Thursday, September 6, 2012

You Might Be An Autism Parent If...

I've seen lists like this before and I thought it would be fun to write one of my own.  This list pertains to my family, but I'm sure some of you can relate...

You might be an autism parent if…

1.  You are ecstatic when your child tries a new food, only to have them not eat it again 3 days later.

2.  You are the only parent at the playground not sitting down and visiting while your child plays. You have to watch him every second.

3.  You are very familiar with the wet noodle move, where your child goes limp and falls to the floor, and won't move a muscle.  This usually happens in public, and you literally have to scrape them off the floor while strangers look at you in awe.

4.  Going to the grocery store alone is more relaxing than your last family vacation.

5. You still leave your house with a bag full of diapers, snacks, and toys anytime you go anywhere, even though your child is no longer a baby.

6. You learn to function on very little sleep.

7. You have seen “Finding Nemo” 1 million times.

8. You see a box of latex gloves while walking through the store and you want to buy them because you know how much your child loves playing with them.

9. You say things like, "Please don't lick your violin."

10. You attempt normal family outings, and when they go well, you feel like you won the lottery.

11. You will literally do ANYTHING to get your child to look at you.

12. You say things like, "Please don't play in the ant pile."

13. Your child sings Christmas songs and “Happy Birthday” all year long, but you don't mind because you're so happy to hear their voice.

14. Your child is fascinated by hair dryers and vacuum cleaners, but hates leaf blowers.

15.  You wish you could take away your child's pain and frustration.

16. You love your child fiercely and will stand up and advocate for him always.

 17.  Sometimes, you just feel lonely. You wish more people understood.  You wish people would accept your child for who they are.   You wish they could see the beauty that you see.

There’s my list for now. Please feel free to add your own!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

One of those moments

One of my son's awesome fashion creations.  I read this quote somewhere, "People with autism help to offset the excessive number of boring people on Earth." I  love this kid.

So, summer is officially over around here.  All the plans I had, all the things I wanted to get done over the summer did not happen.  But, that’s what usually happens when you try to plan things.  Right? I thought I would have my son fully potty trained, speaking in sentences, and socializing with other kids like a pro by the end of the summer.  Well, those things did NOT happen.  Everything is pretty much the same.  I’m not complaining or saying it’s a bad thing.  It is what it is.  But, I went into the summer with way too many expectations.  By the end of it, I relaxed and just let everything be.  I let my son stay in his pj’s all day and do whatever he wanted, and some days didn’t shove one flash card in his face.  Now, school is back in.  We haven’t had much change, because he is in the same class as last year with the same teacher.  It is familiar and he likes it.  I get to breathe easy for the time being. 

The other day, I had one of those moments where it just hits you.  As you might know, I am a teacher.  I was sitting in my classroom with one of my Kindergarten classes talking with the kids when it hit me.  My son is the same age as these kids.  My son should be at my school sitting in this class with me.  He should be able to have a conversation with me like they are, telling me funny stories about their summer.  He should be able to have friends like they do.   I learned to stop comparing to him to other kids a long time ago.  He has his own awesomeness that cannot be compared to anyone else.  But, in this one moment it just hit me and I almost couldn’t breathe.  The old suffocating feeling of worry and panic was creeping up on me.  Will he ever be able to fully communicate?  Will he ever have friends?  Live on his own? Take care of himself?  What other struggles will he endure as he grows older?  Will he be happy?  But, I stopped the train wreck of misery, I did breathe and I didn’t let it get to me like it used to.  I thought about his adorable smile, his blue eyes, his spirit, and his laugh.  I thought about how lucky I am to have him and I let it go.  Go me. :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Beach

We did have some fun.
My husband, my son and I just went on a little trip to the beach.  We’ve been going to the same beach and staying at the same place every summer for like the past 4 years.  Sometimes, it is really fun.  Other times, my son is not in a good mood, or something happens, and it’s not so fun.  Still we try and go every year.  We will probably go again next year, even though in the past few days, I swore that we would not. 
We left our home early on a Saturday morning.  About an hour into our drive, my son had to go to the bathroom. No. 2.  He is still not totally potty trained so thankfully he was wearing a pull up, because he didn’t make it to the Burger King restroom that we decided to stop at.  When he stepped out of the car, the poo began flowing down his legs like someone turned on a faucet.  My husband and I grabbed the wipes and began wiping as much as we could, but it was everywhere.  Shoes clothes, just all over.  All of the people eating breakfast in the Burger King were facing our direction watching.  I’m sure they were really happy to see this happening to us as they ate their sausage biscuits.  Finally, we decide, ok we’re going in.  This was our plan, We would sneak in the back door and my husband would take him in the men’s room because there are hardly any men here that we can see, they don’t go to the restroom as much as women, they don’t stare and judge as much as women, and they can just handle poo better in general. All of this wasn’t spoken aloud, it was just understood in the moment.  We can kind of read each other’s minds.  My husband went ahead with the boy as I gathered the mountain of wipes in the parking lot to throw in the trash.  I looked up and they were going in the front door.  The back door was locked; so my husband brave man that he is, was going through the front of the restaurant where you had to walk right by every customer that was there eating.  I ran in behind him hoping that there wasn’t a big pile of poo in the middle of the restaurant floor.  I went and to the ladies room to wash my hands.  No soap.  Unbelievable.  Other women came in and out I pretended not to be freaking out.  I walked out of the ladies room, I could hear my son screaming next door in the men’s room.  A few other women came to use the restroom as I stood outside.  Their eyes were as big as saucers as they whispered to each other hearing my son scream.   I couldn’t take it anymore, no one was looking so I ran into the men’s room.  I helped my husband finish up, threw my son’s disgusting shorts in the trash can and finally got to wash my hands with soap.  We left that place as fast as we could.  And we did eventually laugh about it. 
Our 5 hour drive took 7 ½ hours instead due to traffic and several bathroom stops.  My son was whiny and cranky for the whole drive.  By the time we got there, I kind of wanted to drown myself in the ocean.  But, instead, I had a glass of wine.  We swam in the pool, walked on the beach and went to bed. 
The next day, my son decides to start a new thing of screaming “NO, NO NO!’  at the top of his lungs .  He does this every few minutes over and over.  All. Day. Long. He is still doing it now as I type this.  Not as often, but enough to drive you a little crazy.  Mind you we were staying in a condo, kind of like an apartment complex, and he is outside on the patio/balcony yelling NO NO NO!  I’m surprised no one called the police. 
He loved playing in the ocean.  The water was really rough.  It was very windy and the current was really strong.  This made him love it more.  The waves would knock him down and force him under water and he would come up cracking up laughing. It was really cute and that is one of the many things I love about him. The dangerous/exhausting part was that he wanted to go deeper and deeper into the ocean and the current would carry us farther and farther down the beach.  He would not stop moving when I called his name or told him to stop.  Eventually, when we had gone far enough, I would have to drag him out of the water kicking and screaming, carrying him down the beach until he could calm down and walk next to me.  This is really fun while wearing a bikini, with people staring at you. J  I walked past children playing in the sand along the shore with their parents looking on from their lounge chairs, enjoying their drinks.  Jealous, much?  We would then go and swim in the pool, but after about 10 minutes, he would start screaming that his eyes burned and we’d have to get out.
One night, he was so tired he fell asleep at 6:00 in the evening.  We knew we were in for it then.  Sure enough, he woke up at 2 a.m. and never went back to sleep until the following night.  Guess what he was saying in the middle of the night?  NO, NO, NO!
After the countless meltdowns, constant whining and crying from both my son and me, my husband threw out the idea that maybe we should go home a day early.  I hated to give up and leave our vacation early but I gave in and we went home.
My boys on the beach.
Moral of the story is you win some and you lose some.  I know some people don’t want to hear the negative things, but this is reality.  And for everyone, sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. We’ve had other vacations where he was wonderful. This was not our best moment, but hopefully we’ll try another trip sometime.  I’m just not planning one anytime soon.

Friday, May 25, 2012


My son just finished Pre K.  That's him in his little cap and gown. His teachers dressed them all up in it and took pictures. Adorable. They had a little ceremony where they sang a few songs, we watched a slide show, and they received their "diplomas." It was very cute and the teachers did a wonderful job.  I tried very hard not to notice that my son was receiving more assistance than most to participate, and that hearing the teacher tell other parents that their children were ready for kindergarten, and would do just fine, didn't bother me.  It's these kind of moments that kind of jerk you back into reality.  You try not to let it bother you, but it hurts.  Don't get me wrong, I am extremely proud of him.  He has come such a long way – to even stand there with the rest of the class and attempt to participate is wonderful!  I am just saying there are moments like these when it hits me.  Moments when I think about all the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that we've put in, and feel like it hasn't been enough.  It hits me and I think, "Hey lady, remember, Beckett has autism, he is going to struggle to do normal everyday things that other kids just pick up on."  Oh yeah.  It still hurts.  It still hurts when I see him around a group of kids and he doesn't know how, or necessarily even want to try and play with them.  Then, I start blaming myself.  I think, "I need to try to get him around more kids, or we need to have kids come over and play (which we never do), or I haven't done enough to help him with this." I think about kindergarten and it kind of worries me.  Will the other kids start teasing him because he doesn't play with them, is still not potty trained, or because he makes noises and repeats things over and over, and can't tell them about his favorite show or toy?   In a perfect world, they would see past these things and see the sweet, funny, silly boy that I do.  But, this is not a perfect world, and unfortunately I know these things can just get worse as he gets older.  Blah.  I have let my thoughts go to the dark side again.  Don't worry, I will go mix up a delicious fruity summer drink and stop being such a "Debbie Downer." I know  this blog post contradicts my last post that was filled with positivity.  But, these are the things I've been thinking about, and this is my blog,  so I can do whatever I want.  Ha!

Monday, April 30, 2012

I Couldn't Imagine

I couldn't imagine a day when he would speak, but he did.
I couldn't imagine him being able to climb stairs on his own without falling, drink from a cup without spilling, eat with a fork and spoon on his own, and ride a bike, but he has learned these things.  
I couldn't imagine a day when he would be able to tell me his name, say yes and no, follow a direction when asked to do something, name objects and colors,  count to 10, but he can! 
These things did not come easy, it took months, or in some cases, years of practice for them to happen, and they still don't happen all the time.  But they happen.
Now I can't imagine a day when he will be able to read, write his name, have a real conversation, have a friend over to play, go to the bathroom on his own with no help or accidents.  Hopefully these things  will happen one day too and I'll have a new list of things that I can't imagine. 
Sometimes when I see other kids doing these things so easily, it hits me like a ton of bricks.  I feel angry or hopeless and wonder why it has to be so unfair.  Then, I have to remind myself to stop comparing and just keep up hope that anything is possible for my son too.  He will make his own progress in his own time.  Don't take the normal everyday things your child does for granted.  Celebrate every accomplishment, no matter how small.  It can be difficult, but each time life gets a little easier for my son, when he feels joy, or has more independence, I smile.

Monday, April 16, 2012

You've got a friend

I took this priceless photo the other day on a field trip with my son’s school.  So, my son has a friend, no big deal, right?  What?!  It might not be a big deal to you but whoa, it is a huge deal to me!  He doesn’t go on play dates, play outside with the neighborhood kids, and his invites to birthday parties are pretty slim. Now, I can’t lie, this is not your normal everyday friendship.  He actually hardly ever speaks to this friend, doesn’t really play with her, pretty much ignores her, and even runs away from her.  But, this persistent, precious, sweet little girl does not give up on him.  She says he is her best friend.  Her best friend. 
Beautiful words to a mother who has watched her son struggle to make a friend.  Sure, kids try to talk to him on a playground or at a park.  “What’s your name?” they ask, or they say something trying to start a conversation with him.  I watch holding my breath, a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I know what the outcome will be.  My son is sometimes interested and smiles, but he doesn’t know what to say to them, or how to say it.  Many times he just runs away, leaving the other child to move on to someone else.  Sometimes they will even come ask me, “Why won’t he talk to me?” or “Why is he being mean?”  “He doesn’t really know how to talk to you,” I say, “he’s not trying to be mean.”  “Why don’t you try to show him how to play your game?” I ask.  But, honestly, I know their frustration.  It is so difficult to try to talk to someone or engage someone that doesn’t talk or play back, and most of the time is totally happy being alone.   It can be heartbreaking at times.   
 But, this little girl in the picture above is relentless.  She does not care that he doesn’t talk to her.  She doesn’t think he’s mean.  She sees him, really sees him.  She tries to engage him, involve him, and help him every chance she gets, even when he doesn’t want her to!  I think she has a future career in speech, occupational or ABA therapy.  I know it will not always be this way.  As my son gets older, there probably won’t always be a little girl that wants to be his friend so badly and take care of him.  But, I can’t worry about that right now, today I’ll be glad that my boy has a friend.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Autism Awareness Month

The picture above is my family at our local autism society's recent autism awareness walk.  It is a wonderful  event that we have participated in for the last 3 years.  April is autism awareness or acceptance month, whichever you choose to call it, so I decided to write a post about a few myths you may or may not know about autism.  I guess I should also say these are things that my family has experienced that may not be true for everyone.  
1.  Myth- People with autism do not interact with others, don't look you in the eye, and do not like to be touched.  This is certainly not true in our case.  Yes, it is difficult to get my son to interact with others and look us in the eye, but he will do it and he likes people.  He is very interested, just doesn't quite know how to communicate with you.  As for not liking to be touched, he loves hugs and snuggles.
2.  Myth- People with autism don't understand you.  People with autism can hear you and can probably understand everything you are saying.  When I ask my son a question, he probably won't answer me.  He might just repeat what I'm saying, but he understands everything. 
3.  Myth-"Kids with autism just need some discipline.", or "He'll grow out of it." I've heard this time and time again.  Yes, I'm sure we could all discipline our kids a little more.  No one has the perfect child.  On our first visit to my son's pediatric neurologist he said, "You  have to pick your battles.".  So true.  My son is disciplined when he is doing something wrong, but this will not make him not have autism.  
As for growing out of autism, I know my son will always have autism.  I don't believe he will just grow out of it.  He may learn to communicate more as he gets older, this is my greatest hope.  But, because he will always have autism, does this mean he is doomed for life?  Absolutely not. This is what I would like  people to become aware of during autism awareness month.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that raising a child with autism is easy.  It can be difficult, stressful, and requires more patience than you can imagine.  I'm sure there will be stages we go through as he grows, that will not be fun, to say the least.  There  are days when I worry, and days when I lose my mind. But, who doesn't have days like that?  I just won't lose hope that my son and family can lead a happy fulfilling life.  It might be different from the norm, but just as worthy.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Before I knew...

When my son was 18 months old I enrolled him in a Mother's Day Out program.  It was 2 days a week a few hours each day.  At this point in my son's short life, the word autism had not even crossed my mind.  He was my first and only child.  I knew he cried often, I knew he didn't sleep well and had very strange sleep patterns no matter how consistent I was with his schedule.  I knew he didn't really point at things or imitate others, and didn't really say any words.  But, he's just a little behind, he's just a boy, boys are slower, people said, and I believed them.  So, off he went to his first day of Mother’s Day Out.  I found the room he would be in, and met the teacher and aide.  When I was leaving, he was crying, which I knew he would.  Just leave, they all cry, he'll be fine in a few minutes, I told myself.  So, I left him there.  It was summertime.  I am a teacher, so I was off of work.  I felt like a free woman.  I had so many plans of how I would spend my few hours of leisure a week.  Then, an hour later they called.  My heart sank, was he ok?  Yes, he's ok the director of the school told me, but he is very distressed and won't stop crying.  We think you should come and pick him up.              
As I rushed over to the school, I thought about the rough night we had before, hardly any sleep.  But, this was nothing new we hardly ever slept through the night.  When I got there, I went to the classroom that I had dropped him off in. The teacher that had been so nice and grandmotherly, just an hour before looked at me with the utmost disgust and said " Oh no, he's not in here anymore! We had to move him to a different room!  He was SO mean to my babies!" She spat it out with such hatred, that I was taken aback.  I'm sure this woman did not mean to make me feel like the scum of the earth, but she did.  I felt like she kicked me in the stomach, then punched me in the face.  As I walked down the hallway to the directors office, I saw other teachers looking at me giving me the "what a horrible mother, I wonder what happens at her house" kind of look.  
When I walked into the director's office, there he was, red in the face, sobbing, and sitting on the floor with no shoes on.  He had kicked them off in his frustration.  Needless to say I lost it.  The tears fell faster than I could help it.  In that moment, I knew.  I knew that everything I thought about my life and my son’s life would be different than I expected.  I knew that this wasn’t going to be easy and we were going to have to work harder than others in every way.
 The director was actually a nice person.  She assured me that it was alright and maybe it was just because it was his first day.  Between my tears and embarrassing sobs, I told her that he had never stayed with anyone else besides his grandparents and maybe he just wasn’t ready for this. I left thinking I would never go back.  Over the weekend, the director called to check on us.  She said we should try again and said he would be moved to a different room with kids a little older.  I had already paid for the month and damn it that one hour of freedom was just too good.  So, I brought him back the next week.  I wish I could say that it turned out to be this great experience, but it wasn’t.  I never felt the love from his new teachers either.  They barely spoke to me, except to ask me to pick him up early because he was a disturbance to the other children during naptime.  That was fine, I understood so I did it. 
      Why am I writing about this?  Well for one, I still drive by that place and have an anxiety attack and I thought this would be good closure therapy. :)  Secondly, people always ask me how I knew my son had autism.  Well, this was one of those moments.  Not that I knew that day that it was autism, but I knew that something was different.  Thirdly, I like to look back at this and realize how far he has come.  He loves to go to school now, and since the mother’s day out incident, we have been fortunate to work with awesome caregivers and teachers that love him, and are just wonderful people.  Fourthly, I am not an angel, I have judged people when I knew nothing about them, just like we all have.  But, this taught me not to be so judgmental of others and to try to always speak to people with kindness and respect, especially when it comes to their children.  Just food for thought…

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Definition of Survive:  
1. To remain alive or in existence.
2. To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere

     This past weekend I participated in my local Susan G. Komen annual Race for the Cure breast cancer awareness event.  Along with autism, this is a cause that is very close to my heart.  Sadly, my Grandmother died of breast cancer before I was born.  

The ladies in this picture with me are both breast cancer survivors and they also happen to be my sister and my mother in law.  They are strong, beautiful women inside and out, who along with my son, are heroes to me. 

I cannot begin to imagine what it is like to fight for your life. To be told that you have a serious illness that could be fatal.  To go through chemo, radiation, and countless surgeries.  To have all of your hair fall out and feel violently ill after your treatments.  These women have been through all of this, and they did it with grace and dignity.  I don’t think I could’ve handled it as well as they did.  When I start feeling sorry for myself, or having a pity party, I often think of these two women.  I think of what they went through, and how they kept living their lives despite their illness.  I am so thankful that they are in my life, that I get to spend time with them, and that they have truly SURVIVED! I love them both so much and can't imagine life without them. They amaze me.  

There are so many women I have come in contact with that are cancer survivors.  There is my best friend’s mother, my co worker, a friend who's child I taught, a friend who is also a fitness instructor, and several of my mother in law’s friends from her survivor group.  They have all inspired me and shown me what real strength and courage is, just like my son has.  

Above I mentioned my best friend’s mother who is a cancer survivor. This is a picture of her and me at my friend’s wedding rehearsal dinner.  Yes, if you invite me to an event like this, chances are I will drink wine and end up singing into a make-shift fork microphone with your mom.  Sorry, that’s just how I roll.  Anyway, I love this woman.  She is also one of my heroes and has a spirit like no one else.   Her positive attitude and zest for life is infectious.  I have learned so much from her and am a better person for knowing her – I am a better person for knowing all of these women.

Yes, you may not know these women by name.  They may not be famous, but they are my heroes! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

What's wrong with being weird?

This blog post is about being “weird.”   Grape Jelly on Pizza, which is another great autism mom blog that I follow, brought to my attention that a young man is being teased because he is 'weird'. She is joining forces with other bloggers to share in posting about their own 'weirdness' for him. A few other great autism blogs are also sharing their “weirdness”, Homestyle Mama with a side of autism, One Tired Mama, Ancora Impartial, and Parenting with Asberger’s Syndrome.  I decided to jump on the train and write about my weirdness too. I don’t care who you are; you’ve got something weird about you.  Everyone does!  And guess what, that’s ok!  We need to bring back the days where being a little weird is cool.  What is weird anyway?  Kids tease each other for everything even if it really isn’t weird.  Why would you want to be the same as everyone else? 
Being weird is part of my daily life. I am a musician and a preschool music teacher. What do people usually automatically think about musicians?  You got it, weird.  I sing, play guitar, jump and dance around with kids all day long.  Some people might think this is weird.  I think it’s kinda fun.  While it can be exhausting and sometimes I just don’t feel like it, it’s better than sitting at a desk all day long!  My husband and I have kids music cd’s and play at kid’s birthday parties, and other events.  We are like the nerdy music teacher couple on Saturday night live.  Again, some might think this is weird. Some people have even hinted around to me that they think my son has autism because my husband and I are both musicians.  Weirdoes. 
My face was huge in France!
Let me give you one example how my weirdness paid off.  I was in an all girl folk band a few years ago.  No, we weren’t famous or anything.  Yes, we slept in a bar apartment one night and played to a crowd of like 5 people.  But, one time we were asked to play at a festival in France.  For thousands of people.  My face was on a jumbo tron and we were treated like royalty.  It was a trip of a lifetime.  A free trip for being kind of weird. 
Of course, being a musician is not my only weirdness.  My bottom teeth are crooked, I can be loud and obnoxious, but I really don’t like being the center of attention. I get embarrassed really easily, and am kind of a shy, nervous person.  I’m scared of the dark and don’t like to be alone.  I feel guilty about everything and worry all the time if I have hurt someone else’s feelings.  I love to dance.  I dance and sing around my house and even make up dances.  I taught an exercise class once called “Just Dance.”  Okay, I’ll stop.  There are many more things, but I’m sure you think I’m weird enough now.  Go ahead share something that is weird about you!
My old band "The Figs." Love those girls.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Looking in a mirror on aisle 5

I heard him before I saw you.  It was like hearing my own child.  I looked around to see if somehow I had forgotten he was there with me, but he wasn’t. The sound was so familiar.  Then, there you were.  I saw your precious boy in the grocery cart.  He was talking to himself repeating words in a high-pitched voice.  You were talking to him looking at him adoringly.  I didn’t mean to stare.  It wasn’t in a rude way.  It was just so familiar.  It was my own life in front of my eyes; like looking in a mirror.  Forgive me for staring; I just don’t see it in front of me that often.  Someone else in my shoes.  It was the same voice, the same mannerisms, the same sounds as my son.  I felt like I knew you both so well.   I wanted to talk to you like an old friend.  I wanted to buy you a cup of coffee and sit down and ask you all about him.  I wanted to let you know that I was in the club too.  I wanted to give you a hug and tell you what a great job you’re doing, and that you are a strong and wonderful mother.  I wanted to hear your story.  I wanted to share with you my journey, my son’s ups and downs, struggles and successes.  I wanted to tell you to call if you needed a friend, or if you wanted to get the kids together.  But, how can you do that with a stranger in the grocery store?  I can only give you an understanding smile, keep walking, and silently wish you the best.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


On the plane. Thank God for iPads.
    I have been nervous about taking my son on a long trip.   I am very fortunate in that I have a genius for a brother, who has done very well for himself.   He, and my sister in law, are very generous people who happen to love traveling.  Thankfully they love us too, and always invite us to go on trips with them.  For the past couple of years, I have painfully declined going on these trips, even a trip to Italy.  My son has just not been in a good enough place to travel, and I just wasn’t up for taking the risk of what might happen dragging him across the globe. I wasn’t even up for taking him with me to the grocery store half the time.  I explain some of his issues and my fears about traveling in another blog here.  This time, however, my family was traveling to Colorado, only 2 short flights away.  For the past few months, my son has been much happier, and people talking and other things that have been known to set him off, have not been as frustrating to him as they have been in the past.  We had also taken him to Colorado a couple of years ago and he loved it.  So, my husband and I decided to give it a try and go for it.  I’m so glad we did. 
     Beckett was so excited to be in the airport.  He loved flying, looking out the window, and talking about the clouds.  He loves spinning, swinging , and most types of movement, so the sensation of flying was awesome for his little sensory seeking body.  He did become frustrated when the stewardess or pilot would speak over the loudspeaker on the plane.  But, thankfully we could distract him with toys, snacks, or put on his headphones.  He never went into a full-blown meltdown, which I was fearful of.  He even had some kind of a stomach issue that day, which was really fun in airport bathrooms.  Yuck.            
      He loved playing in the snow, but if it somehow snuck into his clothes and got him wet or cold, then he was done. But I guess that would aggravate me too.   We ate at restaurants, with very little fussing, one even had a live band, and it didn’t bother him one bit. “Who is this kid?”  I wondered.  He tolerated his cousins and even kind of played with them, which was great.  He usually plays alone, not allowing many people into his little world.  I found him and my nephew cuddled up on the couch playing iPad games together one night. 
     Whenever he would start getting overloaded and frustrated, we would take him to the “time out room.”  There was a circular shaped little room detached from the house overlooking the mountain.  It was all windows from floor to ceiling and had the most comfortable lounge chairs.  It was also the quietest space I have ever been in.   Needless to say, Beckett loved this room, so did my husband, who also sometimes needs a little “time out.”  I loved it too.  We would go and sit in there for a while and just watch the snow fall and everyone would feel better.  I need one of these rooms in my yard at home, but it would just overlook the grass and there would be no snow.  Not quite the same.   
The "time out" room
      All in all it was a great trip.  I was a little nervous about flying home, but not as much as I was to get there.  As luck would have it, Beckett still loved flying on the way home, and was awesome!  Unfortunately, my worst nightmare came true for a woman who was sitting in front of us.  She was traveling with her husband and 4 children.  She was holding her youngest who was probably 1 ½ or so.  The poor little guy was unhappy for some of the flight, but when we started descending for landing became totally inconsolable.  He cried so hard that he threw up a couple of times.  I wanted to help this woman so badly.  I knew this could’ve easily been me!  I felt so helpless; I didn’t know what to do for her.  I tried offering her one of Beckett’s toys, thinking the novelty of a new toy might distract him.  But, she politely declined saying,” Thanks but he might barf on it.”  I told her it was ok, but I didn’t want to be pushy or aggravating to her so I just let her be.  I wanted to offer her wipes, extra clothes, or anything else I possibly could, but I could tell, understandably, that she didn’t really want to talk to anyone.  I would’ve felt the same way.  I heard her husband say that they had another plane to catch in 20 minutes.  I don’t know what happened to them, but I hope they made it home ok. 
      We got on our next flight and made it home with no problems. The stewardess on the plane was really sweet and kept coming to talk to us, and Beckett called her a doctor.  This really cracked us up.  When we landed Beckett appropriately quoted Dora the explorer, saying “We did it!”  Yes we did, buddy, yes we did.
What did I learn from this experience?  I think I’ll stop being such a wuss, put on my big girl pants, and take my kid out more.  If he has a meltdown, oh well.  He obviously likes being out around people, doing new things, and having adventures, so I promise to try harder.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Just Keep Swimming

This pretty much sums it up.  If I had a dollar for every time we've watched "Nemo" in this house, I'd be a bizillionaire!  Just keep swimming my friends and remember, "Fish are friends, not food."  Oops, I ate sushi this weekend...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

This Valentine's Day

This Valentine’s Day, show your husband how much you care…

1    Buy a nice gift.
Like that Michael Kors watch you’ve been dying for, or those killer boots that cost $400.  He’ll be so happy that you FINALLY did something for yourself and really, what makes him happier than seeing YOU smile?!

2.     Plan a special date.
      Arrange to have an afternoon at the spa followed by dinner and drinks… with your girlfriends.  Have the hubby pick up the kids from school and spend a little quality time with them.  This will show him how much you care about their relationship.  

3.     Show him you care about his health.
      When that commercial with David Beckham comes on, you know the one where all he’s wearing are those boxer briefs, and you’re trying to pretend like it’s not super hot, you don’t even notice it, and your not drooling all over the floor, look at your husband, raise one eyebrow and ask,” Have YOU worked out lately?” 

4.      Spend time together as a family.
Have your husband cook breakfast while you and the kids lie around watching TV.  Make sure to go into the kitchen every few minutes to get more coffee, and point out all the things he is doing wrong.  Guys love this.

Last but not least,

5.      Make some time for just the two of you.
     Cuddle up on the couch and watch your favorite episodes of the “Real Housewives of Wherever.”  Have your husband rub your feet and feed you chocolates, and then you fall asleep.  Your husband loves you so much; he will find nothing more romantic than gazing into your angelic face while you sleep, (probably dreaming of David Beckham).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Oh, Good Grief!

    Going around the internet reading different autism blog posts, I have learned that the online autism community doesn’t necessarily agree (to put it mildly) on lots of things like vaccines, diets, genetics, therapies, the color socks your kid should wear, (just kidding, seeing if you were paying attention) etc.  There are so many different opinions going around. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so in my opinion we shouldn’t attack anyone for what they believe is best for their child and themselves.  There is one thing that I’ve seen people get criticized for many times, and that is “grieving autism.”  I’ve read people’s comments that basically say, if you grieve the fact that your child has autism, then you must not love your child.  You don’t love them for who they are, and you want to change them. This really hurt me when I was going through the grieving process during the early stages of my son’s autism.  I felt horrible and guilty for having these feelings.  Of course I love my child and I don’t want to change who he is, but I think it is only human to grieve something that affects your family’s life so deeply. 
    Before autism, I had no idea what OT, PT, ST, ASD, IEP, or ABA, stood for.  I had never set foot in a neurologists or psychiatrist’s office, had no idea what a gluten/casein free diet was, and had never heard of Temple Grandin.  I didn’t understand kids that were “picky eaters” and had no idea what “sensory seeking” meant.  I thought I was in control of my life and that everything had to be a certain way.  I had never experienced real pain, sadness, or depression.  I had never felt what it was like to love someone so much, that you would sacrifice everything to take away their pain.  I had no idea what patience and strength REALLY meant.  I didn’t know what it was like to appreciate the littlest things and to celebrate the smallest victories.  I never had the experience of being so proud of someone simply for just being who they are.   My son has taught me countless things.  He amazes me everyday.  Do I wish I could make life easier for him?  Do I wish he had friends and got invited to do things with other kids?  Do I wish he could run and play outside in the afternoons instead of going through multiple therapy sessions?  Do I wish I could take away his pain and frustrations?  Do I constantly worry about the future?  YES, I do.  But, what he has taught me the most about is unconditional love.  Yes, I did grieve and some days I still struggle, but so what?  I'm doing the best I can – and thats all you can do.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Perfect Mom

Ladies, when did you realize that you were not going to be the “perfect mom?”  For me, I think it was the day I brought my son home from the hospital. Before I had a child, I had all these plans of how I would be the “perfect mom.”  You know, the one whose children are always dressed in the most adorable outfits without a spot on them.  The one whose kids follow her around the mall and grocery store like little ducklings never touching anything or throwing themselves on the floor.  The mom, who cooks all organic delicious dinners every night, sends fruits and veggies in their kid’s lunch boxes, AND their kids actually eat them!  The mom who cuts her kid’s sandwiches into heart shapes and bakes cute little desserts.  The mom who would never be seen driving through the McDonald’s drive through, not even when she’s on a road trip with her five children in a mini van.  The mom, who home schools all of her kids, never complains, loves every minute of it, and is grateful to have the opportunity to do so.   The mom who takes her kids on educational camping trips, long bike rides, and has family football games and potato sack races in the yard just like the Brady Bunch. The mom who doesn’t even own a TV in the house.   The mom who never hires a babysitter because she enjoys spending every moment she can with her children and never needs any “me time.” Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating, but my point is, boy was I delusional!  Clearly, I was setting myself up for failure.

Instead the reality is my kid’s clothes are always stained.  I let him play outside in the mud and in the rain.  I let him finger-paint his entire body if he wants. There are holes in his shirts because he likes to chew on them.  I will usually feed him whatever he will eat, even fast food (gasp!), since he will hardly eat anything.  He even has his own peanut butter jar at home that he eats out of with a spoon, and I confess that I’ve never baked anything that didn’t come out of a box. I honestly don’t think I could EVER attempt homeschooling, not that I don’t think homeschooling is great. I just couldn’t do it.   We watch too much TV, haven’t been on one camping trip, and I don’t even know where to get a potato sack.  I would really love to find some though, because the thought of my husband hopping around the yard in one makes me giggle.  

People sometimes put too much pressure on themselves.  No one is perfect.  Just do the best you can and try not to feel guilty about what you didn’t do.  I’ve learned to let a lot of things go.   Did you attempt to feed, dress, and hug your children today?  Maybe spent a little time with them and told them you love them?  Great, then go reward your self with some chocolate or a glass of wine.  You deserve it.  You can thank me later.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

B's new jam

So, after several months of my boy not liking the sound of any music, he finally found a song he really enjoys!  He even likes to sing along, which is awesome!  He's five years old so you're probably thinking he loves "Wheels on the Bus" or "The Itsy Bitsy Spider."  Nah, the song he loves is "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga!  He sings "Carrie By" (can't read my)  at the top of his lungs.  In this video, he uses what I call the "run around the mic" technique.  Yeah, you've probably never seen this done before.  He is ahead of his time.  All the cool bands will be doing it soon, just you wait and see.  Thank you, Lady Gaga for helping  my son discover his beautiful singing voice.  I wonder if she ever considered a career in ABA therapy?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

To fly the friendly skies?

Well, in a few weeks I will do something that has become one of my biggest fears.  I will fly on a plane with my child.  Yes, we have done it before, but not in a couple of years.  Not since “the talking thing” as we call it started.  The talking thing is when Beckett cries and throws a fit because he doesn’t like the sound of other people talking.  It might be the tone of voice, the way the words go by so quickly that he can’t understand them, whatever it is, he doesn’t like it and basic conversation even the sound of the tv and radio can send him into hysterics.  We’ve tried  1,947,362 different things to attempt to remedy this issue.  It disappeared for some time, but has reoccurred recently.  It is not nearly as bad as it used to be, but can still be uncomfortable at times. 
Then why in the world are you taking him on a plane, you might ask?  Well, the simple answer is, he deserves to go on vacations and have a nice time like everyone else does, AND, he might NOT freak out on the plane – I just don’t know.   But, I will be awake at night thinking about it for the next month.  Then there will be the flight back home…
So, my husband and I will be armed with things to distract and entertain him on that plane in hopes that he doesn’t become agitated.  I decided to google “traveling on a plane with an autistic child” thinking I could maybe get a few other ideas.  While I did find a few ideas, I also found some comments that sure did fire me up!  I came across an article from USA today about how flying with children with autism can be difficult for families.  Some of the comments that were left below the article are simply unbelievable.  I have to state that some of these are excerpts from the full comment.  I didn’t want to bore you with the full rambling comments that really don’t make these people sound any less “jerkish.”  You like that word?  I just made it up…

There were 7 pages of comments, here are just a few:

 “I recommend driving for people with children that have autism. Why put your child through the horror and subject others to the discomfort. It is simply rude.”

“If your child, for whatever reason, cannot travel without tantrums, do not fly. Your child, no matter what the age or difficulty, is not my problem. I hate these parents who think that the fact that they had a child makes it so that they can inflict that child on everyone else. Quit being so self-centered and control it.”

“If you cannot take the cramped quarters, noise, and rules you should not fly. You do not have a right to fly! Why should the other public, paying out the nose, be forced to put up with a mentally unstable kid.”

First of all, my child has flown before and he liked it.  It didn’t scare him or put him through any horror.  So, I really don’t feel like I am doing anything to hurt him by putting him on a plane.  Yes, people talking sometimes agitate him and some other sounds do bother him, and yes he MIGHT throw a tantrum. If he does, I will do my best to get it under control.  What people don’t understand is that when my child throws a "tantrum", or has a meltdown, there is no reasoning with him. There is no bribery, or “if you don’t stop that by the time I count to 5…” He doesn’t get that concept yet at this point in his life – he might later.  All he knows is that his senses are overloaded and he is MAD!  He can’t control it. When he’s in meltdown mode, it’s nearly impossible to distract him or calm him down.  It isn’t about being a spoiled brat or not being taught the right way to act.  We try our best to teach him these things – believe me.  
I’m just saying, sometimes people need to go places and I’m sorry if it might make you uncomfortable on the plane for a while.  Is it going to ruin your life?  Not likely.  What if my child had to travel a long distance, like some with autism frequently do, for a doctor or therapy appointment?  Should they not go because they might make someone on the plane uncomfortable?  I try to be considerate of other people as much as I can but, geez…

But wait, I saved the best quote for last.  This one is a gem:

“This article is a total waste.  Autism is a make-believe disease, created by the medical industry to sell more drugs & un-necessary procedures.”

REALLY DUDE?!  Are you serious?  Yep, the doctors made up that autism and we’re all fallin’ for it!   Thanks for clearing that up for me.  I guess since we now know that it’s all made up, we’ll wake up in the morning and all of our kids will be walking around totally "cured."  Also, for the record, my child has never had any “un-necessary procedures”  that I know of. But, thanks for your two cents.   Ok, I’m finished ranting.  Back to my calm centered self.  Aaaaahhhh…

What do YOU think?  Is it wrong for my family to fly?

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Autism Society of Acadiana

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