Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Letter 2014

Dear Friends and Family,

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!  I feel like I say this every year, but what a year it has been!  This has been a year of many transitions.

Ana, now 18, graduated from Williamsville East High School in June.  She is now a freshman at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where she is studying Materials Science and Engineering.  She is enjoying every moment as part of the WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) academic club, FASA (Filipino-American student group), working in a lab engineering cartilage replacements, going to football games, and college life in general.  This Thanksgiving she came home showing us her math and programming projects and both Sam and I were impressed because she got good grades and we both admitted we could not help her with her homework anymore.
Graduation party

Graduation from East

 Carlos, age 14, graduated from Transit Middle School and is now a freshman at Williamsville East.  He played on the JV soccer team and is trying indoor track for the first time.  He plays for the Amherst Attack travel team.  He has taken on the responsibility of being the oldest kid at home and is indispensible in babysitting, lawn-mowing, big chores, and working for Sam as office help on the computer. 
Graduation from Transit Middle
Erie County Fair

Philip, age 11, began attending Heim Middle School in February where he attends the autism class and has opportunities with regular kids in homeroom, specials, lunch, and speech.  He loves his new school because his teachers are understanding and accommodate his communication through typing.  He learns interesting lessons in all subjects and is making lots of friends.  This year Philip attended a big autism conference by the Institute of Communication and Inclusion (ICI), learned to type on a keyboard in addition to using his letterboard, and got baptized!  Philip is part of our church scout group Stockade and goes to special needs soccer.  He enjoys sharing his insights on autism and his life in his blog and Facebook page, Faith, Hope, and Love with Autism.
Philip's Baptism- August
ICI Autism Conference at Syracuse University

Lia, age 9, is a fourth grader at Maple East Elementary.  English is her favorite subject.  She is involved in Girl Scouts, Church scouts GEMS, soccer, and gymnastics.  She started the trumpet at school and loves it.   She is our little social butterfly.
Wearing her flamenco costume from Lolo and Lola
Pioneer Girls moving up ceremony

Sam is doing well in his ENT practice.  I am getting more involved in autism advocacy and am looking to train in Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) with Soma this summer.  Most days are busy doing the normal stuff.  Life is good, but I am thinking Sam and I need to go on an adventure just the two of us, so I can report something more interesting about us next year!
Last day before bringing Ana to college

It has been an interesting year seeing everyone filling out the unique call God has on our lives.  It is like a gift that keeps getting unwrapped little by little.  As I do each Christmas, I leave you with our verse this year which is from Ephesians 2:10- For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

                                                             Wishing you Blessings Always,

                                                   Lisa, Sam, Ana, Carlos, Philip, and Lia Reyes

Eating Words

This essay was written in response to my questions, "How do you have such a good vocabulary?  How did you learn the meanings of so many words?"  Philip had fun with this one, often smiling and laughing, as he typed this delicious essay onto his iPad.  (spelling of saute was corrected by me as it was originally spelled sote)-Lisa

By Philip

I practice my words with attention to detail. To think of words is to learn the meaning of a delicious thought. I cook up savory phrases to pack in flavor to my ideas. I hunger for scrumptious morsels of vocabulary. I catch fresh words every day. I sauté words heard from conversation, TV, and songs. They get tasty being seasoned with my outstanding imagination and spices from my stored up words.  Pop music satisfies cravings for each kid by having beats to move our bodies’ pent up energy. Words dance in radiant motion when accompanied to music. Beats of music ease my mind.

I know a lot of words. I hear conversations well. I hear the news. I hear TV at home. I savor new words I hear. I chew on them to make sense of them. I love daily eating to possess meaningful words.  Devouring academics and books read to me manages my hunger for words. You eat lots of food to produce energy. I eat words and devour ideas to write my careful essays. I relish telling my thoughts. Many people address the moment ascertaining what is going on around them. I address each each word heard. I dare to make sense of the situation by what i hear. Each time I hear new words, I make sense of it by understanding the motive. I easily pick up new words by amplifying my hearing towards words. It takes effort to block out other sounds like TV and other sounds but it is easier than before. I notice voices best because I mean to be a part of the conversation and the world. I dare to make my voice heard now. I serve up my message with really appetizing words to make sure you come back for more.

Related posts

Philip and good friend Kaylie making cookies

Friday, November 28, 2014

Motor Planning

By Philip

I have problems planning my actions.  I know what I am supposed to do.  But really going through the motions to perfectly accomplish it is hard.  I think my motor planning is affected by a lot of things.  It is affected by momentarily putting my stims on hold.  I tame my pitiful body to more withstand the environment.  I assert my will on each sense.  It takes a lot of energy and concentration.  A lot of times I can't do it still but I am getting a lot better.  I am hard to part with stims.  Stims make it easier for me to deal with stress going through my senses.  I hear each sound at one volume.  I tear up hearing so much.  I hear the electricity, water running, outside traffic and noise, and people's voices.  Ceasing to hear extraneous noises requires lots of concentration to block out.  Stims help.  To pace or flap helps senses regulate. 

I try hard to calm my sanity each day.  Anxiety from the world's expectations of being normal each day awaken a fight or flight reaction.  Sometimes I reach for clothes to pull.  I don't mean to hurt anyone but I sometimes act out of fear or frustration. Heading out of uncomfortable situations is another sometimes annoying thing I do.  I really annoy people with my tendency to escape.  I have been trying to very much really ease up in my anxieties by listening to the Bible and praying.  This helps me very much.  I chase God's peace each day.

To get my body going I need prompts to initiate and keep going.  On my own my body cannot have many other activities other than thinking, listening, and stimming. When I have to go carry out a motor plan like picking up my trash off the floor and putting it in the garbage can, I must address my mom's voice telling me what to do.  I have to read my environment.  I look around for the trash.  Sometimes I get distracted from my plan by catching sight of something else and picking it up instead.  I need reminders until I have it down automatically.  Reading sensory input creates a mental map for me to route my aim to tame my actions purposely.  I am wired autistically, not like most people.  Being normal is hard.  Like a thin garment that covers me sparingly, I am wearing my motor plan over my natural tendency to make peace with my senses by stimming and defending my nervous system by avoiding anxiety producing situations.  I take each poached practiced skill and each day try to assimilate it into my being.  I eagerly wish to make them so a part of me that it is no longer hard for  me.  I take each motor skill I have and really try to build up my skills further and better. I apply my pointing to spelling my thoughts.  I eagerly learn new skills like soccer, reading books on my own, cleaning my mess, using my speech and writing more, daring to socialize more, saving nonsense for free time, and attending to teachers better.  It is real hard to learn skills at first without prompts to set the motor plan in place.  Teaching me skills is really important but communication is the most essential quality to my artistry as a human being.

I am trying to love myself as autistic and overcome the hard parts.  In my Sunday school class, Mr. Maurer helped me understand a lot about teaching myself each day that regular life is overrated.  I can still each day do a lot of things.  They may look differently, but I am still important.  I am teaching many people about autism and how people can accept us too.  I need your understanding.  I am living a life I love now.  I wish for other Autistics to find their potentials being reached too. 

    July 2014- at ICI Autism conference

Friday, November 21, 2014

Big Hero 6 Review

(Spoiler alert: Plot of first 20 minutes and themes revealed.  This week Philip and most kids from the Buffalo area had off from school because of the huge lake effect snow storm which paralyzed half of the city bringing up to 6 feet of snow in some areas.  Our area only got about 6 inches but since school staff come from all over the surrounding area, school was cancelled here too.  We were fortunate enough to be able to leave our house and make it to a movie.  Everyone who went really liked it!)

By Philip

I went to Big Hero 6 yesterday.  I enjoyed it a lot.  The main character is Hiro.  No one is as smart as him.  He makes robots that go to fights.  He wins a lot.  Both he and his brother Tadashi very much love each other. Tadashi really wants Hiro to use his brain in a good way.  He enrolls at the university and meets friends and Tadashi's health care robot Baymax.  Baymax is a sweet all-altruistic robot.  Having this nature Baymax teaches Hiro about what can make you truly happy.  Happiness finds itself in relationships with good friends and family.  Dear Baymax is the best example of a friend. Tadashi is another example of loving others above yourself.  Hiro learns that most important is love means caring and forgiveness and loyalty.  I want to be that kind of friend. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Meaning of Prompting

By Philip

(This essay was written in response to my question "Why do you need prompts to communicate?"  The essay was typed using Assistive Express iPad app and was in all lowercase.  My only edits were to capitalize where appropriate.  -Lisa)

Prompts are needed to help me stay on my task.  I opine this very much.  The world is very thought provoking and teaching me many lessons.  Tons of stimula compete for my attention.  That is why I have trouble focusing.  The racing thoughts in my head ram against each other and chance of getting them out is paper thin.  The art addressing the task of expressing my heard words is RPM.  My thoughts try to touch peaceful truths by easing the assaulting attacks on my senses.  To reach my thoughts RPM eases my ability to focus how I will say my thoughts. I must put teacher's voice helping me sustain my thoughts to single out above all other stimuli.  This is hard at first. I have to concentrate so hard.  I think it takes focus and energy.  People assign importance in what they can attend to but I cannot.  I take in every sensation at once.  I radically trust those people I spell each day with.  My output is really my own. Teachers do not hold my hand or move my keyboard.  I refuse to spell with anyone caught trying to influence my words.  In question is my need to have a person holding my board.  I need to have a prompt to get me started.  I need  to have someone with me going to make sure I put forth real effort in communicating.  Effort is nothing without your help because I get off topic due to stims.  I am interested in you listening to what I tell.  You reading my messaged talk means you care in deaming my word has meaning.  To teach a dear companion to spell each day is so peaceful.  A helper brings a lingering word to surface.  Without typing, my thoughts disappear.  I type about how prompts dare me to articulate my thoughts.  Prompts take my attention off the distractions.  The prompts I use most are you following clearly what I write, reading my words back, and reminding me to keep going. I ice up when there is doubt in me.  I cease to master control over lingering thoughts when I am doubted or not as used to someone's voice.  I am the best with mom.  She goes to great lengths to daily talk with me.  She watches me perfectly prompting without telling me what to write.  She is patient usually.  She teaches me many things.  She eases my fears and loneliness.  She takes me around to outings.  She finds hope in the Bible for me. 

Philip talking on his letterboard