Slacking

When I envisioned starting a blog, I saw my self blogging at least every other day. Well it has been over a week since my last post so clearly things are not going as planned. I will try to be better about posting more regularly.

I have had a lot on my plate and on my mind over the last week. So much has happened. First I finally finished with my summer I classes. Yay! I took one final on Friday and then I had the weekend to do the second final and I finished it up this morning. Now I have a week off from school and hopefully some time just to relax.

I was hoping to spend a lot of time reading by the pool, but I woke up Sunday morning sick..gross. I hate being sick in the summer. I'm hoping it is just allergies.

My new refrigerator gets delivered on Wednesday!! It is my gift since Jon bought a motorcycle. I know it may not sound too exciting, but I am so looking forward to it. It is a LG with French doors. We are going to have so much space! We plan on moving our old refrigerator out to the garage so we can have a place to keep all the drinks we buy at Costco cold and a place to store extra frozen food.

Alright, that is all I have time for now. I will post something more interesting tonight or tomorrow.

This makes sense!

By Elizabeth Cohen
CNN Medical Correspondent

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Five years ago, Kathye Petters-Armitage's first child received the exact vaccinations on the exact schedule recommended by her pediatrician.

Hannah Polling's autism was found to be "significantly aggravated" by her childhood vaccines.

Hannah Polling's autism was found to be "significantly aggravated" by her childhood vaccines.

But when she gave birth to her second child, Petters-Armitage had a change of heart.

In the intervening two years, she'd read a lot about concerns that vaccines cause autism and decided to ask her pediatrician to give her new baby fewer shots spread out over a longer period of time.

"I wasn't a hundred percent convinced there was a link between autism and vaccines," said Petters-Armitage, of Santa Clarita, California. "But I didn't want to be one of those parents who found out the hard way."

Pediatricians say they've seen a dramatic increase in the number of parents who, like Petters-Armitage, want to make changes in the vaccine schedule set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics, a schedule once considered by many pediatricians to be sacred and largely immutable.

Many of these doctors say even though they might disagree with these parents, they are making changes.

"If a parent says no to an intervention, including a vaccination, I have to accept that," said Dr. Arthur Lavin, a pediatrician in Beachwood, Ohio, and associate clinical professor of pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "I share with them what I know, but ultimately, it's the parent's decision."

Dr. Kenneth Bock, a clinical instructor in the department of family medicine at Albany Medical College in New York, put it this way: "It shouldn't be my way or the highway. We can't say one size fits all. One size doesn't fit all."

In an article on CNN.com in March, two CDC doctors wrote, "Although some may call it a 'one size fits all' approach, the recommended vaccine schedule is flexible."

The following is a list of vaccine changes that parents have requested and that some pediatricians have agreed to make. It does not include a discussion of the pros and cons to each approach, or a discussion of whether vaccines and autism are even linked, but rather a list of some approaches being used by some pediatricians and parents.

1. Delaying the first hepatitis B shot

Currently, newborns receive hepatitis B shots before they're discharged from the hospital.

"I've never understood why we give this at birth," said Dr. Richard Frye, assistant professor of pediatrics and neurology at the University of Texas Medical Center at Houston.

Hepatitis B is spread by having sex with an infected partner, by sharing needles, by sharing razors or toothbrushes with an infected person or by contact with blood or open sores of an infected person.

"I don't know babies who have sex or share needles," said Dr. David Traver, a pediatrician in private practice in Foster City, California.

Lavin says that instead of giving the hepatitis B shot at birth, he routinely gives it when a baby is 2 months old.

One exception: If a mother carries hepatitis B, her baby must receive the vaccine and treatment for hepatitis B infection.

2. Not doing some shots at all

The pediatricians interviewed for this article were unanimous on this point: Not all diseases are created equal. Some diseases for which children are vaccinated are easier to catch than others, and some are more deadly.

For example, Petters-Armitage told her doctor she wasn't as worried about chicken pox or rotavirus as she was about diseases like polio and pertussis. Even though she says he disagreed with her, he abided by her wishes and didn't give her second and third children vaccinations for chicken pox and rotavirus.

The pediatricians interviewed for this article advise parents that if they're concerned, they should sit down and discuss with their pediatricians the severity of each disease before proceeding with vaccinations.

3. Checking for 'titers' before giving booster shots

For many vaccines, such as chicken pox, children receive boosters to "boost" the immunity received from a previous shot. Some children, however, might not need the booster because they had an adequate immune response to the first shot.

Pediatricians sometimes will do a blood test to check a child's titers. "Checking titers" refers to measuring the amount of antibodies in the blood, an indication of whether the person is immune to a certain disease. Checking titers isn't routine and sometimes is not covered by insurance.

"If you came to me and said you wanted to check titers, and you'll pay for it, would I do that for you? I would," said Dr. Laura Jana, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

4. Spreading the vaccines out over a longer period of time

This is the hallmark of the Sears Schedule, an alternative vaccine schedule developed by pediatrician Dr. Robert Sears.

Sears' patients bring their babies in for shots seven times between the ages of 2 to 9 months, never receiving more than two shots at each visit.

Under the CDC schedule, children come in three times during that age range, receiving sometimes five shots at one visit.

5. Splitting up combined shots

Several vaccinations are combined into one shot. For example, measles, mumps and rubella are put together into one injection called MMR, and diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis are put together into one shot called DTaP.

MMR is available as three injections, but most doctors don't have them. If you want to separate out these shots, you may have to get a prescription and find a pharmacy that will order them for you and then give them to the doctor for injection.

Some doctors do offer the shots separately. Sears gives measles, mumps and rubella shots separately and at three different ages. Lavin said he's received so many requests to separate out the MMR, he's ordered the separate shots.

Pertussis is not available separately, so even doctors like Sears, who offer an alternative schedule, give the DTaP shot.

The pediatricians we talked to said the key is to talk to your doctor about whether an alternative schedule is best.

"It's a talk. It's a whole appointment," Traver said. "Call the receptionist and say you'd like to make an appointment with the doctor to discuss immunizations."

Another consideration: what's best for your child. For example, in the case of Hannah Poling, the federal government found that vaccines she received as a toddler "significantly aggravated" an underlying illness that predisposed her to symptoms of autism. The "vaccine court" ordered that her family be compensated financially.

It's not entirely clear what family history would put your child at risk for vaccine problems, but Frances Page Glascoe, a professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, says parents should look back at least ask the question.

"I would look at Mom, Dad, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins who had developmental disabilities, including language disorders and autism spectrum disorder," she said. If parents find such a family history, "that would cause me to discuss an alternative vaccination schedule.

Jon Poling, Hannah's father, says it's clear to him now that he should have been more wary.

"We have autoimmune disorders on both sides of the family, and Hannah had multiple febrile infections with ear infections and horrible trouble with eczema," he said. "All of those are red flags that a child is at risk."

Is it Friday yet??

This week has been exhausting! I feel like my list of things to do is never ending!

I talked with my advisor at school and I have decided not to get my teaching certificate along with my masters. Here is my new plan...I am going to be getting my masters in special education along with a specialization in Autism. The specialization will prepare me to sit for the BCBA exam. I am going to be able to start training to be a supervisor in the near future, which I am really excited about. If I was to get my teaching certificate I would have to take a year off to do a teaching mentorship in a public school. I really don't want to ever teach. I really just want to be a consultant. This plan will allow me to finish with a lighter school load (which mean more work hours) and more classes that I am interested in. The only bad thing is that the two classes I am in this month are not part of my degree plan so I didn't need to take them. I have learned some good information in both of them so I guess its not all bad. I am excited about only having to take one class in July.

The lady that is cleaning for us came today. It was SO nice to come home to a super clean house! She is going to come every 4 weeks to do a deep cleaning. It should make my life easier since I will only have to do a light cleaning the other weeks.

I have decided to take a "me day" tomorrow. I am not going to class and I am going to try to get weekend homework done early as well as do some relaxing by the pool! I am very excited!

weekend up-date

I can't believe the weekend is over already! Okay, I guess I can, I just don't want it to be over so soon. :(

I had a really nice relaxing weekend. Friday night consisted of going to Polvos for margaritas with some great friends. It was really nice to catch up on whats going on with everyone. After happy hour I went to see the Sex in the City movie with some girls from my small group. We had a great time. I was just happy to finally see a chic flick instead of the boy movies my hubby insists on downloading for us to watch. All in all I thought to movie was cute and in typical chic flick style everything ended on a happy note.

Saturday Jon and I went over to his grandparents for lunch. We got to see his cousins cute little kids (Ethan is 3 and Avenly is 1). After that we made a quick stop by Woods Fun Center so Jon could try on helmets and jackets for his new motorcycle. Sigh...at least I will never run out of gift ideas for him. He is an endless source of hobbies. From there we set off to visit with my grandparents. I haven't seen them in quite a while so it was good to catch up. My grandfather has not been doing so well lately, but he got a good dr's report earlier in the week so he was in high spirits.

Sunday has been pretty uneventful. Jon went to play golf with his brother-in-law and friends. I got into a cleaning mood and clean the house top to bottom. I even lit candles when I was done to make everything smell pretty. :) I love candles! Once the house was clean and quiet, I was able to concentrate on my homework and I was very productive. I also got my grade back from the online exam I took on Friday - 96! Yay!

All in all it has been a good weekend. Now I am just not looking forward to a busy week. Two more busy weeks then I get a whole week to do nothing but sit by the pool and read!

Things I am looking forward to this week:
  • interviewing a potential house cleaner - Jon has agreed to let me pay someone to do a deep cleaning once a month - I am super excited, since I am a bit of a clean freak and I rarely have time to get my house as clean as I would like it.
  • getting done with one more week of summer 1 classes - then just one week to go.
hmm...sad that I am only looking forward to 2 things. Oh well.

another week gone by

Jon bought a motorcycle today. I will post pictures of him on it once I get some. It is pretty cool looking and I know he is excited. I'm a little worried about the safety issues, but I know he will be careful - I hope anyway!

I just finished my online exam for one of my classes. I think I would have rather taken a test in class. When it's online, your answers have to be perfect since the teacher knows you have the book and notes in front of you. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and I am glad it's over. 2 more weeks left of summer one, then I get a week off before I start summer two.

I know that by the end of the summer I will look back and be glad I got 12 hours out of the way in two months, but right now I am just plain tired. I feel like I am not as good of a student, therapist, friend, or wife as I could be if I was not so busy. I am going to try to relax this weekend and spend some quality time with Jon; who have feel like I have been putting on the side burner between work and school and other obligations.

Plan for the weekend:
Tonight - happy hour with work friends :) then off to see Sex in the City with some girls from my small group - yay!! Jon will be out riding his new bike with his friends.
Saturday - lunch with Jon's grandparents and then quality Jon and Lauren time and hopefully I can get some school work done.
Sunday - finishing up homework and hopefully to the pool for some relaxing Lauren time.

Hopefully it goes as well as the plan. I will let you know!

autism in the news

I am trying to stay current on everything that is going on in the news about autism and vaccines. Here is my opinion...I think there are way too many vaccines given to babies. There should be an alternate schedule to take into account small birth weight, premature, and sickly babies. As for Jon and I, we will definitely demand and alternate vaccine schedule. I know its controversial, but until they find out what causes autism I am going to error on the safe side.

This brings me to my next thought. On Good Morning America they had a short segment on autism...I'm not sure if it is going to be a special (I need to look that up so I can TIVO it). Anyway, the people on the special were from a group called "Autism and Proud" and they feel that we should not be trying to find a "cure" for autism. They insist that it would be better if we just celebrated the differences. This got me thinking...when I first started doing ABA therapy, I thought the same thing. I didn't understand why we were trying to make these kids "normal". I mean what is "normal" anyway, right? After being in this profession for 2 years, I am now much more educated on the subject. First, there are many, many types of therapy/interventions out there that claim to cure autism. ABA is the only evidence based intervention that has been proven to help (not cure, but teach). Everyday I teach kids with autism how to learn from their environment and how to interact with the people in it. The kids that I work with are severe and the thought of just not teaching them breaks my heart. These kids deserve to learn and if they are not learning the way we typically teach, then we need to change the way we teach. I agree that we should celebrate these children. They all have extraordinary abilities, just as every child does, but to ignore their autistic tendencies and not try to teach them better ways to communicate or have fun...that is just not in the best interest of the child.

I know this is a controversial topic, and I hope I didn't offend anyone, but this is whats on my mind tonight.

Summer is going to be busy

Today was my first day of full class. I think I am going to learn a lot this session. I am taking assessments and evaluations and teaching reading to students with disabilities. I am going to get to practice giving a couple of different assessments to some of my kiddos over the summer. I am also hoping to pick up some tips to help teach S to read. She is so close, it will be exciting to see how she improves this summer.
Once class was over I had to go straight to a team meeting for my second little kid. The meeting went really well. We are transitioning to a new method of doing therapy. I think we have a great team with some really strong therapists in place. I am excited to see the gains J makes this summer.

After class, work, grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, and dinner I am looking forward to doing some relaxing tonight.

New desires


Jon has decided he wants to buy a motorcycle, which I think I am cool with. He had one before we meet so it wouldn't be his first bike (which makes me feel better). He wants a Yamaha FZ-6. We went to look at this one today. It is really nice and pretty cool looking. I think we will have one in our garage soon. Whenever Jon wants to buy a new "toy" he always asks me if I want something. I think this is to atone for him buying something for himself that is not a necessity. It is a sweet gesture, but I am always going to Target or somewhere to buy something I probably don't need. He rarely spends money on himself.

Anyway, when Jon started asking me what I would want, it got me thinking. Now that we have a house there is so many things I want to do with it. Clearly I take after my parents, who are either remodeling their house or talking about what to remodel next. Here is a list of things I want to do to our house.
  • wood floors in the living room and hallways (and maybe the office and bedrooms)
  • granite counter tops - my mother-in-law just got some and they look great!
  • a new refrigerator - I want the kind with the freezer drawer on the bottom and double doors on the top.
This list makes me realize how grown up I am now...it's kind of scary! :) Such is life, I guess.

Funny Story


Jon and I got Hiro neutered a couple of weeks ago (it was sad, I know). He did really well, but he licked his stitches out the day they were due to come out. So the vet told us we had to keep him from swimming for yet another week. For a dog that will do anything to get in the water, that is pretty hard. On Saturday we decided to go swimming with some friends a Barton Springs. We packed up the bag we normally take to the greenelt with Hiro along with some towels. I guess that Hiro figured we were going to the greenbelt without him and got mad. He took one of Jon's flip flops outside and destroyed it. The next day Jon went looking for his lost shoe and found it outside. When he brought it in and tossed it on the living room floor for me to see, Hiro jumped up on the couch and tried to hide behind my back. It was so cute! Jon and I just sat there laughing. Hiro clearly knew what he did wrong. :) Hopefully Jon and I will be a little better a discipline once we have kids.

Here we go...

Okay, so I am going to try out this whole blog thing. Hopefully I will keep up and have enough to write about to make it interesting enough to read.

Where I'm at right now...
I have been married for a little over a year and my husband and I are loving living in Austin with our puppy, Hiro. I am in my second semester of grad school at Texas State. I am getting my masters in special education with a specialization in autism. Someday I hope to be a board certified behavior analyst and autism specialist. For now, I am in school and working as a private ABA therapist with two wonderful families! I truly love the kids I get to work with.