Thursday, May 8, 2014

I've been published!

I can't believe it's been a year since I had an actual, real update. It's been quite a year. Quite a year, what should I say. Many ups, many downs. One day I shall fill in the blanks.... One day.

For now, I just wanted to mention to those of you who read the local Jewish magazine, that I have a piece published in Family First (mishpacha). It's the first time I've written about Dovi, and it feels really good. I hope I get to connect to some other moms in the same shoes.

I am also toying seriously about writing a mini series on parenting a child like Dovi, based on some of the material on this blog. I will update here when this happens.

I haven't disappeared! I'm just way too busy, fortunately and unfortunately, to write at the moment.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Baby Gear Post

Time for something a little different, methinks.

The Dovi saga is still unfolding, with many ups and downs, incredible incidents of Divine Providence, better days and harder days, but thank G-d, things are basically stable at the moment. Dovi is doing well in school, Little Levi is growing by leaps and bounds, and of course, I'm always busy, around the clock, seeing to Dovi's needs and resources and programs and such. Currently, I'm involved in a dozen different projects that revolve around Dovi; setting up a picture communication system, getting him the SPIO vest, organizing SibShops for Yiddish-speaking boys in my area, trying to find a transportation para for Dovi, since the new matron cannot handle him on the bus (we miss the old one :-( ), working along with the Behavior Therapist that will come to our home twice a week for the next few months, and of course, every Sunday is a whole new chapter, lining up all of the people involved in Dovi's care on Sundays - the driver who brings him back from his respite program, the 2 community hab workers (who keep canceling on me) , and so on and so forth, ad infinitum. Being an unpaid Child Advocate for someone as severely behavioral as Dovi is a constant challenge. Keeps me on my toes, big time.

But in terms of Amazon products, I haven't bought much for him the past few months, aside from he usual repeats of the diapers, pullups, a dvd player, backpack harness, slinkies, light up toys, balloons, etc. On the other hand, with a new baby I've been pulling out baby related items from storage and buying more. So I am excited to share with you what products have been working for me. Perhaps someone googling "Baby Swing" or "Exersaucer" will chance along this post and click on a product and end up buying something and I'll have some more Amazon commission to then spend on Dovi's amazon products.... and so it goes in a circle :).

So if this post does not concern you, you can move right on past and continue waiting patiently for the day that my writer's block will lift and my ADD-induced fuzziness lifts, and the constant rollercoaster that is Dovi's resources and arrangements eases up a bit and I can finally fill in those blanks between last May and now, which I know you're patiently waiting for.


But for now, here's my Baby Gear review.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Dear Readers of the blog,

I feel bad to do this - but I have to pull out the DONATE button again.
I am desperately in the need of a new stroller for Dovi. The Special Tomato stroller outlived its usefulness - it's too bulky to transport and the five-point harness was too flimsy to keep Dovi safe. He would climb out in the blink of an eye and lead his caregivers on a wild goose chase to catch him. Then the hood broke; we had to dispose of the stroller.
So far we are using an old donated Mclaren Techno, but at 47" and 52 pounds he does not really fit into it anymore. And sometimes he puts his feet down on the ground to stop his caregivr from pushing him...
Even with his backpack harness I am sometimes scared to be on the street with him without additional restraint. When we wait for the bus in the morning he starts dragging me to the corner impatiently and I can barely get him to walk back to the front of our house. I'm always scared that he'll try to run onto the street. We really need a stroller.
So last June I began the process of getting the Mclaren Major Elite stroller funded through Medicaid (it costs over $500)... and thus began the next saga of Never A Dull Moment in our lives....

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bed Tents for Autistic Kids & Mini Houdinis, Part 3

Soooo eventually, it happened. Dovi managed to rip off a zipper from his 'indestructible' Pedicraft bed. We managed a temporary solution (moving the bed to the wall, putting in a bigger mattress) until the company we purchased it from can come and service it.

Meantime, last I checked this blog, it was getting almost exclusively search hits for bed tents for autistic kids. People are panicking all over; there are no easy solutions, especially since the company selling the Ready Set Bloom tents is temporarily not selling them because the latest shipment was faulty.

Between my recovery from the new baby and the multiple 3-day holidays we just went through, Dovi spent a lot of time at different respite providers the past 2 months. At one of the weekends he managed to break a pop up tent and rip up a Ready Set Bloom Tent. The kid is truly Mini Houdini.

We'll be seeing Dr Cartwright this week to revisit his medication. Risperdal just isnt cutting it. I dont know if we should add Intuniv or a stimulant. Guess we'll leave it up to the doctor.

He is doing very very well at School C - I couldnt be happier than he ended up there. The paras are full of warmth and love, the curriculum is great, and I'm part of a parent body of 11 other mothers in my neighborhood. Had he gone to School A, I would be weathering all sorts of snafus like transportation issues and administrative frustration on my own.

Our new Home Health Aide is a lifesaver. She is available whenever I need her and works extra hours whenever necessary. She loves Dovi and is so devoted to him. I thank G-d every day that things are finally calming down after 2 really difficult months.

The new baby, whom I'm calling Levi on this blog, is a source of joy and comfort, bli ayin hora.

Life is up and down constantly, a true roller coaster; easier days and harder days. My therapist is really helping me get through the tough times, and G-d always ends up being there for me even when I dont see it. I have so much to write. So many little stories to tell. One day.

But for now, let me help those of you who ended up here searching for a solution for your own mini Houdini. I will share with you the different tents his respite providers have:

Monday, September 23, 2013

I have so much to say. So much to write. But no time.
I can't wait to share the incredible series of events that led to Dovi going to summer camp, and how incredible summer camp was for him and for all of us.
I can't wait to blog about what it's like for a parent of a severely autistic child like Dovi, to make a decision to try for another baby, and what it's like to go through a pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period with a child like Dovi at home (or in camp as it was in our case).
And so forth.
But not yet.
Today I just want to talk about some of the recent purchases I made for Dovi.
Before I do, just two quick updates: The new school - School C - is PERFECT for him. He fits in there like a glove and he has an incredible teacher and paras. I'm so glad we made the decision when we did. I thank HaShem for that.
Also, I did not take Leticia back as Dovi's Home Health Aide after the summer. I had a lot of issues with her; we did not get along - major personality clash - and i realized that with a new baby I would need a lot more hours than she was willing to work. HaShem sent an amazing, amazing girl whom I'll call Charlene, who has been an absolute lifesaver for us, especially now with so many 3-day YomTovs. We would not have survived without her, seriously. She's a major help, willing to work hard, punctual and pleasant - a true Godsend.
Anyway, on to the purchases.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fabulous new tactile sensory toy I Discovered.

Two weeks ago, Binah Magazine ran  feature on Sensory Toys. A large part of the article was a result of an extensive interview I had with the writer; many of the toys were ones that I had profiled here on the blog. It was interesting to see how she put it together. There was one toy, however, that I had not heard of or thought of, and I immediately ordered one from amazon. It's really meant as a 'tummy time' mat for younger children. It turns out to be an amazing sensory experience for Dovi.

Dovi loves splashing in water. This mat provides him with a safe, dry way to punch and pound and squish at water. Unfortunately, on the first day he already bit into the plastic part which is inflated by air, and I am afraid Chaim emulated him by biting into the water part - in any case, it's already sprung a leak, and while I closed it with Duct tape, it's not a lasting solution, so I already ordered 2 more such toys off Amazon, one which I might donate to the mini day camp end-of-summer program Dovi is fortunate to be attending now between camp and school.

( by the way on the amazon page, for some reason, you'll see a doll featured. Dont fear, it's the water mat. Also, it's hard to figure out how to open the valve to fill it with water. You have to push the cup in and down slightly to access the small opening.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It's a Trifecta!!!

On Sunday we went to visit Dovi at summer camp. He is so happy there, and well cared for, and it took him a minute to recognize us but he was thrilled! I came home all smiles, knowing he's in the best of hands, and ready for the next big adventure...
...which didn't take long in coming. The very next day, on Monday, I gave birth to a little boy! Chaim and Dovi now have a little brother. And with this announcement, many things will become clear to you readers: Why it had gotten so much more difficult to care for Dovi - I was physically incapacitated and mentally drained.... And that is why Dovi went to summer camp, and lots of other little things between the lines were as a result of being pregnant basically since I started this blog.
And which is why I will probably have no time to update the blog anymore, more or less.
But I had to share this wonderful news with you, my dear readers!
Oif Simchos!
(P.S. He was born a few hours after His Royal Highness Heir to the Throne Prince George Alexander Louis :) )

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summertime and the Livin Is a Bit Easier....

I wasn't going to post this since I'm loathe to use the blog in the present tense, but I think I owe my Dovi fans an update. Boruch HaShem, with massive twists of Divine providence, Dovi is in sleepaway camp!!!
One of the special needs camps we had been considering for him was not going to open for this summer, and at the last minute, it did. I was a little nervous before the camp session about his safety and the compatibility of him with the camp staff / program, but thank G-d, it's proven to be just what the doctor ordered. From the photograph they send me every week it is clear that he is thriving there and having the time of his life. he is being loved and taken amazingly care of and having a blast. It's scary to see how relaxed my family is without him around, which has caused all sorts of anguish and pain for me as I reconsider just how deeply his autism and hyperactivity affect my home and family. The house is spotlessly clean, Chaim and my husband are so calm, there is supper on the table every night, no counselors and aides traipsing in and out... it's a welcome respite from the strain and stress of the entire year. It's painful to think of what our lives would look like without Dovi's autism and hyperactivity, and it's frightening to think of how we'll be able to continue handling it as he gets older and bigger. HaShem will have to help, He's helped us til now.
But for now, I'm simply relaxing, taking care of myself, paying Chaim extra attention, and taking all kinds of steps within the home to make life with Dovi easier when he comes home. I took apart his clumsy bedroom furniture and instead put in a small bookcase and kiddie table, a timer for the light and a safety gate for the door. I want to introduce him to playing in his room so that the rest of the house stays cleaner and more organized and the mess gets confined to his room. I want to spend my spare time this summer looking at the Son Rise videos and trying to implement some of it when he comes home, G-d willing.
The photos of Dovi in camp are priceless, but I don't feel like posting them here. I'm so grateful to HaShem for making it work. I can't imagine what I would do with him all summer with so many fewer resources - no Sunday program, no Shabbos volunteers, fewer res hab counselors available, and the crazy heat outdoors. Dovi goes swimming every day, has big wide open empty spaces to run around in on the grass, and is getting top notch therapy and schooling even up there. I miss him like crazy - I cried myself to sleep the first few nights of him away - he's never been away for this long. But I know it's for his good, the good of his family, and he's loving it there and is loved and cared for by a devoted staff, which makes the separation easier. Visiting day is on Sunday and I can't wait to see him. I wonder if he'll recognize me!
Hope you're having a good summer yourself!!!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Strollers for the Older Autistic Child Revisited

Unfortunately our experience with the Special Tomato EIO stroller did not work out as we had hoped. The hood has broken, the stroller is dirty, it's very hard to fold/transport, and the biggest issue is that simply cannot seem to keep the harness tightened, therefore Dovi climbs out of the stroller instantly. It's a disaster. For now, we're back to the old trust Mclaren Techno XT, which at least is keeping him contained, but he is way too big for it and his legs reach the floor. We are now in the process of working with a Medicaid Equipment provider to get us a Mclaren Major Elite. It doesnt look wheelchairish, will fit him right, and is easy to fold. Hopefully I can get the scrip from the pediatrician asap an they can get to working with Medicaid o cover it. I will keep you posted...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

It's Dovi's Party and I'll Cry if I Want To....

To my dear beloved special Dovi,

In all likelihood, you will probably never read this letter. It will take a miracle for you to ever learn to read. I have learned to stop expecting miracles. I am still waiting for you to call me “Mama.” It might never happen either.

This Shabbos is a very special day. It is Totty’s and my seventeenth anniversary. Five years ago, on our twelfth anniversary, something incredibly special happened. I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live. After 9 months of pregnancy and 13 endless hours of labor, a writhing, screaming, gorgeous, pink, healthy 7 pound little boy was thrown onto a blue sheet that had been draped across my belly. I cried for five minutes straight. I couldn’t believe that after struggling with infertility for 9 years, and struggling to raise a head-strong preemie for almost 3 years, I was granted a second chance at making things right. A little brother for Chaim. It was incredible. Totty and I looked at each other and I commented, “How amazing is it that on our twenty-fifth anniversary we will celebrate this baby’s bar mitzvah?” The future was bright and exciting, the possibilities open and endless.

Little did we know.

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