Sunday, October 27, 2013

Autism Hat Tutorial


For a while now I've been contemplating making something that would possibly make my life a little easier.  I've had enough meltdowns on outings with my ASD kids to know I wanted to do something to indicate we are an Autism family.  I also wanted it to be an item I could keep in my car or diaper bag and pull out if we had an unplanned excursion.  (Those are the kind that prompt the most meltdowns).

There are great t-shirts out there, but those would be wearable once and then need to be washed.  I would also have to get it back into the bag/car after it was washed. (Which might be a challenge since I've forgotten to restock diapers for the baby from time to time).  I also wanted to have whatever I made available for daily use on our vacation to Disney World. 

I thought about creating vests out of lightweight material, and I may still do that, but another crafter on the fabric store suggested hats to me.  This made total sense to me since I have to have all the kids pack hats for the Florida sun anyway.  I checked out the store and they both painters caps and plain baseball caps.

I found this awesome puzzle piece flannel in the fabric store.  Multi-colored puzzle pieces are a symbol for Autism, so this was perfect for my needs.

I used my silhouette cameo with a fabric blade and iron-on interfacing.  Flannel is thicker, so I found the canvas setting worked well.  I used a downloaded Mickey head and turned it into a cut file using my silhouette software.  I cut three from the fabric. You can't really see two cut Mickeys with this photo, but they were there. 

To iron on the Mickey head, I needed to support the inside of the ball cap. I first used a wadded up pair of jeans I was repairing.  It didn't give enough support.  Then I used a folded towel which worked much better. 

I looked high and low to find the right scale letters for my hats.  I also bought a fabric paint pen.  The fabric paint pen didn't give me the look I wanted, and I was lucky enough to find what I needed at Hobby Lobby.  They are JOY brand Baby Monogram Letters and Numbers.  You can find them here

I laid out the letters first on the hat (which was a bit tricky), then figuring out where the T needed to be more or less centered, I started ironing down letters.  I found it easiest to keep working in one direction with the letters since the iron had heated up the fabric and made the glue on the letters start to warm up a little.  

By the way, the dark spot you see above the Mickey head in the picture below?  It was wet there where I had wiped away the fabric paint.  The fabric paint really didn't work as well, though I don't have a picture to prove it to you.

The finished blue cap. 

For the record, the painters cap really didn't have enough room to use any letters, so I left it plain.

The white baseball cap with a bit more embellishment.  


I was overall pleased with the end result.  I had the kids wear the caps to the Disney and instead of glares, I got smiles and patience.  Acroboy wore his cap and sat front and center at Turtle Talk With Crush and he was chosen to talk to Crush.  (Boy!  Was he excited!).  I'm not sure if it was because of the hat or where he had chosen to sit, but he was thrilled none-the-less.

I think the hats also were a blessing when he got himself lost for a few minutes.  He found a parent with kids (like we've trained the kids to do), and they were talking to a Cast Member when we located him.  The hat let the Cast Member and kind parent know we had some special needs going on. 

The hats of course got dirty, and we lost one of the letters I hadn't ironed down enough.  When we got home I washed them in a sweater bag (the mesh kind that sometimes they hold nylons and other things too).  I figured if any more letters came off in the wash, they would end up in the bag.

See the clean, but damaged hat?

I then ironed the letters back on to the hat, and they look as good as new!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Race and Racing Heart

This last spring my sister challenged me to run a half marathon with her in the fall.  It was 19 weeks away at the time, and I began a couch to half marathon program that left little wiggle room.  I started training and things went well enough at first, but then I had a couple of days when because of the baby waking early (I was still nursing) or something or other the other kids needed in the middle of the night, I wasn't able to get out before the heat of the day kicked in.  I was convinced it was a conspiracy of my family to keep me from running since things only seemed to happen on training days.

My training really fell off the mark, so I settled for the idea that I would run the 10k instead of half.  I kept training as much as I could, but I admittedly lost steam. 

I also ran into an issue when I trained in strong heat and humidity.  My heart would do a weird tap dance and it would cause my breath to be taken away.

I went to my primary care , and she referred me to a cardiologist.  I had several heart tests done and even wore a Holter vest for 24 hours.  Nothing turned up and I proceeded to get ready for my race.  Of course the day after I turned in the monitor was when my heart did its tap dance.

I happened to mention the heart/breath thing to my allergist and he told me he thought it sounded like exercise-induced bronchial spasms.  He prescribed me an inhaler to try ten minutes before my runs to see if it would make a difference.  It seemed to help.

As much as I had done, I was unprepared.  I hadn't trained much with hills, and the course had been changed last minute to a hillier one.  I finished it though.  It was one of the hardest things I've ever done.  I think I pulled something in my legs, since I feel weak even claiming stairs at this point.  My awesome sister who has run half marathons, stayed with me the whole time.  She had a pouch in the back of her shirt where we kept my inhaler.  It was a good thing we kept it.  I had an asthma attack in the middle of the race and needed it.  The hills made it harder than I thought it would, but I finished!  Me the girl who had to pretend she was running for her life to get a decent grade in gym (let me dance for hours instead any day), finished a 10k race!  

Still recovering for the race, but I'm really happy I did it.  A couple of years ago I didn't know if I could run three miles.  Now I've run a six mile race.  My sister wants us to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in a year or two.  Thankfully I know Orlando, and it's pretty darn flat.  New Goal to look forward to!



That's how I feel.  Torn. 

Baby Girl was evaluated in speech, gross motor and fine motor skills and in sensory/tactile sensitivities.  She qualifies for services.

She had her first evaluation with the case manager a couple of weeks ago.  We schedule another evaluation and she offered to have all them come at once.  My first reaction was, "That will overwhelm her."   I wanted to protect my baby from that.  I quickly realized that Baby Girl being overwhelmed would probably actually be a good thing for them to see.  We scheduled the evaluation.

She was, as I predicted, overwhelmed.  She shut down and turned into herself.  She closed her eyes against them several times over a short period of time.  She wouldn't complete tasks.  It was only when she had the safety net of her blanket over her head that she began to cooperate with them. 

She has a 25% speech delay.  Most of that is in receptive speech skills.  She came out as having the skills of a 12 month old.  IE--she hasn't made any progress despite our efforts. 

The occupational therapist saw a lot of the same behaviors I'm concerned with and is anxious to start working with her to see if we can help her learn to cope and deal with things in a productive manner. 

I'm relieved, happy, sad and so many emotions all at the same time.  I'm sad that my fears have been confirmed, but I am happy we've caught these things early and she can get the help she needs.  I'm relieved I will be getting support.  I've been fighting for my kids for so long I feel like I'm in a raging war and I've just received a battalion of fresh reinforcements.  I honestly get teary just thinking about it.  I'm grateful for those reinforcements. 

I am anguished for my little girl and what this might mean for her future.  It won't change who she is, but it means things will be that much tougher for her.  I have to prepare her to face the world.

I'm torn.