As a blended family, we celebrate Fathers Day in many ways. We honor my husband Kirk for being a great dad to his son Tiki, and a great step-dad to my son Richie. The relationship Kirk has with both sons are unique to his individual connection to them, but he loves them and I’m grateful for the love I get to witness everyday between father and son and stepson. This Father’s Day I plan to spoil my husband. I’m going to make him his favorite breakfast; Ackee and Salt-fish (Jamaica's National Dish), his favorite dinner (stewed Oxtails with Butter Beans with Rice and Beans), and I’m planning on surprising him with several unique gifts this year that just might interest you too!
We are all treading through uncharted territory right now as we are dealing with having to take caution against a fast spreading illness, decreased hours or losing our pay entirely, helping our kids with online learning - while balancing our already stressful lives before COVID 19 and all that followed. Add to this the struggles that come with challenging behavior exhibited by our children and teens with special needs and we’ve got a well-stirred recipe for anxiety and some serious meltdowns.
For years, among the many charities I have supported, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is the one I find myself drawn to when it comes to becoming a continuing supporter – and with good reason. Who wouldn’t want to support a cause working to relieve and prolong the lives of children having to deal with the cruel outcomes that come with having to fight aggressive cancers? Join in on St. Jude’s lifesaving mission this Thanks & Giving season by donating with your Domino’s order in-store or online.
There is always a season or reason for gift giving, since after all, there are holidays, birthdays, graduations, and sometimes just random acts of kindness. These special occasions remind us that love, togetherness, and feelings of gratitude and gift giving are always in season.
I had the pleasure of sitting next to these two veterans at the dealership where I was getting my car serviced today. They were entertaining as they carried on a conversation about how things were during their time and how sad they view the world today. They recognize that technology is a blessing, but they believe it comes with great cost.
I know the title sounds a bit absurd – after all – longevity in any marriage is precious - couple that with step-parenting a teen with autism and to some, this might be something of a phenomenon. I just don’t believe it should be that way. I am hurt by the number of times my husband is told he is a saint for staying with me - a special needs mom, and for being a step-dad to my son who is a teen with autism. I think it's important to mention that my husband stays because he is drawn to us by love, not charity.
Not so long ago, I wrote about how my family used the positive behavior process to help manage our son Richie’s challenging behavior. The entire series was about how we were able to overcome and manage Richie’s aggression towards others, self-injurious behavior, and when he became destructive in our home. We were successful using the positive behavior support process and we’re having success using it again! We had a lapse in upholding our original plan with fidelity and as a result, we were experiencing the same behaviors – only this time around it was much worse. We were dealing with the fact that Richie was taller, stronger and now repetitive self-slapping was added to his list of self-injurious behaviors. Richie’s frequent self-slapping is a new behavior that is so difficult to control and change, but it’s something we’re currently working on with a new and improved positive behavior support plan. After teaming up with knowledgeable and experienced behavior analysts and assistants, and using other therapeutic interventions, we were able to get Richie’s aggression under control again. Only this time, we took it a step further. In addition to following our well-crafted positive behavior support plan, we were going to create a Person-Centered Plan.
As parents of special needs children, we all share unique challenges, witness beautiful moments, and experience extraordinarily stressful situations. All that is required for effective parenting, such as, patience, resilience, strength, resourcefulness and perseverance is multiplied exponentially when raising a child with special needs. It’s up to us to care about our mental health and body’s overall well-being.
I was recently asked by a fellow parent why I refer to my son Richie who has autism as nonspeaking as opposed to nonverbal. After explaining my reasons, she felt differently and we agreed to respectfully disagree. I know there are parents who refer to their children with autism or other disabilities who don’t communicate with oral speech as “non-verbal” and this is completely acceptable. I also respect the fact that many people will not agree with my thoughts on this topic. I respect this because I was a parent who once introduced my son Richie to other people as non-verbal all the time. I'm no stranger to having unpopular opinions, but after learning just how brilliant our son Richie is, I tend to care little about what others think and more about what I feel is best for Richie.
Treating Autism with Medical Cannabis Part III: “The Florida Medical Marijuana Use Registry Process”
In January of 2017, The Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative (known as Amendment 2) went into effect allowing Floridians the right to use medical cannabis to treat eligible conditions. The Florida Department of Health created the Office of Medical Marijuana Use for overseeing seeing the Florida Medical Marijuana Use Registry and its application process. After our first visit with Dr. David Berger of Wholistic Releaf and the completion of our application in the Florida Medical Marijuana Registry for our son Richie, we began to feel hopeful about finding relief for him and the pain, anxiety and other internal struggles he experiences daily. Everything Dr. David explained about the medical marijuana registry process was on target. If you've been wondering about applying for medical cannabis, please keep following our blog series and read about our step-by-step experience with the Florida Medical Marijuana Use Registry Process.
Medical cannabis is now becoming known as one of the safest and most effective form of treatment for many qualified medical conditions. More states are recognizing its incredible healing properties and legalizing its medicinal use. Thankfully, Florida is one of them. However, among the many important decisions special needs parents need to make, finding the right doctor for qualifying and treating your child with medical cannabis is a decision not to be taken lightly. Our family was in search of a doctor who is aligned with our beliefs for holistic approaches, knowledgeable in treating special needs children with medical cannabis, and values meaningful doctor-patient relationships. Few doctors have all of these characteristics or this level of expertise, making this one of the most difficult tasks to take on. Luckily, we found a specialist who exceeded our expectations in Dr. David Berger of Wholistic Releaf.
Treating Autism with Medical Cannabis Part I: "Why We Chose Medical Cannabis to Treat our Son with Autism”
Autism continues to be on a “diagnosis rise” as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates it affects 1 in 59 children across the United States. Many of you who have been loyal readers (thank you) of my blog know of our life as a family with a loved one named Richie who has autism. Our family has recently made the decision to treat Richie’s symptoms with medical cannabis and we want to take you along with us on this journey. In this blog series, I will share an overview of how autism impacts Richie's life and our family. This series will chronicle our experience of the application and treatment process. We hope to achieve the same life-changing results reported by other families of loved ones with autism after using medical cannabis. It's also our wish to raise awareness of how medical cannabis can be a holistic and alternative treatment option for families like ours to consider.
It is exciting times. Our son Richie who has autism is sixteen-years-old and has started using words to communicate. We know we have a long way to go before he starts using full sentences, but this is an amazing start. Especially, when I was told by professionals that Richie would never speak when he was diagnosed with autism at age two. In this post I'll be sharing some of the methods we've been using to help facilitate Richie's ability to communicate with us and others.
The color green represents so many wonderful things. It’s symbolic of nature, life, environment, growth, and financial success. Financial growth was never really a headlining topic for members of the disability community before the ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act was passed. It’s no surprise that ABLE United account holders are starting to love the color green! If financial stability, financial growth, and making sure you or your loved one's are financially fit interests you, then ABLE United has a featured giveaway and learning opportunity you’re going to love!
Tampa Bay Families of Children with Autism Turn to Medical Marijuana for Effective and Life Changing Results
Over the years, the public opinion has taken a noticeable shift in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. While many opponents continue the long and wasteful debate over marijuana being the gateway drug to addiction or worse (because prescribed opioids or other narcotics aren’t, right?), more cases are proving – undeniably - that medical marijuana is changing and improving the lives of hundreds of thousands across our country and around the world.
My son Richie (who happens to have autism) has been a client of many therapists, a patient of several doctors and he’s been seen or treated by other professionals throughout his life – since he was three-years-old to be exact. Many of them were amazing at their profession and many were not so great. I write this in absolute gratitude to the many service providers who chose a life of helping, teaching, and healing the lives of the many who need their help and expertise. I hope they read this and know that the difference they made in the lives they touched was because of how different they chose to be at providing quality service. They went above and beyond their call of duty.
You may have heard or read about how scientists have been researching stem cells and their potential for treating, healing and curing certain ailments. While I may have heard of stem cell research and cord blood banking a few times over the past decade, there has never been such easy access to this important information and research like there is today.
CBR (Cord Blood Registry) is the world’s largest newborn stem cell company with certain information and resources to help your family’s journey into a future of possibilities.
Celebrate Financial Literacy Month with ABLE United - Join April's Featured Webinar on Saving and Investing!
Financial literacy is all about having the skill set, knowledge and being well-informed on making decisions about how to effectively manage your money. It’s about more than budgeting for paying bills, and allotting for living, medical, and recreational expenses. It’s about planning for the future and learning about the financial resources available to help you handle your money better. ABLE United is one of those resources and this month they're hosting a webinar that will help individuals with disabilities and their families learn about how to plan for a lifetime of financial well-being.
It has been 14 years since my son Richie was diagnosed with Autism. When he was two years old, I received the news many parents in my same situation may have long suspected but dreaded. When you first hear the words, “Your child has autism,” it is a life-changing moment. It’s important to understand that the grief cycle that comes with the autism diagnosis is not a process. A process, by definition, is a series of steps that lead to an end. Please note that my son’s diagnosis is NOT all gloom and doom – it certainly isn’t. I get to experience many moments of joy and happiness that are unmatched to those of parents of children with no disabilities. I write this in hopes that friends, family members, and other members of our society read this and express sensitivity to all parents of children with autism and essentially all special needs parents – because after all, the feelings experienced are almost universal.
It’s that time of year when gift giving is in full swing. Families are preparing for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Boxing Day and other wonderful traditions this time of year. Many of us like to express how much we care about others by giving them something we hope brings them joy. It’s not always easy buying things for family and friends, and sometimes buying for loved ones with special needs can be even more challenging. As a parent of a teen with autism, I do my homework each year. I came up with a really cool list of gift ideas I share with family and friends. These gifts are great for most kids of all ages. I’ve got a few creative ideas for picky loved ones too! I’m happy to share them with you!
Author: Christine Goulbourne