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Posts Tagged ‘Autistic’

I woke up on Mother’s Day at 6:41 a.m. Just woke up. No child screaming. No cat screaming. Just my clock, the biological one. Technically, I slept in by twenty minutes—weekdays 6:20 is my start.

I pee. The baby is up. The cat hears me and begins his morning song for food. I go feed the cat and decide to sneak a load of laundry from the washer into the dryer, grab Andy and then head downstairs before he wakes anyone up.

But Max. Max.

Max has been dealing with some anxiety lately. He’ll be looking for a toy and will full on yell at us, “Where’s the blue car!!!!” over and over again until we point it out to him. Sometimes even then he won’t go pick it up, he screams at us to get it. (We don’t, btw. He can pick up his own damn car.)

So I’m midway between my laundry task when Max bursts out of his room and full on yells, “It’s happy time! It’s happy time!” I’m like, “Okay.” He continues, “Mommy! It’s HAPPY TIME!”

“Okay, buddy, you don’t have to yell.”

“It’s happy time. IT’S HAPPY TIME, MOMMY!”

Keep in mind that this is full-on, Tori Amos’ Tear In Your Hand kind of scenario. Fonts and capitalization don’t do it justice. He is saying the word happy in a voice that is not. In a voice that says, If you don’t give me what I want I’m going to throw myself down on the floor and wake everyone in the neighborhood.

I say, “Okay, buddy. Let Mommy finish and we’ll go downstairs in five minutes.” (Five minutes is our standard countdown time for anything: five minutes to potty, five minutes to tubby, five mintutes to go bye-bye.)

“MOMMY! Happy time, MOMMY!”

“Yes, dude, I get it. Mommy has to finish this and then get Alex, okay.”

“Get Alex … HAPPY TIME MOMMY IT’S HAPPY TIME!!! Get Alex, Mommy, GET ALEX!”

“Go ahead, go get him. Open the door.”

“IT’SHAPPYTIMEMOOOOMMMYY! IT’SHAPPEEEEEYTIIIIIIIMMEEE!”

Good times at what is now like, 6:50 a.m. My mother graciously appears in the doorway of her room to find out what Mikey wants while I shove the clothes into the dryer. I tell her, “I have no idea. It’s happy time.”

“Oh,” my mom says.

“What?”

“I was trying to teach him Happy Mother’s Day yesterday. I was telling him, ‘Tomorrow we’ll tell Mommy: Happy Mother’s Day.’ Is that what you’re trying to say, Max? Tell Mommy.”

He looks at me and says, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy!”

God love him.

Flowers from Ned/Thor/Gunnar and the boys.

Flowers from Ned/Thor/Gunnar and the boys.

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Autism.

There. It. Is.

It’s like a sentence all its own. Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody who has a child that is autistic. Everybody that knows somebody feels relief and sadness when they hear this news. I feel so sorry for them. I’m so glad it’s not my child.

It has taken me awhile to write about it. I think because when we first got the official diagnosis for Max, we were shocked. He made eye contact at home with us. He spoke, although he could not tell us what he wanted. He was very affectionate. He was not rocking himself to sleep in a corner.

But there it was. Like some horrible end-of-the-world kind of sentence.

Autism.

We didn’t tell many people. There’s a good amount of fear in the judgment and reaction from others about this diagnosis. And, we wanted to wait and see.

We began what we need to begin, which you can read more about on A is for Autism on this site. We were able to get an IEP, and he’s been in a specialized classroom since March of this year. He is beginning to really talk and vocalize his wants and needs. He loves his private speech therapist. He loves going to school, and riding on the bus. In many ways, he is a happy and healthy kid.

And yet.

I suppose I also put off writing about it because I didn’t know where this was going to end up. I had nothing but questions and no answers. And as a writer, and even as an editor, I’m a research-y, fact-checking kind of girl. I like my ducks in a row. And ASD is not a duck-in-a-row kind of thing.

I tried the one and only online forum I knew of, and lasted approximately one post before I decided to not go there again. (The moms were too … intense there.) It was too much information for me to process, and way too many acronyms. I left feeling overwhelmed and unprepared.

I tried just reading posts to glean information I could apply to my son, but that’s the tricky thing about autism. Each kid is completely different. No kid was just like my kid. It was frustrating. One issue could be addressed by going to XYZ organization that was local to that mom’s state. My son may have the same issue, but my state doesn’t have such a service. You get the gist.

Being in rural VA has not helped. I know one mom who has a son that is also autistic, and in Max’s class. There is one parent organization that covers ALL of northern Virginia, which spans four huge counties. I often will drive over an hour to attend a seminar or event.

And yet.

Max has meltdowns. Beyond tantrums. The kind of event that has me following him around the house for an hour to stop him from breaking something or hurling a toy through a window or biting his brother or banging his head against the floor. He will hit, kick, slap, bite, and even head-butt me to express his anger when given an opportunity.

He is sensory-seeking, which means we have gone through the following phases as he looks for sensory input: stimming (stimulating) an object close to his eyes usually while humming a noise; sticking his hand down the back of his pants (and yes, often coming up with something, and wiping it on the floor, the couch, the walls, the windows); sticking his fingers up his nose and wiping that on the floor, the couch, the walls, the windows (I buy a lot of Windex); and spitting—on his brother, on the floor, the couch, the walls, the windows.

For a parent, it is not fun. It often is hard to remember why you love your child. It most certainly, at times, is difficult to enjoy your child. Many times you miss out on the “normal” milestones in his life. It is often hard to remember not to yell. Or spank or even punch a wall yourself. There are days where all you do is correct your kid, yell and try time out, hoping it doesn’t turn into another meltdown.

So from time to time, I may share some of the tidbits and tricks I have learned in parenting an autistic child. I may vent about his behavior. I may cry that he’s never going to reach “normal.” But I’m finally ready to talk about our journey, and hope that it helps.

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