Tag Archives: planning

Better Running Starts With A Kitchen Makeover

28 Jan

My 2010 Run For Autism

Two days from now, my 2012 training season officially begins. Over the last couple of weeks, I have gone running a few times and learned how to do the strength training exercises that have been prescribed for me. I have been reading through the plethora of material provided in my Precision Nutrition kit. I have been trying to prepare myself for this season, mentally and physically.

This weekend sees the final push, the last preparations before I start my training program. It’s kind of like preparing for a trip. You spend weeks or months figuring out where you want to go and how you plan to get there. You sort out details like visas and passports, you make lists of what you want to take, you sort out someone to take care of the dog. And then, for two or three days prior to your departure, you rush around in a frenzy of activity, packing your bags and confirming all of the details.

To follow the analogy, I am now in the process of packing for the trip and doing all of that stuff that brings all of the prior planning together and ties it up in a neat bundle.

Here’s what my weekend has in store for me:

  • Today, my kitchen is getting a makeover. I am emptying out the cupboards and repacking them. I will finally throw away the baby bottles that have been lurking unused at the back of the top shelf for the last five years. Now that I have decent pots and pans, I can get rid of the old dented ones with chipped handles and thereby add valuable space to my tiny kitchen. The fridge will be organized in preparation for tomorrow’s grocery shopping trip.
  • Meals for the next two weeks will be planned.
  • I will make a list for said grocery shopping trip. I will buy what’s on the list, and only what’s on the list. The husband will not be permitted to add unauthorized items to the cart.
  • I will go through the training program that my friend and coach Phaedra has given me, and I will add all of my runs to my wall calendar. I will also schedule them on my Outlook calendar. Once they’re scheduled, they have to happen, right?
  • I will get my home workspace organized in a way that it will stay organized. This will make it easier for me to get things done in less time. When my space is cluttered, my mind is cluttered and that doesn’t help anyone.
  • I will finally put away the mountains of clean and folded laundry that I have everywhere. I spend ridiculous amounts of time digging around for clothing that I could find in five seconds if I was organized.

This is a lot to get through in one weekend, but I am excited about doing it. I even have an incentive: if I do all of these things, on Monday I will reward myself with a new pair of sports headphones I’ve had my eye on, and this will give me a wonderful musical experience when I’m running.

I am looking forward to making new starts in my life. I am looking to creating some desperately needed balance, and doing things for myself that will make me happier and healthier. I have been languishing for too long in this feeling of being overwhelmed by my life. It feels good to be taking action and making plans.

I intend to post weekly updates on my progress, every Saturday. Come with me as I embark on this journey. It may not always be easy, and I’ll need cheerleaders along the way!

 

The T-Word: A Scary Word For Autism Parents

13 Apr

This morning heralded the beginning of a new phase in my life as a special needs parent. We met for the first time with George’s transition planning team to sign the paperwork that kicks off the process of transitioning him to full-time school.

Any parent of a child with autism will tell you the same thing: that the word “transition” is one of the scariest words in the English language.

“Transition” means that the routines that pretty much hold the world together for a child with autism are about to be turned upside down and inside out.

“Transition” means that there are likely to be meltdowns, that for a period of time my child’s anxiety will be mirrored in his eyes in a way that will make me want to weep, and that the entire family will be without sleep as George makes the adjustment to his new reality.

Despite the fact that this is a process that makes me fraught with anxiety, it is a positive thing. When he started IBI therapy two and a half years ago, George did not have a lot of skills. He had virtually no vocabulary, no self-help skills, he couldn’t follow directions, he couldn’t interact, his emotional regulation skills were nowhere, and he had all kinds of fears that made his life very difficult. There was always a spark in him, though; a light in his eyes that made people sit up and take notice.

After two years of full-time therapy, the progress in this child was off the charts. It would be a stretch to describe him as fully verbal, but he was making requests using full sentences, he was starting to interact in a limited way, he was no longer afraid of the dark, he was starting to verbally express emotion, he was able to follow instructions with multiple steps, and in a giant cognitive leap, he had started to display his quirky sense of humour (deliberately being funny for the purpose of making other people laugh is huge. HUGE!)

And so, six months ago, the decision was made to cut his therapy in half and graduate him to the next program up. Instead of traditional IBI therapy, which is intensive one-on-one programming, he is now in a School Stream program, which is conducted in groups of five. It is a simulated classroom environment, designed to help children with autism learn the kinds of skills needed in school. There is  teacher who leads school-type activities, and each child has his or her individual support person to help with prompting and reinforcing.  The children in this program attend School Stream for half of the day, and actual school for the other half.

It has proven to be a very effective program for George. It has helped improve his social communication and interaction skills – areas that remain difficult for him, that traditional IBI therapy is not designed to address.

And now, effective from September of this year, George is being deemed fit for full-time school. This is a testament to the progress he has made, both in IBI and in School Stream. His teacher at school, who has had him half-days for the last six months, is excited to take him on full-time, and he will be with her for at least two years. At our last meeting with her, she had glowing things to say about George. He still struggles intensely with social communication, and he is not nearly verbal enough to hold his own in a conversation, but academically he is flying. He has developed the skills to function, and function reasonably well, in a classroom setting, even if it is a modified classroom designed for children like George.

That George is ready for this transition is a positive thing indeed. It is something that makes me so proud of him. He has had to work so incredibly hard to get to this point.

But still.

The process of transition is not going to be easy, which is why the planning starts six months before the transition takes place, and does not end until six months after the transition has happened. This morning’s meeting with the transition planning team was the first of what will be many. From what we’ve been able to tell, there will be good supports in place for George and for us over the next year, in order to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.

I cannot help being anxious about it, though. George’s departure from the therapy centre will mean the removal of a layer of support that we have had for the last three years, and although George might be ready for it, I don’t know if I am.

I might just have a harder time with this transition than George will…

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/misskprimary/1038145678)

33 Days

29 Mar

33 days to go.

It’s all coming up so quickly. 33 days until I tie the knot with my beloved, and there’s still so much to be done.

Decor and flowers to be arranged.

Hair to be arranged after my hairdresser backed out.

Cake to be arranged after my probable cake person backed out.

Limo service to be arranged.

Guest favours to be sorted out.

Wedding night hotel to be booked.

Child-related logistics to be sorted out…

Seating charts to be done and place cards to be printed.

And that’s just the stuff that I can remember off the top of my head. It doesn’t count all of the stuff that I have no doubt not thought about…

I can do this. Of course I can.

33 days is plenty of time.

Vaccination Vaccilation

8 Mar

Several weeks ago, I got a letter in the mail from Toronto Public Health, informing me that if George’s vaccinations weren’t brought up to date, he would be suspended from school. There is a series of shots that he was due to receive when he turned six, and due to a number of logistical factors, including the retirement of our doctor and George’s phobia of anything medical, we just hadn’t gotten around to getting them. I called the number listed on the letter and spoke to a very nice lady who told me that the six required vaccinations could be administered with just two needles.

While two shots certainly seems more manageable than six, we have still not been able to get this done. Since our doctor retired, we have still not been able to get another one. There is a dire shortage of doctors in Ontario, much less doctors who are good with children who have autism. There is a walk-in clinic that we’ve gone to frequently enough for them to know us, and they do carry all of the vaccines, but it’s one of these first-come first-served places.

Jabbing needles into the arm of my child with autism is something that requires epic planning. We would have to find a doctor who we could make an appointment with. We would have to secure the very first appointment of the day to guarantee no waiting. We would have to prepare George, ourselves, and the staff at the doctor’s office. The whole thing would have to be done much like a military strike: go in, do what needs to be done, and then leave.

You can’t do that at a walk-in clinic. There, you show up and wait your turn, which could give your child up to two hours to have a complete meltdown and make dents in the drywall with his head (I ain’t kidding about that, by the way).

In between our phonecalls to locate a suitable doctor, we have been doing research on vaccines.

I should say at this point that I have never believed in the connection between autism and vaccines, and I still don’t. Whenever I admit this within my autism circles I create a bit of a stir, because it would seem that most people do not agree with me.

I would never presume to speculate on what does or does not cause autism in other peoples’ children, but looking back, I knew that something was not right with George from a very young age, before vaccines even entered the picture for him. If I were to guess at the root of the problem, I would say that it is a genetic roll of the dice combined with certain dietary elements.

Much to the horror of many parents (whether they have children with autism or not) I chose to vaccinate James even after I knew about George’s autism.  That’s how much I do not believe in the vaccine/autism link.

So the research we have been doing is not from an autism angle. It is from a general health and wellbeing angle. Some vaccines apparently (depending on which websites you believe) contain potentially toxic ingredients that really don’t need to be there. These ingredients can do things like challenge the immune system and create a propensity to getting mild upper respiratory complaints.

And as convenient as it may be, we are debating the wisdom of administering three vaccines per needle, all in one session. That is a lot of stuff to be putting into the human body all at once. I’m no doctor, but I’m not sure that the human body is designed to be blasted in such a manner.

We fully intend to get all of George’s shots updated. We may just take our time and spread them out. It will involve more trauma for George, but there is a chance that it will be better for his long-term physical wellbeing. When James turns six, we will have to make the same decision for him.

In the meantime, while we are waffling around trying to decide whether to get George his shots, the Toronto Public Health deadline is upon us. With just two days to go until imminent suspension, we decided to apply for an exemption. We completed a Statement of Conscience, which basically says that we believe vaccinations are not the right option for us at this time.

It just buys us a little time to do this properly, without pressure bearing down on us.

 

Eight Weeks To Go? Really???

5 Mar

When Gerard and I first got engaged, everything wedding-related seemed a little abstract. It was more real than it had been before, obviously, since it was something that was actually going to happen. But it was happening far enough in the future for me have a somewhat lackadaisical attitude about it all. There was no rush and no stress. We were talking about something that was happening seventeen months away.

I watched those wedding planning shows on TV, shows like Rich Bride, Poor Bride and Wedding SOS, and I smugly thought about how my wedding planning would never be as fraught with stress as the wedding featured in those shows.

Now, with precisely eight weeks to go until my wedding, my smugness is sticking in my craw, threatening to choke me.

There is a lot to be done. A scary amount of stuff. The dress is almost complete, the bridesmaids dresses have been ordered, and the church and the reception hall have been booked. Apart from a couple of other minor details like my shoes and my makeup person, that’s pretty much all that’s actually under control.

We finished the guest list last night. Invitations are being printed this weekend and will go out on Monday.

Starting this week, we will be attending mandatory pre-marriage counseling.

Gerard and his groomsmen have to figure out what they’re wearing.

I have to send photos to the person who’s making our cake so she can give me a quote.

Flowers, decor, and guest favours have to be arranged.

I need to confirm a hairdresser.

Transportation has to be sorted out.

The DJ and photographer has to be booked.

We need to decide who the Master of Ceremonies will be.

The rehearsal dinner has to be planned.

And more.

It’s an awful lot of activity to fit into eight weeks.

And so, this weekend, wedding planning has suddenly kicked into full-gear. Out of the blue, Gerard has started voicing opinions about the wedding, and he’s coming up with really great ideas. We have most of the wedding party coming over tomorrow to help us with tasks and ideas. Task lists are being made, ones that have actual deadline dates on them. Our first song has been decided.

Things are happening and a bride-to-be is stressing out.

Somehow, it will happen.

Somehow, we will create a wedding that will, for all the right reasons, be a day to remember.