About Me

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We are an Army family! Miles was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 6 and he is now 18 years old. Marley is Miles' Autism Service Dog and his best friend. This dynamic duo has been together for 8 years and look forward to many more adventures! 

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love and sound judgement.  
                                                       2 Timothy 1:7

4.12.2018

Homeschooling

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls. 
For My yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30 


We are an Army family that has relocated every 1 to 2 years. Miles has never had a problem with relocating to a new area because he likes the sense of adventure. It does take him a little bit to adjust to the new routine but luckily this is where homeschooling has really been beneficial for our family.  Below is the full story as to why homeschooling was a good option for Miles.


Miles began attending daycare in Louisiana for half a day when he turned 3yrs old. We knew he had trouble interacting with other kids and sitting still for long periods of time. Our hope was maybe the routine of daycare would help him overcome some of the issues he was having. Needless to say since he had not yet been diagnosed with Autism, it was doomed from the start. We were asked to leave within a month of attending.


By age 4 we enrolled Miles in preschool. We informed the preschool upfront of the issues we had with Miles at daycare. The first day I received a phone call saying Miles had fallen off the slide. Apparently he had been walking up the slide & when an adult called his name he lost his balance and fell on his wrist. Turned out he fractured his wrist which meant a cast for few weeks. Now my thought was what is he going to do at daycare with this cast? Yep, he used it as a way to get his meaning across to other kids. He lasted a little over a month before we were asked to leave.


With Kindergarten fast approaching we decided to move to a better school district. Once we relocated Miles was enrolled in a Montessori Preschool near our home. We once more explained the problems to the person in charge and hoped this setting would be better suited to Miles' needs. The adult in charge had previously worked as an aide in Special Education and knew some kids just needed more supervision than others. This was still a rough time for Miles but in this setting he was supervised more, given a reward chart for his behavior and we received daily reports when picking him up.

God bless this daycare for all the help they provided Miles and us! He attended here until the beginning of Summer when we pulled him out for a break. On our last day Miles' teacher told us since he would begin Kindergarten soon she felt that a school district evaluation in areas she was seeing education delays would benefit him. We contacted the school district and they found a small speech delay but no educational delays and said he would be able to receive services through the school in Kindergarten (it would only provide 30min of services). We opted for private speech therapy (which provided 1hr of services) so he could begin as soon as possible. We also went to have Miles evaluated by a Child Psychologist who diagnosed him with ADHD and prescribed medication which he started.


Miles began Kindergarten at the local public school. He had an AMAZING teacher who paired him with a friend. The ADHD medication helped him stay seated and able to complete his classwork. He continued seeing his private speech therapist which also seemed to be beneficial. Kindergarten was the best experience we had within a public school setting and we couldn't have been happier for him. He enjoyed 2 different field trips where he rode the bus, Christmas parties, birthday parties and Easter egg hunts. He was also having a good time during his Sunday school classes and interacting with his friends from church and our neighborhood.


We took Miles to another Child Psychologist and had him re-evaluated concerning the ADHD medication. This Child Psychologist felt ADHD might not be the right diagnosis rather Asperger's Syndrome seemed more appropriate. She was unable to formerly diagnosis and referred us to a Child Neurologist. The Child Neurologist told us from her tests and review of the Child Psychologist notes that Miles definitely fit the profile for Asperger's Syndrome and ADHD. Unfortunately for us she proceeded to say she didn't like to unnecessarily label a child before they were 9yrs old for Asperger's Syndrome. Even though this Asperger's Syndrome term was being thrown around no one explained to us what it meant.


We relocated to New York for 1st grade. We enrolled him in the local school and explained all the past experiences with the staff. They assured us they could handle any situation that would arise and agreed to show Miles his classroom. By the 3rd week of school we were being called into a meeting. They informed us of the issues Miles had been having concerning his classmates and assignments. Their opinion was he needed to be seen by a Child Psychologist because they felt he might have a mental disorder. Yes, we were seeing red by the end of that meeting and honestly our relationship with this school was all downhill from that moment.

We contacted a Child Neurologist who unknown to us treated patients with Autism. It was at this time Miles was formally diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. This Doctor gave us information and resources to learn more about Autism. We started digesting every bit of information we could get our hands on but it was proving difficult to find the right kind of service providers.

At school Miles was seeing the Sociologist who sent him to the Principal's office as a punishment and reward. He was having daily meltdowns, his health was poor and he had no friendships. There was no routine, sensory breaks or understanding from the staff when it came to Autism. We fought the school through many IEP (individualized education plan) meetings for Miles to get the services he needed but they refused to provide anything. Needless to say 1st grade was proving to be a HORRIBLE experience for the entire family and Miles began to regress. 

It was during the summer after 1st grade that I discovered Miles had to stick with a school routine. I picked up workbooks from the bookstore so he could continue learning year round. He had fun with these lessons and so did I. He actually mentioned at this point that he wished he could do school at home so I could be his teacher.


2nd grade unfortunately did not improve. We fought even harder for services during IEP meetings and informed the staff Miles was never to be seen by the Sociologist again nor sent to the Principal's office for anything more than to be sent home. Any "pleasantness" the environment had was over. The school proceeded to tell us our only recourse to get what Miles needed was to take them to court. Miles was having daily meltdowns, constantly in poor health and the medicine he was taking just to get through a school day made him gain 25lbs. Thankfully for Miles we had orders to move to another state before the end of the year.

Without the friendships and support we had through our local church this duty assignment would have been a nightmare. At least when Miles was at home and church he had friends and people willing to learn and understand the challenges of Autism. He was allowed to be himself and not judged during his difficult moments.


Once we settled into our new home in Illinois we went to enroll Miles at the local school. We had a meeting with the staff who informed us they had 6 other students who also had Asperger's Syndrome. Then they proceeded to tell us these kids were all in one class and the teacher was overwhelmed. I asked about the morning and lunch routines. I was told the kids sit in the hallway monitored by a 5th grader until the bell rings to begin the school day and then 5th graders also monitor the lunch room with almost no adult supervision at either time.We did not enroll Miles in this school and decided to look at a private school. Unfortunately this proved an unsuccessful setting for Miles too as they were unfamiliar with Autism.


At this point, my only option left was to homeschool.  I began researching homeschooling laws for Illinois and found only a letter from the school board was needed stating Miles was not enrolled in their schools and was being homeschooled. Miles began homeschooling for the last half of 2nd grade. He also began Occupational, Speech and Physical therapy 3x's/week (at 1hr each) through our insurance. He finally had the help he needed which was having a positive impact on his school work.

It wasn't all fun and games at the beginning! There were some trial and error before I figured out the curriculum and schedule that worked best for Miles. The flexibility of homeschooling allowed me to teach according to the way Miles learns and I was able to give him much needed sensory breaks between lessons. We also started adding life skills and field trips to our schedule when possible. These were great for hands on learning that Miles needed and made things a little more fun. He was also beginning to make friends in the neighborhood and at church.

A personal note: I was used to working and it took me a while to adjust being home and being the one in charge of Miles' schooling. It was a huge responsibility that I felt inadequate to perform but Miles was doing the work and succeeding. Some days were rougher than others but in the end he was enjoying our time together and so was I. I knew that at this point and time I was doing what I was supposed to for my son.

The rest of his 2nd grade year was spent discovering Miles' learning styles
and researching Curriculum to be used for the following year 


Beginning of the 3rd grade we were into the swing of our homeschool routine. Miles enjoyed doing his assignments and was making gains in his therapies. I began researching more Autism therapies covered by insurance and was blessed to find his current ABA and DAN/MAPS Doctor. These two individuals began to help Miles overcome behavioral, social and health related issues. I also took Miles to the Optometrist who prescribed glasses and an Allergist where he began weekly shots.  We really were enjoying the flexibility of our schedule and continued our field trips, therapy homework and reading many books.



We continued to homeschool for 4th grade knowing the next year we would be relocated. Miles seemed to come to a stand still with his local therapies and they were not sure how to help him progress much further. I did not allow him to be dismissed from the therapies because his ABA & DAN Dr. said there was still quite a bit that he needed to improve upon within these therapies. Thankfully the local therapists agreed to continue treating him by looking into different strategies they could use. He was still seeing the Allergist 1x/week for shots, his health and behavior issues were still improving and he was enjoying homeschool, friends and church.

When our pet and Miles' best friend of 10yrs died it was a time of grieving which Miles became stuck and unable to process. He stated his world was without color, empty and nothing in it because everything is gone. Things that the dog had worn or were specifically his could not be thrown away or put into storage. It was at this stage we began researching Autism Service Dogs and he got approved to receive one after our upcoming relocation.

We were very blessed while stationed in this area because of all the hard work Miles, the therapist and Doctor's were doing was proving successful.



In 5th grade we moved to Kentucky and Miles received Marley, his Autism Service Dog. We decided to supplement Miles' 5th grade homeschooling of math and reading for 1:1 instruction in the public school. He would still be receiving private therapy through our insurance and I would still be home- schooling the other subjects.

Our hope was to give Miles a positive public school experience so he could slowly integrate back into the setting. He had finally overcome the negative impression the NY school had left and we felt this was the perfect opportunity at this stage.


Unfortunately we met with problems from day 1 beginning with their refusal to let Marley attend school alongside Miles. After getting the OK from the school district Marley was admitted and Miles began his 1hr of school. After a few months of successful attendance with no incidences we felt another 1hr could be added for math and writing. We wanted to increase his time and success by increments. This was a delicate balance agreed upon by his therapists and Doctor.

By our 3rd IEP meeting things were going downhill. We wanted to start adding therapies to the school day because it would keep him in the environment longer but we wanted the therapies recommended for children with Autism to receive. Once more we were told we would have to go to court to get anymore services other than what the other Autism students were receiving because Miles' individualized educational plan (IEP) didn't really matter.

Once more we were dealing with individuals who although they said were trained to deal with Autism were proving otherwise. Miles' Doctor intervened for us with the Army by writing a letter stating we should never have been relocated to this area due to a lack of services for Autism. By this point we were prayerfully searching the US for places where Miles could receive the best Autism services covered by our insurance. Eventually I located and spoke with service providers in Florida and we felt this was where God was leading us for Miles.


We moved to Florida and Miles began homeschooling full time once more for 6th grade. He also began private therapies adding Vision Therapy to the line up. Vision therapy made the single largest impact during this year. Now that his vision was fixed he began to make huge gains in therapy and school work. His health was still improving along with his behavior thanks to his continued care under the ABA and DAN/MAPS Dr. He was making friends and even had his first sleepover! We were truly blessed to have been relocated to this area and to have found such quality therapist who were having a huge impact on Miles' life.


Miles continued homeschooling for 7th grade and full time therapies.



Miles' 8th grade year his therapists told us about a Charter School opening but it only went to 7th grade. Miles was really excited to begin making new friends and didn't care he would have to repeat the 7th grade at this school. Enrolling Miles was the best move we made for him! He made such huge gains socially. He was finally among peers with Autism, made lots of friends and even began playing basketball. Unfortunately this school proved unable to deal with so many children on the Autism spectrum and Miles began to regress educationally and behaviorally by 9th grade.


We decided to enroll Miles in a private school for children with IEP's where the McKay Scholarship pays for the majority of his education. He is excelling educationally and still enjoying basketball.


Since relocating we have been blessed to find a great church and make amazing friends. The blessings have been abundant since moving to Florida. Miles has had an AMAZING time at school and basketball with his friends.





Social Skills Program

The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) was originally developed at UCLA by Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, Founder and Director of the UCLA PEERS® Clinic, and Dr. Fred Frankel in 2005 and has expanded to locations across the United States and the world. PEERS® is a manualized, social skills training intervention for youth with social challenges. It has a strong evidence-base for use with adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorder, but is also appropriate for preschoolers, adolescents, and young adults with ADHD, anxiety, depression, and other socioemotional problems.
PEERS® for Preschoolers
Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) for Preschoolers is a 16-week empirically-supported, parent-assisted social skills treatment program for young children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or other social challenges who have difficulty in their peer interactions and friendships.
During each group session, children are taught fundamental play and social skills through a live puppet show, followed by a range of games and activities designed to rehearse newly learned skills and reinforce skill development in a naturalistic setting. 
Parents simultaneously attend separate sessions and are taught how to help their children make and keep friends by acting as social coaches outside of the group. To maximize parent training, each session includes parent-coached play, consisting of mock play dates between group members, during which parents receive performance feedback from the treatment team on their social coaching.
Topics of instruction include how to:
  • Listen and follow directions
  • Ask for and use friends’ names
  • Greet friends
  • Share and give turns to friends
  • Ask for turns during play
  • Keep cool when upset during play
  • Be flexible, cooperative during play
  • Be a good sport
  • Sustain play through commenting
  • Ask friends to play
  • Join ongoing game play
  • Transition to new play activities
  • Ask for help and help friends
  • Maintain appropriate body boundaries
  • Use good volume control when talking to friends

PEERS® for Adolescents

Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) is a 16-week evidence-based social skills intervention for motivated adolescents in middle school or high school who are interested in learning ways to help them make and keep friends. During each group session adolescents are taught important social skills and are given the opportunity to practice these skills in session during socialization activities (e.g. playing sports, board games, etc.).
Parents are taught how to assist their teens in making and keeping friends by providing feedback through coaching during weekly socialization homework assignments.
Topics of Instruction:
  • How to use appropriate conversational skills
  • How to choose appropriate friends
  • How to appropriately use electronic forms of communication 
  • How to appropriately use humor and assess humor feedback
  • How to start, enter and exit conversations between peers
  • How to organize successful get-togethers with friends
  • How to be a good sport when playing games/sports with friends
  • How to handle arguments and disagreements with friends and in relationships
  • How to handle rejection, teasing, bullying, rumors/gossip, and cyber bullying
  • How to change a bad reputation 
PEERS for Adolescents Treatment Manual: This social skills manual assists teens in making and keeping friends. To learn more about the treatment or to purchase manual, click here
Parent-Trade BookDr. Elizabeth Laugeson’s innovate book, “The Science of Making Friends: Helping Socially Challenged Teens and Young Adults” provides parents and families with evidence-based tools for building friendships and relationships, and includes a companion DVD. To order the book, click on the link.
Social Skills Role Play Videos: The UCLA PEERS Clinic recently released over 100 social skills role play videos. These videos are excellent resources for teens to learn basic rules of social etiquette. View the videos, here

PEERS® for Young Adults

Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) for Young Adults (Ages 18-35) is a 16-week evidence-based social skills intervention for motivated young adults, who are interested in learning skills to make and keep friends and develop romantic relationships. During each group session, young adults are taught important social skills and are given the opportunity to practice these skills.

Young adults must attend each session with a social coach (i.e., parent, family member, adult sibling, life coach, job coach, peer mentor, etc.). Social coaches are taught how to assist young adults in making and keeping friends by providing feedback during weekly socialization homework assignments.
Topics of Instruction:
How to use appropriate conversational skills
  • How to choose appropriate friends
  • How to appropriately use electronic forms of communication
  • How to appropriately use humor and assess humor feedback
  • How to start, enter, and exit conversations between peers
  • How to organize successful get-togethers with friends
  • How to develop romantic relationships and use appropriate dating etiquette
  • How to handle arguments and disagreements with friends and in relationships
  • How to handle rejection, teasing, bullying, and rumors/gossip
PEERS for Young Adults Manual: Dr. Laugeson’s newest book, “PEERS® for Young Adults: Social Skills Training for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Other Social Challenges” presents the first evidence-based group treatment program for young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well as other neurodevelopmental disorders and social challenges. To order the book, click on the link.
Parent-Trade BookDr. Elizabeth Laugeson’s innovate book, “The Science of Making Friends: Helping Socially Challenged Teens and Young Adults” provides parents and families with evidence-based tools for building friendships and relationships, and includes a companion DVD. To order the book, click on the link.
Social Skills Role Play Videos: The UCLA PEERS Clinic recently released over 100 social skills videos. These videos are excellent resources for teens to learn basic rules of social etiquette. View the videos, here
UCLA PEERS® Facebook Page - more information on the UCLA PEERS® Clinic can be found at www.facebook.com/uclapeers.


Miles and I participated in the PEERS program 
with his Speech and Occupational Therapists in a group setting.
He did really well with this program and learned a lot of
new skills by hands on participation. 


After Miles graduated the program


Group hangouts were arranged
within the local community


Miles had a great time 
hanging out with his new friends


His AWESOME therapists have yet again helped Miles 
make great gains in relationship skills


Special Olympics - Basketball

Miles was never interested in playing sports.
When he finished Vision Therapy he began 
getting a little interested in trying several sports.
Once he started making friends at school
they liked basketball so he decided to give it a try. 
Miles has been very dedicated at practicing 
and learning to play as part of a team.

It's truly a sport Miles loves playing!

Marley had fun watching 
team practices at the park



Miles had a great time playing 
Special Olympics Basketball
with his friends


 The games were played
in several local gyms


There was an award ceremony after each game


Both teams would receive ribbons


All area teams
make the playoff games


They received medals at the end of the last game


and everyone had fun playing


GO TEAM GO!

1.14.2015

ALABAMA

I am able to do all things
through Him who strengthens me.
Phillipians 4:13

Time to stop & stretch our legs 
come with us for a walk around the park.....

It's been awhile since we visited this park


& Miles really wanted to stop because


his favorite plane, the SR-71 Blackbird, 
is located in the hanger


He had a blast getting to see all the airplanes 
& is ready to walk around the battleship 
on our next trip through the area


6.18.2014

NEW JERSEY

"You are the light of the world. 
A city situated on a hill can not be hidden.
No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket,
but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light 
for all who are in the house. 
In the same way, let your light shine before men,
so that they may see your good works 
and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16

On our way to Fort Dix
we decided it was time for some ye 'ole dinner 

Prince Miles


Dinner is served


Let the jousting begin


Go green team


Miles really enjoyed the show


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We had a short visit but would like to sightsee more of this State

Check out their Visitor's Guide

Have you been to New Jersey? Let us know what we should see next time!

6.16.2014

NEW YORK


For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 
so great is His faithful love toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
Psalm 103:11-13


Come with us for a quick tour 
around Long Island and parts of NYC

Miles & Marley were not together while visiting this state
but Miles wanted to include it as part of his adventures. 


Miles & his cousin had a great time


Penguins


Sharks


and sea turtles



We "discovered" this landmark by accident 


what a wonderful view


WOW….look how long it's been around



Miles & his friend had fun feeding the animals



We decided to explore the park and beach


Miles spotted plenty of wildlife


and really liked the lighthouse



A trip into the city is not complete for us 
without visiting the base



My husband's unit had Family Day activities here
so we took time to explore the area


The turtles were enjoying the nice day


as were the geese


Miles really liked walking out on the rock jetty


guess he should've brought a fishing pole



This was an amazing piece of history


look another lighthouse


It was pretty cool to walk around and see 


history "come alive"


Even with the modern world all around


it was easy to imagine how things used to be


Miles was excited to spot the Statue of Liberty



The elevator ride was quite an experience


and the view was awesome


I must admit it was rather COOL….


being W-A-Y up high


MMMM……Lunch



 YO JOE


LOOK it's a bird….it's a plane...
It's Superman


WATCH OUT here comes Spider-man





LONG ISLAND

Miles LOVED riding the train



Build A Bear
Welcome to the family Biscuit….
MANY friends joined Biscuit
after Miles was introduced to this store


& this is Dash 


Last but certainly not least….
Friends 



MMMM…….GOOD EATS
MMMM……the best pizza we found on the island
(I say WE because everyone seemed to have their favorite place)

for dessert Miles liked Ralph's Famous Italian Ices


We had never tried Carvel & were told this was a must
Miles really liked this ice cream cake





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We enjoyed our time sightseeing and 
Miles can't wait to go back and have pizza----I mean visit :) 

Check out the visitors center for Long IslandNYC and New York State

Have you had adventures in New York? Let us know about your favorite place!