Raven and Reine

It has been a LONG process training our dog to become a Service Dog. I wish I could go back and redo a lot of it because there were so many mistakes made. But I can not go back and the hard truth is, Raven has a long way to go before she can be considered “service” worthy. We have not given up on her training.

For a while, it seemed as though it was not going to work at all between these two. Their bond did not come easily and was not second nature at all to either of them. I refused to “force” them to bond. I am not even sure if that would be possible. Somewhere over the last couple of months, these two have created their own bond. It is becoming a strong one.

If Reine is gearing up for a meltdown, Raven will do everything she can to lay on top of Reine to hep calm her. She will not leave her side until she knows she is calm again. If Reine gets sick or has a CVS flare up, Raven will NOT leave her side until she completely feeling better or over the flare up. Reine has started calling Raven to everywhere she is in the house. I often find them together Raven keeping a protective stance or eye on her.

Reine has begun to tell her she loves her and to hug and kiss her. This is completely new treatment towards Raven.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Doctor’s Appointments

Reine has a very large and hefty fear of doctor’s appointments. If she has to have blood work or a vaccine, it is almost crippling. Anxiety will set in, to the point that she experiences panic attacks and causes herself to vomit, have loose stools, and even shake uncontrollably. This is something we have been working through together for almost 2 years now. It has been a slow process. But we have it down to a science now.

I start about 2 weeks before any appointment and begin to talk to her about what they will be doing and what she can expect from this appointment. We decide who else will be coming with her to the appointment besides myself (sometimes her oldest sister has to be there for extra moral support).

We spend the week before the appointment going over everything several times a day until the day of the appointment. By everything, I mean everything. From who will be with her that day, to how we will be checking in, to who she see that appointment. If she is seeing a nurse first, then she is prepped for the intake and everything the nurse will do. If the doctor is seeing her as well, she is prepped for what the doctor will be doing. If she needs blood work or a vaccine, BUZZY is with us and she knows exactly what is going to happen step by step.

  • What time we will get up that day.
  • What outfit she will wear.
  • Who will be with her that day other than Mommy?
  • What time we will be leaving for the appointment.
  • Where the doctor’s office is located.
  • What this particular appointment is for.
  • How we will be checking into the office.who she see that appointment. I
  • Who she see at that appointment, doctor, nurse, both.
  • If she is seeing a nurse only, then she is prepped for the intake and everything the nurse will do. Taking her height measurements, weighing her, checking her body temp, checking her blood pressure and pulse ox. Asking her and I questions.
  • If she is seeing the nurse for intake and the doctor after, she is prepped for what the doctor will be doing. Asking her questions, pushing on her tummy, listening to her heart, listening to her lungs, shining the light into her eyes, nose, and ears.
  • If she needs blood work or a vaccine, BUZZY is with us and she knows exactly what is going to happen step by step before we get there.

Letting her know what is going to happen is crucial for Reine. She needs to have her million and one questions answered and her fears validated and calmed before we even enter the doctor’s offices. It is how she is learning that these appointments are needed to help keep her healthy and that together, we can conquer her fears together.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Small Businesses Part 1 Xmas

For those of you that follow Simplicity Redesigned, you know that I am all about supporting local / small businesses whenever I can. Shopping for Reine’s needs are no different.

This past winter, Reine spent the month of November and most of the month of December, telling me “Not Enough. I not enough.” She would break down in fits of sobbing and repeat this over and over and over again throughout the day. She would cry herself to sleep almost every night. I could not figure out for the life of me what she was referring to. Then, the lightbulb went off and I had an “aha moment”. She was worried about HoHo (Santa) not coming to our home. She had heard from other people that she “had to be good” so that Santa would come and visit her on Xmas Eve night.

Reine associated her meltdowns with not being “good”. Every meltdown and every ODD moment meant that HoHo was slipping farther away no matter how hard she was trying to “be good”. Please know that I do not allow anyone to tell Reine to be “good” or that she is being “bad” for exactly this reason. I will seriously open up a can of whip ass if you tell her to be “good” or that she is being “bad”.

I needed to find a way to soothe my little mermaid’s soul and quickly. I found an online  company that does videos and or phone calls from Santa and uses your child’s name and personal information that you provide to them to create one of the cutest videos I have ever seen. We opted to go for the video only. It is engaging and there are pauses so perfectly timed in the conversations that it allowed Reine to respond to the characters in what she thought was “real time” as if she was having a conversation with them. We told her that I recorded the video so that she could watch as many times as she wanted to. I hope to be able to do the video with her every year for the foreseeable future.

The video proved to be not enough for Reine. I was still putting her to bed sobbing every night. She still thought she was “not enough”. No matter what we said to her or how often we told her that HoHo was coming, it was not enough to soothe her mind. She was hyper focused on it and there seemed to be no way to move her past it. The endless tears made it that much worse.

My Christmas Miracle
We had thought about taking Reine to our mall to meet their “Santa”. The reality of it being too overstimulating stopped us from doing it. We knew that Santa would not be sympathetic to her needs as you wait in line for what seems forever and he takes a pic with the child and talks to them for a few seconds and that’s it. He moves on to the next child. That works for neurotypical children. But we needed a Santa that would be able to understand what this meeting was really about. I follow one of our favorite local toy stores Dancing Bear Toys and Gifts on Facebook and they posted about Santa coming to their store for a meet and greet type thing. I held my breath and took a chance.
I decided to send them a personal message on Facebook to see if they had anything planned for those on the spectrum. I explained our situation and also a little about why we could not bring Reine in to meet Santa. I honestly expected them to respond with a “Sorry we are unable to do anything like that at this moment in time.”  I would have sent them my customary response of “OK, I understand and thank you for your time.” as tears slid down my cheeks. Their response to my message did in fact, bring me to tears….just for a very different reason.


What transpired next was beyond words for my family. We showed up early and they had a quiet room all set up with a chair and SANTA! How Reine lit up! Magic does not describe what transpired for my mermaid. She saw her Santa and ran to him. We thought she was going to knock him down. His response to her hug made it that much more magical. He spoke with her and promised her that he was coming to our home. We did not take any pics of the meeting as we opted to take a video. All it took was one sentence from Santa. One set of simple words. These were that same exact words that we had said over and over again to her. But they had to come from him not us….“I guarantee that I will come to your house…I promise!” That simple sentence meant more to her than just what was on the surface. It meant that through all her meltdowns and all her ODD outbursts she was exactly as we had told her. SHE WAS ENOUGH. There was not a dry eye in the room when we left. To say that is was magical and our Xmas wish come true is an understatement. There are not enough ways for me to say thank you to Dancing Bear Toys and Gifts for this magical moment. I hope that they will be able to do something like this again for Reine this coming Xmas.

The last thing we did to help Reine see that Santa did in fact, keep his promise was to catch him in the act….It took us all night but we did it. Thanks in part to Google Play and Catch Santa In My House app.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.




The Car Wash

So, three years ago we took Reine with us when we went to the automatic car wash. It was something my other two kids have always LOVED. They thought it was the coolest thing ever! We thought Reine would like the colors the suds make.

It was the longest 5 minutes of pure terror that I have ever inflicted upon my child with the exception of blood shots (needles) and doctors appts.

The sounds that came out of her were enough to question if she had been taken over by a poltergeist. I could do nothing to stop the car wash or to make it go faster. I had no way to soothe her until the truck was done and the machine told us it was all clean. I sat and watched helplessly as I waited for her head to spin or her to pass out from pure exhaustion.I was so not winning the Mom of the year award. I honestly had NO idea that she would react to it like that or I would never have taken her. Needless to say, we both left it in tears. I vowed never to take her there again. Every time I went near it, she would cry and beg us to leave the parking lot.

A couple of months ago, Reine asked me to open the moonroof on my truck. It is one of her favorite things for me to do in my truck, as it opens all the back to the rear seat. Above her head, she noticed bird poop on my moon roof. She decided that we needed to take the truck to the car wash. Now, it took me 20 minutes and 2 meltdowns to figure out where we were supposed to take my truck.

My heart sank. My first thought was HELL NO!!!!! What if I scare the ever loving hell out of her again??? Once was enough to last me a lifetime. I told her we did not need to go to the carwash. The rain would wash off the poop eventually. Every day, a million times a day, for the next 2 weeks it was all she could talk about. When are we going to the carwash? Why haven’t we gone to the carwash yet? She was so hyper-focused on it. For the past year, we have been working with Reine to face her fears. I knew this was another fear that we could conquer together. I told her exactly what would happen and when to expect it.

As you can see, she enjoyed it and covered her ears from the loud noises it made.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Happy 6th Birthday Reine


Reine turned 6 years old on Nov 2. Oh, how I wish we could have thrown her a HUGE party filled with kids of all ages, family galore, millions of balloons, cake, ice cream, decorations everywhere, different kinds of party games. A celebration that most children dream of and parents cringe at. The excitement, noise, and all things geared towards the birthday child. The reality for us was far different then what many imagine.

First thing Reine did was pick out her outfit for the day. I no longer tell her what she can and can not wear. If she wants to wear a pair of hug pants with shorts over top and 3 hug tank tops and a long sleeve shirt then that is what she wears. If it matches great, if it does not, then it doesn’t. I want her to take pride in her decisions. Frankly, I have more important battles to pick then what she wears.


Two hug tanks, long sleeve shirt, leggings, denim skirt

Reine opened up her presents at about 6:30-7:00am. This was the only time that the entire family would be home at the same time while Reine was awake. Each present was hand picked with Reine’s needs in mind. We had no doubts that she would love each one. There were 5 presents in all.

  • Light Bright
  • Mummy cat book
  • Rolling luggage set
  • Barbie head
  • Educational game

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Her older sister took the morning off of school to spend it with her snuggling and playing with her birthday presents. We worked it out so that when I took big sis to work, my Hubby would come home to spend the afternoon with Reine. Again in a very relaxed manor. The transition from one person to the other was seamless. We told Reine what was going to happen before it happened. This way she knew exactly to expect.

My Hubby and I took Reine to Toys ‘R’ Us (to spend a GC her uncle gave her) in the evening after we ate dinner. This trip we decided needed to be no more than 20-30 minutes long as we did not have Reine’s headphones and iPod. Hubby had the brilliant idea to speak with Reine on the way to Toys ‘R’ Us to see what she wanted to buy or any areas that she really wanted to look through. We chose to go an hour before the store closed as we knew the store would be almost dead. We moved into those areas of the store that Reine was interested in the most first. We kept a VERY close eye on Reine. We saw that after 15 minutes she was getting over stimulated. We began to gather her purchases and head to the register. I paid for the items while Hubby took Reine out of the store.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After Toys ‘R’ Us, we went to the grocery store. She and Hubby stayed in the car while I bought her an all natural ice cream she LOVES and balloons. We chose ice cream instead of a cake as a way to still celebrate her birthday but to keep her as calm as possible. I promised her that I would make cake balls this weekend for us to enjoy. We sang “Happy Birthday” to her as she beamed at the 7 candles glowing in a small bowl of ice cream. Then it was off to bed where I rubbed her back, arms, and hands for several minutes before she drifted off to sleep.

Candles in the ice cream.

Candles in the ice cream.

The entire day was planned around Reine’s needs. Every decision was done in such a way as to try and not overstimulate her. We had to explain to her all day that it was still her birthday and would remain so until she woke up when the sun did and that the next day still meant that she was 6 yrs old.

Despite all of our best efforts, the next day was a VERY hard and LONG day. Reine had meltdown after meltdown. I spent most of the day applying some form of deep pressure to Reine and trying to calm the beast that being overstimulated causes her to become.

Autism is not for the faint of heart!