Saturday, July 14, 2012

taking a break

Taking a break from stress and from work should be everyone's goal. Even if only 5 minutes at a time, we need to sit back, look up and relax and let go of those stressors that turn life into a juggling act.

My dogs are able to enjoy life fully, just digging in and letting go - they remind me that is what is all about - live for the moment - the next step will take care of itself.

When was the last time you had fun in 6 inches of water? I took off my sandals and got in with them and it felt sooooooo good. They are onto something.


Sharing creative activities for people with autism

Wanted to share a picture of Joe - a young man with autism - who seems to have a knack for die cutting. His mom is super creative and it is only natural that he would follow in her foosteps.  I am sure we can all stretch our imaginations a little bit and realize that crushing soda cans, emptying garbage cans and cleaning up tables, (which has been the status quo ) for so long  - is something of a stuck-in-the-past idea.

We can do better and we should do better. It is the purpose of this blog to show we ARE doing new things and breaking new barriers. Open minds   open possibilities...

What a beautiful and perfectly organized activity area for Joe - I  think lots of good things could happen in this studio!

Here we have Joe using a die cut machine.   Wonder what he was making?


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Living the "inside" life OR coloring within the lines in an outside the lines world

Having dedicated this blog to autism, autism endeavors, creating a business for a teen with autism where few have dared to tread before, I would be remiss if I did not, from time to time, comment on those areas of life with a teen or adult with autism that sets our lives apart from the "color outside the lines" world that we all live in.

I realize more and more as Andrew turns 18 and looking beyond that (if I dare) that life with autism becomes, at least for our family, MORE reclusive not less, and that being able to live an "outside" life is a lofty and often unattainable goal.  What does an "outside" life look like? Well it looks the same as a "color outside the lines life."

Let me explain... living the autistic life or la vida loca entails many details and planning maneuvers that the typical population would not even dream of (unless they had infant triplets or quadruplets under 1 year of age) and even then it pales in comparison.  Coloring outside the lines and for those who do so to me means a life where an event can be planned in an hour, where a day trip is decided upon at breakfast, and a late night bonfire on the beach is not out the realm of reality. Actually sitting down in front of a bonfire would be a wish just in and of itself. Were andrew to be with us, it would not be feasible or desirable. Unless running down the beach is part of the "fun" of the event. (Did I mention running down the beach in the dark?)

Can we attend an event? Will it be noisy/crowded/hot/far from home/of a long duration? Usually the answer is NO. 

Can we attend as a family an event, birthday, anniversary, barbecue - the answer also is resoundingly "no" there is no one willing, eager or available to stay with an 18 year old 3 year old who has behaviors that challenge, on any given day,  your patience, resolve and endurance. 

And so without realizing it your "outside" life becomes an "inside life" living within the restrictions, gates, fences (imaginary or real ) that you are forced to construct to support the life that you have devoted yourself to defend and support, albeit unintentionally and without forethought.

It is a shoot from the hip world, spontaneity has been shelved along with inconsistency or free spirited activities. Activities must be planned, orchestrated, planned again, double checked and then even then with all this planning, oftentimes events run amuck. Respite workers don't show, come late or have other intefering plans, (afterall they are from the "color outside the lines" world where the same rules don't apply.

I am not angry or bitter about leading this "inside" life but there are days that I truly would like just a bite, a nibble at the "outside the lines world" even if only for a day - that world where spontaneity rules, and consistency is thrown to the wind.

Having said all of this - it now is time for me to prepare activities for andrew's day and to once again engage in the rules of my "inside" life - I chuckle at Cesar Milan's (dog whisperer) admonitions to each client when working with their unruly pet  - "no touch, no talk, no eye contact" that is often the mantra of my day...

A sense of  humor helps a lot and a sense of a bigger purpose buoys me on the tough days. I am thankful  for my stubborn tenacious nature, it has served me well these last years.

My next blog posting will return to life in the shop! but I digressed to   share the lifestyle of the family truly living with severe autism.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Our little studio in the carriage barn has a very long history. Constructed in the 1890's it was built to house the horse and buggies that would travel far and wide to attend dances at the local Grange. Built mainly in a rich agricultural region of central New Jersey it has a rich history of ties to the Revolutionary War and the Delaware River freight businesses.

Surrounded by a plethora of towns boasting ties to Molly Pitcher, George Washington and Revolutionary War battlefields, this area served as a meeting place and a trading post as far back as anyone can remember and history can account for.

With this rich history this barn sat vacant over the years and/or stored car parts and miscellaneous bits of this and that that overflowed from the house.

During the time that Andrew became more effected  by autism and required more stimulation and engagement, the barn served to provide a source of positive interactions with arts and crafts etc.  It now serves as his studio and craft room to explore new and different ways to engage him in his own little endeavor to produce products to help others with developmental disabilities procure the items they need to be successful. 

So eventually, we will get moved and relocated into a nice airy space to continue with our endeavors to make products that people will enjoy having and whose proceeds will benefit  other individuals with disabilities.

Our charity is SJ Kids Trust - you can visit them on line.

Cate for Andrew

Monday, July 2, 2012

Independence day

What do you think when you approach the 4th of July - what are we celebrating independence from? work for the day? 

I'd like to think of 4th of July as  high summer - a time to enjoy the summer breezes - but it has been so hot as of late, not too much to enjoy other than turning up the A/C.

We have been busy though and we never stop.

Getting ready for two shows in Sept and October and trying to get an inventory on board to be able to support our shows and also to be able to make another donation to SJ Kids Trust.

andrew has proven himself to be a diligent worker and we hope and pray for some good karma to send us to our next destination - whatever that might be - we are open to change, hope and optimism.

Working on some new ideas, new party favors and hoping for success to carry us through next year. We always make items that Andrew can participate in assembling or producing and our long term goal would be to add another individual to help work in the shop with us.

We have been getting a lot of support in our efforts to keep Andrew busy from his great behavioral specialist, Amanda.  She has taken a lot of new pictures and we will be posting them to Facebook as they evolve...

Wishing and hoping for everyone's summer to be peaceful..