The social network for parents of kids with autism

Archive for the ‘MyAutismTeam’ Category

How Do You Do It All?

The following is a personal story written by Alicia, an ambassador of MyAutismTeam, the social network for parents of children of all ages with autism.  Below she shares the story of how she and her family balance the challenges and triumphs of life.  If you are a parent of a child with ASD, go to MyAutismTeam and connect with other parents who ‘get it.’ Thousands of parents from all over the country are here to share not only their stories, but their daily lives: the good days, bad days and the accomplishments!

.

Just recently I was asked by a new friend, “How do you do it?” I responded somewhat perplexed. “How do I do what?” She went on to alicia pictureelaborate, asking me how do I raise three young boys, with two on the spectrum, while living on a single income and living with the constant pain of multiple sclerosis? I honestly rarely stop to ponder my situation because honestly I see it as a way of life and not a situation. Soon after, another friend asked me this and then I began to notice the number of parents on MyAutismTeam that were asking similar questions.

.

And then I was asked to do a blog post on the subject. So here it goes, keep in mind I am no writer, I write from the heart, sometimes what I have to say is quite blunt and sometimes it will make you cry but it is what I live every day.

.

Parenthood

.

We entered the role of parenthood on a cold December day. After 12 hours on Pitocin my oldest son (Big Fry) was taken by C-section due to distress. He passed all APGAR tests with flying colors. From birth he was a baby that had wisdom beyond his years and has always had adult-like mannerisms and humor. We contributed this to being the first born, first grandchild on both sides, the only baby among all our friends. He was constantly surrounded by adults therefore he acted like an adult. His only delay was speech which we just assumed was due to us using sign language. When he was just 18 months, we had our second son (Medium Fry) and Big Fry’s response to having a new brother was to potty train himself. Medium Fry was a different story, he was 2 ½ months early and whisked away at birth due to me crashing on the table. He refused all contact (except mine) from birth onward, he refused to breast feed, and he refused the bottle. He was born at 5lbs 2oz and left the hospital four days later at 4lbs 1oz.

.

They refused to keep Medium Fry at the hospital because he did better with me. It was a long rocky road and finally at the age of four Medium Fry received the Autism diagnosis, which was something we had decided around the age of one, but couldn’t get any doctors on-board. This diagnosis didn’t stop us from having a third son (Small Fry) whom was born just one year after Medium Fry’s diagnosis. Small Fry was born with a major but non-life threatening heart problem and severe food allergies. Around that same time Big Fry began to struggle in school. We contributed it to having a new needy brother at home. Lo and behold that was the beginning of all the tell tale signs of Autism in my oldest son. So this is how it all started, but still how do you do it?

.

Life Rules

.

There are three rules to surviving life with children on the spectrum and little did I know that these three rules were handed to me at a baby shower for Medium Fry. I was given a simple blue blanket that had words stitched on three sides; the words were Live, Love, LAF (I will tell you the significance of the misspelling later), with the final side having my middle son’s date-of-birth (my shower was after his birth since he was so early.) These three words have stayed with us through our entire journey.

.

Live In my lifetime I have died twice, neither time were there white lights guiding me on to another place. The first time was horrific, to this day I remember the pain and hate that I felt at that time. The hatred was so intense that I vowed to change my life. I recovered and started my journey in helping children on the spectrum. I was only 14 at the time. The second time was during my middle son’s birth, I remember nothing but my husband tells me that I only returned to him after the nurse declared, “It’s a boy but I must take him.” How can we not live each day as if it’s our last? I want my boys to live a full and normal life, so we live in the moment. We cry when times get tough and we laugh when times are good. We struggle together as one through everything. Some people say I need to let go and let my boys live their own lives but my response to that is I will never let go. I give them space when needed but I’m always there to catch them if they fall. There is a poem my mom would always read me when I was younger. The poem stated the only gift a mother (or father) can give their children is roots and wings. Wings to allow them to soar to their fullest potential and roots to guide them home when they fall.

.

Love is unconditional, love is blind. Love your children no matter what they do. We have no way of knowing the pain they feel, how hard it is for them to do daily life skills. But with unconditional love they can make it through everything. When my oldest son was diagnosed, I cried. The doctor, who knew our family well, looked at me and asked, “Why are you crying? You didn’t cry for your middle child so why do you cry for you oldest?” I said, “This can’t be, I knew something was different with my youngest from birth but my oldest is so normal.”

.

At that point in time I was given the best words of wisdom. The doctor looked at me and said, “Does this one word (Autism) change who your son is, does it change who he will be, and most of all does it change how much you love him?”

.

Does it?

.

Think, do you love your child any less now that you know why they struggle? If you are like me, it is just the opposite; you love them even more. Don’t get me wrong my boys are a challenge but to be honest I find my NT child way more of a challenge than my two on the spectrum. Times get hard but I love them through it. Pull everyone you can into your circle of love, it is contagious. If they see your pure admiration for your kids, they will also feel it. And honestly the more people you have in your circle the better it is.

.

LAF We spell laugh this way because L.A.F. are my son’s initials. Little did we know how much he was going to make us laugh. When you laugh at the little hitches in your life you feel better. Stress goes away, solutions become evident. When times are tough, let your mind wander to a time when your child has made you laugh. If your life is anything like ours, your mind won’t have to wander far. On any given day, I can count the melt downs on one hand. But most days the number of times my boys make me laugh are far more than the number of fingers on my hand. The good does outweigh the bad and we often just need to sit back and remember.

.

So Live, Love, and LAF. My boys were a gift from god and though his plan is sometimes unclear I know he only deals us what we can handle. Put your faith in yourself and know you can handle life on the spectrum.

Sign Up For MAT

Our Story – My Tristan

The following is a personal story written by Juliet, an ambassador of MyAutismTeam, the social network for parents of children of all ages with autism.  Below she shares the story of her family and her son Tristan.  If you are a parent of a child with ASD, go to MyAutismTeam and connect with other parents who ‘get it.’ Thousands of parents from all over the country are here to share not only their stories, but their daily lives: the good days, bad days and the triumphs!

He was extremely colicky as an infant. Midnight car rides almost every night, he slept no longer than a couple hours, at most,Tristan during the day, and began digestive issues as young as two months old.  Literally, my husband and I were tired and grumpy all the time hoping this stage would someday be behind us.

Tristan, now 4 years old, hit all his major milestones up until two years old, but there had always been something a little peculiar about my little guy.  He spoke a few words here and there but nothing distinguishable to a non-parent. When Tristan was excited, he would jump up and down flapping his arms. And we just said to ourselves, “oh, how cute! He loves to watch football!”

At 3 years old, when most parents begin preschool preparation I was racking my brain telling myself, “I don’t think my little guy is ready. Actually, I know he is not ready.”  My biggest concern and the anxiety he demonstrated the most was being around others – children, adults, and even family. Socially, I knew he was behind – way behind.

Outside of routine trips to the store ,such as Costco, refusing to be separated by Mommy and the check-out counter, or regular phrases such as “I’m scared” when approached by anyone other than an immediate family member– it was the sum of these situations that my husband and I realized we had to make something happen on our own.

I immediately met with Tristan’s pediatrician, I should note that my concerns were not new to her either, but I pressed it further and she supported our request.  Our next visit was with a Pediatric Neurologist about an hour outside of town who instructed us to contact out local regional center.  After some research of my own, I also decided to contact our local school district to get him tested for academic purposes since he was of school age (being 3 years old).

The tests and evaluations were moving on the fast lane, it was continuous evaluations for 3-4 weeks.  Lucky me, and lucky for my son he loved puzzles and games.  So he was having one party after another for a month. Final assessments came in both from the regional center and the school district within days of each other and both were in agreement that my son had PDD-NOS, known as Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified. It was extensive-wordy diagnosis with an awkward title but we now had an official diagnosis for my son.

In my son’s case, he exhibited most of the elements of being autistic but because of the mildness of his characteristics he did not have Autism, but better put he had Autism Spectrum Disorder.  We shared the diagnosis with the school district who then discussed possible therapies to help Tristan begin moving in the right direction.  They laid out two possible therapy sites both using applied behavioral analysis (known as ABA), and even set up visits for me to the two locations. After the visits, it was clear which would be the best fit for my son.

In order to move forward with the ABA at Applied Behavioral Consultants, ABC School, they had to conduct their own evaluation of Tristan to create a personalized program to fit his areas of needs. Over a period of a month, ABC School finally concluded their assessments and they began Tristan on a “slow start.”  A “slow start” just meant he would begin half day and gradually add on an hour or so until he was able to manage a 8am-3:30pm schedule at five days a week.

Let me tell you mom and dad – the first week was, of course, the biggest transition. Which meant every morning; I would hear my little guy declare, “no school Mommy, no school.”  And for many days, I would do my best to console and reassure him that everything would be ok.  Even though, I too had doubts. Not because I didn’t think we were making the right decision but more else that I too was scared as we were taking this journey together…blindly. As soon as I would drop him off at school, there was clinging to the legs, clothes, screaming, crying – some of that from Mommy too.  Yes, the first couple days I sobbed as I held my daughter’s hand walking to the car hearing my son screaming from inside the building.

Tristan artworkBut all that eventually ended and now almost five months into his ABA therapy – my Tristan is doing amazing.  He was evaluated for occupational therapy (it was recommended at the beginning of the school district evaluations but has improved drastically since then and so was deemed not needing occupational therapy at this time) and she had relayed that he was “the most developed child she had seen in the last ten years.”

Just over this last year, I have come to realize more clearly how blessed and gifted that my son is.  Because of his love to learn, he has exponentially grown in his academics even at four years of age.  And now loves school! In the fall, we enrolled him in a mainstream pre-kindergarten, so with the balance of both ABA therapy and pre-k he is doing wonderfully!

We are so grateful for the amazing specialists, teachers, doctors, and individuals who have had an impact, both big and small, in our lives to create this journey that we’ve been on with our son. Autism Spectrum Disorder has become a blessing in disguise and is a part of who my son is.  And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you are the parent of an individual with autism you can join MyAutismTeam for free at http://www.MyAutismTeam.com.

 

Sign Up For MAT

Lessons on Navigating the Holidays and Family

The following is a personal story written by Kristin, an ambassador of MyAutismTeam, the social network for parents of children of all ages with autism. Below she shares the lessons that she has learned incorporating her extended family into her son’s life.  If you are a parent of child with ASD, go to MyAutismTeam and connect with other parents who ‘get it.’ Thousands of parents from all over the country are here to share not only their stories, but their daily lives: the good days and bad days and the triumphs!

KristinThis time of year my favorite for one main reason—the food! Seeing extended family and getting time off from school or work is also a bonus. Sometimes spending time with your extended family can be a hassle, especially if you have different circumstances than the rest of your family.

My son happens to be the only child with any sort of special needs (ASD) on either side of the family, which can make the holidays stressful. Yes, getting my son to do something other than climb the stairs over and over again is frustrating, but that’s not the main stressor, the extended family is. We all love our families (hopefully!), but sometimes things aren’t all pleasant.

I remember how interactions with my son went at the first family gathering following his diagnosis. It was nearly nonexistent. We have two doctors in the family, so they interacted with my son, but others didn’t. Over time I began to notice a trend in who would make an effort to talk to and play with my son, but also that did not. I even conducted an informal experiment to see how often my extended family interacted with my son last Thanksgiving. You know what I found? The family members who barely engaged my son had little to no knowledge about autism.

It can be so easy to just get angry, assume they don’t want to be a part of your child’s life, or even dislike your child. Try not to jump to conclusions and think about why certain family members avoid your child. There could be a whole host of completely rational reasons why they avoid your child.

Here are some reasons that I have found to be true:

  • They don’t know how to interact with your child. This is the most common reason that I encounter. Not everyone is as versed on the ins and outs of autism as us ASD parents. Telling your family that your child has autism may not be enough to prompt investigation on their part. Try bringing your child up in casual conversation and state how they should interact with your child. For example, you could say “Talking to him like we would other children is most beneficial for him,” or “we typically talk to him with short, specific sentences,” to emphasize how to communicate with your child. I did this exact thing with my siblings-in-law to let them know that we talk to our son just like we would any other kid. Modeling it also helps. I noticed that a few of them began to make consistent efforts to interact with my son after that.
  • They want to help, but don’t know how. I specifically noticed this with my mother-in-law. She wants to help, but doesn’t really know what to do. She used to repeat herself over and over again to my son, trying to help, but it just made us angry. We felt like she assumed our son was unintelligent. Turns out, she was told that repetition helps with learning. She took that too literally, hence the repetitious nature of her conversations with my son. When she last visited, we actually told her about things he was working on at school and asked that she practice those things, too. One thing in specific was hugging. My son is very affectionate, but in unique ways. He has been learning to hug at school, so we told her about it and asked her to do it. When he did hug her, she was so proud! She even instructed my father-in-law to start doing it, too!
  • Awareness is crucial.  The simple act of knowing has major influential effects on how people behave. I can attest to this myself. Even as a parent to a child with autism, I still find that initially I feel a little bit of anxiety when initially meeting a new child with ASD. The more exposure I have, the more comfortable I feel. I am an undergraduate research assistant in an Applied Behavior Science program, so I interact with children with ASD all the time. The more time I spend with these kids, the more comfortable I get with new children and new issues. Just try to inform your extended family about your child’s situation. This can be formal and informal. Chances are your family may have some idea that autism is something that it really isn’t. Express the great things your child does as well as struggles (chance to ask for help!).

I have noticed that the more information I provide to my family, the more they want to interact with my son and ask about his progress. It is so important to not jump to conclusions and get angry. Let’s be honest, raising a child with ASD is hard work. Why add more work and stress to your load? Try to enjoy the holidays, eat lots of yummy food, and teach your child some new social skills. And if some family member refuses to be social with your child, then don’t sweat it. Your child needs to be surrounded by supportive and loving people anyways.

Sign Up For MAT

MyAutismTeam Reaches Major Milestone: 50,000 Parents Nationwide!

MAT-50000
MyAutismTeam, the social network for parents of children of all ages with autism, today announced a new milestone of 50,000 registered parents.

 

MyAutismTeam attributes the rapid growth of the social network to pent up demand and word-of-mouth amongst parents of individuals with autism, unique product features based on parent feedback, and partnerships with leading autism organizations.

 

For parents of children (from infants to adults) with autism, MyAutismTeam is the social network for parents to meet other parents who understand the daily ups and downs that come with parenting an individual with autism. Through shared tips, ideas, referrals, and general support, the parents of MyAutismTeam make real and lasting connections with other parents.

 

Since MyAutismTeam launched in 2011, parents have made more than 500,000 connections on the site. From discussions on effective therapies and finding the dentist or barber who “get it,” to tips on everything from insurance coverage to implementing a successful bedtime routine, the parents of MyAutismTeam share openly and honestly about their daily issues, concerns and triumphs.

 

“It’s been amazing to see MyAutismTeam grow from 35 parents two years ago, to 50,000 parents today because it means that more and more parents are finding the support they need,” says Eric Peacock, co-founder and CEO of MyAutismTeam. “However, with estimates that 1 in 50 children will be diagnosed with autism in the United States, we know that are many more parents out there that need to connect with parents on MyAutismTeam. Our goal is to continue getting the word out to all parents who have children on the spectrum, and our partner organizations will play a critical role in that.”

 

Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism and science advocacy organization, a partner of MyAutismTeam since the community launched, recognizes the value of the connections made by parents on MyAutismTeam.

 

“Parents of individuals with autism are amazing people helping their children live fulfilling and rewarding lives,” said Lisa Goring, vice president of Family Services at Autism Speaks. “MyAutismTeam provides an invaluable community in which parents can support and learn from each other. Our partnership with MyAutismTeam is just one of the many ways we continue to bring the best possible resources to families impacted by autism.”

Autism Parents Share: 8 Tips For Keeping It Romantic In A Marriage

10secretshappy08

Having a child with autism can be tough on a marriage. Besides the emotional and financial strains that come from providing for a child with autism, there’s a huge time commitment involved with therapies and medical appointments. All that responsibility and pressure can make it difficult to have time or energy left for romance. So what are moms and dads to do? We asked parents on MyAutismTeam how they “keep the romance alive” in their marriages. These are their tips, most of which apply to any busy parent!

1. Plan date nights.

Take the time to line up a sitter or respite care at the beginning of each month to make sure you get out. No planning ahead usually means no date! As one mother on MyAutsimTeam shared, “My husband makes it a point for us to have date night at least two times per month. Sometimes we only go out for pie and coffee.  It’s not much, but it makes me feel like a million bucks.”

If you’re having trouble lining up a sitter, several parents on MyAutismTeam have had success using sites like SitterCity.com to find sitters who are familiar with autism.  With 1 in 54 boys being diagnosed with autism in the U.S., it’s no surprise that there are a lot of sitters experienced in caring for people with the condition.

2. Try the weekday lunch date.

If getting a sitter is difficult or too expensive, try meeting up for lunch while your child is at school—or have a late breakfast date before heading into work. As New Mexico mom Sharon Esch explains, “My husband and I have a weekly lunch date while my son is at school.  It’s great because we don’t need to get a sitter, we have time to talk to each other about adult things, and we are not falling asleep!”

3. Set a dedicated bedtime for your child.

This is the secret weapon that far too little parents use: Create a fixed bedtime for your child that leaves an hour or two in the evening for you to spend with your spouse.  “Our son has a designated bedtime at which he goes to sleep every single night. Non-negotiable,” says Debbie Caruso of Massachusetts. “We have a night-time routine that starts around 7:30 with bath, books, a favorite calming video and sleep time. ” Word to at-home moms: rest up! Says Caruso, “I nap while my son naps, so I can still have energy left when my hubby comes home.

4. Flirt! (Remember that?) 

Re-introduce flirting with your spouse, recommends Terri Eagen-Torkko from Michigan.  ”Write love letters while you’re in the waiting room during therapies.  Send flirty text messages.  Every day, tell [your spouse] that you love them and why.”  To take advantage of those times for intimacy, she continues, “teach the kids that a closed door means knocking AND hearing an answer before entering!”

5. Have moratoriums on autism talk.

Parenting a child with autism can be all-consuming; it can easily take up every minute of daily conversation with your spouse if you let it. Kansas father Martin Cunningham says it’s critical to occasionally set autism aside so you can have time to “remember the reason you married your spouse in the first place.” He recommends that couples take a few hours every week for “conversations with each other, and with friends, that have nothing to do with autism.” Adds Chris Tryon, a father of two in New York, “Keep up with your friends! You need to keep sight of who you are apart from your child.“

6. Create structure for your child on weekends.

Shifting from the structured school day and therapy schedule to an unstructured weekend can result in exhausting parenting work that leads to no relaxing time with your spouse. Many parents schedule activities such as taekwondo, gymnastics, or swim lessons to start the weekend off with structure–and hopefully gives them some time for each other later in the day.  In her blog post How this autism mom stays married, noted autism writer and MyAutismTeam mom Laura Shumaker shares that her husband got up every Saturday morning, made pancakes with her boys, and then watched Disney movies with them.  He did it to let her to catch up on sleep, but regular weekly traditions like that can create its own predictable structure for a child on the spectrum.

7. Give your spouse time to him or herself.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for your romance is to ensure each spouse gets time to him or herself.  A 2009 study showed that Autism Moms have the same levels of chronic stress as combat soldiers. Whoever the primary caregiver is in the household, make sure that person gets some time to recharge! Laura Shumaker shares that she and her husband cover for each other on parenting duties each week.  “My husband has played tennis every weekend [possible] for the past 28 years, and I get out to exercise, shop, see friends, or have one on one time with my other boys.”

8. Remember, you’re in this together.

“One sure way to destroy romance in a marriage is to extend the fighting we must constantly do (on behalf of our children) to the spouse”, says Martin Cunningham, a father and husband in Kansas. “It’s too easy to view our spouse’s perspective as adversarial when it does not match our own.  It takes a special intent and energy to remember that they want to help and, more often than not, a tremendous effort to maintain open communication about those differences.”

Laura Shumaker suggests couples taking extra pains to keep things civil.   “When I’m stuck at home all day and am STIR CRAZY, I resist the urge to say “Your turn!’ and race out the door the second my husband gets home.”  She explains that they hug and kiss, and have a moment to acknowledge each other before she says, “I’m going nuts.  I think I’ll go to the bookstore for a little bit. Is that OK?”

To connect directly with the parents mentioned in this article (and thousands more) and share your own romance tips, visit MyAutismTeam.

 This post originally appeared on Parents.com.

MyAutismTeam Parents Speak Out

At MyAutismTeam, we are very saddened by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school last week. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and families impacted by this catastrophic event.

.

In light of the varying news stemming from this horrible event, autism experts are rushing to silence the notion that there is a link between autism spectrum disorders and this kind of violence. Knowing that there are hundreds of conversations swirling on MyAutismTeam about fears of how children on the spectrum may be unfairly targeted (even more so) we asked our community at MyAutismTeam for help in responding to our survey so that we can give a unified voice to parents of children with autism.

.

The survey went out to more than 34,000 parents on MyAutistmTeam and received record-breaking response times. It’s evident that these questions were those that many of our parents were already thinking and asking themselves and wanted to share their opinions. As our goal was to shed light on the misconceptions currently surrounding autism, our questions focused on the concerns that such an event can have on children on the autism spectrum.

.

When asked “To what degree are you concerned about your how your child will be treated at school,” approximately 30 percent of parents reported, “I’m worried my child will be treated differently by teachers and other students” and two-thirds of those parents are specifically concerned that their child will be subject to increased bullying at school because he/she has autism.

.

Parents were also asked, “As a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, what are the most important things you want other parents to know about autism, and to share with their children?” Below are the results listed by frequency of answer.

.
  • Autism is not a mental illness, it’s a neurodevelopmental disorder (79% of responses)
  • Kids with autism are more likely to be victims of violence themselves than to perpetuate it against others (78%)
  • Autism is not linked to violence, and it did not cause this tragedy (73%)
  • Be vigilant in making sure kids with autism are not bullied due to misplaced blame for the tragedy (71%)
.

To learn more about how you can support your children during this time, visit MyAutismTeam.com and learn from a community of parents just like you. Also visit AutismSpeaks for tips on how to help your children deal with a tragedy.

7 Tips from Autism Parents on How They “Keep the Romance Alive” with their Spouses

Having a child with autism can put stress on a marriage. Ask veteran autism parents, “What do you wish you knew then that you know now?” and many say that they wish they’d spent more time maintaining their relationships with their significant others before the relationships fell apart.

.

Here are 7 quick tips shared by parents on MyAutismTeam for “keeping the romance alive”.  These are all from parents who have children on the autism spectrum.


  1. Date nights are critical so Plan Ahead

    Take the time to line up respite care or a sitter at the beginning of each month to make sure you get out.  No planning ahead usually means no date. (See below for more on finding autism-friendly respite care and sitters)

    My husband makes it a point for us to have date night at least 2x a month to just be us. Sometimes we only go out for pie and coffee, its not much but it makes me feel like a million bucks.

  2. The Weekday Lunch Date

    My husband and I have a weekly lunch date while my son is at school.  It’s great because we don’t need to get a sitter, we have time to talk to each other about adult things, and we are not falling asleep! :)

  3. Dedicated Bedtime for Your Child

    Set a fixed bedtime for your child that leaves an hour or two of evening time you can spend together, before you pass out from exhaustion yourself. If your child can’t fall asleep at 8pm, try to build the routine that they still go to their room at that time.

  4. Getting Creative

    Flirting (even by text), and napping when my son naps so that I’m awake when my husband gets home

  5. Non-Autism Talk

    Every week we make sure we have conversations together, and with other adults, that has nothing to do with ASD or our work.

  6. Beware the completely unstructured weekends

    Weekends can be tough. My husband and I typically want to unwind and have no routine, but the lack of routine throws our son for a loop. That leads to way more emotional outbursts and power struggles, making it hard to even think about time together.

  7. Divide & Conquer

    Sometimes the best thing you can do for your marriage is divide and conquer so that Mom gets to time to herself to reclaim her sanity.  A 2009 study showed that Autism Moms have the same levels of chronic stress as do combat soldiers! It’s tough for someone under that much pressure to have anything left to give to a marriage. In some households the Dad is the primary caregiver.  Make sure that person gets some time to recharge!

On Finding Autism-Friendly Sitters and Respite Care

    • Respite care is hard to come by but you may be able to get some hours covered through programs by your state or through your local Easter Seals chapter.
      .

      Visit the Easter Seals website or search for “Easter Seals” in your city using the MyAutismTeam Provider Directory.

.
    • Check out Sittercity.com- MyAutismTeam has negotiated a free trial and a 50% discount for all MyAutismTeam parents on SitterCity.
      .

      SitterCity.com is a website that makes finding qualified sitters online really easy.  They don’t provide sitters trained in autism, but often you can find sitters who have had experience working with children on the spectrum.  It may just be enough to give you a few hours to yourself.  For more details check out our post on Finding an Autism-Friendly Sitter (and use the link there to get the MyAutismTeam discount).

.
  • Use MyAutismTeam to form local autism-friendly babysitting coops.  Join MyAutismTeam and find other parents near you who have children similar to yours and who understand autism.
    .

    You may be able to arrange something where they can watch your child once a month and you can do the same for them.  The more people are in the group, the more options for sitters.

.

Please share your tips on how you keep the romance alive with your significant others!

Finding an Autism-Friendly Sitter

Recently, several parents on MyAutismTeam were comparing notes on how to find autism-friendly babysitters and one mom mentioned the website Sittercity.com as a potential source. I was intrigued.  We’re always looking for good resources for MyAutismTeam parents but wondered if Sittercity, a website aimed at finding babysitters for the mass market, could be of any use to parents of kids with autism?

.

I decided to conduct a little test – be a secret shopper so to speak – and the results (explained below) really surprised me.  It may be a great resource for many of you.  We’ve negotiated a free trial and 50% discount for all MyAutismTeam parents so you can try it out yourself.

.
The Test

(You Should Try This if You’re Looking for a Sitter)

    • I did the free trial to post my babysitting job and see if I got any responses.
      (My son doesn’t actually have autism, but I wanted to see if it would work for parents on MyAutismTeam).

      “I’m looking for a caring, female babysitter to take care of my 7 year old boy with autism for a few hours on Saturday nights so that I can go on a date with my wife.”

.
The Results
  • Within three days I got 7 enthusiastic responses from local sitters who were interested in taking the job.  Four of the seven women actually had direct experience working with kids on the autism spectrum in the past!  The other three were open to learning and/or had experience working with special needs kids.  I guess with 1 in 88 children being diagnosed, there’s a decent chance you’ll find a sitter who has had some experience with autism.
  • I paid for the one month Sittercity membership (that’ll be $17.50 for you) so that I could get the contact information for all 7 women, call them, interview them, record their numbers for future use, and even hire them.
  • Out of that I had 3 names of sitters I could call at any time going forward! That worked out to about $6 to find a qualified, autism-friendly sitter.  Well worth it.
.

Note: I ended up doing this again for my own kids (who are not on the spectrum) and found Jenna, a sitter we’ve worked with several times since then. The beauty of this deal is once you’ve found a sitter you like, you never have to pay SitterCity again! I just booked Jenna to sit for us the night of the MyAutismTeam holiday party!

.

Not Trained Autism Professionals

Obviously, a sitter you find through this service is not a trained autism professional.  We’re not suggesting that Sittercity will be able to fill that void for you.  But depending on the needs of your child, you may just be able to find someone who can at least give you a chance to:

  • Go on a date with your spouse
  • Attend that office holiday party
  • Go out on New Years
  • Get some time for yourself

If you want to know more about the sitters before hiring them you can actually run a background check on them through Sittercity.

.

Test it Out for Free & Please Give Us Feedback

Use this link and you’ll automatically get a MyAutismTeam discount of 50% off should you choose to join Sittercity.  I suggest doing the same test I did.

  • Start with the free trial, post your job, and see if you get any responses you like
  • Pay the $17.50 if you get a good response so that you can interview the sitters.  Make sure you get their phone numbers and email addresses for future use!  You’ll be able to call these sitters up any time you’re in a pinch.
  • Try out a sitter and get some important time for yourself
.

Let us know how it goes!  I live in Silicon Valley where adoption of Sittercity is likely higher than in other states, so you may not find the same coverage of sitters that I did.  We want to hear about your experience with this partner.
Email us
with feedback on your experience, or make a comment on this blog.

.

The more demand there is for autism-friendly sitters, the more likely it is that sites like SitterCity will work hard to find and prepare sitters for the job. We have the ability at MyAutismTeam to use our strength in numbers to help create the market for services like this!  As part of the partnership, Sittyercity has agreed to share some proceeds with MyAutismTeam each time someone becomes a member – thus helping us keep MyAutismTeam free to parents (and free of ugly ads).

.

try for free!

.

And Get Some Well Deserved Time for Yourself!

MyAutismTeam Discount for Financial Planning, Special Needs Trust

In researching the blog post Special Needs Trusts, Financial Planning & LifeCare Plans – Planning the Future of Your Child with Autism, we spent a good deal of time interviewing two Special Care Planners from Miceli Financial Partners, Nick Homer and Ken Prodger.

.

Nick and Ken are based in San Jose, CA and both come highly recommended from other parents on MyAutismTeam.  Both are affiliated with the Mass Mutual Special Care Program, have extensive experience working with families with autism and special needs (one of them is the father of a child with special needs),  and they serve families all through northern California.  As a pilot test of a program that could expand nationally, MyAutismTeam has established a partnership with Miceli Financial Partners that offers full special needs financial planning at a discounted rate for MyAutismTeam parents.  

.
Discount Details:
  • If you already have a will in place – Miceli will meet with you in person and do the complete, personalized financial planning, life care plan, letter of intent and special needs trust for a flat $3,000.  That is a discount of $1,000.  Typically the total cost for those services is $4,000.
  • If you need the complete package including a living will, financial planning, life care plan, letter of intent and special needs trust, Miceli will meet with you in person and take care of everything. The discounted price will be $4,000.  That is a savings of $1800. 
  • In addition, Miceli will share a small portion of their fees with MyAutismTeam for each family they serve – helping us keep MyAutismTeam.com a free service for parents of kids with autism.
.
Call or Email Them for More Information

Miceli always offers a free consultation – so you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to them.   They have a dedicated phone line for families with special needs you can call at (408) 487 -1516, leave your contact information and let them know that you were referred by MyAutismTeam.  If you’re not in Northern California, Ken and Nick have said they’d be happy to talk to you and refer you to one of their colleagues closer to where you live.

If you’d like to learn more – call Miceli at (408) 487 -1516.  You can also email them at specialcareplanning@financialguide.com.

Ken Prodger

Ken Prodger is a Certified Financial Planner providing both modular and comprehensive financial planning.  Ken’s area of expertise is financial planning for those families that have individuals with special needs.  His advanced designation (ChSNC) is the only third-party accredited designation for special needs planners.  Ken was the first person in Northern California to receive the designation from the American College and is still only one of a couple in the Bay Area.

.

Ken currently is on the Board of Directors for a local non-profit, Parents Helping Parents; an organization helping special needs families in a multitude of areas.  Ken lives in San Jose and has raised a special needs son; he has the firsthand experience of IEP’s, regional centers and service providers.

.

As a member of Miceli Financial Partners Special Care Planning Team, Ken has extensive experience with financial planning issues of families that have children with autism.  Ken is a fitness enthusiast and is active in the community and church.

.

Nick Homer

Nick Homer is a Financial Advisor and a Special Needs Planner who is a San Jose native, where he resides with his wife.  Nick has been in the financial industry for the last 11 years.   Nick joined Miceli Financial Partners, a comprehensive & holistic planning firm and agency of MassMutual Financial Group, in 2007.   Nick has extensive experience working with families with special needs and is a member of Miceli Financial Partners Special Care Planning Team.

.

Nick was instrumental in organizing & bringing Disability Awareness Night to the San Jose Giants and has served on the planning committee for that event for the last 3 years.  This event has provided 10,500+ people the opportunity to enjoy a free baseball game highlighting the awareness of the disabilities throughout the Bay Area.

.

Nick also serves on the committee for Disability Awareness Day (DAD) for the City of San Jose.

.

In 2012, Nick was asked to serve on the board of directors for Angels on Stage.  Their mission is to provide children with special needs who have abilities of any type and degree, ages 5-22, the opportunity to participate in an annual professional musical theatre production.

.

You can reach Ken and Nick at (408) 487 -1516

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 80,738 other followers

%d bloggers like this: