Monthly Archives: July 2015

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”-Helen Keller

Outside of my family & close friends, I often get asked about my involvement with Fall River National Little League at Dumont Field. With the 6th Annual “Batting for a Cause” Tournament coming up this weekend and next, I figured this might be a good time to talk about why this league is important to me.

I have been an active volunteer for 6 seasons and a sponsor for the past 5 seasons. Most people think that Jayden plays baseball there and that is how I got involved. I do not volunteer because I have a child who plays Little League Baseball. I do not volunteer because I have a relative who plays, volunteers or serves on the Board of Directors. I volunteer because 6 years ago, my parents sponsored a team for the first time.

At the time of sponsorship, Jayden was 3 years old and had received his ASD diagnosis a year prior. I simply asked my mother to ask the Board of Directors if it would be possible for the team she was sponsoring to wear an Autism Ribbon patch on their jerseys, that I would provide, to raise awareness and acceptance. Instead, Fall River National Little League took a simple request and ran with it! They purchased Autism Awareness flags to fly and hang on their fence! They placed stickers on the back of players batting helmets! FRNLL League decided to host their first tournament in 2010…at that point we didn’t realize that it would become an annual tournament! This tournament is called “Batting for a Cause.” 100% of the proceeds from this tournament benefit Community Autism Resources. All team registration fees, t-shirt and concession stand sales are donated! To date, this tournament has helped me raise over $34,000.00 but most importantly, they have sent a message to the youth of our city and the surrounding cities/towns…Different is not less!

Don’t get me wrong, it is a TON of work and there are few Volunteers to compensate for the amount of work that needs to be done, and it takes a ton of Volunteers to make this tournament happen BUT, the feeling you get when you are seeing everything fall into place, makes all the work, worth it…in ways I’m not really sure how to explain! I am grateful not only to the League for the endless hours and effort they put into this, but also, I am grateful to my family and friends. They step up in a HUGE way to volunteer in many different ways for this tournament. I don’t think they will ever understand how thankful I am for all that they do, always!

They wanted to do more to help children and families living with the daily challenges of ASD. They didn’t have to “adopt” a cause near and dear to my heart as their own, but they did! 6 seasons later, they are preparing yet another tournament to help local families like mine! They allow me to set up an Autism Awareness table to sell merchandise and collect donations and my parents set up a coffee tent sponsored by their business “The Coffee Pot,” and you guessed it, my parents donate 100% of the proceeds made from their tent as well! FRNLL has been adamant about continuing to grow this tournament and make it bigger and better each season. So much so, that they met with the city of Fall River with a proposed plan to build a third field! With a third field, they could invite more teams to participate in the tournament!

This year will be the biggest tournament they have held to date! In the past, this has been a 3 day tournament…typically Saturday & Sunday of one weekend and Saturday of the next weekend. This year, with the 3rd field, they are hosting 2 tournaments; An A Division Tournament & a B Division Tournament! The tournament dates are July 24th-26th & July 31st-August 2nd! Teams are coming from all over MA & RI to participate in this tournament! Jayden will be lining up with 11 of his friends to throw first pitches, to kick off each tournament!

I’m sure most people realize that Coaches and Board Members of Youth Sports Leagues are Volunteers and are not compensated for their time. With Little League Baseball, some of the Umpires coming from other leagues, are sometimes paid umpires. For this tournament, those Umpires donate 100% of their time so the money they would be compensated is donated!

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Fall River National Little League has given my family a place that feels like a home. A place where everyone knows Jayden and doesn’t pass judgment based on his differences. Instead, they embrace him and accept him for who he is. They have honored Jayden in so many ways over the past several years. They allow him to throw first pitches to kick off Opening Day & the Tournament. He’s received signed game balls, from the players & coaches of the team we sponsor after winning Championship games. A Coach had Jayden’s name printed on the back of his Coaches shirt. They’ve honored him as a “Lifetime Member” of the league and presented him with an All Star Jersey with his name on it and a hat. An Umpire who was retiring after one of the tournaments gave Jayden his jersey. Umpires also gave Jayden a hat and a beautiful photo frame with pictures they took with Jayden, the previous year. Players from other teams have given Jayden small gifts. This league has invited surrounding cities and towns to join them and in their efforts to raise funds, take action and to help spread awareness…the list goes on!

 

FRNLL has supported our family on and off the field! Many of them walk with our team, J.J.’s Hope & Friends, on walk day. They have also been Official Sponsors of our Hearts & Hands Walk for Autism as well as sponsored a number of Activities we have at this event!

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There are no words to express my gratitude for these amazing people and this wonderful league, past & present! FRNLL may be one of the smallest leagues in my community but there is no doubt, that their hearts our HUGE! They are helping us make a difference in our small corner of the world and I am proud to be a part of that!

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Skills for Life: The Benefits of Teaching Your Child with ASD Chores

By: Jan Randall

quote for chores blog

When I was growing up my brothers, sister and I all had chores that we had to do around the house, as did all of our friends. Saturday morning was prime time, but chores weren’t just limited to then. My mom was a firm believer that helping out around the house was important because these were skills we needed to learn. We also were never paid to do chores because we were taught, that being part of a family means everyone helps because that is what family members do for one another. Mom also liked to remind us that she did not get paid to make our meals or wash our laundry!

Because of this it should have come as no surprise when my Mom asked me “what chores are you teaching Andrew?” He was about three and a half at the time and although he hadn’t yet been diagnosed with Autism, he had lost his language and eye contact. He also frequently had some serious meltdowns. In Mom’s eyes that was no excuse not to start teaching him how to help around the house. Still, when she asked me about chores, I think I may have laughed, incredulous at her question. I do though distinctly remember asking her what possible chore Andrew could do when he had so many challenges.

Mom suggested the simple task of “emptying the wastebaskets” as the perfect place to start, saying it easy enough for him to learn to do. Growing up “emptying the wastebaskets meant that you collected the wastebaskets from through the house and dumped them into the big basket in the kitchen. This chore got done when it was time to take the trash outside.
I still remember teaching Andrew to do this chore; telling him “time to empty the baskets” and guiding him, hand over hand to pick up the basket, bring it to the kitchen and dump it in the big basket, then to bring it back to the room where it belonged. We only had 4 baskets, one in each of the bedrooms, the bathroom and the living room, so it really didn’t take long for Andrew to learn the routine of emptying the wastebaskets.

For a long time this and setting the table were his only real chores. As he got older, I realized that it was important for him to learn as many household tasks as I could teach him. By the time he was 6 I had taught him how to use the dust pan and brush to finish up when I swept the floor, he could also strip his bed, before I would make it up clean, and he also helped me make his bed and mine.

As Andrew got into his pre-teen years I started asking my husband Bob to teach him how to rake leaves, and shovel snow. People who know my husband know he is VERY particular when it comes to doing any jobs, and so he balked at having to teach Andrew saying it was much faster and easier to do it himself, and besides it would take Andrew forever to learn how to do it the “right way”. I sympathized, to an extent. For some things it did take a lot of time and repetition to teach Andrew how to do household tasks, others though he picked up quickly.

Twenty five years of teaching Andrew so many different chores or what school would call activities of daily living has also taught me a lot. I learned that:
Learning chores was good for Andrew cognitively, as well teaching him motor skills and providing him much needed sensory input. For example: sorting laundry by types, (heavy, delicate, towels) not just color, works on thinking skills, and using clothes pins for hanging laundry is great for fine motor. Carrying in groceries and carrying down baskets of dirty laundry provide great sensory input.

Allison, Andrew’s sister saw that she wasn’t the only one who had to contribute to helping around the house. Our kids with Autism can take up so much of our time and energy that sometimes brothers and sister can feel resentful. If she had been alone in doing chores it could have become another reason to feel that way.

Chores have also been important for Andrew’s self-esteem. He enjoys, and is proud being able to help and contribute to our family. I know he enjoys hearing thank you when he helps out.

Andrew is also a HUGE help for Bob and I as it’s less for us to do when we get home from work. It is so nice to see him put the clean dishes away, or take the recyclables out, just because he sees that it needs to be done. Recently when Andrew broke his foot and needed surgery to repair it, he was laid up for weeks. Bob and I were constantly saying that we just couldn’t believe how much extra work we had to do because Andrew couldn’t do anything while he was recovering.

Having things he can do by himself has also been a terrific way to keep him busy. When Andrew is bored he will look for things to do around the house.

Andrew has skills that, he can take into the workplace. Currently he comes into Community Autism Resources weekly to take care of all of our trash, a job none of us at the office like to do, but Andrew loves it. He also has his own small side shredding businesses, learned from shredding documents.

As an adult Andrew does just about as much work around the house as his father and I do and I am always looking for new things for him to learn like learning how to open and close the sky lights. This past winter Bob finally relented and let Andrew help with the shoveling. Even though he isn’t perfect, he WILL learn. We are also considering getting Andrew a cat for this year for his birthday. We realized that Andrew has the skills to learn how to take care of a cat on his own, including cleaning the litter-box!

andy takin gout trash

I’m grateful that all those years ago my Mom asked me that important question. Like all good Moms she gave me a push in the right direction, which has greatly benefited Andrew and our family. And as we all know, Mom knows best!