnant with twins. I’m wobbling around like a penguin and exhausted all the time but today I grew a pair of balls and decided to take my daughter to the movies… alone. I don’t know what motivated me but I was determined to do it! The movie: Trolls. The theater: $1 theater down the street. I can not express enough that if the movie wasn’t so cheap I would definitely be more hesitant to see a movie with her. For $1 or so if we left early I wouldn’t be out much money. So I had my game plan ready to go! I brought things that I knew would comfort her like apple sauce, yogurt, marshmallows, fruit snacks and gold fish. You read that correct sugar sugar sugar. I hate feeding her sugar but they are things she rarely gets on a daily basis so I know for if she saw it she’d be excited and would be a great motivator. Also because my child can’t sit still for more than a minute I’ve noticed that play doh seems to help calm her. She doesn’t fidget as much when she holding it and molding it.
So I told her that we were going to the movies and she got incrediblely excited so we left the house pretty early, the original game plan was to leave when the movie started so we could skip the trailers because I really wanted her to watch the movie and not waste time on trailers but because we left early we got there right before the trailers started so I was already worried but she loved the trailers and sat perfectly I was worried because she sat perfectly for the trailers I felt it would be less time she’d sit for the movie. For once I’m so happy to be wrong, she did amazing!! She sat through the entire thing with very little outburst and the outbursts were accurate with what was happening with the movie so that made me proud and gave me the perfect teaching opportunity for her to whisper. She loved all the singing and even laughed at all the appropriate moments of the movie. I was a proud mama. I was flying high!! So after the movie I decided to take her across the street to the lake and feed the ducks which she absolutely loved. All in all today was an amazing day! A win for this autism family. I’m motivated to take her out on my own more often!
My daughter has always had a hard time with speech. She didn’t say words till she was two and those were very basic like water or grapes. When she turned three she started to use 2-3 words in a row like I want water. At the ripe age of four she truly over came so many speech obstacles. With A LOT of speech therapy it is truly amazing to see how far she has come.
We noticed her vocabulary growing as she started watch YouTube videos. She knew how to use and control YouTube and I loved the independence it gave her. She was able to tell me all the names of each My Little Pony, she would point and say look Mommy its Pikachu when we were at the store. She knows all the characters in Minecraft, It was amazing! We were over joyed by her knowledge and memory. Little did I know even with parental controls YouTube doesn’t consider “shit” a curse word so to my surprise my daughter dropped something on the floor and said “shit”! I thought it was a fluke but as days passed I notice I say the word shit, my husband says shit and because we live in Los Angeles we have terrible road rage and when we’re mad at another driver we yell shit. So I guess I cant blame YouTube for her increase in using the word shit. Everyone always tells you, ignore it when they curse because the bigger deal you make of it the more they’ll say it. So as Elsa has taught me, I let it go. We were at Denny’s and she was playing Cut the Rope on my phone and she messed something up on the level and she said “SHIT!” I looked at my husband and we did everything we could to not laugh at this adorable toddler saying the S word but I thought about it, each time she says “shit” she uses it appropriately. She doesn’t say it for laughs or out of the blue. So who am I to get mad at her? I’m happy she’s talking, I’m happy she’s using it in a sentence correctly. Of course I wish it was a different word but I’m really proud that she is getting her point across. It wasn’t that long ago she would constantly scream and cry because we had no idea what she wanted. I warned school that the S word is now floating around in her vocabulary and she has yet to use it there but its a matter of time.
She was showing me her owie, I swear!
If your child is anything like mine your child has an unlimited amount of energy and can’t sit still for a minute! She also has sensory issues, she always craving more. She is constantly seeking more thrills. Walking inside Disneyland and California Adventure should be enough right? WRONG! That’s just a walk in a park for my child ( get it???) the list below guarantee my child will sleep all through the night.
1. Goofy’s Playhouse- Located inside Disneyland
This place is great for both parents and kids. On the outside of the house there’s a lot of climbing and area to run around. It has a small slide and shaded seats for parents. Inside there’s a piano that plays silly noises, a goofy sofa and cute goofy family portraits.
2. Tarzan Treehouse- Located Disneyland
The tree house is a great place to let out energy! This place has a lot of stairs and bridges and beautiful views of Adventureland once you get to the top
3. Redwood Creek Challenge Trail- Located in California Adventure
This place is a hidden gem within California Adventure! It is huge! Taken from the Disneyland website activities include:
- Practice the art of traverse climbing on the Cliff Hanger Traverse Rock Climb.
- Glide down a natural rock slide.
- Play with the Boulder Bears—rock formations that “bear” a striking resemblance to grizzly bear cubs.
- Climb up a trio of wooden lookout towers featuring authentic ranger gear, rope bridges and hidden surprises.
- Practice your park ranger skills as you slide down a tire suspended from a cable on the Sequoia Smokejumpers Training Tower.
- Walk through Big Sir—a towering 35-foot-tall redwood stump.
- Inspect a cross-section from the Millennium Tree and examine growth rings dating back 1,000 years.
4. Animation Building- Located in California Adventure
This is one of my favorite area’s of both parks, this place has benches, air conditioning and a large space for my child to run around! Siting in here is beautiful. Stunning images from your favorite Disney movies are projected onto the walls with music from the film.
5. Princess Dot’s Puddle Park- Located inside It’s a Bugs life in California Adventure
My Daughter loves the puddle park, it’s a great place for her to cool down and run around. Water squirts up from the ground in random places.
One of the best parts of the puddle park is the two convenient changing rooms/ family bathrooms. You take take your family in there to dry off and use the potty.
The best part of the disability pass is the fact you don’t have to wait in line. Sounds easy right? Well for the most part it is and Disney makes sure to help you any way they can. When got the pass they gave me this awesome booklet (pictured below) . Inside the booklet they go over each ride inside both California Adventure and Disneyland and describe attraction details in case you have someone that is sensitive to sound or light or if you have someone that doesn’t like to get wet, this booklet includes all those and more! I recommend that if your in the park or sign up for the disability pass ask for a booklet if they don’t give you one. In order to use the pass you might find a cast member located at a guest services podium. It’s very easy, just walk up and ask for a return ride for a specific ride. They will then scan your passes and tell you the time to return. Tip: Download the Disneyland app, it not only gives you wait times for rides but it also show’s where to find the nearest guest services to get a return time for rides. Finding the disability entrance may not always be easy, don’t hesitate to ask a cast member at any entrance to a ride also ask where the nearest exit is, a lot of the time my child has a melt down walking through the lines at Star Tours so I have to quickly get her out of there.
I thought appropriately my first post should be about how Disney makes it a little easier to take my daughter to Disneyland.
At first when I started taking my child to Disneyland she was a baby but when she turned two she was diagnosed with Autism. She can’t wait in line for more then 10 seconds without falling on the floor, scratching herself and pinching (herself or others). So the thought of taking her to Disneyland became daunting especially after hearing of the disability pass changed. When she turned three we bought her an annual pass because if we still got her in for free we’d have to sign her up for the disability pass with EACH visit.
Signing up for a disability pass is quite easy. First thing after purchasing a pass is go straight to city hall located inside of Disneyland or the Chamber of Commerce inside California Adventure. Tip- GO TO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE the lines are significantly shorter. Let them know you interested in the disability pass and they will proceed to ask you a couple of easy questions. First question: Why does your child need a disability pass? My answer, she cant wait in line. Second question: Why? what happens if she has to wait in line? My answer, she’s self harms. Keep in mind that it expires every 60 days. Tip- when renewing your pass let them know you have it already and it makes it easier on the cast member to renew your pass.
They will take her picture and add it to her annual pass. My daughters first picture we was red faced and screaming. Everyone experience is different of course, I’m just speaking about my personal experience.
For more official information visit: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/guest-services/guests-with-disabilities/
Sophia Rose’s first trip to Disneyland 2015