World Autism Awareness Day 2018

World Autism Awareness Day 2018Tonight the Empire State Building, Niagra Falls, Rockefeller Center, the Suez Canal, Sydney Opera House, Edinburgh Castle, and many many more landmarks and homes across the world will be lit up with blue lights to spread awareness and acceptance of those on the autism spectrum for World Autism Awareness Day. Additionally, the month of April is National Autism Awareness month.

If you’ve followed us for any length of time you probably know we (Matt & Jenny S) are the proud parents of a sweet little boy on the autism spectrum. It is our hope that our followers and friends will take at least a few moments out of your day to promote awareness and acceptance of those on the autism spectrum. For our part, we have chosen to share a bit more of our personal experience with autism.

Our youngest child was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in March of 2016, following a devastating regression in early December 2015 that silenced his speech, made his eyes go dull, and caused him to withdrawal from our world, even though he remained physically present. Not all children with autism regress—many children are detected by missed milestones. However, our son was an early talker and the regression was sudden and very obvious.

Despite the obvious and dramatic loss of skills, we faced a long wait to even be seen for diagnosis because of the limited availability of specialists. Thankfully we were blessed with a “short” 3 month wait which was filled with anxiety, fear, and lots and lots of self-education. By the time we were seen for diagnosis we already knew in our hearts what we were facing. After hours of testing and interviews, the diagnosis was confirmed, and new appointments were booked to screen for other conditions that are often found in tandem with autism.

The next few months were a blur of tests with moments ranging from hearing booths, to holding our son as probes were literally glued to his scalp as he was tested for seizure activity and then again as the probes were removed using acetone, to holding his hand at the hospital as an anesthesiologist prepared him to be put to sleep so they could look at his brain activity to determine if he was still able to hear.

As time passed more and more “autistic behaviors” emerged, including flapping, spinning in circles, humming, pica, toe-walking, and sadly some self-harming that has left him with noticeable scars on one of his hands. Sleep was quickly reduced to short spans that didn’t allow for the rest of the family to function without sleeping in shifts. He is drawn to water and heights and is unaware of the dangers that they can present to him, making his tendency to wander and bolt particularly dangerous. He also struggles with becoming overloaded by some lights, sounds, and textures, as well as with some crowded social situations.

In therapy he has worked on maintaining eye contact, learned how to play with some toys appropriately, and how to sign some basic requests. At home we have installed therapy swings, gymnastic wedges, mats, and crash pads, and use yoga daily as an additional tool in our toolbox to give him the vestibular stimulation that he needs to learn.

Today we have 2 years of a combination of hundreds of hours of speech, occupational, and ABA therapy under our belts. Though he is still nonverbal he can communicate some through a handful of signs, and he has greatly increased his eye contact and interaction with others. He can light up a room with his gorgeous smile and happy squeals, and he is strong, happy, and active, and we are so very proud of how hard he has worked and how far he has come.

Although our sweet boy is only 3 years old, he has taught us so much about acceptance and love. He will absolutely always have autism. It isn’t something he will outgrow and there is no cure, but early intervention has given our amazing, funny, sweet, perfect little boy back to us, just a little bit different than he was before the regression.

While we have always been very open and vocal about our son’s autism, it doesn’t give us complete immunity to the stares and pointing, nor the well-intended but misguided advice from strangers in public. At times a visit grocery store can sometimes feel like a private hell. When we are able to attend church we can often be seen sneaking out early if he gets overwhelmed. Our other children and the children and parents in our play groups are all comfortable with our son, but every outing requires some level of pre-planning and an escape plan. Babysitters and unfortunately even family members have been known to disappear from our lives since his regression, and we accept that it is simply for the better.

Often adults stare for a moment, but then avert their eyes in an effort to be polite upon noticing that we are using sign language with our son. I can honestly say I was guilty of the same before our son because I didn’t want to be rude—but now on the other side of things, I can tell you that it hurts more than helps. I can’t make you aware if you won’t even look in our direction! We would by far rather answer your (or your child’s!) questions rather than you try to pretend that we don’t exist. I can’t tell you the comfort it brings me when someone notices my child is different and welcomes us anyway!

Today is World Autism Awareness Day—but for us, it is every day. We hope that by sharing our story we can bring just a little bit more awareness, acceptance, and compassion to this amazing community of beautiful souls and the family and friends who love them.

Free Family Yoga Class at Holy City Salsa – Bring the Kids!

folly beach yoga charleston autism teachers holy city salsa

This fun picture comes from the kid’s yoga teacher training from Kidding Around Yoga with Melody from last Sunday. Jenny and Samantha participated in the training along with the rest of this amazing crew of women who are all donating their time and expertise to build the Lowcountry Autism Foundation’s new program “Autism + Om”‘s instructor team.

Next Sunday, March 18 at 3 p.m. there will be a free family yoga class at Holy City Salsa Dance Studio in West Ashley. This will be the final day of our kid’s yoga teacher training. The class will be open to all kids of all ages and their families, and we so hope you can join us!

After the class, the crew you see above will be awarded with kid’s yoga teacher certificates. We will then prepare to shift our focus to autism-specific kid’s yoga teacher training. As an autism family we cannot express enough how needed this program is autism families in the Charleston, South Carolina area!

Monday Morning Yoga Cancelled

We’re making the call early to cancel Monday morning yoga. We anticipate things will be a big congested already on the island with traffic and additional visitors for the solar eclipse and related parties. Sadly we are also tentatively expecting rain. Even so, we hope to see you and your family out on Folly Beach for yoga on Saturday at 9 a.m.! With beach yoga for kids ages 3 and up as well as a concurrent adults yoga class, it will be the perfect family friendly event!

Also as a quick reminder we will be offering a free beach yoga class for autism parents and caregivers tomorrow evening (Friday 8/17) at 7 p.m. Updates for weather are shared on our Facebook page. Please like and follow up to get regular updates on our events and maybe even some fun yoga tips!

Beach Yoga for Autism Parents & Caregivers

Autism Parents Folly Beach Island Yoga Class Free Charleston SC

Tomorrow is our last June beach yoga class for autism parents and caregivers. It starts at 6:30 p.m. Remember to bring sunscreen, a large towel, and plenty of water. We hope to see you there! 5th Street East Beach, Folly Beach, SC. Paid parking and some limited free street side parking is available.

Thank you to all who submitted their feedback on the ideal day and time for the class. After careful consideration we will begin offering the classes on Fridays at 7 p.m. through the month of July 2017.

 

Free Beach Yoga for Autism Parents and Caregivers on Folly Beach

Yoga for Autism Parents Child Regression

In December of 2015, our youngest child suffered a very sudden and significant regression that silenced his speech, caused him to withdraw, and to stop making eye contact. He would eventually be diagnosed with autism, and our lives would forever change. Although yoga had already held a significant spot in our lives, it would become a source of healing for our grief and a renewal of purpose as we began our journey as “special needs parents”. After the diagnosis, both Jenny and Matt decided to become yoga teachers so that we could one day help other parents of children with an autism diagnosis.

Folly Beach has continued to hold our hearts and draw us back with it’s very public support of autism families and the Surfer’s Healing tour, and it this public support that made us choose Folly when selecting the ideal location to offer the free yoga class for autism parents and caregivers. It is our sincere hope to offer a class that will replenish and restore the soul, mind, and body. As special needs caregivers this is beyond important–it is essential. We hope that parents will find a safe community and space to practice in this weekly class.

The class is open level, located on a beautiful wide stretch of Folly Beach within sight distance of the pier. Paid city parking is available as are some limited free street side parking spots. For the month of June we will offer this class at 6 pm Thursday evenings-we will continue to adjust the time and days of the class so that we can best serve the autism family community with this class. Please stay tuned to our Facebook page, or check our class schedule page for updates as they are made to the schedule.

We so look forward to practicing with you.

Namaste

Updated to note: 7.1.2017 the class will begin to meet on Friday evenings at 7 pm – please see our schedule for the most updated days and times for the class

*The opinions expressed on this website and not intended as medical diagnosis or treatment advice. You should consult with a medical doctor to determine if you are ready and able to begin any fitness or weight loss regime.

 

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Beach Yoga This Week

Folly Beach Yoga Classes Charleston SC

This week on Folly Beach we’re offering 3 beach yoga classes open to all levels.

  • Sunset Beach Yoga with Matt Foley – Tuesday – 7 p.m.
  • Beach Yoga with Matt Stevens Friday – 6:30 p.m.
  • Beach Yoga with Matt Foley Saturday – 9 a.m.

All of our beach yoga classes are weather dependent and meet at the 5th Street East beach access. Both paid lot parking and some free street side parking are available. Remember to bring a large towel, or mat if you prefer, and plenty of water. You may choose to pre-purchase passes online or at the beach.

We will also be offering a free beach yoga class for parents and caregivers of children and adults who have autism on Thursday at 6 p.m.

Updates regarding schedule changes are communicated on our Facebook page and Instagram.

 

 

Meet the Family

Folly Beach Island Yoga is a husband and wife team offering private and public yoga classes in the Charleston, SC area.
Continue reading “Meet the Family”

Free Autism Safety Kit

folly beach island yoga autism safety medical alert wristband
Autism safety wristband – Free kit

We just got our “Big Red Safety Box” from the National Autism Association. It had so many thoughtfully chosen safety window / door alarms, decals, this bracelet (an anklet for our little guy–which is actually perfect since he may otherwise remove it!) and so much more. The box and it’s contents are available for free, or with a suggested donation if possible. Donations are accepted from both caregivers or other donors to help fund these lifesaving boxes as well. Spread the word to someone who needs it — safety is a constant uphill battle for many autism parents and you may just be saving a life! A diagnosis is required. Click here to order or donate.

Also, just a quick reminder that our free beach yoga class for autism parents and caregivers is tonight at 6 on the beach at 5th Street East, Folly Beach, SC, and every Thursday @ 6 p.m. for the rest of June.

The days and times will be changing in July . Please give us your feedback on what works best for your family. We want this to be as convenient as possible for everybody.

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Free Autism Safety Kit – Big Red Safety Box

 

Folly Beach Island Yoga Autism Class Parents Safety Free Box

Nearly 1/2 of all children with autism bolt or wander. This pic was taken moments before our son suddenly bolted for the woods by the spray play at Wanamaker Park (Charleston County Parks and Recreation) just a couple of weeks ago. Since he is nonverbal and often attracted to water, with his newfound wandering tendencies something as simple as a trip to the park to play in water sprinklers can spell real anxiety for an autism parent. The National Autism Association is offering their “Big Red Safety Box” for FREE to families of children who have autism — it includes  an educational booklet, 2 window alarms, a MedicAlert bracelet and shoe tag, 5 laminated adhesive “stop” sign visual prompts for doors and exits, 2 safety alert windshield clings, a safety alert wristband, and a child ID kid from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. A diagnosis is required.

If you are not a parent or caregiver of an autistic child, consider donating to this worthy cause. It could truly save someone’s life one day.

Click below to donate or request a safety toolkit.

NAA’s Big Red Safety Boxes® Now Available!

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Folly Beach Yoga for Autism Parents

We wanted to share another reminder of our Folly Beach yoga class for autism parents and caregivers. The class is free to all autism parents and caregivers and meets Thursdays at 6 pm at the beach on 5th Street East. No experience with yoga is necessary. Being a towel, or mat if you prefer, and plenty of water to drink before, during, and after the class.

We hope to see you there!