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?

Download Melissa's single "Pieces" at the links below. Half of all profits will go to the 
Autism Society of Acadiana

Pieces - Single - Melissa Stevenson

Melissa Stevenson: Pieces

Click here to buy at Amazon.com

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If you see me...

I recently wrote this post as a guest post for a great blog that I follow, autismwonderland.com 

You should go check out this blog!  You can see my guest post on Autism Wonderland’s blog here

If you see me…

If you see me spinning in circles, it’s because it feels good to me.  While it might make you feel dizzy, it actually makes me feel more grounded.

If you see me biting or chewing on my clothing it might be because I’m nervous or in a new situation.  It soothes me.

If you see me crying in a restaurant it could be any number of things, the music playing in the background, the people conversing around me, or even the smell of the food.  Sometimes, these things are too much for me to handle.  It even took my parents a long time to understand that these things actually hurt me.

If you see me playing on a playground and I don’t tell you my name or try to play with you, it isn’t because I am mean or don’t like you.  It’s because I am not really sure how to interact with you.  Maybe you can help to teach me how.

If you see me, and I am making noises, or repeating words that make no sense to you, I am either attempting to soothe myself, trying to communicate, or working to understand something.  This is how I process things.

If you see me, don’t just look, please try to really see ME.  I am a person just like you.

Download Melissa's single "Pieces" at the links below. Half of all profits will go to the 
Autism Society of Acadiana

Pieces - Single - Melissa Stevenson

Melissa Stevenson: Pieces

Click here to buy at Amazon.com

The song “Pieces” came to me one day during a time when my son was extremely frustrated and unhappy.  I felt overwhelmed and out of control most of the time.  There was nothing I could do to make him feel better and I just felt helpless.  No one was ever actually meant to hear the song.  My husband recorded it at our home and we liked how it came out.  Still, I did nothing with it for months thinking, “How can I share this with people?” “Do I really want to put myself and my family out there like this?”  Then I thought, “if I don’t do it, who else will”?  People need to know about autism, the struggles and the rewards.  I created a blog to tell a little about autism, my family, and the song. http://www.stevensonslifeinpieces.blogspot.com

We decided to make the song available for download, and we’re giving half the profits to our local chapter of the Autism Society, because it has been such a helpful organization for us. 

Then, a few weeks ago, my husband decided to create a video promoting autism awareness to accompany the song.  Again, I thought, “How can I put this out there?”  It was a very scary thing for me.  But, so far, it has been extremely worth it.  Everyday someone tells me they have either been touched by it, can relate to it, or have learned something from it.  This is what keeps me sharing, and it’s great free therapy, too!  Hope you like it.