Barret's Fight Against Autism

A blog about ABA therapy, fighting autism, and supporting those who are facing it. Plus some recipes, funny stories and cute pictures of Bear!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Brothers Pic

Ted making Barret smile for the picture! This is the "quarantine" tent on the trampoline. It made me want to sleep in it!

Labels: , ,

More Wind Shield Wipers: Autism and Omega 3's

Here is Barret with his regular stick wind shield wiper. It's especially fun if he can see it's reflection in the glass. The second one was funny because he was turning his gummy Omega 3 vitamin into a tiny wind shield wiper.

Which reminds me, this is the one thing besides therapy that we have found to be effective for him. I read about how autopsies on autistic people have shown that they have evidence of life-long brain inflammation, keeping them in a hypersensitive state and functioning in "survival mode". They found that this was sometimes genetic, and sometimes because viruses that couldn't be fought found their way to the brain and became a part of the nervous system.

So, I thought that if there was brain inflammation, and you can't give a kid Motrin or Tylenol everyday, that you could fight it with food. So I looked up foods that fight brain inflammation and found that most of them I couldn't get into picky picky Barret. So, I tried DHA Omega 3's, which are great at fighting brain inflammation. Horizon milk has a DHA variety, so we switched to it. Barret started talking that day and started making eye contact THAT DAY. So we stuck with it. When we can't find the right milk, or if he's sick, he falls back into stemming all day with the wind shield wipers. So, we're pretty sure that the DHA is helping.

Note: Publix is about the only place that I can find the DHA variety of Horizon Milk. But, I'm reluctant to plug them right now because Publix just refused to make a donation to the Autism Walk. Take that Publix! Ha!

Back to business, Barret used to always regress over holidays, on trips or after illness, but he hasn't since we started the DHA milk almost a year ago, he's only progressed. We had these Omega 3 vitamins, but he wouldn't eat them because they had a sugar coating on them. He hated the texture. Then I checked out the label and they were AHA Omega 3's, which is basically vegetable oil and we get a lot of in our diets anyway, so they weren't what I was looking for.

OneSource Omega 3 DHA & EPA Gummi vitamins are the best ones. No sugar coating, they taste like regular gummies, they're not mushy or hard and he just thinks they're candy. So, I highly recommend them to those of you who want to try it. I couldn't find them online to link to them, but you can get them at Wal-Mart for $9 a bottle, 160 gummies in a bottle. It says to eat one 2-4 times a day, so you can use them for potty treats or rewards for other behaviors if you want.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Barret Is Sick

Normally, Barret is the first to get anything. This time, Ted went first, with fever, nausea and a pain in his right side. So, we kept thinking it was his appendix and ran all sorts of tests for 5 days. Then I came down with the pain in the right side, and it spread to my whole body. My doctor said that it was a virus that attacked the lymphatic system, inflaming lymph nodes all over my body, which hurt like "a mofo", making me literally cry out loud when I even had to walk to the bathroom.

So, now Barret has it and I KNOW he's completely miserable. Tylenol only keeps his fever to about 101. All he wants to do is lay on the couch and play with his favorite windshield wiper, a used giant paint stick. (He makes everything into windshield wipers.) Chopsticks, regular sticks, pencils, crayons, toothpicks, straws, remotes, everything. Just waves them in a windshield wiper motion in front of his face for comfort.

He used to put his feet up on the wall and wipe them back and forth, which gave him awesome abs, but we made him stop because he was slowly turning all of the walls black where ever we went. I was tired of explaining, "Oh, he just loves to watch things pass in front of his eyes." People unfamiliar with autism think that you and your child are crazy! Anyway, this is Barret's one remaining autistic behavior out of the 10 stems that he started with before therapy, so we'll take it. He's not biting plugs out of his arms, darting into traffic, squealing at the top of his lungs or banging his head on the wall, so we're pretty happy with wind shield wipers! Nice, quiet, safe wind shield wipers. :)

Now if I could get him to not poop in my computer chair......


Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, March 27, 2009

Make Me Cry Chicken Pot Pie

Okay, this turned out SO good that I had to post it. Ted named it "Make Me Cry Chicken Pot Pie" because onions make you cry, and this has a lot of french fried onions in it.

Boil 1-2 chicken thighs (salted) for about 45 minutes. Remove from water, take chicken off of the bone and chop into little bits.

Place chicken in casserole dish.

Add 1 can of cream of chicken soup (I use Healthy Request, no MSG).
Add 1 cup of milk.
Add 1/2 can of French's French Fried Onions.
Add about 1 cup of mixed peas and carrots (I used frozen ones).
Add 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.

Mix this up and bake at 475 degrees for about 10 minutes, just until hot.

Stir again. Flatten canned southern style biscuits (not flaky layers) and tear into strips. Lie them in rows creating a lattice top.

Bake until biscuits are browned, about 20 minutes.

Pour the remaining French Fried Onions over the top. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese and bake until onions start to brown, about 10 minutes.

This turned out so good that I ate way more than I planned!

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Swim Lessons for Kids with Disabilities: Huntsville, AL

Hi! If anyone is interested in sending their kid to swim lessons, this one is specially designed for kids ages 6-21 with disabilities.

April 13-17, M-F
Dr. Richard Showers Sr. Pool

Contact Brian Winston at 256.427.5780 or e-mail him at for more information!


Labels: , , , , ,

YAY! An actual family photo!

I would like to thank my bestie Becky Harbin for FINALLY getting a family photo for us! This is a very difficult task, as many of you can imagine. Barret is generally very opposed to having his picture taken, that is, if we want him to pose. So, thanks Becky!

(Note the hand giving Barret a "horse bite" to the knee! Trickery, trickery.)

Labels: , , ,

Autistic Kids and Photography

Okay, anyone with an autistic child knows the frustration of getting a family photo. Well, I guess this can hold true for neurotypical kids too! It just takes a LOT of patience.

I've had a lot of people tell me that they are embarrassed to keep the photographer so long. Well, when you're dealing with an autistic kid, you may just have to wait, let them down for a while and try again. You may have to try multiple locations because they can be so sensitive to sounds, spaces or people. They may not like the photographer trying to get their attention. After all, a lot autistic kids are extremely stressed by people trying to get them to make eye contact. So just imagine, a stranger trying to make you look directly at them AND smile. It can prove to be just about impossible.

If you're hiring a photographer, ask them to bring a tripod. We are big believers in tickling the kids to get them to give a natural smile. See Barret's blog photo in the Lightning McQueen shirt? He's smiling for a photographer because I was lying on the floor tickling him for the picture! That's why it's a little blurry, he was trying to get away. :)

My husband and I have a photography company, Alabama Pro Photo, and would be more than happy to work with you if you are having problems getting decent pictures of your autistic child. We take our time and are more than understanding of outbursts, refusal to cooperate and the high pitched squealing that is music to all of our ears. :) Plus, 100% of our proceeds go to pay for Barret's therapy. Please excuse the poor quality of my web site, it is not my forte. :D

Labels: , , ,

Paying for ABA Therapy: Insurance

By the way, in my last post, I didn't mean to imply that I didn't think ABA was NOT EXPENSIVE because it's CRAZY EXPENSIVE! But, worth every penny and more. Insurance companies are just starting to be required to pay for ABA therapy, not in Alabama YET, but hopefully SOON! Here's how you may qualify for therapy NOW:

1. Military insurance (TriCare I think?) is the only insurance that currently covers ABA therapy nationwide. So, if you're in the military, get to it!

2. Medicaid. Collect documentation of your child's condition and apply for Social Security Disability Benefits. Benefits are based on the parents' income, so if you are struggling, you can get a good bit of help. I think the maximum payout right now is around $740/month.

PLUS, in Alabama at least, when you're approved for SSI benefits, your child will automatically be signed up for Medicaid. When you get that card in the mail, select a primary care physician that accepts Medicaid and ask them to give you a referral for behavioral therapy. Medicaid will pay for the therapy.

Note: I've heard that Social Security will deny all claims the first time to get rid of most people. We were denied the first time and approved the second. Then you'll get back-pay for all the time you were waiting on approval, and Medicaid will cover past medical bills, too, as long as you qualified during the months you were waiting.

Barret is on his last few months of his ABA program at The Riley Center, so we haven't looked into Medicaid covered therapists. I think most of these are individual therapists.

The Riley Center is a non-profit organization and can not accept Medicaid, but they do accept other insurances. I really like that Barret gets a different therapist every hour so that no one therapist gets burnt out. Plus Barret learns to "perform" for a lot of different people. I think this has helped him respond to us as well. But, if you can't afford the clinic setting, look into Medicaid covered therapy.

Labels: , , , ,

ABA Therapy too Expensive? I don't think so.

To me, there is nothing that overflows my heart like seeing Barret process information effectively. Those of you with challenged kids can relate. It's funny how tiny improvements can feel like a mountain has been moved.

Barret's latest progress: He can now tell you his address, phone number, birthday and who all lives in his house. These took forever for him to learn and he's so proud! You can see how the therapy has been working, not only when he answers correctly, but how he gets really excited after he answers and expects you to celebrate with him! This isn't only a social breakthrough, but his self-esteem makes a huge difference. It also lets me know that he's being treated well in therapy.

I would also like to take a moment to brag on The Riley Center where Barret attends therapy. They are INCREDIBLY upbeat and optimistic. They care so much about these kids. When I show up early to get him, I can hear them telling Barret how much they love him, how proud they are of him, wrestling with him or tickling him. They are always playing with him and talking to him like I do and he absolutely loves it. If they weren't like that, then therapy would be such a chore. Four hours straight of one on one therapy every day, I can't imagine.

The Riley Center also trains parents on how to apply the methods at home. You have a team of expert brains to pick every day, which is invaluable. If you have considered ABA therapy and found it too expensive, consider taking out a loan or asking businesses for donations. Even if you can't afford to keep your child in, you could learn how to effectively teach them at home and your child can learn the method in just a month or two. One lady at The Riley Center last year paid for every month of her son's therapy with donations from local businesses!

Now, not many parents have four hours a day to work directly with their child, and most autistic kids are pretty smart and will play Mom like a banjo, so therapy for most may be the only option. My son never let me teach him a thing. BUT, now that he has learned the system, I can use it on him and get results on my own. This is a huge breakthrough!

My advice to lost parents of autistic kids, get them in that therapy ASAP. We have had zero progress for 2 years in the public school Head Start program. In just five months of ABA, Barret has learned upper and lower case letters and their sounds, he recognizes numbers 1-20, all colors, shapes and body parts, can answer about 30 social questions, can cut out anything, color within the lines, sort anything, do a 25 piece puzzle he's never seen in about 5 minutes, name 32 body parts, dress and undress himself, name 25 family members, and he's just about potty trained. There is a lot more that would just take me all day to type.

They work on whatever you want them to, for example, Barret is in food therapy there because he won't eat hardly anything. Nothing there is ever forced and there is never punishment.

Before therapy Barret would hide under the bed all day, never speak, stare at lights, never make eye contact, spin wheels on cars all day, bolt from me in parking lots, never follow directions, never respond to his name, he couldn't even put a shape in a shape sorter, hold a crayon or scissors. He has grown by leaps and bounds and I KNOW I couldn't have done it on my own!

Huntsville is lucky to have The Riley Center, which costs about $2,000/month. Most cities either don't have programs like this, where there are lots of therapists that work together with your child, or they cost a lot more, like $6,000-$10,000/month. We consider this school that he needs to succeed. If it were college, we'd find a way to pay for it. So, we're finding a way to pay for it. Consider it early college. Pay for therapy now and hopefully you'll have to go more in debt to pay for college later. I can't stress enough how it has changed our outlook and Barret's life.

If you want to help Barret, you can donate here. We also welcome well wishes and prayers!

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mississippi Kids

This is my cousin Emily's little boy that just turned 2. This kid is ALWAYS "nekkid" having his "nekkid time", which apparently lasts for hours each day! He is the embodiment of southern kids. He loves play-doh. He spent hours making "weiners and balls" for us. He would roll one up, bring it to us and say, "Looky dair, looky dair, riiite thar's uh weiner fer ya." Toooooo funny!

When we were done with our weiners and balls, we went down to the low water bridge to play in the creek. This bride scared the crap out of me when I was a kid. It had boards about 8" apart with two long boards that you had to balance your tires on. Some boards were missing, so some places had 16" gaps. The whole bridge would sag and creak as we drove over it. I remember staring through the holes in the rusted out floor board of my dad's truck, I mean "Deddy's truuuck", thinking I could easily fall through the truck floor and the bridge into the water. We used to go down when it would rain to watch the water rise up higher than the bridge.

Also just behind the bridge there is a big sloping clay slab with a "sprang" running over it. It's like a gigantic arctic water slide. We would cover our entire bodies in clay creating a spa-like full body "mask" which would harden to the point that you could barely walk to the water to wash it off. At least it kept the horse flies away!

Labels: , , , ,

Mississippi Biscuit Recipe

We went to Mississippi for spring break last week. We made 18 biscuit recipes and finally discovered the best one on earth, in our humble opinion. I'll share:

Fill a big bowl with self rising flour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Make a well in the center of the flour and add "about 2 cups" of buttermilk.
-hint: If you don't have buttermilk, add 1 teaspoon of vinegar per cup of milk and let sit until room temperature to make buttermilk.

Add "about 4 tablespoons" of sour cream and wisk into buttermilk.

Add "about 3 tablespoons" of melted butter (mixed with melted crisco for optimal rise) and wisk in.

Add "about a tablespoon" of baking powder and wisk in.

Start picking up flour with the wisk until a really sticky, loose dough ball forms.

Flour your hands and start folding dough in on itself, towards the center, until it is a little more firm, about 15 folds.

Stop when you think you can pinch off a ball and have it still soft, a little stickier than you would like. If it gets to where it won't stick to you, then you kneaded it too long. The softer the dough, the softer the biscuit.

Pinch off a piece "about as big as half a baseball", roll it in flour, form into a ball loosely with two hands, dip into melted butter (or brush it on in the pan) and place on an oiled (or criscoed and buttered) dark pan. Flatten just a little.

When all 12 biscuits are on the pan, bake until golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Should be light, and fluffy inside, buttery and slightly crispy on the outside. If your biscuits get too brown on the bottom, lower the temperature a little next time.

If you want them to taste like Popeye's biscuits, you can add about 1/2 cup of sprite to the mix!

I'll have to post more soon. I got a cookbook that is a collection of recipes gathered up by my Grandmother's, errr, ummm, MawMaw's great Aunt Letha. A lot of them are from the 1800's or earlier, passed down for generations. Some even have kerosene oven or wood stove directions!

Some are from the depression and are for squirrels and rabbits. These are so funny to me and sound oh, so disgusting. "First you take 3 or 4 good tender squirrels and soak them in salt water overnight." Who knew? All these years I've been cookin' 'em before they even cooled off!

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Walk for Autism 2009

My best friend Becky and I are raising money for our entry fees so that we can participate in the Autism Walk on April 4, 2009.

We only need $25 each, so if anyone wants to make a pledge, even a buck or two, you can click on the "Donate" button below. Any extra money will go to help pay for Barret's ABA therapy.

On another note, I think that it is very important for neuro-typical children to learn about autism. Chances are, almost every class will have an autistic child in it. It really turns my stomach when I hear ADULTS talking about how that weird kid that keeps flapping around everywhere should be in Special Ed and not in the normal class with the normal kids.

Educate your child to be tolerant and nice to those who are not as fortunate as they are.

Click here for tips, a WUBZZY Autism Awareness coloring page and some more information about National Autism Awareness Day on April 2.

National Autism Awareness Day

Labels: , , , ,

Attack Baby!

We got so many laughs with this shirt! We made it with HP Iron-On paper. Just run it through your injet printer, iron it on and you're done. We bleached this shirt and others like it SO many times and it held up every time.

Baby T-shirt suggestions:

I ate my twin.
I tore Mommy a new one.
Blue-eyed Banshee
I poo poo in the potty.
Sorry ladies, my Daddy is taken.
I cry when ugly people touch me.

I did not make all of these up, FYI, but they're too funny on a cute kid. Feel free to post some new suggestions!

Here's a good idea for an autistic child:

Non-verbal Autistic
If you find me, call my Mom at 256-698-****

You can iron it on the back and have your child wear it when you are in crowded places.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Barret's First Post

Barret was diagnosed with Autism in September of 2007.  He is four years old and probably the fastest and cutest kid on the planet!  He attends  ABA Therapy five days a week.  

As many of you may know, autism therapy is very expensive and not covered by insurance.  1 in 150 kids are diagnosed with autism.  This is an epidemic status and North Alabama is at the top of the list.  

We are fighting every day to make this much needed early intervention available to every autistic child in Alabama.  Our goal is to end the discrimination by insurance companies that all families with autistic kids face.  

Donating even small amounts of money to help continue Barret's therapy through this site is simple, fast and totally secure. Supporting a child with autism is a special way to directly contribute to your community.  We truly appreciate any help we can get!  

Any money received that exceeds therapy costs will be donated to The Riley Center of Huntsville, Alabama and continue to help families who have been touched by austism.  

Thank you for all of your kind words and prayers!  Don't forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate too!

Barret was diagnosed with Autism in September of 2007. He is four years old and probably the fastest and cutest kid on the planet! He attends The Riley Center in Huntsville, AL for ABA Therapy five days a week.

As many of you may know, autism therapy is very expensive and not covered by insurance. 1 in 150 kids are diagnosed with autism. This is an epidemic status and North Alabama is at the top of the list.

We are fighting every day to make this much needed early intervention available to every autistic child in Alabama. Our goal is to end the discrimination by insurance companies that all families with autistic kids face.

Donating even small amounts of money to help continue Barret's therapy through this site is simple, fast and totally secure. Supporting a child with autism is a special way to directly contribute to your community. We truly appreciate any help we can get!

Any money received that exceeds therapy costs will be donated to The Riley Center of Huntsville, Alabama and continue to help families who have been touched by austism.

Thank you for all of your kind words and prayers! Don't forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate too!

Labels: , ,