Be My Guest~ He’s “Spectrum-y” but He’s All Mine

autismawareness

It is hard to believe that the month of April is pushing into May already. Part of my plan for my blog this month is to raise my own and my readers awareness of the often misunderstood diagnosis of autism. Earlier this month a friend shared his family’s personal story. Today’s post is written by my cousin Beth. My invitation to her to share her story on my blog has caused her words to bubble out onto the page. I have learned quite a bit about the trials and joys both of these family’s have faced over the years by reading their hearts story. It is my prayer that you, my reader, have as well.

Yes, He’s “Spectrum-y” but He’s All Mine!

“Spectrum-y”….. it’s a word those of us affected by Autism have come to know oh-so-well. Loving someone who is on the “Autism Spectrum” has it’s challenges, but with each challenge comes a bounty of blessings. One learns not to take the little things in life for granted. All the typical milestones, we as parents count on, become less and less important when one of our children has Autism. Getting through a shopping trip without a tantrum becomes the best day ever. The first day you don’t get woken up by the security alarm going off because your child wants to go outside at 4 AM… it doesn’t get any better! How about the first time you can go out for dinner and not have to leave inside of twenty minutes because after that the screaming begins…all these become milestones of an Autistic parent. A mother learns that the “competitiveness” we feel with other Mother’s is so insignificant- we start to appreciate how much a laugh, smile, reaction, kiss or a hug means more than a winning Lotto ticket could ever mean. Only a parent who lives with Autism gets how important it is to have a moment of peace and a full night’s sleep without having someone erupt into a tantrum. The tantrums can be fleeting and usually tolerable, but when it happens in a grocery store and you have to leave a cart full of groceries just to get the tantrum to stop… it’s always exciting. It’s certainly never dull….

My son was born September 5,1998… I’ll never forget that day. Not just because he was born then, but because it was the same day Mark McGuire tied Babe Ruth’s homerun record. All anyone could hear all afternoon was screaming and yelling- and it wasn’t from laboring women, it was from their significant others cheering the ball game! Interesting to say the least. I thought then, Corey would have have such an exciting life, simply because of the day he was born. How those words somehow “haunt” me, but not really in a bad way. Simply because if I knew then what I know now, I would have shut the doors and turned on a movie- maybe I could have had a little “less” drama. More of a sit-com kind of life? Maybe “Seinfeld” or “Friends” or something to “lighten the mood”. But I went with the moment. Sports were great that year, and I don’t even like sports. But, if you have to watch sports, that’s how you watch them. oh, well. C’est la vie…Corey was always a pretty easy going baby-he went to bed great… no fuss, slept through the night at 7 weeks, ate GREAT- I couldn’t get enough food into him! I never knew babies could eat so much. He was twenty pounds at 6 months old! He was chubby and did exactly what he was “supposed” to do as a baby and life was good… or so I thought. It couldn’t get much better, right? Until about the age of one…then it all changed.

autism puzzle

His easiness and contentedness would be sharply contrasted by how angry and annoyed he would get, for what seemed like no real reason. Loud noises bothered him, especially music, drastic changes in the weather like wind and rainstorms affected him and not in a good way! And foods became a huge issue- toddlers learn what they like and don’t like, but Corey was obsessed with macaroni and cheese- ALL THE TIME! Morning, noon, night… and if I ran out… believe me, I was at the store no matter what time of day, buying more. The extremes of his tantrums were getting worse. I was told repeatedly that I “spoiled” him or he needed a “beating” to put him in line. My heart knew better. My heart knew there was something else. Corey may have been what I thought was “stubborn” but he was perfect in my eyes and he LOVED his Mom! He never left my side unless it was for close family and he was only happy when I was in view. He didn’t play with kids, he didn’t even a want to look at them and that was ok with me, for a while. But, eventually, it was more and more like he was in a whole other world not a part of ours… and a part of me wished I could be there with him. I knew in the deepest part of my heart, something wasn’t right.

` After months of hearing, “there’s nothing wrong with him”, “he’s a typical boy”, ” all boys are slow” ( between you and me, I never quite understood what that meant?) and “you’re being paranoid” I FINALLY got someone to “hear” me- she asked me if he was ever diagnosed “On the Spectrum”? Nope. No idea what that even means? So, being the “neurotic” person I am… I Googled it…Oh My Gosh!!! Finally! It wasn’t me! He was everything Google said and more! Fast forward about 3 months when I could finally get to see a doctor and yes… he was officially diagnosed with PDD-NOS- a form of Autism diagnosed in children under the age of 6. Now I could get help from school for him- he qualified for services, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language. Yay. What I didn’t realize in the midst of my happy dance, that while Corey would “qualify” for Special Education, I wasn’t prepared for what home was going to be like… here it comes. I still had a daughter to care for, too. Most of my family didn’t believe me or want to know about it- it was embarrassing. The friends that cared to even know what I was going through asked and the ones who didn’t care, couldn’t tolerate his tantrums and they stopped calling. Going out to the grocery store, mall or a restaurant became the most difficult trips- it almost wasn’t worth it. But I needed to get out and be around other people. Strange noises made him scream, smells made him freak out and unfamiliar places put the fear of God into him like nothing I had ever known. What I didn’t know then, that I do know now, was if I educated myself “enough”, I would have known all those things, right? Being a parent to an autistic child is a learning process. It’s also one where a lot of tolerance is learned, too. I’ve had many people stare at me and him, people have told me I’ m a bad Mother- that one came not only from strangers, but from family, too- if I knew how to be a decent parent, he would never act the way he does. One learns to ignore it. But it makes everything just a little more difficult. Other parents brag about how smart their kid is, how talented their kid is, how many friends their kid has- I had a “party” when Corey wrote his name without assistance for the first time… in first grade!!!! The first book he read by himself… in second grade… was cause for celebration! Mardi Gras paled in comparison to how many people I called and celebrated the news with! With his success came struggles- his OCD. He became infatuated with things that got in the way of his day, sometimes. Sea animals was and still is a big one for him- Star Wars, video games, cartoons, Titanic The Movie- but the biggest was penguins. He talked about them day and night, all the different kinds, he had videos, books… we even went to the penguin exhibit in Mystic- to this day years later, he still remembers everything about that one penguin. That one seemed to take over his life, but we all listened and in a weird way, became educated by him. Truthfully, I’m glad he took it down a notch…but no obsession he has now EVER compared to “The Penguins”… that one was tough. We did it, though.

Corey is 13 1/2 now and in middle school. He likes girls, video games, different types of foods for lunch -pizza and cheeseburgers are his favorites, though- he likes to cook, he likes math. I could never understand that one but it makes sense why… it’s predictable, just like he likes it. Predictable. That’s our life. Our whole family life. Predictable. Sometimes boring, but we do it because it works for him- the peace through the process is something my whole family and those closest to me have had to learn. I know, God doesn’t give me what I can’t handle, but I guess what I’ve learned? He can bring it on! I can handle anything! Sometimes, life doesn’t always go the way we want it to and Corey learns that everyday with great difficulty. I see it in his eyes when he’s faced with a sudden change. It seems so minute for some of us, but for him, he works so hard to just get through the day and when he does, there’s a certain gratification he gets from doing a good job… and so do I. Partly because I know how hard it was for him to do it…but mostly… because I’m his Mom and I get to love every single second of watching him.

Thanks to both of my guest bloggers this month for sharing such courageous stories.

Autism Flower

Warning…that can be habit forming

Good Habit

Habits. We all have them. Habits can be viewed as good. Habits can be viewed as bad. Habits can be developed. Habits can be changed.

A habits is defined as a practice or tendency.

A few habits that come to mind are:

Bathroom Habits

Buckling up

Listening

Eating Habits

Viewing and Reading

Driving

Nail biting

Smoking

Exercise

I have been working over these past four months to develop some new habits and have seen results in several areas. Consistency is key. It has been said that it takes 30 days to make a habit. Change is not easy however, in fact it can be downright painful at times. We must often stare down what we can often view as a glaring inadequacy. Now I know there are those among us that would flip that statement on its head and say it is an area to be improved, which it is but most often when we are seeing ourselves we tend to look at it from the other perspective. I will say however with practice I have begun to see a shift in my thinking from the inadequate person to one who is constantly seeking to improve and grow herself. This doesn’t happen overnight so be patient with yourself.

The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.  ~Samuel Johnson

I lean on God and draw from His wisdom and strength, asking where I should seek to change. A number of years ago I smoked cigarettes. I had quit the habit many times but for one reason or another always started again. One day I felt the Lord telling me it was time to quit. So I did. It was quite easy to put them down. As in the past I resumed smoking again after a period of time but this time I really struggled because I knew I was being disobedient to what the Lord asked me to do. Eventually I put them down again but this time it was a real struggle, the cravings were intense and I yearned for a cigarette like I never had before. The season of grace was gone. It had been present when I obeyed initially but not now none the less the directive to quit hadn’t changed. Lesson learned here…do what the Lord asks when he asks…it will probably be easier than if you delay in your response.

Motivation and habit

My personal successes in 2012 include maintaining a well organized home office, creating a priority list of tasks and getting through them each month, rising at 4:30 each morning to spend quiet time reading and journaling, using my directional consistently when driving(this may seem odd but it makes me nuts when others don’t use one so I realized that CHANGE starts with me), and to add to the list this month hanging the laundry outside to dry in an effort to conserve more energy.

What about you…are there new habits you need to develop or old ones you need to let go of?

April is Autism Awareness Month

 

autismawareness

Last month The Authentic Me celebrated Women’s History Month by inviting guest bloggers to write a post about a woman that inspired. I enjoyed the format of guest bloggers very much and hope to continue to incorporate it into my regular blog. As I readied myself for the turn of the calendar I discovered April is designated Autism Awareness Month and set my sights on asking 2 people I know who have been affected by autism if they would consider writing for this purpose. Both have agreed, happily I might add.

I will be sharing their stories with you soon. I am sure that you will be as informed and impacted with what they share as I have been.

If you have a personal story to tell about how autism has affected you I would be honored to have you as my guest. Leave me a note in the comment section and I will be in touch.

 

Flying Solo

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Every time I see those little cookie vases I smile. It is the simple things in life that are so significant.

Well hard to believe that it is already the middle of March. Happy St. Patty’s Day to all my Irish readers. I am about 50% Irish myself, guess that is why I enjoy beer so muchSmilest-patricks-day

My husband, Steven returns late tomorrow. He doesn’t travel without me so being home alone is unusual although I must confess not unpleasant. It is nice not to have the responsibilities that come along with being a wife for a little while. Not that he is demanding or anything but its nice not to have to be responsible to anyone else for a bit, well except the animals.

Steven and I have been married 7 years this June. Second time around for each of us. As I think back to when we were first married and how I would have felt and acted with his week long absence as compared to today I am very aware of how much I have grown and matured. It is amazing how REAL love makes you feel secure. This security is mostly because I have grown in the Lord these past years AND I am married to a truly wonderful man.

I have made great use of my time alone this week. I am so pleased with the fact that I committed and followed through with early morning rising and journaling every day! Wow, good for me! I have kept a journal for years but never with great consistency. I am still using the same one I wrote in 3 years ago, does that tell you something? Well I was inspired by Cee and Chris who are working through the Artist’s Way and have been journaling 3 pages everyday. I am really impressed with what my journaling has produced over the week and I intend to keep it up.

I have also been really blessed to spend time with each of my daughters, my mom and tomorrow my sister. Last night after work I met my oldest, Emily, at this fabulous place I found on Yelp.IMG_2894 I use Yelp often when I am looking to explore a new area for great eateries. We ordered salads, entrees and even splurged on dessert. Every bite was excellent and I enjoyed left overs today. I will be returning again soon and often.

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I also recommitted myself to Weight Watchers. I am a lifetime member…that means I made my weight loss goal(last March) and no longer pay.  I continued to attend weekly meetings for several months after achieving my weight loss goal but then my life changed and I stopped attending. Well guess what happened? Yep, over the past several months I gained some weight. Not terrible just about 10 pounds or so but I know what can happen and I refuse to do this again. So I cracked out the little WW calculator and began counting points. I have lost about 5 pounds. I plan to lose the rest and then get back to meetings. For me the weekly weigh in keeps me honest and I need that. Next thing is for me to get back on track with some regular exercise. I sure hope I will be writing a post about conquering this hurdle next month!

Well for tonight I think I will go plug into a movie. I borrowed a few from the library and have not watched a one.

Thanks for reading.