The Elusive Dipped Cone

Catastrophe: noun. an event causing great and often sudden damage or suffering; a disaster.

This story is not.

It’s been a month, so this event is actually pretty funny to me now (ah, Time, you good ‘ol healer).  When it was happening though, it really sucked.

This is the story of me, my four year-old, and his side-kick autism on an epic journey for the ever-elusive chocolate dipped ice cream cone.  Brace yourselves.

Big C (my son) and I had just finished a phenomenal field trip at the Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum.  As a sensory-seeking child with little impulse control and a tendency for aggression, my son was put to the test on this sensory-overloaded field trip.  When the trip was over, I swear to you I could hear a choir of angels singing.  The trip went off without a hitch!

Hoping to capitalize on our good fortune and the beautiful spring day (our first this season), I asked Big C if he’d like to go for a walk and get an ice cream.  Naturally, he said yes, and we were on our way.  I had already taken out my phone and Google-mapped a place a few blocks away.

Oh, did we have fun!  I let Big C hold my phone so he could watch our dot get closer and closer to our destination.  My excitement built along with his.

As we walked, he made sure to ask me (several times), “They have my kind, right?”

“What’s your kind, honey?”

“The white kind, with chocolate on top.”

“Oh, you bet!”  I felt a tug on my heart and sweat beginning to bead on my forehead.  I think I knew what he meant, but I wasn’t sure.  My memory was racing. He liked chocolate-dipped vanilla cones, right? It was tricky because “his kind” could change on a dime, dependent upon his mood.  I had total confidence, however, that this place would satisfy his needs for vanilla ice cream and chocolate.

About fifteen minutes later, we arrived at our location: it was closed.

Due to open in TWO days.

Dammit.

I quickly recovered as I witnessed my son’s crumbling face.  “No, problem!  We will just use our map to find a new place!”  My son smiled, readily agreed, and we soon found ourselves at Kilwin’s, just a few blocks away.

Then events turned ugly.

Immediately, the place had an icky feel to it.  It was small and the smell of fudge was overpowering. Right away, Big C was not happy.  “Oh, look!” I pointed, my voice dripping with forced enthusiasm.  “There are so many choices of ice cream to choose from!”

Big C looked aghast.  “They don’t have my kind!”

“Well, why don’t you try a few samples, and see if you like a new kind?”

He grumbled in response.  Feverishly, I began asking the woman at the counter if we could try the different varieties of vanilla they had.  She agreed, but all samples were met with a look of disdain and growing frustration by my son.

Trying to help, the woman calmly handed him a little spoonful of Mackinac Island Fudge.  “Here, my children love this.”

Big C took a little taste and proclaimed, “That’s disgusting!”  Amid my apologetic looks and rising blood pressure, Big C began pacing back and forth from one end of the ice cream counter to the next, humming in a high-pitched tone.  It was a full-on stimming episode, and I felt powerless to stop it as I tried to ignore the judgmental stares from patrons and workers.

After about five minutes, I couldn’t take it any more and grabbed him by the arm, and as gently (but firmly) as I could, escorted him out.

“Are we going somewhere else for ice cream?”

I was tired and frustrated, so I responded with, “No, we’re out of options.”

Mistake.

The ten-minute walk back to the car was accompanied by his full volume wailing.  I thought the stares in Kilwin’s were awkward.  Bah!  I kept waiting for a police car to pull up beside us and ask if everything was alright.

But then, a glimmer of hope joined our, thus far, failed mission.  Once we got to the car, Big C said, “I’m sorry I disappointed you.”

A direct stab to the heart.

“It’s okay,” I blubbered, hugging him hard.  Then, inspiration struck.  “Hey, why don’t we try McDonald’s?  It’s right on the way home.”

His eyes lit up.  “Okay!”

So we were on our way again, sure to be victorious on our quest for ice cream.

About twenty minutes later, we pulled into the McDonald’s parking lot and, hand in hand, skipped in and ordered.  No problem.

Then another curve ball came.

“Hey, we don’t have dipped cones yet.  They’re seasonal,” the sloppy-looking, presumed-manager, barked from the back.

Noooooooooo! 

I glanced furtively over at my son, his eyes welling with tears.

“Maybe a sundae?” the teenage girl working the register kindly suggested.

That’s not going to work,” I snarled at her.  Poor girl.

But then I realized I had no alternative and, with some convincing, Big C begrudgingly agreed to try a sundae with chocolate syrup.

Once he saw what it was, his eyes lit up.  He took a bite and said, triumphantly, “Mmm…yum!  That’s my kind!”

As he finished his treat, I sat beside him in the booth, enjoying those ten minutes of silence, filled with the occasional sounds of Big C licking his spoon. At that point, I wasn’t in the mood for ice cream.

Besides, McDonald’s didn’t have my kind.

Once home, exhausted, but not willing to neglect the beautiful day, I texted our neighbor with children the same age to suggest a walk to the park.

Her response: Sounds great!  Be home in ten.  At Dairy Queen just finishing up. It’s free cone day.

[insert expletive here].

So, what does your child “need” to have?

Note: this post is part of a blog hop. Click the link below to read more blogs about what it’s like to have a sensory-special kid!

SensoryBlogHop

 

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Just so you’re AWARE…

autism: noun. one of many terms to help describe (and explain) my son.

Many of you probably already know April is Autism Awareness Month. It was, ironically enough, last April that we received my son’s “official” (ADOS-approved) diagnosis of ASD.  Everywhere I turned there were billboards and commercials and news reports and online propaganda screaming at me Autism! Autism! Autism! It was incredibly overwhelming, but ultimately helpful.

It’s a year later, and I’m still not sure what to make you aware of except that I’m still confused.  I can’t tell you which autism organizations are the best to support or which you better stay clear of.  I can’t tell you which practices are most efficient or which are a waste of your time.

All I can really make you aware of is that being the parent of a child with autism is hard.

With this intrinsic knowledge, my contribution to Autism Awareness Month is this: to share a little insight to those of you parents without children on the spectrum, to those of you who want to stick by your friends and family even though it can be tough.

This is what you should be aware of.

We’re overwhelmed most of the time. All parents feel overwhelmed.  Knowing that, add to the mix diagnoses, IEPs, Speech, OT, ABA, PT, Social Skills classes, dealing with insurance companies, hours on the phone to get on an endless number of waiting lists, and then you’ll know a new level of exhaustion.

We cry.  A lot.  Tears of joy, tears of frustration, tears of anger.  Autism has the uncanny ability to yank emotions out of us and put them on public display.

We sometimes get jealous when you talk about your kids. We’re happy for you.  We really are. But sometimes, it’s hard to hear the successes of your kids when we know, deep down, ours can’t experience them. Please keep sharing, but don’t be offended if our enthusiasm isn’t always authentic.  Selfish?  Maybe.  Honest?  Yes.

We spend a lot of time waiting.  Not just on those waiting lists for therapy.  We’re waiting for the next meltdown, for the next bad report, for the interventions to finally start working.  We’re waiting for a peace that may never come.

We’re afraid. In fact, we’re terrified. We worry about our children’s future to a near-obsessive level.  We fear for their happiness, for the bullying that’s bound to occur, for the unfair hurtles our children are forced to jump over. We’re afraid we aren’t doing enough for our children, that maybe it’s our fault that this has happened and, as a result, our children may not be able to function successfully in this world.  We’re afraid because we feel a lack of control.

We experience more set-backs than successes.  Most reports from our children’s teachers are negative.  They may be laced with a positive spin, but the overarching theme revolves around the struggle.  Hearing about how our children are failing to be successful wears us down.

We feel very alone.  Yes, we know you’re here for us.  Yes, we’ve made new acquaintances and contacts since the diagnosis, but that doesn’t shake the feeling of standing in a hallway, screaming at the top of our lungs, and having no one hear us.

We have a lot of pride.  We may be struggling, but most days, we won’t let you know it.  We may be frustrated with our children often, but we couldn’t be prouder of the successes they do experience because they’ve had to work that much harder to achieve them.

We’re still sad.  Doesn’t matter if the diagnosis was five minutes or five years ago.  We still feel sad.  For our children.  For ourselves.  For the situation.  We may look okay most days, but we carry that sadness with us.

We appreciate you.  The fact that you’re willing to stand by our side, despite all of the above, means you’re pretty special.  You provide us with sanity and sanctuary.  We are aware of you and your kindness.

Thank you.

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Meltdowns: “You ain’t seen nothin’!”

Whenever my friends describe “meltdowns” their young children have, I have to restrain myself from busting out into maniacal laughter.

They really have no idea.

If you’re a parent, you know what meltdowns look like.  They’re not pretty.

If you’re a parent of an aggressive child with special needs, you know what a meltdown feels like.

You’ve got the bruises, blood, or black eye to prove it.

It was my son’s aggression at an early age that clued my husband and I in that something wasn’t quite right.  He would smack his head on the floor at 13 months old when he was frustrated. He couldn’t go more than few minutes at daycare without banging into someone or something, constantly pulling out the hair of other children and the daycare providers.

In one respect, Big C’s aggression has been a blessing.  It’s helped us realize early in his life what his struggles are, and while it took a few years to really pinpoint the issues, we have a much better handle on how to handle him (and ourselves) when he gets overstimulated.

The great news?  Big C’s tendency for aggression have diminished tremendously over the past year.  Don’t get me wrong.  He’s still way more aggressive than the average four year-old (he threw an eight ball at my head a few weeks back because he didn’t want to end the play date), but at least he’s starting to recognize the aggression in himself and, every so often, stop himself before it escalates.

More often though, he has the meltdown, then explains later why he was upset.  For a four year-old, I think this is impressive.

Very recently, a new form of meltdown has emerged.  It’s one I haven’t quite figured out how to cope with yet.  I find myself just getting frustrated.

Lately, if Big C doesn’t want to do something or feels threatened in some way, he closes his eyes, starts rocking his body, and makes animal-like moans.  His ability to use language completely shuts down.  When I try to get him to talk, he just runs and hides.  This has happened several times in public places like daycare and preschool.

The only “strategy” that remotely works is to wait it out.  It’s not easy though.  I find myself getting more and more frustrated and less and less patient.

BUT, the last time this happened, a couple of days ago, after the meltdown subsided, he hugged me so tightly we both fell over and then he said, “I’m sorry I’m frustrating you.”

Seriously?  How do you not smile at that?

The moral of this story?  Epic meltdowns can sometimes lead to epic apologies.

What are some of your strategies for dealing with meltdowns?

Note: this post is part of a blog hop. Click the link below to read more blogs about what it’s like to have a sensory-special kid!

SensoryBlogHop

This post can also be found on the blog, Sammiches and Psych Meds.


The Anniversary of a Diagnosis

A year ago, I received

a diagnosis,

a slap in the face,

a validation.

No mother wants to admit she feels a slight twinge of relief at hearing something is “wrong” with her child.

But I did.  A small, small part of me thought, So it’s not me.  I’m not a horrible mother.  I have a difficult child.  It isn’t this hard for every mother.

Feelings are feelings.  What can I say?

Of course, those thoughts were immediately bulldozed by feelings of deep sadness, fear, and shame. Sadness for my three-year old son who had to deal with these struggles, fear these struggles would overwhelm and consume him, and deep shame that I felt that earlier twinge of validation.

What’s also surprising about receiving a diagnosis is that, on the surface, nothing changes.  After our initial meeting with the doctor, we went about our day.  There wasn’t an immediate transformation or quick fix.  In fact, pinpointing a diagnosis our insurance company could accept took months.  Any change my son actually felt (in the way of therapies, special needs preschool, and the implementation of an IEP) was months down the line.

But for me, the change was immediate.

In an instant, I was told there was a name for my frustrations, for my son’s frustrations.

Autism.

I didn’t truly understand what the word meant beyond the stereotypes, but I knew in that moment, this word and I would come to know each other on a visceral level.

And we have.

Autism is feisty.  It refuses to pin itself down to just one definition.  Some days, I question whether autism really belongs in the list of terms to define my son. Then it slaps me in the face, boldly reminding me it is a term that defies boundaries.  I don’t know I’ll ever be able to provide it a proper definition.

While autism may be an intriguing word, I’ve also learned it’s just one of many words to describe my oldest son. It has some fierce competition with intelligence, strength, and passion. 

A year ago, I received

word,

an insight,

an understanding.

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What my Special-needs Son CAN Do

ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder   SPD: Sensory-processing Disorder

Many with ASD also have SPD.  Welcome to the land of acronyms.

My four year-old son was diagnosed with ASD last February.  If you’re a parent of a child labeled with special needs, then you know what it’s like to agonize over what your child can’t do.  It becomes an obsession; you imagine a life full of dreams dashed.

For this very post, I had planned on writing about how Big C can’t play catch, even though his twenty-two month-old brother so desperately wants to play with him.  When Big C catches the ball (on the rare occasion he does), he just runs off with it.

But I never wrote that post.  Because I realized,

Who gives a shit?  

My son’s lack of desire or ability to play catch isn’t a deal-breaker to happiness.  He doesn’t care.  Why should I?

It got me thinking.  Instead of agonizing over my son’s struggles, what if I focused on his strengths?  This is such a more productive and positive way of thinking, it’s embarrassing to admit it took so long to consider it, but that’s what happens to us as parents when professionals start slapping labels on our children.  We get scared, we get defensive, we get deflated.

So for this post, I want to take a moment to celebrate what makes my oldest son truly special to me.  This is what Big C can do:

  • My son can experience life with an intensity many long for.  His moments of happiness are so amplified, he cannot help but literally shout, embrace, and jump for joy.
  • My son can persevere.  He gets angry and frustrated, but always presses on.  A month ago, he wanted to learn how to ice skate.  As he grew more frustrated, I became frustrated and wanted to stop, but he told me, “No, Mommy.  We can’t give up.  I have to do this!”
  • My son can melt my heart with his compliments.  I was trying a dress on recently and he said, “Oh Mommy, you look beautiful.  Just like a princess!”
  • My son can show true remorse.  Without fail, after a meltdown, he will come to me and say sorry.  Sometimes, it doesn’t come until the next day, but it always comes when he truly is sorry and ready to admit it.
  • My son can pay exquisite attention to a task he is truly interested in.  In recent months, he’s demonstrated his ability to play for hours with Legos, creating the most imaginative creatures, vehicles, and buildings.
  • My son can feel selfless love.  Whenever I catch him giving his younger brother a kiss or hug just because he’s overwhelmed with emotion for him at that moment, my eyes and my heart swell.
  • My son gets me.  Just this weekend, I had my own minor meltdown and went upstairs to cool down and take a break.  My son followed me upstairs and said, “Mommy, just take a deep breath.”  He then sat beside me and rested his head on my shoulder.  “It’ll be okay.”
  • My son can bring tears to my eyes.  If you could see me now, you’d know exactly what I mean.

Now, it’s your turn to share.  What can your amazing children do?  Let’s celebrate them here!

Note: this post is part of a blog hop. Click the link below to read more blogs about what it’s like to have a sensory-special kid!

SensoryBlogHop

This post also appears on Sammiches and Psych Meds.
A version of this post also appears on The Mighty. 

 

A Mother’s Guilty Secret

Okay, here goes…

I dread picking up my children from daycare.

In fact, I find ways to prolong it.

Sick, right?  I’m supposed to want to pick them up.  I’m supposed to miss them so much from a hard day’s work of teaching that I’m bolting out the door at 2:20 pm.  I see a lot of my fellow teacher moms doing it.  Meanwhile, if I don’t have any meetings to attend and I’m not expecting any students to stop by, I find myself locking my classroom door, turning off the lights, and basking in the sweet silence that is suddenly my classroom.

Barring no prior obligation, 2:20-4:00 is the ONLY part of my day I get completely to myself.  It is sacred, and I never want to give it up. It is a time to get tasks done in a brisk, orderly fashion because my children, and the 165 other “children” I have, cannot inundate me with questions, concerns, and demands.  It is pure serenity, even if I’m grading papers, and that’s saying something.

Sadly, my need for quiet time is not the only reason I dread picking up my children from daycare.  Oh, if only it were that simple.

I dread the encounters with the teachers and the inevitably disheartening news I will hear.

I imagine a mom who walks into the classroom, glowing with pride as the teacher recounts with great zest how little Billy (why is it always Billy?) was the perfect angel yet again, sitting quietly during circle time, using the bathroom with no complaints, wiping his table space when lunch time was over.  The perfect angel who shares his toys and makes all the teachers wish he were their child.  Oh, he’s such a little darling.

This is what I get: Big C had a really rough day.  He pulled a girl across the room by her hair.  He knocked over a little boy’s block tower.  He threw sand in another kid’s face. He pushed a kid and took his ball.  He spent some time in the director’s office again (Dear God, it starts already?).  He refused to take a nap and threw a tantrum.  He scratched his arms up during a meltdown. He choked a girl when she took the toy he was playing with.  He threw a chair and hit another child in the face.

The best report I get is, “He had a great day….for him.”

My response to all of this?  Usually, with an embarrassed look on my face, it’s, “I’m sorry.”  Sometimes, I ask, “Is there anything I can do?”  They struggle with this and say ridiculous things like, “Well, just discourage this behavior at home,” implying I am encouraging it?  Gah!

I’ve learned to treat my pick-ups like a war zone.  I keep my head low and scan the room, looking for potential teacher land mines.  I spot Big C over by the puzzles.  I rush over, give him a quick hug, then it’s  Move!  Move!  Move!  We reach the doorway….I think we’re going to make it…and then I hear over the squall of children, “Mrs. Catharsis!  Mrs. Catharsis!  Can I speak with you for a moment?”

Damn schrapnel.

Then there are those days when I finally – finally! – get a pretty decent report on Big C’s day, and then I walk over to Little C’s toddler room only to discover he’s bitten another child.

Again.

I actually get excited when Little C gets a note home stating that another child bit him.

There’s something a little sick and twisted about that.  I know.

So that’s my guilty secret.  I love my boys dearly, but a mother can only take so much negative news before she feels utterly deflated.

Sometimes, a mother just needs to sit at her desk in the the dark and dream.

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Photo credit: t-dawg / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

This post can also be found on the blog, Sammiches and Psych Meds.

Versatile Blogger Award: my thank-you speech (minus the ball gown)

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A big thank-you to Kerry over at Aspernauts: the View from Here.  It feels especially fitting as her blog was one of the first ones I really took a shine to.  The timing of receiving this award was perfect; I needed a reminder that it’s worth taking the time to write.  Thanks for that, Kerry!

So here are the official rules:

1. Display the award on your blog and thank the blogger who nominated you.

2. Post seven heretofore undisclosed things about yourself.

3. Nominate fifteen further bloggers with the award and add links and comments to those nominees’ blogs.

4. Title your head, assume a quizzical expression, and marvel at the randomness of it all!


Now here’s how I’m going to break said rules.  Most of the bloggers I’m going to list are already well-established and perhaps don’t need (or have time) for chain awards like this.  Also, “Versatile” Blogger may not be the most appropriate title for some, but I simply love their blogs too much not to mention them.

I just want to take advantage of this opportunity to simply say THANK YOU to the following bloggers and let them know how they’ve inspired me.

My Many Muses

Sammiches and Psych Meds: Seriously Lola.  From the moment I sent you that random rant on FB Messenger last April, you’ve inspired me.  Even before that, I was a follower of your blog (even when it had a different name), always thinking to myself, “I want to do that!”  Now, I am doing it, and I’d be a fool not to thank you for it.

Another Effin’ Autism Blog
Autism with a Side of Fries
Superstar writers of autism: you ladies probably have NO idea you have inspired me.  I’ve done some major cyber stalking of your blogs, merely reading and learning (a ton!) and reading some more.  You made me realize last spring that people write about this stuff (I really had no idea until last year when I received my son’s diagnosis).  You made me realize that I could write about this “stuff” too and find some true cathartic relief and camaraderie with it.  Thank you.

Little Miss Perfect: Simply put, I think you’re hilarious. So many things you write about, I find myself nodding in agreement.  We think A LOT alike.  It’s comforting to find good company.

A Morning Grouch: The first time you commented on my blog, I literally did a happy dance.  She likes me!  She really likes me!  You’re up there in the stratosphere of bloggers who have made it, and I am humbled when you travel down for a visit.

The Last Half:  Outlier Babe, you have the most amazing writer’s voice.  Your often self-deprecating and unabashed humor is so refreshing.  Your comments are as great as your posts.  Such a fun read!

The Sensory Spectrum:  I’ve found a slew of fantastic blogging buddies through this site and the blog hop it hosts.  Jenny, you’re amazing for taking the time to organize it.  I’m learning so much.  Here are just a few of the bloggers from the hop I’ve really enjoyed getting to know.
The Runaway Mama
Putting Socks on Chickens
Full Spectrum Mama
Stay Quirky my Friends

A is for Anxiety: I feel like you’re that under-appreciated friend, and I mean that in the best way. You have been such a loyal reader, and I am often a slacker in that department.  But I love what and why you write, and I hope you keep doing it.


Oh, and just for fun, here are seven facts you probably didn’t know about Mommy Catharsis.

  • I have discussed my vagina in front of thousands of other college students.
  • I was once a dwarf and traveled to the ends of Middle Earth with Bilbo Baggins.
  • I once died after giving birth to thousands of spider babies.
  • I used to run an all-girls boarding school.
  • I contributed to the mass hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials.
  • I’ve been decapitated with a guillotine.
  • I used to be a gypsy selling questionable medicinals to willing strangers.

Did I mention I have a degree in Theater?  

 

A heartfelt thank-you (and Happy New Year!)

To my followers, hello!  I’ve been off the radar for a little while now.  I could give you a litany of excuses for why I haven’t been writing, but they can all be summed up in the following phrase: I’m a working mom.  I’m forever impressed by those of you who are too and still manage to keep up with all of your wonderfully entertaining and enlightening posts.  My hats off to you, Super Moms!

I couldn’t end the year without saying something though.

Thank you.  

If you’ve been following regularly, you know this has been a tumultuous year.  Having my four year-old son diagnosed with autism last winter changed my life in ways I’m still figuring out.  Much of the year has been full of heartache, frustration, anger, and a new level of stress, but it has also brought unforeseen blessings.

One of the greatest blessings has been you.  Finding an outlet to share my frustrations has been a catharsis I never knew how badly I needed.  Reading your own blogs has helped me see I am far from alone in my struggles.  Reading your blogs has brought me clarity, comfort, and new-found compassion.  Fellow writers, you are all abundantly talented; reading your words brings me real joy (and often so much laughter).  Fellow readers, knowing you are there, reading my words, compels me to keep writing and sharing my story, however inconsequential it may be.

Whatever your New Year’s resolutions may be, I wish you the greatest success.

I resolve to stop being so hard on myself and embrace my own “flaws” as quirks that actually help me understand my son like no one else.

Oh, I also resolve to write more.  It truly is so cathartic!

Happy New Year, everyone!

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“Body Calm, Mommy!”

Photo Cred: visualcues.wikispaces

This picture look familiar to anyone?  It was brand-new to me until last spring when my now four year-old son (Big C) received the diagnosis of ASD and the floodgates opened.  Suddenly, I was inundated with cue cards and visuals designed to help us as parents “manage” our son.

I’m learning very quickly that parents have very mixed emotions about this kind of stuff.  I’ve read blogs where parents are outraged by concepts like “quiet hands” and see techniques such as ABA therapy akin to torture and brainwashing (I’ll admit I’ve had my share of bad experiences).

I’m becoming a quick study and am discovering very quickly that I learn best simply by following the cues of my own kid (crazy concept, huh?)  ABA wasn’t for us, but man, does he dig the visuals!  My husband and I tried a visual schedule this summer, and it was like a magical talisman.  Does it work 100% of the time?  Of course not, but it sure does help.  Just making him aware of what’s coming next alleviates so much stress for him (and his Mommy too!)

An extension of the visual schedule are the use of visual cue cards.  His teachers at preschool and daycare use them often, especially during circle time, when he struggles to sit still and focus.

Imagine. A four-year old boy who doesn’t want to sit still.

All joking aside, while I’m pleased the visual cards are helping him focus, I’m way more concerned with managing his aggression.  He’s an emotional little guy, and if he’s mad (and tired) enough, he will hit, throw, kick, scream – even bite on the rare occasion.

This is where the “Body Calm” technique has proven effective.  Again, for my son.

When he starts to escalate, he’s learning to self-regulate, doing as the picture illustrates and wrapping his arms around his chest and taking deep breaths.  Does he usually need prompting?  Sure.  Does it always work?  Heck no.

But I know he’s getting it. Case in point:

Just a few weeks ago, I was all in a huff because my husband (who usually does morning drop-off with the boys) had to go into work early.  I was stressing trying to pack lunches, book bags, and get my two boys out the door before my own job start time of 7:15 am.

Big C, sensing my distress (he’s highly attune to emotions) very loudly proclaimed to me, “Mommy, you need to get your body calm!”

It totally worked.  I busted out laughing, said, “You’re right,” and we did it together.

I’m happy to report I had a calm rest of the day thanks to my little life coach.

How have your children coached you through life?

Note: this post is part of a blog hop. Click the link below to read more blogs about what it’s like to have a sensory-special kid!

The Sensory Spectrum

A version of this post also appears on The Jenny Evolution.

 

Is this autism or NT kid-stuff?

NT: an abbreviation for neuro-typical, a term often used in the autism community to reference those who are not on the spectrum.

Ever since my four year-old’s diagnosis of ASD over eight months ago, I find myself constantly wondering, “Is this behavior the effects of autism or just a kid being a kid?”

Self-doubt and motherly instinct are in a constant battle of wits these days.

I don’t just ask myself this question.  I ask my husband, my friends, my parents, my son’s army of teachers and therapists.  Naturally, I get a different response, depending on the person (and the scenario I’m describing).  Let’s see what you think:

Big C is head-butting a group of girls at school.    Autism or NT?

Big C suddenly asks, “What’d you say?” to virtually EVERY demand I place.   Autism or NT?

Big C told his Occupational Therapist very matter-of-factly, “I’m going to kill you.”  Autism or NT?

Big C has a sudden preoccupation with dying and is starting to say, “I’m dead,” though I am very certain he has no idea what this actually means.  Autism or NT?

Big C is having a destructive streak, ripping wall decals, blinds, and picture frames off the walls.  When asked, “why?” (which I’m told is really too advanced of a question for a four year-old in this type of situation) he merely replies, “I don’t like it.”  Autism or NT?

Big C is becoming defiant again, telling me, “No!” and back-talking me constantly.  Autism or NT?

Big C is obsessed with winning.  He has to be the first one up the stairs, the first to open the door, the first at every game.  When he’s not, he has an over-the-top screaming, crying, temper tantrum.  Autism or NT?

Big C is incapable of walking through the grocery store without running his hand along every item on the shelves.  Autism or NT?

While Big C’s 19-month old brother is eager to play catch with him, Big C would rather take the ball and run away, keeping it for himself.  Autism or NT?

While in the urgent care waiting room, our 19-month old son is content to sit and play cars, while Big C is literally trying to climb the walls, settling for my husband’s back, ripping the leaves off the fake plants, and taking the toy cars from his younger brother (now both are wailing), all while the older couple sitting in the waiting room gives us death glares.  Autism or NT?

Essentially, it’s all very muddled and confusing and full of blurred lines, begging the potentially more important question, “Does it matter?”

Certainly, getting at the root of a behavior can help, but in many situations, there’s no “fix” or “quick” solution.  My son is my son, autism label or not.  He’s always going to leave me in wondrous awe (and perpetual frustration).

Any other moms out there wish they had supernatural intuition?

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