Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sensory Processing Disorder

Have you ever wonder what a child with sensory processing disorders feels like?
I have a good understanding. Big and Little Al have sensory processing disorders. It's very difficult to begin to understand what is going on with them. From the outside it is very easy to judge. Patience is needed everyday.

It' easy to say that Big and Little Al don't have a disorder and say that they are out of control.

It is exhausting tired to figure out what is wrong.

These are some of the obstacles we deal with together:

1-Not being able to avoid obstacles that are in the way. They either crush into them or depend on others to help them.

2- Sitting in a chair and feeling like you are going to fall back or forward.

3- Clothing feels tight and rough

4-Trying to drink from a juice box.... They can't tell if you are squeezing to hard when they are holding it and spill it. They try it again and didn't squeeze it hard enough and it fell out of their hands.

5- White noise that come from fans, tube  TVs and lights makes them hold their ears.

6- Little Al's eyes can't focus on one task at a time. Everything catches her attention and she looks there and there and there instead.

7- Bright lights, LOUD anything  = over load

8- Every time I touch/hug/kiss it feels like sandpaper. Washcloths are an enemy.

9- Little Al cries at the sight of a car seat because she feels the motion sickness already.

"Sensory processing disorders are best treated if caught before the age of 7 when the nervous system is still malleable." (SPD, 2010)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Give Me A Blue Saturday!

A View from the  Backyard
Holloway Manor
Aston & Little Al
Easter Seals Development Center Playground Party
Oh boy that was fun!

Friday, September 24, 2010

White, Black & Brown Friday Friday!

New Haven, CT
New York State Plateau
Queens Museum of Art
The Dancers
Bronx Dance Theatre

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Are You Sure It's Thursday?

What a week we are having! It doesn't feel like the weekend is coming. This week felt like three weeks in one. So... you want to know what happened do you? Here we go:

-This week was the second full work week since summer vacation. I've been creating, typing, designing, troubleshooting, etc, etc. my backside off. I am a walking zombie.

-The kids need to be prepared for the school week and that rested on my shoulders.

-Joggling service providers, service coordinators and evaluators. My cell phone has been ringing and ringing. (Don't you just love calling forwarding)

-Just after getting off the School Bus on Tuesday, Little Al walked up the first three steps to my sister's apartment building...lost her balance and fell flat on her face. Little Al has a knot the size of a lemon on her forehead. My husband rushed her to the ER to make sure she was find. The fall came just in time for Little Al's physical therapy evaluation. Little Al  as been recommended to get PT. (Add other person to the fleet)

-Allergies is our middle name. The kids  and myself suffer from seasonal allergies. Not fun! Big Al's allergies kicked into high gear on Monday and by Wednesday he had decreased lung capacity due to the mucus build up in his lung. He had an asthma attack while at school. The school nurse did a GREAT job restoring his lung captacity before we headed to the ER.

-Moments ago...Little Al's allergies got the best of her and vomited all over mommy. YAY!

-After two ER visits and a pile of meds later, I have spent $165.67 on health care for the Al's.

I hope nothing happens Friday and Saturday.

Orange Thursday!

East 114 Street and 5 Ave
Museum of the City of New York
New York Botanical Garden

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mellow Yellow Wednesday!

SpongeBob Cupcakes
Big Al's 4th Birthday Party
Big Al + DSi = Happiness

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pinky Monday!

Big Bea and Little Al
Central Park West Playground
Big Bea + Cupcake = Happiness

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Green Green Sunday.

Stained-glass Art
Queens Museum of Art
Cat's Tail
New York Botanical Garden

Saturday, September 18, 2010


We spent a beautiful Saturday morning picking apples at Wilkens Farm in Yorktown Heights. I heart apples. We picked a bushels of apples. We picked some great apple.... and some not so great apples. I can't wait to make some applesauce. Becky is an apple picking expert. Alex was very focus on getting the apple picking pole up in the trees to get something down. Apples, leaves, twigs, etc. Aly was very excited to see so much of her favorite fruit in one place. She was doing a happy dance around our bucket.

I love the fall. I love the chill of the morning and the warm temps in the afternoon.

Apple picking is very sensory friendly. It's family friendly! It's a fall must do!

I Heart Colors!

To celebrate the:
1- first whole week of work
2- first day of fall
3- students starting new learning experinceies. Especially those starting school first the time and those working on their first term of college.

I am going to be posting pictures this week with color is the break down for the week.

Sunday - Green
Monday - Pink
Tuesday - Red
Wednesday - Yellow
Thursday - Orange
Friday- White, Black and Brown
Saturday - Blue

Feel free to join in on the fun and post to your blog or social network of choice.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Karen, Occupational Therapist Part 2

Here is part 2 of my interview with Karen, Occupational Therapist

2. What is involved in your typical workday?

I do EI in the Bronx working with children between the ages of newborn to 3 years of age. I live on Long Island so I try to leave my house by 6:15 am to beat traffic. I see my first child between 7:30 and 8:00. I see about 10 children a day. With most children I usually start off the session doing sensory techniques such as bouncing him or her on the ball or massage to help improve attention span, improve exploration of their environment and improve social interactions. Then I have the child do upper body strengthening via reaching for toys in sitting, while lying on their stomach or in a high kneel position. Hand strengthening exercises are done using resistive toys such as a small ball or play doh. We usually end the session with a fine motor activity such as a game, puzzle, drawing with crayons or markers, cutting with scissors depending on their age. If the child has a feeding goal I might work on holding the bottle with both hands to grasping a spoon to feeding self or massage in and around the mouth to tolerate different food textures.

Most of the children I see are on the 5th floor of Walk-ups so I get plenty of exercise. I usually get home around 6 to 7 pm but my work day is usually not over. Almost always I have some type of paper work to do! I usually work Monday through Thursday and have a 3 day weekend.

3. What do you like most and least about your work?

I love (almost) everything about my job!!! I love the kids, the parents and I love the Bronx! It's extremely gratifying to see a child making progress and it’s a great feeling when a parent tells me that I have made a difference in their son or daughters life.

The things I like least about my job....the horrific paperwork and saying good-bye :(

4. When you are not working, what do you like to do?
When I'm not working I like to spend time with my family. Although my kids are older now, ages 15, 16, 17, 18 and 25...I like to think that they still want to hang out with their mom. We will often go to the beach, go to the park or just sit on the stoop and talk. I also enjoy running, playing soccer and going out for long lunches with my friends.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Karen, Occupational Therapist Part 1

I want to share with my audience an interview with our occupational therapist, Karen Shaughnessy. She has been apart of our family since Alex started home-based early intervention in September 2008. We missed her for six months when Alex aged-out of E.I. but we have been lucky to have her back to work with Aly since March of this year. It's going to be a two part interview posting because it's a lot of good stuff.

1. Why did you chose to become an Occupational Therapist?

I was always a "people person" but I was never quite sure what I wanted to be when I grew up! I was 28 years old with 3 kids and one on the way when I enrolled myself in the nursing program at Farmingdale College despite that fact that I was afraid of blood! I figured I would just have to get over my fear.

Two weeks before classes started my son Joseph was born. He was placed in neonatal due to breathing difficulties and was released in 2 weeks. When I brought him home he was not eating. I was supposed to start nursing classes in a week but decided to take a break from school until I knew that my son was healthy.

 Joseph was my 4th child and did not progress like my other children...he was behind in everything. He did not sit up until 1 year and even then he was always falling back on his head. Instead of chewing his food he would swallow everything whole and would choke at every meal. He was recommended for a speech and physical therapy evaluation through Early Intervention and began services shortly after.

At 18 months he had an MRI because he was not walking yet. The results revealed a diagnosis of static encephalopathy (mild CP). Joey was making progress with therapy but something still was not right. He refused to wear his clothes, did not like to touch his food, would scream when walking on grass barefoot, he had a delayed response to pain and yet light touch was unbearable to him. He would cry during bath time and when having his hair brushed. Movement was a problem as well. Playing see-saw on my lap would lead to him holding on to me for dear life not wanting to go backwards. Swinging on a swing or going down the slide was a definite NO for him. Noise was a problem as well. He was always covering his ears when we went out.

When I discussed my concerns with the speech therapist she told me that she suspected Joey had sensory problems and recommended him for an Occupational therapy evaluation. I had no idea what OT was but soon found out. The evaluation determined that Joey was delayed greater than 33% with his fine motor skills and had severe sensory deficits that affected his overall functioning in his daily activities. He received OT 3x/week for 30 min. His OT taught me how to use the sensory brush and other techniques to use on him to help him tolerate touch, sound and movement. After a few weeks I saw a big difference in Joey's behavior, his performance in activities and how he interacted with his environment. Joey kept his clothes on!!!! I was amazed.

I finally realized what I wanted to do with life...I wanted to be an occupational therapist and make a difference in people's lives. I finally felt passionate about something. I became an OT assistant first and while working full time traveled to PA on the weekends for 3 years to get my Bachelors’/Masters in occupational therapy.

Monday, September 13, 2010

First Day of School for Little Al.

Well it happen.... She is officially a center-based student. Her first day went pretty smoothly. She was very scared when she was stripped in on the school bus and started crying but once the bus started moving she was relaxed. Boy she was lucky that Daddy and big brother was on the bus. When she got off the school bus she was bewilder. She really didn't understand why she was going to classroom 8. Her Daddy help her with her sweater and book bag. She joined the other kids on the table for breakfast and Daddy left when she was busy with her food. She did get upset when another little girl was having a hard time leaving her parents. Daddy said that Aly was the only student that paid attention to the little girl. The teacher wrote a note saying that she whined a little when Daddy left and stopped when it was time for circle time. She was engaged in music time and coloring. She also transitioned from one activity to the next well. When my sister got her off the school bus she said that Little Al had no expression. She didn't recognize anyone and when she finally recognized her aunt, she was excited to finally see someone she knows.

When we got home and I finally got to look in her book bag, I was greeted with paperwork, a teacher note and her first work of art. I think her adjustment period is going to be very short. I am very proud of my little girl.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Tomorrow is Little Al's big day. She starts her center-based services at Easter Seals Child Development Center. My little girl is going to be taking the school bus for the first time. I remember when Big Al started center-based. She was only a few months old. Big Al seemed so much bigger then what Little Al is now. She has no idea about what is going to happen tomorrow. Her book bag is lined up with Big Bea's and Big Al's. I don't think I am ready for her first day of school.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Aly's 2nd Birthday, Marshmallow Icing & My Dancers!

Whoa! This day was very busy.

Today my baby girl,Little Al, turned two. It doesn't feel like she is two. It feels like she has been in our lives forever. She didn't realize that her birthday was today until we started singing happy birthday to her and we were looking at her this time. Five out of six birthdays are down for this year. We have one more to go and we are done until March again. We meaning me and my sister.

We celebrate Little Al s bday with cupcakes and cousins. I tried a new quick icing idea from this month's Real Simple Magazine. The idea for the cupcakes were to used melted marshmallow instead of piping icing. I'm don't know if it was the type of marshmallow I used but it was a bad idea. BLEH! I think I am going to try it again but use other brand and smaller marshmallow.

Big Bea and Big Al dance classes started up again today. Big Bea is taking Ballet again and Big Al is taking the Pre-Ballet/Tap Combo. He didn't want to go anywhere today. He wanted to stay home and be lazy. I got him ready for dance and he was trying to get to take him to the playground. We got there and he was excited to leave mommy in the dust and go to class. The dance teacher welcomed the parents into the studio for a quick run down of the rules. Bad move on my part. I should have listen through the wall. When it was time for the parents to leave, He started crying and screaming for me. I came back to calm him down. He wanted to leave with me. I had to show him some tough love and leave him there. There were two other girls crying too and the moms took them out of the class and calm them down in the hallway. When in the hallway, I could hear he still crying but once the music started playing he said "LET'S TAPPY!" When class was done he came out happy and bare foot.
Big Bea's class was awesome too. She was a little nervous about going to class. Her butterflies were gone once she saw a few friends she made last year. Plus it helps that she has the same teacher. She looked so perfect in her dance clothes. So lady like.

This dance year is going to be crazy. Big Al's class is at 10am and Big bea's class is at 2pm. I live only 0.3 miles away from the school. By the end of a Saturday I would have walked 1.6 miles. So, mommy will be getting good workout too.

Friday, September 10, 2010


On September 11, 2001, the unthinkable was done.

Becky was six months old.

I was not Mrs. G. ....I didn't even know Mr. G

The events of my day seem so unimportant compare to his.

The days that followed 9-11-01, Mr. G was apart of the recovery campaign. He was apart of recovery for two days. I thank God it was only two days.

Being apart of recovery doesn't make him safe from the fallen buildings.

Right now he is well.

In the future, he will be well (I'll make sure of that).

No one can forget that day. He will never forget the recovery.

He is my hero.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Saying Good-bye to Home-Based & Hello to Center-Based

Today was Little Al s last session for home-based Special Instruction. Saying good-bye is a very hard thing but sometimes it needs to be done. Roberto has been Little Al's Special Instructor for the last 7 months and for Big Al 2.5 months to years ago. He has known Little Al since she was three weeks old. I couldn't have asked for a better teacher for my children. He has help Little Al with her attention span, color recognition, shape recognition and much more. He helped our family mold Little Al s cognitive ability. Any family is lucky to have him as a teacher and should use him a great resource. Hey the man known his stuff!

We are going to miss Roberto (again).

Also, today begin the new chapter in Special Instruction. I met Little Al s new center-based teacher at a Parent Luncheon at Easter Seals. She has been in early intervention for 10 years home-based and decided it was time for center-based. This is her first time at Easter Seals but she is seasoned in the field so I have faith in her. I did convey to her that I do have knowledge in Early Intervention and explain to her what we are doing at home to help with transition.

I have faith that Little Al will adjust well to center-based services. I can't wait to blog about her first day at Easter Seals on Monday.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Day of School for Five

Today was the first day of school for five out of six children.
There were no tears and no butterflies. It's going to be a very productive school year.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What Did You Do During Your Summer Vacation?

Today I returned to work after a great and busy summer vacation. 77 days off is a wonderful thing.
Here is what I did during my summer vacation:

1- Fought the New York City Department of Education Twice and Won
2- Visited 16 Cultural Institutions
3- Reached and surpassed 200 blog posts
4- Potty training with Alex
5- Created a Picture Exchange Communication System for Little Al
6- Proved that Becky is a genius
7- Did not sleep in one day
8- Realized that writing is my thing
9- Spent quality time with Big Bea, Big Al and Little Al

That was my summer in a nut shell.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Orchard Beach

Orchard Beach originally conceived as the "Riviera of New York." It's only one mile long. Orchard Beach is apart of Pelham Bay Park. It was originally a campsite and in the 1930's it was taken over by Robert Moses when he was Parks Commissioner. It's grand opening was July 25, 1936.

"In the 1970s, the city’s budget crisis led to cutbacks in maintenance and patrolling, and the beach lost some of its luster. By the early 1980s, Parks had removed scores of illegal vendors who occupied a section of the beach, and the beach’s renaissance began. Today, the revival of Orchard Beach is being completed as Capital Projects restores Moses’s original vision." (New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, 2010)

The beach is far from shedding the 80's stigma and I think its going to take a lot of time and good reviews to change the image of it. This beach has tennis, handball and volleyball courts. It has a great playground with sprinklers.

The water is not the cleanest, especially on a windy day like today. The litter blows right into the water from the beach. I personally do not go into the water because City Island and it's boating population is very close by. There is litter on the beach but the sand is clean to play in. My Als played all day in the sand and I wasn't worried. There are legal businesses in the beach's boardwalk and you can pick up an ice cold beer, if that is your beverage of choice. NYPD patrol the area heavily, their presents makes the environment safe.

Puerto Rican and Hispanic culture presents is strong. Music, flags and dancing is everywhere. The boardwalk is lively.

All in all, It was very relaxed day at Orchard Beach and enjoyed the cool salty breeze.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Visual Cues

Visual cues is a big part of communicating. If you can't not express emotion behind what you are saying you would sound like a robot or just look weird. Visual cues can be a frown or opening your arms for a hug.

Children with sensory issues and speech delays have a hard time using expressive language and visual cues can be very confusing. Alex and Aly both get confused with visual cues. All summer I've been working with Alex on the visual cues for yes and no. Since, he has school summer end, the word no is his middle name.
"You want to sleep?"
"Do you want some milk?
At the beginning of the summer, every time I say yes or no, I move my head .  Gradually, I said yes and no less and less. He was very confused at first. You can see the look on his face of..."Why isn't she talking?"

A few days ago, he started nobbling his head when he says yes or no. He looks so cute when he does it. He has a big smile on his face. He still says a lot of no but he is beginning to understand body language..Awesome!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

She Is Happy & We Know It!

If you don't believe that early intervention won't help your are wrong. Little Al has received early intervention since January 28, 2010. When she first began, she had very poor eye contact, little to no language and little to no attention span. Now just look at her..... She is happy and we know it.

I've said it many times before.....she has made the most process over the last two months at home with me. I took being home with her very serious. Yes, she had ongoing services but that is three hours over the course of a week. I took the teacher and therapists led and following what they were doing when they were not here. PECS, exercise ball, puzzles, shape sorters, etc.... I didn't just have them work on her education.... I am her first teacher and I am going to be her life long teacher (and the same goes for Becky and Alex of course).

The teacher and therapists have been doing there job long enough to know when they are the only ones educating a child. It's very excited to be involved with a family that wants the best for their children and push forward to get it.

Being a bit anti-social with my friends and family was worth giving my children my all this summer.

PS: If you are viewing this blog post on a mobile internet brower, you are unable to the see the video of Little Al at the beginning out the post.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Adventures in Potty Training Part 2

All summer we have been in potty training mode. Here is my first post about it. We seem to be in the same spot. Poopie in toilet doesn't seems to click in Big Al's head. He wants to be in his "safe spot". He start screaming and yelling "NO!...WAIT!" when I try to get to the toilet.

I have a timer set to go off every hour to make sure goes. I wish this timer had a 30 minute timer that way he can go every 30 minutes. The timer that I am using is an ITZBEEN timer. I got this timer when Little Al  was born. It is four timers in one. It helps you remember when you are sleep deprived with a new born. When Little Al was born, it was the first time I ever used a timer to remember. I really didn't have a choice because my husband was away with USMC and it was just me. I used it until the first set of batteries ran out. I stopped using it when Little Al slept longer hours at night.

About two weeks ago while cleaning out my nightstand, I rediscovered the timer and said to myself, "Self, I am totally using this for potty training." The timer helps me remember that its potty time. Big Al pays no mind to the timer.  He is very stubborn and doesn't want to go to the bathroom. He behaves like he is missing out on something when he is in there. I think I am going to have him push the blinking button when it goes off so he can focus.

Now I have to get him to go when he feels the need to not because I tell him too. It's going to be a long fall.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

All is Well in Little Al-land!

Little Al's progress has been AMAZING! Thanks to the fleet of disability service providers.

Today was Little Al's last session for home-based speech therapy. Little Al was saying new words and expressing different emotions during this session. She was on fire! Over the last five months Little Al had a great speech therapist, Garnett. She worked ending-less, Little Al responded very well to her. Her has a bigger vocabulary, most of which was gained over the last two months. Today she said "dounce" for bounce. Which is amazing. She has a better understanding of the picture-exchange. She knows to give the picture to Garnett to get the ball, baby, etc. She had little understanding of choice with PECS....she'll get I'm sure.

I was a bit emotional when Garnett give Little Al a great big hug good-bye. I held it together and said good-bye.

We are going to miss Garnett a whole lot.

I am looking forward to the next chapter in speech therapy for Little Al  I have faith that she will adjust well to center-based services. I can't wait to blog about her first day at Easter Seals

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Five Random Facts About Amy....

Here are five random facts about me:

1-My sister, mother and myself had our first child at the age of 21.

2-As a child, I was not good at reading and writing. I down right hated it. I had to take remedial classes throughout my school career expect when I attended Kaplan University. I took hardcore writing classes last year and it finally clicked in my head. I still have grammar and tense issues but I have plenty of reference material to go back to. Practice makes perfect.

3-I am obsessed with the number 3 and its multiples. 3 knocks on the door, 3 kids....Each one of my kids complete names have 21 letters.

4-I am addicted to coffee, Facebook and ziploc bags.

5-Yes, my parents are Puerto Rican and I don't speak spanish.

PS: My sister took that lovely back of the head shot of me.... Might as well use it since I'm usually on the another side of the