Monday, December 22, 2014

For All of You

What a weird year.

In a lot of ways it has been wonderful - my kids have grown so much, and I couldn't be prouder of the responsible, thoughtful young men they are becoming.  And my dreamboat has proven time and time again how wonderful he is - thank god for him.  He is my rock, and my heart.

In other ways, it has been very tough.  More than once, I have never felt more misunderstood.  In that sense I have dealt with some situations I never have before, and never want to again.

But all in all, I have never been stronger, and I have never felt more supported by my friends and family.  I have some amazing people in my life, and am so fortunate to have them.  I am thankful for them every day.

And I am so fortunate to have these wonderful readers!  I have received such great comments that make me smile, and make me think.  I am so thankful for them as well.

So to all of you, I wish a happy and healthy new year, filled with love, laughs, growth, challenges, successes, and yes, even some failures.  For it is through these failures that we learn the most.

But most of all, I wish you all love, joy and hope.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas With a Side of Autism

These are just a few of the highlights we experience in our home during Christmastime with TJ:

  • Starting December 1, non-stop worry that he is on the “naughty list”.

  • Scheduling our annual visit to UVM’s Theatre for their annual presentation of “The Toys Take Over Christmas”, where TJ can see “The REAL Santa.”

  • My non-stop giggling over “The REAL Santa”, who is my friend who runs the Scene Shop.  

  • The prompt ending of my giggling when “The REAL Santa” tells TJ, “Of course you are on the nice list!  But your mother…..”

  • For TJ’s wish list, a color print out of every Power Ranger Mega Zord known to man, many of which are collectables for sale on eBay and cost over $300.  From Japan.

  • “Mom, decorate the house while I’m at school, so when I come home, BAM!  Christmas!”

  • The countdown EVERY morning, yelled:  “SIX MORE DAYS!”  “FIVE MORE DAYS!”…

  • Watching an ancient VCR Tape of “Christmas Eve on Sesame Street” over and over again.  It now creaks and sounds like it’s going to snap in half.

  • “I love my cousins but I think I need some quiet time.  Now.”

  • Preparing everyone for my non-filtered boy.  When asked “Do you like your gift?”, he won’t hesitate to say, “No, not much.”

  • Refusal to eat anything cooked for the big Christmas dinner.  It looks different on fancy plates.

  • The joy in his eyes when he sees that the carrot we left for Rudolph has been nibbled.

  • The special hug he has for his brother, who always manages to get him the perfect gift.

  • The wonder he still has in the magic of the season.  As a believer of Santa, he makes it easy for those around him to believe in miracles.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Snow Day!!!


When we get a snow day, both my boys are thrilled.  Should I remind them that they have to make the day up at the end of the year in June, after the neighborhood pool is open?  That would be so mean.....mwah ah ah!!!

A dear friend asked me this morning, "Are snow days harder for you all?  Sorry if they are..."

First of all I was very touched at her thoughtfulness in asking.  I've got some really good friends.

Her question made me think, because these days can indeed be difficult on TJ.  The break in routine has been known to shake him up, and the extra free time is not always a good thing for my boy who gets easily stuck on iPad games.  For both my boys, for that matter.

Then I thought to myself, it's really up to ME how the day goes.

They so often feed off of my energy, and my attitude.  If I am stressed, they are stressed.  If I am lighthearted and goofy, so are they.

So thank you, dear friend, for giving me the chance to decide what kind of day we all are going to have today.  I'm so glad to have been given the opportunity to sit and plan, rather than just go about my business.

And for those of you in this stormy weather today, be safe.  And just as importantly, HAVE FUN!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

As Normal As Possible

Recently I was given some unsolicited advice on how I could make my 14 year old son with autism appear “as normal as possible”.

Please note the refrain of obscenities I really, really want to use here.

Instead, I will let you all know what we, in our family, consider “normal”.  

In our family, in our world of living with autism, it is “normal” to:

  • Prepare our son before a trip of all the details, including duration and type of travel, sleeping arrangements, planned activities, food options or lack thereof, who we will be visiting, free time activities, and any other information we can possibly collect. 

  • Begin these conversations at least a week ahead of travel time, and mention bits and pieces here and there every day until departure.  Unplanned surprises are not our friend.

  • Engage in deep breathing exercises and body squeezes when our son’s sensory system is overloaded, or when he starts to show signs of stress.

  • Cook 2 meals at every sitting - one for us, and a separate one for TJ and his sensory based palate.

  • Arrive at school pick up 30-45 minutes early so I can park where he knows to find me.

  • Be outside my car, rain, shine or snow, if I can’t get to my regular parking place at school, to remind him to look both ways before crossing the street to get to my car.  Otherwise, he darts across the street the second he sees me, and those high school drivers are not the most aware.

  • Celebrate when I get an email from school that says “TJ initiated a conversation with another student in art today!”  This has happened once.  It was a huge celebration.

  • Forward pictures to relatives of chopped vegetables and cooked bacon that TJ prepared on cooking class, all by himself, without any cuts or finger loss.

  • Spend a half an hour asking TJ questions to figure out why he has his dimple grin, which tells us he is up to no good, or has something inappropriate stuck in his head.

  • Be sworn at during an autism meltdown, only to have him curled up in a crying heap 15 minutes later, asking for forgiveness and angry at himself that he lost his temper.

  • Block the door at the beginning of a meltdown so TJ doesn’t bolt from the house and disappear.

  • Truly cherish small successes, that for us are huge.  Like a hug.

  • Cry silently when we hear our son with autism tell our typical developing son that he loves him.

And many, many more things that are in our “normal” every day lives.  

But most importantly, for us, “normal” is wanting both our boys to simply be happy with who they are.  Not try to be something they are not.

Autism or not. 

And that’s our “normal”.