We wish you a Merry Christmas 🎄 đźŽ¶

During the holidays I love listening to Pentatonix’s Christmas songs. One day Courtney was playing on my phone and got on my Spotify app. Well bring the holidays, it was their songs in my library. Now she LOVES Pentatonix. She will ask for my phone just to go on to my Spotify. I decided to put Spotify on her iPad. She loves it!

We were driving in the car recently. I had something playing on Spotify through my radio and she was in the back on her iPad. Suddenly the song I was listening to and a Christmas song came on. She hijacked my radio!

Well she know thinks it’s the greatest thing in the world to hear her favorite songs whenever she wants in the car. Today on the way to therapy was “we Wish You A Merry Christmas”. Over and over and over again! Don’t mind me if I’m breaking out into Christmas songs these days.

A special outing….

This week Alyssa is Star of the Week. This involves her filling out an “All About Me” poster, sharing her favorite book and sharing a special item. One thing she had to put on the poster is 3 Cool facts about her. Cool fact number 1 “I have a helper dog who helps with my nerves”. She then asked if Bouncy could be the special item she shows the class. At first I said no but then she pleaded and reminded me how important he is to her.

So…Bouncy is going on a special outing tomorrow!

My girls both need lots of prepping when our schedule is different or when we do something new. So tonight, Alyssa was winding down for bed with Bouncy by her side and she asked me if she could tell Bouncy about the special activity he was doing tomorrow. I loved listening to her telling him about what was going to happen.

Thank you, Bouncy, for being such a positive addition to our family and coping tool for Alyssa. You may run on batteries but you are just as special as a real helper dog to my little girl!

Open house…

We had double open house tonight one at Courtney’s school and one at Alyssa’s school. Last year both really struggled going to their open house. Last year we only took Alyssa to hers and only took Courtney to hers. This year I decided to take both girls to both. We went in hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

Well…double success!!!!

Alyssa got to introduce Courtney to her teacher and Courtney got to show Alyssa some of her favorite games. Even Bouncy enjoyed seeing both of their schools!

The best part was watching Alyssa get Courtney to play the games and then seeing Courtney’s teachers melt as they watched the beautiful moment.

Im so glad we made this a family event!

Bouncy the Helper Dog

Bouncy is an animatronic plush service dog created by ripple effects. It is used to help students in classrooms learn skills to help with focus, feel safe, and strong. This is done through songs, stories and other activities. By the touch of his red heart, Bouncy will breathe at a pediatric rate and children are taught to hold him to their heart so they can mimic his breathing. My school introduced Bouncy to our students shortly after Halloween. The students in my class love Bouncy and the songs he sings for them. A few of my students love holding him and breathing with him. He is even starting to help them calm down during moments of frustration. One student comes in every morning and greets Bouncy with a big smile. 

Bouncy is not only part of my classroom, he has become a part of my home. As most of my followers know, Alyssa, has anxiety, sensory processing disorder and severe food and environmental allergies. This fall, she struggled greatly transitioning into first grade. Behaviors were seen both in and out of school. Once Bouncy was introduced to my classroom, I decided to introduce him to Alyssa at home. The day I brought him home, Alyssa had a severe anxiety attack at a restaurant. She had to leave the restaurant to take a break in the car. Bouncy was in the car since I brought him home from school. I gave him to her, pressed Bouncy’s heart and she held him to her chest. Within seconds, as her breath calmed down to reach the same pace as Bouncy’s, you can visibly notice her body relaxing.  

Since that evening, Alyssa has asked me to bring Bouncy home from school every night. He spends evenings and weekends at home with us. He sleeps with her at night. He has become a part of our family. She adopted one of the plush dogs that the program offers and named her Bounce. Bouncy has gone to family events, outings and park district activities. Whenever she feels anxious she knows she just has to press his heart. Bouncy has not only decreased the length of her anxiety attacks but the frequency of them too. 

I have caught her a few times explaining to those who don’t know who Bouncy is, a little about him. Alyssa calls Bouncy her helper dog. Her sister who has severe autism is still warming up to Bouncy, but Alyssa is helping with that process.

I love how she has grown attached to him. Alyssa loves dogs but unfortunately, with her severe allergies to animals (including their saliva) a service dog is not a possibility for our family at this point. But in all actuality she now does have a service dog. His name is Bouncy.

Winter break.,..

That’s a wrap! Winter break has come to an end and as usual, I’m ready for my crew to be back to a routine.

We had a wonderful break filled with some old and some new traditions, time with family, meltdowns, laughter, anxiety but most of all just enjoying all that the holidays bring.

As much as I am ready for us to return to our routines, there are some bug things happening as we return.

Courtney will be back at school with her brand new teacher. Her teacher she started with in august left suddenly in October. She had a long term sub that wrapped up the fall nicely. Though a new teacher brings on another change, we are so excited as this should be the last teacher change for the next few years. It’s about time!

Alyssa had a rough start with school to say the least but November and December were a lot better. In the coming weeks we hope to meet with her team to discuss what additional supports she could possibly get with the new diagnosis. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about how going back to school will go for her but I’m going to remain positive!

Then there’s me. The coming months I will be completing my last two courses towards becoming a BCBA. The courses aren’t the only part of the process though. I also have to do a practicum. Fortunately my work counts towards my hours but it will cause some additional paperwork and zoom sessions. Not sure why, but I am extremely nervous about this next step in the process.

Joe has no big changes. Hopefully he will just be the strong one that cheers us all on these coming months. 

Good bye winter break! It was a blast! Cheers to the New Year! We’ve got this, girls!

Never say never…

Ive said it. Ive said it a few times. I’ve said my daughter may never talk. I couldn’t be happier to be so wrong.

Yes, she is very hard to understand out of context. No, she will not have a conversation with you. BUT…she talks!

Well folks…here is a video that proves why you should never say never…

#imnotcrying #ericcarle

A new diagnosis…

Alyssa’s struggles at school this fall prompted us to have Alyssa further evaluated. My gut was telling me her struggles were more than just because of anxiety. My gut was telling me we were missing something. Though after we decided to have her evaluated, I wondered if I made the right decision.

What would a diagnosis give me?

Is it necessary to get one?

Is having a diagnosis bad?

Does it change anything?

I see a diagnosis as an answer. An answer to why certain behaviors are happening. An answer to why there are certain struggles. In regards to Alyssa, this explains so much of what was going on this fall. Why she would just shut down and completely refuse to work. It puts it all in perspective.

No, it is not always necessary BUT it can lead to help. Help getting more therapy, help getting support at school, help with how to handle situations at home.

Having a diagnosis shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing. I feel labels have become a bad thing because of the stigma that comes along with them. People with a disability, disorder or whatever should not be seen as any less of a person because they were given a label that helps give answers to why they are struggling with something.

Most importantly, a diagnosis changes nothing. Absolutely nothing. My brother, Alyssa’s godfather, said it perfectly, “that girl is such a bright light and no label changes that”.

Well, evaluation is done. We now have an understanding of why things have been difficult. We now have a diagnosis.

I’m not ready to share the “diagnosis” on my blog. Not because I’m ashamed or sad. I’m waiting to share because I want to share more with Alyssa first. I want her to understand what it all means. I want her to understand how it doesn’t change anything about her. I want her to understand how it can only help her. Most importantly I want to make sure she knows she is an amazing little girl and she has the ability to do great things!

Christmas outing….

We did it. We did a special Christmas break outing with success. It was different. It made the girls fight through some anxiety about several different aversions they both have. There were moments you can see their anxiety was heightened, but in the end, all were smiling and fun was had! I couldn’t be prouder!

“Pear Tree”

One of Courtney’s favorite songs is “12 Days of Christmas”. She has a few YouTube videos that she watches that plays the song. We have taught her how to ask for the videos but on her own she has decided to call it “Pear Tree”. Though very hard to understand it to most.

The other night the song came on the radio in the car. Her eyes lit up in amazement that it was playing in the car. We were just getting home when we heard it and she refused to get out of the car until it was over. It made my heart so happy to see her so happy.

Today we got in the car to head to my parent’s house. As I always do, I asked Alyssa if there was any music she wanted to hear. Well Courtney had a request this time. She suddenly said “Pear Tree”. Alyssa was excited for her too so sure enough we played it…twice!

Like the last time she heard it, her face lit up!