Category Archives: Autism Awareness

Q Wunder Boardgame!

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media GroupĀ® and EQtainment, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #Qsracetothetop

photo 3I’m genuinely excited to share with you guys about the newest board game by EQtainment, Q’s Race to the Top!

photo 1As you can see, Ruby was pretty pumped about adding a new board game to our collection as well.

I’ve shared with you guys a little bit about our journey with Jude’s Autism Diagnoses here. As part of our therapy regiment for Jude, we have started doing in-home ABA Therapy 3 days a week. One of the things we do with his (amazing) therapist is play board-games, to practice things like emotional intelligence, social skills, sharing, learning to be flexible, sportsmanship, etc. So when I heard about Q’s Race to the Top and how it helps kiddos with Social Skills, Behavior, Physical Coordination and Emotional Intelligence, I knew we had to get our hands on it! If the term “Emotional Intelligence” is new to you as it was to me not long ago, essentially it means the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Think of EQ as all the important skills outside of IQ and academic education such as self control, motivation, empathy and social skills. Studies have shown that having a high emotional quotient boosts career success, relationship satisfaction, leadership skills, health, humor and happiness!

When the game arrived, Jude’s Therapist and I opened the box together and were so impressed with the amount of thought that went into developing a game like this. Plus, it smartly makes practicing these skills FUN which is obviously all 2 toddlers like mine really care about.

I also liked that the game is very simple and straight forward, put your cute little colored Q’s on the start arrow, take turns rolling the dice, read the appropriate colored card, do activity or answer question, etc. Ruby is only 3, and she was able to understand the rules to the game instantly.

photo 5Oh, and Jude loves that when you land on the square with the white monkey face you get to jump ahead or go back because he’s cute like that.

photo 4The game comes with 4 colored Q’s, however the game would be easy to play in 2 person teams as well.

I love the way the game mixes physical coordination in with the other important aspects of this game. Especially because with my kids, this helps them to burn their little energy and hold their attention MUCH longer. Plus, its been really hot outside here, especially in the later afternoons, so anyway we can come up with indoor activities that burn that extra toddler (non stop) energy is wonderful for us.

red (1)photo 2They get very serious about physical activity, obvi.

Here are examples of other types of questions:

red (2)red (3)Ruby REALLY needs help with the whole “inside voice” thing. Homegirl has two volumes 1. LOUD 2. Whisper.

EQtainment in addition to board games makes books & videos that teach emotional intelligence as well. We have the book Q’s Wild Ride and the kids have been enjoying that as well. They teach social stories including the same attributes the board game does. Check out EQtainment’s Kickstarter Campaign for more.

Dear Teachers,

The following is a letter sent out to Jude’s teachers (and really all special needs teachers everywhere) to thank them for their time they’ve spent helping our Jude.


Dear Ms. Erica, Stacey, Pam & Connie,

I’m sitting here dumbfounded by the progress Jude has made with you in the past two years.

When Jude began Preschool with you all, he was almost completely non-verbal. Now he is ordering me around the house all day long. And I have you ladies to thank for that. When Jude began I’m sure you remember he couldn’t even sit in circle time, now when he comes home he sings me the songs he has learned there.

When Jude began, he still wore a diaper and needed full self-care assistance, now he’s potty trained and can put on his clothes and shoes.

When Jude began, he payed little attention to his peers, now he’s asking when he can play with Bailey, Rainy, Aiden and Ari.

When Jude began, he made little eye contact with us when he spoke, now he grabs my face to tell me he loves me.

Over all, when Jude began with you ladies, life felt unlivable. Watching Jude’s frustration was heartbreaking for us. You have helped our lives to soar from surviving to thriving. For this we are forever grateful.

Thank you sincerely for all of your time, patience, kindness, love and understanding when teaching our child. The work that you do, in the amazing way that you do it, can only be done by a select few.

They say that these early years of development are the absolute most important of a child’s life and I am glad that mine was able to spend his with you.


Tiffany Reese

Adjusting expectations.

Just because you’ve met one person with Autism, doesn’t you’ve met them all. I find this a common misconception made by most. A misconception I used to have. Jude is considered what some would label “high functioning”. Most people are surprised to also learn that he actually tested in the “moderate” category. April is Autism Awareness Month and in honor of that I’d like to share a little more about our personal journey.

Friday, I got ready (for far too long probably) and packed the kids up to go on Jude’s field-trip to our local fish hatchery. Thursday, when I had picked up Jude from Preschool his main teacher (aka my hero) said to me, “Are you excited for tomorrow!? It’s going to be a TOTALLY different visit than last year! He’s progressed so much!” I smiled widely and agreed. The last time we visited with Jude’s class, he had a REALLY hard time. Was laying down on the ground. Screaming. Trying to injure himself and being completely overwhelmed by the experience. His only way to escape/cope at that time was to run around in circles, hide under my legs, etc. I smiled wide because he HAS come so far. From completely non-verbal to ordering me around the house. From being unable to enter a grocery store without having a complete meltdown to asking me to to take him to Target so, “I can haz smoothie there, Mama!”

Upon arrival Friday, I was feeling even more excited. We’d miraculously arrived early. Both kids joyful. We were all wearing clean clothes and nobody had pissed themselves yet.

But once we came to the courtyard to meet up with our friends, I could tell he was upset. I wasn’t sure why. I wanted to comfort him so I offered all sorts of suggestions and tried to remain calm. “Are you hungry Bug? You probably need to eat lunch? No? You wanna run around with your friends?” His agitation continued and not even the attempts of his teachers and peers could calm him. I ended up having to put him in timeout at some point because he was so out of control.

After what felt like a very long, sweaty eternity, the tour guide came to welcome Jude’s class to come inside. Thank GOD, I thought. This will get easier now.

Once inside, the kids were asked to sit on the carpet while one of the tour guides talked with this giant stuffed fish about bugs or something. I’m not quite sure, because Jude was sitting in the middle of his classmates, crying. Wiping his snot all over his shirt. Two of his teachers continued to try and reason with him. I thought maybe if I sat with him, maybe then he’ll calm down. So I went to him and held him. Maybe if I rock him, I thought. So I began to sway from left to right. I rubbed his back and whispered “shh” in his ear. I smelled his smell, like frail hay and maple syrup. But he did not stop crying. When I tried to lift him to remove him from the group as to not be a bigger distraction, he made his limbs loose and fought me. As if he was putting all of his dead-weight and then some. A teacher lifted him and tried to take him for a walk outside. Nope. Ruby tried to comfort him, hug him. Nope. His trapped frustration only grew.

Eventually, I caved. I told myself to let it go. Let go of the expectation that Jude was going to have a different experience this year. I pulled Ruby and Jude’s hands and began to drag them both out of the room, embarrassed. Feeling like a complete failure.

During our walk of shame out the door, his teachers gave me soft, understanding looks of support. While almost out the door, Jude’s main teacher said softly, “I’m so sorry.” This is where I lost it, I tried really hard not to cry, but the tears left my throat and escaped my eyes. “Thank you. It’s okay” I choked out.

The walk back to the car was about 1/4 of a mile. The whole way, the three of us sobbed. Sobbing and pissed off at Autism. For taking away Jude’s ability to communicate his frustrations. For reminding me that no matter what plans and expectations I may have in my head, Autism can strike. For making me angry and wondering why I’m not “good enough” to fix my child’s pain. Ruby cried how it wasn’t fair. She’d sat like a good girl. She’d done everything she should, everything I told her to. Why was she now being punished?

We got to the car and I continued to feel hot, wet, unstoppable tears. I strapped the kids in and sat in the drivers seat, beginning to feel the cool air from the air-conditioning tickling my face. I wiped my tears away with a napkin. I took a handful of deep breaths. I put my shoulders back. I remembered I am in control of my own happiness. I reminded myself I have to be strong for my children.

So I put on music as we drove away, only 30 minutes after the field-trip had begun, singing at the top of my lungs. At first Jude was more agitated. But I just kept singing. Ruby looked confused. But eventually, they both joined me. Not knowing the words to Death Cab For Cutie, but sing-mumbling their little hearts out.

In that moment I knew we would be okay. We had escaped from Autism for a while. We didn’t allow one small defeat contradict the rest of our day. Everything was gonna be just fine.

When we got home, Jude came and laid in my bed. I laid my head down next to him. He placed his small, cool hand on my sweaty forehead. “Mama? I love you Mama. I’m gonna hug you.” he said, sweetly. He wrapped his tiny toddler arms around me. Tears began to fall again, but not because I was sad. Because I was lucky. Lucky to experience the gift of unconditional love and affection my children give away so freely.

There are times where I am so pissed off that my son was not born “typical”. I watch him struggling and upset and I want to fix it for him, take it all away. I resent it when I begin to pity myself because I know, “It could be worse”. I’ve learned to so quickly dismiss myself. Yet, sometimes our frustrations sneaks up on us. So quickly it punches us all in the gut. No matter what we’ve done to prepare ourselves, its unavoidable. No amount of therapy, school, books can take that feeling away. They teach us to lessen it. I remember one of Jude’s first therapists told me a few years ago, “Just wait. Things WILL get better.” She was absolutely right. We’ve gone from life feeling borderline unlivable to functioning well.

My son Jude is one of the happiest people I know. He doesn’t care if you’ve just met, he is probably going to give you a hug and try to kiss you too. He fills our lives with so much joy and spontaneity. I’m thankful for the journey we’ve embarked on, and the obstacles we will crush in the future.

1400439_10153567739945374_880073876_oAmanda Rose Photography