Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Planning Ahead

There was an Earthquake here in Los Angeles that occurred at 11:42 AM on Tuesday, July 29, 2008. Both my children were at their autism day camp while I was attending a Memorial the next town over. After the service I headed over to the camp to see how everyone handled the shake. My 13 year old was going to Round Table Pizza for lunch with them getting ready to leave the classroom. Turns out Nicholas never felt the rolling or jolt. Luckily the Earthquake did not stand in the way of the pizza lunch since Nicholas was so looking forward to it.

The talk for days was that of the pizza lunch and the Jurassic Fight Club series premiering on History Channel the same night. On the ride home I explained to Nicholas where I was during the Earthquake. This sparked an interesting dialogue where Nick asked me if he or his brother Matthew were to die would I have a Memorial for them. Nicholas wanted to know how I would know who to call to have a Memorial and how to take care of all that.

I explained to him about the Life Insurance Policies we all have and how my Brother in New Jersey is listed as the Beneficiary. We have always talked of living in California due to the Regional Center Services and how he either wants to work at the Los Angeles Zoo or Sea World. There are options in San Diego for Matthew if Nicholas prefers to head to San Diego in the future. There are Grants we can look into for the future.

The discussion on the way home involved my explaining Cremation in simple terms to my son. I told him this is the option my Father and Grandmother chose and the family complied with those wishes. I told him this is what I always wanted and I said I was thinking of a pre-pay plan that would be similar to making car payments. He seemed to think this was a good way to make sure we had the money to pay for such a service in the event of an untimely and sudden death.

When we got home I showed Nicholas the booklet from the Memorial and we visited the website written about the boy who passed away. Nicholas said it was very sad and he felt bad for the sister. I proceeded to search for some sites to learn more about planning for a cremation and what information I needed to know. There is a term known as TOD, meaning Transfer of Death account. This sample is for an Invididual, but they also have Joint transfer accounts.

The Cremation and Burial Society of San Diego has a list of questions for advance planning. KTLA has this article on planning your own funeral. At Kids Protection Plan you can prepare free legal documents and name Guardians for your children. I went through all the steps at the Cremation Society, picked a Plan with the final cost coming to $2017.00. I would need this for three people and there does not seem to be a plan available at that site. I suggest using Google for your search and including your city or State to find appropriate plans and services. There are even Guides for sale on Ebay.

Canadian Cremation Service

Forest Lawn Services

Funeral Prepay Plans in the UK

Funeral Consumers Alliance

Autism Tissue Program

Plan a Funeral Memorial Service

Bereavement/Funeral Leave

Bereavement Air Travel

This is an article I wrote after Hurricane Katrina. It is Essential Items for the Family. I include what we have in our Earthquake kits.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Autism Reviewer Book Swap

There are two ways I obtain books that I review over on Autism Spectrum Disorders @ BellaOnline. I receive many selections from either the Author directly or from their Publisher, as well as ordering books on amazon monthly with my gift certificate earnings from being an Associate.

I regularly tag books and other items I have and rate the products and reviews. I even added a few customer images to products that did not have any displayed. My wish list covers seven pages consisting of 167 products. As time permits I have written 224 reviews that are condensed versions. I am also a reviewer on Epinions, where reviews are posted as well.

The problem is having a large quantity of books in a small house with two kids on the autism spectrum. Before school let out for the summer our five shelf bookcase collapsed, leaving me with two footlockers and six plastic containers filled with book collections. I hope to convert to the Amazon Kindle by the holidays or with the next tax return. There are books that I want to keep in our library that I reference often, but a good number of them can be shared with other families and bloggers.

This is my idea. I have a list of books that I can share with families. This will help others who have a website or blog and looking for books to review and it gives the author another review for the same book that can be done at various outlets like Amazon and Epinions.

I joined Good Reads and went through all 43 pages of books that showed up in the autism search. I placed many on my list that I will review in the near future and made note of those that I have yet to peruse. I created an Autism Families and Professionals group. I would like those interested in sharing their books to join the group, post a comment here with their interest in any books I have listed and also to mention their blog, website and the books they can offer for this Autism Reviewer Book Swap.

I am interested in hearing from authors as well. We can help one another to get the word out about your book and share our opinions at the same time. The books can be shared with more than one other person and records of who has which book will be organized at the group at Good Reads.

Feel free to share feedback and interest on this idea. I hope there are others wanting to share their books in this swap system. This post will be used to update books that are available.

Books that are up for grabs for reviewers:

Take Him Home and Love Him

Child of Mine

Feelings to share from A to Z

When Sophie Gets Angry

Autism and Me

The Incredible 5 Point Scale

Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Announcing the Virtual Cat

I learned about Widget Box last night and immediately noticed Maukie The Virtual Cat and downloaded his widget for this blog. My son Nicholas was happy to see this tuxedo cat on the computer and liked hearing the meows, which caused confusion to our Tuxedo cat Junior.

reminds me of the virtual cat, Max that Nicholas cared for with his Purr Pals game. The job of taking care of Max was overwhelming at times for Nicholas. He could not relax after lunch because he had to check on Max and make sure he was fed and received some attention. Then there was the litter removal and play time. At least four times a day Nicholas was on the Nintendo DS tending to Max.

In September of 2007 one of the feral cats from under our house vanished on a weekend that had been raining here in Southern California. We saw Junior on Friday night and not again until Sunday afternoon did he reappear. He was limping and looked like he had fallen from a roof or tree and maybe broke his leg. It just so happened that Nicholas had made a connection with this one feral cat that looked exactly like his late father Stevie and his mother Sheera, who was busy with another litter of five under the house. Her first three litters did not have a long life span, and Nicholas wanted desperately to touch and bond with one of the feral cats.

There are other neighborhood cats that converge on our lawn that are domesticated and like to be touched. Junior was the first feral cat that started in our yard that Nicholas was able to cuddle with on occasion when we brought him inside. This usually took place when Matthew was already asleep for the night.

We were able to get Junior into the house and kept him in a corner for the night with an impromptu litterbox. Once Matthew went to school we headed off to the Animal Hospital recommended by neighhor. This was the first visit to such a place for both of us and Nicholas was happy to see so many cats in their carriers there. Luckily there were not that many dogs that Monday morning.

A decision had to be made quickly for Junior, he could get his leg amputated, be put to sleep or have surgery. It just so happened that Nicholas started homeschooling with California Virtual Academy and was going to be isolated without friends to play with. He had already bonded with Junior so putting him to sleep was out of the question.

I contacted an agency that helps people from the Animal Hospital and she said that she would take the cat and bring it to her Hospital and care for him at her house. She was willing to amputate the leg. Nicholas was sobbing in the waiting room and the clock was ticking. The cost for the amputation was about $700 with the surgery quoted around $1200.

I had applied for a Union credit card and got the card in the mail that afternoon, which made the decision for the surgery easier to make. The Animal Hospital gave me discounts and later had to do surgery on his tail. We were visiting the Animal Hospital twice a week for over a month to get Junior checked out and more antibiotics. He had the cone on his neck with the white tie and colorful bandages in red and purple on his tail and leg. We picked out a carrier at Petco and Nicholas was happy to talk with all the pet owners about Junior and our feral cat colony. This really helped him deal with homeschooling the first month as he was mingling about the waiting room meeting and admiring new cats.

With Junior in the home Max was not being tended to as often and one day the game bombed and would not start again, which upset Nicholas very much. He is now happier without that added stress. We are also enjoying a new cat show on Animal Planet Saturday mornings called House cat Housecall. This is a reality tv show where three cat issues are explored. Nicholas would like to see this show expanded to one hour. The visits seem to take place in the Los Angeles area, so maybe we will have a problem that needs resolving in the near future. He does enjoy watching the reruns of Pet Star with Mario Lopez on Animal Planet. We really wanted to get into the studio audience for the show but it ended before it was a reality.

Since Nicholas has a love for cats I looked around for some reading material for him and learned of the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. Nicholas loves this series and posts questions on their website. I recently joined a book site called Good Reads and rated many autism related books. I decided to perform a cat book search and found Erin Hunter listed. Nicholas enjoyed going through the book listings last night and rating all these books. I even signed up for some groups so he can chat with others about this series.

Warriorcats is a fun site for kids who like cats to visit. The Warriors Fan Group on Good Reads is worth looking into as well.

Some books to explore on cats and also autism and cats:

My Cat: How to Have a Happy, Healthy Pet

My Goldfish ate my cat!

Cool Cats, Calm Kids

All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome

Dasha's Journal: A Cat Reflects on Life, Catness and Autism

There is a new game show coming to Game Show Network in November. It is called Meow Mix Think Like A Cat

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ideas for the Autism Community

I have lots of ideas floating through my mind and try to make note of them to share with other families who have kids on the Autism Spectrum. One of the reasons why I have wanted to branch out from my writing at the Autism Spectrum Disorders site for BellaOnline is to get feedback and start discussions with others. The site does not have a comment section, although there is a forum. I am in awe of the comment sections on blogs that I peruse around the net, and would like to have a similar rapport with readers while connecting to new families within the autism community.

1. Cooking Show - A previous idea of mine was for a Food Network showto help families implement a diet. I think I need to do more than just write an article to have my idea spotted by someone official at the Food Network or any other one for that matter. I would like to see a show that embarks on the gluten free and casein free diet and cover celiac disease. They could also have a forum at the website with sharing of recipes and the stores that cater to this population.

2. Dating site - Several years ago I submitted an idea to to incorporate a separate section for single parents of special needs kids. I guess that idea bombed since nothing ever came of it and I have yet to see a similar site online. It would be nice to see a dating site that focuses on the children and activities that potential connections can do together with their children or teens.

3. Traveling Hair Salon - I came up with this idea a few years ago after seeing a Portable Pet Grooming Van down the street. I believe they live nearby and are always heading out on another call. It looks like a booming business. So I started thinking what about kids with autism who cannot tolerate having their haircut at the salon with all those distractions. There needs to be a calm setting for this task with an overview of autism shared with hair stylists.

I even considered contacting Jonathan Antin from Blow Out that aired a few seasons on Bravo. I was a big fan and thought why not a reality show on setting up a specialty hair salon for autism families in Beverly Hills. I am in Los Angeles and could take part, volunteering my child for an opportunity at a decent haircut instead of the usual butcher jobs I create.

I am open to having a portable salon come to my house where my child can go and sit in a relaxing chair and obtain a new look. If that is not possible specialty shops for the autism community is another possibility. I also pitched my suggestions to two clinics we received floor time therapy at asking them to create a room for just haircuts. Both were open to the idea, but did not pursue further. I am all about strategizing and marketing, just need to present my ideas to the right people so we can get these into the communities that desire and need them to meet their needs and this demand that has not been touched yet.

4. Community Living - I have been a member of Co-Abode for a long time with a profile up. This is known as Single Mothers House Sharing. I want to take that a step further and have a special community or households where families with those on the autism spectrum live amongst one another.

It would be so nice to have a large Victorian type home that has a level for two different families to live. There would be no one complaining about the noise level in the home and there would be an extra set of eyes and ears that comprehends autism spectrum disorders. Respite or child care is another area where families lack appropriate help. Having some households in the same neighborhood with children of special needs would really help families gain a sense of community.

5. Meetups - I am waiting for a group at that does not gather on weekends or nights that I can take part in. It would be nice to have meetings where we share about recent news on the topic of autism, do a book club, share resources and relax. Most importantly is being able to bring along those who are on the spectrum. One group for all age groups to participate in. This will help the newly diagnosed families gain insights from the experienced parents that have been there before.

I had an idea back in 2003 where I wanted to share picture cards and ideas for PECS for my nonverbal son. I imagined a group similar to a book club or coupon swap. I wanted it to be held once a week or month in a location where velcro could be shared and access to a laminator for making it a working club like women sitting around knitting and chatting, but the focus would be on learning new ideas for picture communication systems for those who are nonverbal and rely on other means to communicate their wants and needs.

I decided on a PECS club and created the yahoo group MakingPECSCards. I implemented Round Robin packages where we share our extra supplies that consist of CDs, books, social stories and cards to participants around the US and Canada. Some have left the group with packages causing us to rebound with new supplies.

I am hopeful that one day I will have a little group of parents in a setting where we can make picture card schedules for our kids and learn from one another.

Autism Super Centers

Saturday, July 12, 2008

An Introduction to Autism Family Adventures

I have been writing online since January of 2000, starting at Epinions. In June of 2005 I became the Editor at site at BellaOnline. I also did a spin at the Insurance and Children's TV sites at BellaOnline for a few years.

I will be using this Autism Family Adventures Blog for posts that do not fit at BellaOnline and to share about sites and resources I find along my travels. The id "autismfamily" is not new for me since this is the ID I utilize at many sites.

Perhaps you have sold an autism awareness item to me or purchased books from me when I was selling items. I have the ID autismfamily on ebay as well.

I stated a yahoo group in January of 2004 entitled, MakingPECSCards. There are now 480 members. I implemented Round Robins, which are similar to coupon trains, but we share pecs or picture cards instead of coupons. If you are a parent, teacher, therapist, aide or professional feel free to join. There are links, photos and files at the group for your perusal. The Round Robins are for those in the USA and Canada.

I am also known as "autismfamily" on CafeMom. The two groups I started there are Wish Upon A Hero Members and Autism Resources

I have granted wishes at Wish Upon A Hero under the autismfamily ID. There is a large autism community at that site.

I have an ebook, Educational Autism Tips For Families

I run several groups on gather, including Autism Families and AC Writers for those who want to bring attention to their articles on Associated Content.

I have a profile over at MyLot and have written a few articles on >Associated Content and Helium. I am also on FriendFeed, Myspace, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Cre8buzz, Plurk, Mom Logic,Oozzl, Healia, Trusera, MedHelp and Revolution Health.

I am moving my way around the internet joining sites and meeting new people that may or may not have an autism connection. I look forward to meeting new people and sharing what goes on in an autism family.

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