Sunday, April 17, 2016

Keep Your Head Up

      Getting the kiddos off the bus on Friday, the driver asked me if we were going anywhere on vacation the following week. I kind of laughed and shrugged her off, telling her we'd probably stay local.  Going out for us is kind of like what Forrest Gump says about life. It's "a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

    Most of our outings are okay. We tell the kids where we're going and what we are doing and repeat several times to them to be on their best behavior and listen to mom and dad.   I would say that about 8 out of 10 trips are what one could consider a success. A success consists of no meltdowns, relatively quiet voices and no bolting or running through parking lots. A peaceful ride home is the icing on the cake of a great day.  But of course, there's bound to be some difficulties sprinkled in there. If something doesn't go according to plan, like not having dessert at the restaurant, or not being allowed to run into the move theater. Or heaven forbid there's a hand drier or automatic flush in the bathroom.  This is when things start to spiral out of control. This is when we slam on the brakes and scream in the middle of The Olive Garden on the way to the bathroom, and when we throw ourselves on the floor of the mall and start wailing because running in the movies is not allowed. 

    This is also when people start to stare.

    It doesn't bother me now, but I  used to get so mortified. I always felt like I was being judged. People would stare, glare and scowl at me. Some would even be so bold as to say something,  Though it was muttered, I could hear what they were saying loud and clear.

"Can't she control her kid?"

"I hate it when parents let their kids get away with this."

"What a spoiled brat."

    The last one always got me. My kiddos were not brats! How could they say that without ever having met them? Both Sweet Pea and Monkey are bright, beautiful, funny, amazing kids.These people see them at a very vulnerable moment and automatically label them as rotten, spoiled children. It wasn't fair! My frustration and mortification would always get the best of me, and I would get angry and bodily carry my kicking and wailing child out of the situation. After that the day would just continue to cascade into an abyss of misery with more shouting, screaming and continued melting down until the kid was tucked into bed and I was crying into a glass or two of wine. It got to the point where I didn't want to take them out anymore because I didn't want to be judged.

    It wasn't until after I got Monkey's diagnosis that I had my moment of clarity.  Why on earth should it matter what other people say? These outsiders didn't know what kind of challenge we had been given, raising two kids on the spectrum. Chances are, they didn't even know my kiddos  had autism. I realized then that I had lost my focus. Instead of spending all this time fretting about what the world will think of me, I should really be addressing the needs of my clearly distressed children. I had been too busy worrying about how I would look in the eyes of society. I was ashamed of myself.

     I decided that enough was enough and I had to start paying attention to what my kids are trying to tell me. They are telling me that this isn't about me, this is about them. At this point in time, whatever is going on is too much for them to take in and they need to leave. Getting perturbed because of what the world might think doesn't help.  I have to remember to maintain my calm, keep my head up, and ignore the muttered oaths, stares and judgmental head shakes because they don't matter. The most important thing to me in the world is the happiness and well being of my children, and I am going to do everything possible to see that maintained.  If the kiddos know I'm doing my best, and I know I'm doing my best, then to hell with what anyone else has to say about it! I got plenty of stares the day I had to carry Monkey screaming from the food court, but I didn't get angry and couldn't have cared less what anyone else thought. And you know what? Monkey and I were better off for it. He calmed down almost as soon as we were outside and when we met Daddy and Sweet Pea at the car, the rest of the day was perfect

    So the take away from today's lesson is this: Don't let what might happen stop you from taking your child out and being a part of society. If something does go wrong, keep your head up and do what you know in your heart is best. The stares and mutters of others might sting at first, but that hurt quickly fades once you see that grateful smile on your kiddo's face and you know that you saved the day.

Peace and Love.

  "Love the child in front of you. Encourage his strengths, celebrate his quirks, and improve his weaknesses, the way you would with any child. You may have to work harder on some of this, but that’s the goal.” – Claire Scovell LaZebnik

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


::taps microphone::

Is this thing on??

::enthusiastic wave::


Welcome to Autism Momming 101. Thanks for coming and so glad you could join me!  In this class we'll explore the ins and outs of raising kids with Autism. I'm no expert, not by any stretch. I just know what I know based on what I've learned and continue to learn while raising my two amazing kiddos on the spectrum.  I was going to call it Autism Parenting, but that sounds super boring, and no one likes parenting classes. I could have called it Autism Momming and Dadding, but that's long and awkward. So Autism Momming it is! But Autism Dads shouldn't feel excluded, though. I know you're out there and you should know that we are so glad you're here. You should also know: you rock!

Anyhow, let's get back on track. We certainly didn't ask for this for our kiddos.  It's heart breaking when you first realize than something is off. When you're on a playdate with your friend, and you see her little girl babbling and laughing and stacking blocks. And then you look over at your sweet girl and she's sitting in the middle of the floor, by herself, spinning a wheel on an upside down toy car, or lining up blocks and just staring at them. All while not making a sound. Or when instead of playing on the equipment, your little man just paces silently back and forth over the playground bridge, tracing the straight line of the hand rail with his eyes.

You don't want to admit it, but you know you've got to do something. So you call Early Intervention and your little is evaluated and admitted for services. You think this is going to help, and sometimes it does. Sometimes it's successful and your little comes through with all the skills needed to succeed in preschool and beyond. But sometimes it isn't. Sometimes, progress isn't made and you end up getting an appointment with a pediatric neurologist. And then you get your diagnosis.



Your sweet baby is 1 in 68.

You're floored. How are you going to get through this? Where did you go wrong? Was there something you did that could have prevented this? Maybe you should have read to him more. Maybe you shouldn't have let her watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and put on some Mozart instead. What's going to become of your child now that they  have this life changing diagnosis? How could this have happened?

Well, first off stop blaming yourself. This isn't your fault and there's nothing you could have done or not done that could have prevented this. There is no known cause for autism, it's just one of those things that happen. No amount of  extra reading, classical music, or limitation of screen time could have changed that. Second, you have to remember to breathe. S/he is still the same sweet, beautiful child they were before, now you just have a little more insight into what's going on inside his/her head. And third, take it one day at a time. If you keep focusing on tomorrow, you're going to miss out on today.

I know. It's daunting. I'm still freaking out and I've been on this ride since 2010! It's scary! But like I said, breathe, and take it one day at a time. With you by their side, your kiddo(s) is(are) going to be just fine. That's why I'm here, and why we're all here in Autism Momming 101. We're here to share what we know and what we continue to learn on this spectrum wide journey that is autism.

So welcome to class! And I hope you enjoy your time here and we're all able to help each other learn and grow.

*feel free to browse through my old posts. I haven't written in almost 2 years, and it was time for a face lift!*