Coming soon (hopefully) to a book store near you!

Welcome to the Kegan Zone! We are hoping for a publishing date within the next 6 months. Please leave comments, opinions, stories about Kegan (if you know him) or experiences you've had with family members or friends who are dealing with Autism. Right now we are looking for book title suggestions... You've seen Wendy's, mine and Kegan's... What are yours?

Leave a suggestion in the comment box!




Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy 10th Birthday, Kegan!!

Phoebe's photo-shop assignment that she did just for Kegan... her playing basketball with an elephant.  Three of the things Kegan loves most in this world!  Phoebe, elephants, and she's holding a can of soda!  Win, win, win, birthday boy!!

Kegan's first true love (after his mommy) was his one on one aide, Phoebe.  Phoebe is a beautiful young woman who has an amazing gift to connect with all children, especially those with special needs.  When I was working with Kegan his first year in preschool, Phoebe was working with another child.  When we would be out at recess, Kegan would press his face against the chain link fence around the playground and wait for Phoebe to walk by, which she did pretty much every day.  She would talk to him and he would smile and giggle and say "Buh!" (his way of saying "Bye" which he usually only did as an indication that he was ready to go home, thank you very much).

It was love at first sight... for both of them.

Today is Kegan's 10th birthday and Phoebe sent me some stories to share about some of her adventures with Kegan.

For your birthday, Mr. Boy... two of your favorite things:  Phoebe and Elephants (she made the picture just for you!)

Crazy Pants
I brought Kegan to speech one day in Kindergarten. I casually warned his speech teacher that Kegan had his crazy pants on, and went back to the classroom. 30 minutes later I went back to speech to pick him up. She told me, “WOW, what is with those pants? He sure was acting crazy today.” 
I laughed and laughed as I explained to her that “crazy pants” was just a term I used to explain that he was having a silly day.

Kegan's version of Bribery
When Kegan was being overstimulated in the classroom I would take him on a walk to calm down. If he was being a little naughty, I would give him a “break” in the hallway. He would sit in his chair for a few minutes, wind down, and then we would follow with a walk or go back to class. One day I put him in the chair outside the classroom and as always, do my best to ignore him. He usually acts silly, but this time said my name. “BEEBEE!” Being mostly nonverbal with out his communication device I was so excited!!!!! I was jumping up and down hugging him!!! While hugging him I said, “ I am so excited that you said my name… but you are still in trouble!”

Micah and Kegan – The Marriage Test
Wendy and Zach used to take vacations and let me stay with the kids for a few days. Usually it was just me, now when I was dating Micah he wanted to join. This was a big clue that he was a keeper.
First reason to keep him: Venice and I left him alone with Kegan and Charles to go get pizza and he survived.
Second Reason: While we were gone he almost tried to change Kegan’s pull up. Kegan was eight at this time and we won’t go into details for your sake.
Third reason: He still had a very positive attitude in the end being more in love with me and the wonderful Going kids. 
Kegan is the best husband test out there. 
(We love Kegan so much that he was going to be a ring bare with Charles and Everette (the dog) at our wedding. He moved two weeks before the wedding so it wasn't able to happen. But Charles stepped up and handled it for his big brother.)

Friday, October 7, 2011

It came to my attention recently through several sources that anyone who still works for Del Norte County Schools would be in danger of losing their job if they were to share any stories or memories of Kegan in this blog.

Sadly, this defeated the whole purpose of having this blog up and running: Kegan's family is going through a difficult time and wanted the joy and pleasure of reading about how their special and funny little boy made other people happy, touched their lives, or earned a place in their memories.

I get that litigation is a common thing now. I get that people file lawsuits at the drop of a hat over just about everything. It's sad and unfortunate. In the school system, where confidentiality especially with children who have special needs is extremely important, they need to be extra careful. I get that. However, no one is asking for private information about Kegan. His family doesn't want to hear about his diagnosis... they already know what it is. They want to hear about a day that Kegan did something silly, or touched someone's heart, or did something amazing and fabulous. They want to have those memories, cherish those memories and share those memories with Kegan. Kegan wasn't able to come home from school and say, "Guess what I did today!" They have to rely on those who cared for Kegan and spent time with Kegan to be his voice and to tell about his day.

I'm so disappointed in the school district for taking that away from them. So sad that they felt the need to threaten job termination if an employee wanted to give the gift of a smile to the family of a child that they care so much about.

Shame on you, Del Norte County Schools.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Guest Blog Posting, by Ashley Hererra

Hi my name is Ashley,

I used to work in Kegan's second grade class as an additonal Instructional Assistant. It was not with Kegan but another young boy. I did have the pleasure of spending some time with Kegan and I still cherish every moment and think about how he impacted my life in his own way:)

I remember one day after lunch, Everett, Kegan and I were headed to the playground to play. I had layed Everett on my side of the bench and let Kegan loose to play as I sat for a little bit. Kegan was playing around a pole and walking in continuous circles around it. Every turn he would stop and look at me and watch me. He eventually walked up to me and just stood in front of me. I started talking to him and he just looked at me, and then he put his hands to mine and was clapping them. We were playing our own little hand clap game. Kegan was so intrigued with it, as he always was with handclapping. We were smacking our hands like a patty cake rhythm and were just enjoying our time. Kegan was making noises, talking and getting excited. Then all of a sudden he just stopped. He grabbed my face and put both hands on my cheeks and was holding my face. He then got closer to my face and was just staring into my eyes. I sat there to see what he was doing and he held onto my face for a good 60 seconds. To this day i am mesmerized at the connection he was making with me and I've felt a strong connection with Kegan ever since.

Kegan that day showed me his love in a way that hit a place in my heart and I'll keep forever. Kegan would periodically grab my hand just to hold sometimes, also. I couldn't have been more happy to be a part of Kegan's life for almost that whole year of school, and met one of the smartest, wittiest, loving young boys to enjoy my time with. I did get to see a positive change that Everett made to Kegan. It has inspired me to possibly get a degree in specializing in Autism. I have only a picture of Everett but it was a down time I had when Kegan was watching stories on the computer that I attached to this email. I have now moved out of Crescent City, CA to further my career in school but I dearly miss Kegan.

I asked my mom almost everyday how he was doing and to give him a high five for me. She actually has done it almost everytime I've asked her. My mom drove Kegan on her bus when he was going to school in town instead of Smith River. My mom said Kegan was very good on her bus and was excited to have Everett on her bus too. I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am to have met and experienced some love from Kegan and I wish him the best future. I truly fell in love with this kid. I also saw his Kindegarten picture and that kind of pushed me over the edge;)

have a nice day,

with love ashley herrera

Magic Moments

What makes Kegan Lovin' so special? Because the moment that he gives it to you, you know he's connected, it's real, and he truly loves you. This beautiful moment of Kegan giving his mom, Wendy, some precious, precious lovin' is priceless. It brought tears to my eyes. Kegan's family's love for him is so deep and unconditional that it transcends his autism. Kegan knows he is loved. Kegan feels that love, and most amazingly, he noticeably returns that love. He hugs, he kisses, he seeks out Mom and Dad (and even me sometimes... *bliss*) for special moments of cuddling and closeness.

Thank you so much to Carlene Lacy of Mamarazzi photography in Crescent City, CA, for this magical photo. It captures Kegan's love and happiness with his mommy so perfectly.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Guest Blog Posting, by Wendy Going

From Kegan's Mommy's awesome new blog, "OMG Did You Really Say That? (

This couldn't wait

I have a very close friend of mine that is an amazing writer. (Check her out at Anyways she and I are writing a book about my families journey with Autism. My friend is always writing funny little stories about the time that she has spent with my kids as their nanny.
A few days ago she wrote a really funny story about how my oldest son (Kegan has Autism) would always try to sneak down stairs while the other kids were sleeping.
She went into silly details on the process in which he would try to sneak and so on... (like I said she is an amazing writer I almost pee my pants every time I read one of her blogs so you can imagine how detailed this sneaking episode was)


I was reading the comments that were made about the story and she was criticized for not making him take a nap with the other kids instead of making him stay upstairs.
This is what was said:

"it never occured to you to just let him go and see what happened without the drama? Or "Oh, you're taking a nap too! Thank you Kegan." I thought you were more devious then that."


"I know you can't force a child to take a nap. But, if he thinks that is what you want, he might have been more compliant to go upstairs and leave the others alone."

I was a bit irritated by this because she was doing everything in her power to help the other kids get some quality sleep. Kegan is very strong willed. I wish there was a "sleep when I tell you to sleep" mode that I could have put him in. That didn't come until years later when I went to a doctor and begged him to give Kegan something to make him sleep. There were times that he would not sleep for days at a time. Picture this... the entire family trying to sleep while kegan took everything out of the refrigerator, drawers and cabinets while screaming EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE and clapping so loud that it sounds like a rock hitting your windshield from a semi-truck tire. So the other kids needed their peaceful afternoon naps.

Thank you DANI!!!!!

The Kegan Zone: Kegan & Everett: A Love Story

The Kegan Zone: Kegan & Everett: A Love Story: Tethered to a friend Written by Kelley Atherton, The Triplicate March 17, 2010 10:26 am Dog accompanies autistic student to grade school Ev...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kegan & Everett: A Love Story

Tethered to a friend

Dog accompanies autistic student to grade school

Everett, an autism service dog, lies next to Kegan Going, a second-grader at Smith River Elementary School. The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
Everett, an autism service dog, lies next to Kegan Going, a second-grader at Smith River Elementary School. The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
Wendy Going noticed her son Kegan had a natural inclination toward animals.

Whenever Kegan saw an animal he would start making sounds — talking in his own way. This was unusual for the boy because most of the time he’s silent, his mother said.

Kegan is autistic.

This week, Kegan, 8, brought his autism service dog Everett with him to Smith River Elementary School for the first time. Everett is expected to help Kegan stay calm and safe, both inside and outside the classroom.

It was also a chance for Kegan’s classmates to be introduced to the golden retriever and how they should act around him.

“I saw how animals had an effect on him,” Going said. “He’s more vocal ... when animals are around he makes sounds.”

“I don’t know how medically,” she continued, “but that’s the way it seems to me.”

Since Everett has been in Kegan’s life, the difference has been “amazing,” she said.

Before, if she or her husband came into Kegan’s classroom, “his day would be ruined.” With Everett by his side the last few days at school, Kegan has had no reaction to Going sitting a few feet away.

“To be able to sit here and him sit at his desk,” she said, “that was never possible before.”

Community helped raise funds

Everett has been in training since he was a puppy to become an autism service dog, explained his trainer, Kati Rule-Witko, who is also an autism specialist.

The Going family applied to the Autism Service Dogs of America, a non-profit based in Lake Oswego, Ore., and was accepted to receive a dog about a year and a half ago. They then had to raise $13,500 to pay the service dog’s training and other fees.

The Goings had a “bachelor and bachelorette auction” at Elk Valley Casino in November 2008 that raised $9,000, said Wendy Going. The rest of the cost was made up in family contributions and donations.

Most people probably think of service dogs for the blind. However, in the last 30 years, they have been trained to help those with hearing impairments, social disabilities and limited mobility, according to the Autism Service Dogs of America Web site.

To learn more, go to .

Starting as puppies, service dogs live with volunteers who train them in basic obedience. When they’re old enough, they get specialized training to prepare them for being with an autistic child.

Several weeks ago, Everett moved in with the Goings and became accumulated with the family. Then on Monday, Everett went to Kegan’s second-grade class.

A constant calming effect

Kegan was 2 years old when he was diagnosed with autism, Going said.

“I thought he was going deaf,” she said. “He stopped responding to his name.”

A doctor told Going that Kegan’s hearing was “perfect” and suggested that he might be autistic.

Researching the development disorder, she found out about autism service dogs. Going said she learned that a service dog can have a calming effect on an autistic child because it’s a constant presence in his or her life.

Autistic children like Kegan can have trouble dealing with a change in their routine. Change can over-stimulate the brain, but having service dogs constantly by their side reminds them that one thing hasn’t changed.

“The environment will change, but the constant is always there,” Going added.

Instructional aide Perry Cooper helps Kegan in the classroom. The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
Instructional aide Perry Cooper helps Kegan in the classroom. The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
When an autistic child is escalating into a fit, the service dog will on command place his head or legs on the child and relieve some of that pressure building inside him or her, Rule-Witko explained.

“They’re seeking to relieve that over-stimulation,” she said, that otherwise might result in children hurting themselves.

When this happens, the dog will “go over and nudge the child,” Rule-Witko said.

“That re-directs the child,” she said, “to have a different train of thought and get them out of that bad place.”

Kegan also feels the need to touch people’s hair or he twists his own, his mother said. When he met Rule-Witko, the first thing he did was try to touch her hair.

When he does this, Kegan is trying to calm himself down from something that is over-stimulating, Rule-Witko said. But, it’s not always appropriate to touch someone’s hair, so he can pet Everett.

Safety and more independence

Everett also keeps Kegan safe. Being tethered to Everett, he can’t run away, which he — like many other autistic children — has done, his mother said.

As the bond between the two grows, Everett will be able to sense if Kegan is having a seizure, a result of of his brain being over-stimulated, and alert an adult.

“That’s a big hope for the family,” Rule-Witko said.

Because Kegan is tethered to Everett, she said, his parents can give him more independence and know he’s safe.

“The child becomes more independent and confident,” she said, “something they wouldn’t have been able to develop.”

It’s been hard to go on family outings or go on vacation because Kegan needs so much attention, Going said.

“The younger kids have needs too,” she said, “that gets lost.”

This past weekend, the whole family went to the mall and zoo in Eureka, something they had not done before.

Learning to live with Everett

Rule-Witko is spending three days, ending today, at the school helping Kegan and everyone else get used to Everett and understand his job as a service dog.

“The fear is the unknown,” she said about bring a service dog into a school. “I spend three days answering questions about how to handle situations.”

Rule-Witko explained to all the students and staff what a service dog does and the rules for being around him, such as no talking to or petting Everett.

he vest Everett wears identifies him as a service dog.  The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
he vest Everett wears identifies him as a service dog. The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
A dog can be a big distraction for children, she said, but added, “give it a week and it will be an everyday thing.”

Kegan’s teacher, Nicole Cochran, said that Everett’s presence in the classroom hasn’t required much of an adjustment.

At first, the other students were excited having Everett around and wanted to play with him, but Cochran told them “he has a job to do just like they have a job to do.”

After a while, she said they probably won’t even notice Everett is around.

“It will be part of their school life,” she said.

Principal Paige Swan said that everyone in the school was made aware that a service dog would be on the campus.

Right before Rule-Witko and Everett were set to come to Smith River School, there was some hesitation on the school district’s part, Going said.

Swan said that the proper protocols had to be gone through to avoid any liability issues and make sure everything went as “smooth as possible.”

Kegan will likely have a service dog for the rest of his life because of the comfort and reassurance it gives him, his mother said.

“Once that connection has been made,” she said, “you can’t break it.”