Summer Days and Autism

Aw summer. Time for relaxing by the pool, drinking mimosas, and sleeping in.  Oh wait I forgot I don’t have a pool, nor do I drink, and my six year old is autistic so sleeping in to him means 5AM.  Oh the joys of long summer days.

We started our official summer break two weeks ago.  And since then I can’t recall a single shower or trip to the bathroom that I’ve not had an audience of some sort. I swear I know more than get in the bathroom door and they line up knocking to ask me life’s important questions: Why are you in there?   Did dad go to work?  Can I eat these?  Can you open this? Why does the baby smell so weird?   All questions that to them can’t wait five minutes for me to get out of the restroom.

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With wild man he needs a routine.  He needs to know what is going to happen from the time he gets up till the time he goes to bed.  He likes it that way.  So with the school days behind us he has started his own daily routine of things that I thought I would share.

Thanks to the Sprout channel, I am reliving the all famous Teletubbies.  The kids love them.  I thought for sure my time with these brightly colored singing wonders was long over after my older children out grew of them.  I was sadly mistaken.   Wild man loves the Teletubbies, the bright colors, the songs, the movements.  He takes it all in.  And now he is sharing this love with his younger siblings.  Elmo loves the color green so naturally he is Dipsy.  Big Al is the tallest so he is Tinky-Winky.  There’s not a pink but red is close enough for diva so she is Po.  That leaves yellow Laa-laa for wild man. Baby girl just dances around and giggles. They spend the mornings, while waiting for the sun to dry the dew off the grass, acting out their favorite parts of the show or making up their own story lines.

telletubbies

And then we have the name and question game.  While he loves Teletubbies he also loves annoying orange.  (I know completely different yet he loves them both.  And yes I know its not the best thing for him to watch so please keep your negative comments to yourself)  Since the Annoying Orange trend started with him, he has given everyone in the family and a few close friends nicknames that we all go my now.  For instance he calls me Apple now.  His dad is coconut. The list includes his siblings which he has named: Kiwi = big sissy her boyfriend is banana, Tug boy= big bubby, little apple= diva, marshmallow= Big Al, Tomato= Elmo (because he hates tomatoes and wild man finds it funny, and baby girl is Pear.  My parents are Onion (my mom) and cabbage (my dad)  while my husband’s parents are blueberry (husbands mom) and blackberry(husbands dad).  My brother is cookie while his kids are carrot and bindi. My grandmother even has the nickname of candies. And a few close friends are pineapple and peach.  One of my best friend and her daughters are potato, butter and gray.  While another is cheese (or cheese head but in all fairness she does live in Green Bay, WI) Every day, I mean every day, he will stop what he is doing to come climb on my lap and ask what each and every person is doing.  Where is kiwi and banana today? Are they coming for a visit?  Is onion at work? Is cabbage at his house?  He starts at the top of the list and works all the way down.  Asking something about each and every person he has nicknamed.  After the questions stop then this conversation starts:

wild man” HEY APPLE” “HEY APPLE”

me: What?

Wild man “blender”

me:  AYYYYYYYY

kids: laughing

It’s an Annoying Orange thing.  He says blender( or any object for that matter) I yell the kids laugh it repeats.  Sometimes for minutes sometimes for an hour.  Just depends on them.  Again I know the show is not great, don’t judge me.  We all have our weak moments in parenting.  It makes him happy and to me that’s important.

Once the grass drys its time to get outside and play.  He loves to be outside more than anything.  He could swing for hours.  Baby girl is still getting use to having everyone home all day everyday.  She is not liking sharing momma with the rest of the kiddos.  So while the bigger kids are outside swinging and hunting for dinosaur eggs she is all cuddled up trying to squeeze in a quick nap on momma’s lap.  She has defiantly become more clingy over the past few weeks.

After lunch its time to play school.  The school system here is fantastic.  The kids received backpacks filled with coloring books, easy read books, math, reading and social studies work books, flash cards and crayons.  Everything they would need to keep up with their studies over the summer. The funny thing is they love to do their “studies” after lunch, even the two little guys.  They actually ask for it.  While they work hard doing their math sheet or their coloring page, I pull out one of the books and read to them.

 

The fact that wild man is doing any of this things with his siblings this year amazes me. He does more parallel play than actual playing in most cases.  He has come so far since the move.  A year ago he would have been in another room while they watched TV, or if they came outside he went inside, or if we were at the table he would be wondering around the house.  But now he is trying to be with us, in his terms.  And his siblings and I love it. This could turn out to be an amazing summer.

At night he has a routine as well.  After he is all tucked in under his airplane sheets he has three things that must be done. First he sings his ABC’s both forward (A,B,C,D,E,etc ) then in reverse (Z,Y,X,W,V, etc). Second he recites the Pledge of Allegiance. And then he prays. While he says his prayers he thanks God for his apple and his coconut. He thanks God for his siblings, kiwi, tug boy, little apple, marshmallow, tomato, and pear.  He thanks God for the good day he had and asks God to help him sleep.  It’s the same prayer night after night word for word but it is the sweetest prayer I have ever heard.

My days may start early and my bathroom breaks may now draw a crowd, but I love being their mom.  Some days are down right exhausting but I would not trade them for anything.

His superpower is Autism what’s yours?

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We Had a Breakthrough…He tried Pizza!!

When wild man was two, he ate like any normal two year old.  We could go out and eat just about anywhere. By the age of two and a half he had stopped eating.  Back then we knew something was different.  He did not talk like other two year-old’s, he did not make eye contact, he would sit and line cars up for hours, he did not play with others he preferred to be by himself. He is destructive. He can tear through a clean room faster than anyone I know leaving a trail of broken toys and books in his path.  Back then we knew but didn’t want to know.  We contributed his delays to his unique begin and brought in early intervention workers to help get him caught up.  By the age of three we had a diagnosis, he was autistic.

My older two children were what I would call picky eaters. But even they would eat chicken, pizza, and pastas. I have had many people tell me, “If he were mine he would eat what I fix or not eat at all” or “Why don’t you  just make him eat.”  Autism does not work that way.  Wild mans diet consists of Stage two Gerber peas, orange creme yogurt,  KFC mash potatoes ,bread sticks, Cheerios, Trix, Pringles honey stix’s, fruit snacks, french fries,peanut butter and chips Dill pickle flavored or cheese flavored.  That’s it.  He will drink water, apple juice, Kool Aid, and milk.  He just turned six.  And even though his food choices are limited he is a happy healthy little boy.

I packed his lunch everyday this school year.  He ate with the regular kindergarten class and it did not take long for one of the little boys to make fun of him eating stage two peas.  Those are for babies are YOU a baby?  He came home and said, No eat peas momma I no baby.  I called the school to see what happened and was told the story.  The teacher talked with the little boy but the damage was already done.  And with one child in the class allergic to peanuts wild man’s limited list of foods was now down by two.  But we managed and made it through the school year.

For the last few days, he has been on this “Let me made food” kick.  He has help cut up vegetables, buttered bread, and tried his hand at making smoothies.  He is becoming a fine little chief.  If only he would eat what he made.   Well yesterday he decided he wanted pizza.  We turned on the over and got all the ingredients ready.  I keep it simple, pepperoni and cheese. He was so excited.  He arranged the pepperoni in straight lines and made sure there was enough cheese to cover all the sauce and crust.  He watched it bake while he reminded me it was the longest 15 minutes of his life.   When it was done I removed it from the oven so it could cool.  That’s when it happened.

 

      HE ASKED FOR A PIECE OF PIZZA!!!!

Pizza, Food, Italian, Cheese

At first I thought I misunderstood him.   I looked at him and asked, Did you say you want  a piece of pizza?  Yes momma,  I want that one (pointing to the square piece perfectly in the middle)  Alright then, let me get it for you.  Thanks momma, thanks alot. He was all smiles.  My husband and I stared at each other.  I quickly got everyone’s plates together and told my husband to get a plate for wild man.  If he asked for that piece of pizza he was going to get it.  My husband placed the plate in front of wild man at the table.  He looked at it and then sniffed it.  Again he smiled.  He looked over at me and asked, Me eat now momma?  Yes baby you can eat now.  So he touched it, he moved the pepperoni around, he pulled the cheese off, and then he took a bite.  And he swallowed.  Momma me not like the bread.  He said.  That’s okay buddy you don’t have to eat the crust.  Okay momma thanks.  So he sat at the table, picking at the pepperoni and at the cheese.  He licked the sauce off the crust and he ate dinner with us.  For the first time in over four years all of my kids were at the table eating the same thing….pizza.  And it was wonderful.   We have had pizza many nights for dinner over the last six years, why he decided last night he would eat it I will never understand, but I am ever so grateful he did.

To most this might not be a big deal.  It may sound silly.  To us this is huge.  For him to be able to try a new food without throwing up is a major accomplishment.  For him to sit at the table with us and staying with us for the full dinner is major.  The whole night was a miracle. For in that twenty minutes we were just a normal family.

 

Nothing about autism is normal.  Some days are just plain hard, but nights like last night give us hope.  Doctors told us he would not talk, yet at five he said his first sentence.  We were told he might not walk or run do to injuries that took place before he found his was into our home, but he not only runs he climbs and jumps.  When man says you can’t Our God says YES YOU CAN!! It’s all in His precious timing.

Wild man may never eat pizza again, or it could become one of his stable foods, only time will time. It may take another four years before he tries something new.  And that’s okay also.  For now we will celebrate the small victories because life is about the small victories.

 

From our beautiful chaos to yours celebrate in all things big and small.

The Grocery store experience 

We all eat so therefore we must go to the grocery store. As a mother of five little ones I try my best to go when most of my little loves are at school. It’s both easier and cheaper on me.  However some days things don’t workout like I plan and I end up taking a few with me.  I’m sure we are entertaining for our fellow shoppers to watch. Which leads me to this blog.

A few days ago my youngest and I made a quick run to the local Food City before picking up the boys from preschool (I had ran out of coffee, I don’t function without coffee) Naturally she had been fighting sleep all morning so as soon as I placed her in the car she was out.  At this point I had a decision to make: go to the store anyway and hope she did not wake up or go get in the preschool pickup line early let and let her sleep and then take my three youngest to the store.  I did not feel like spending twenty extra dollars on cheap matchbox cars or whatever toy happened to catch my boys’ eyes so I opted to take my sleeping beauty to the store.  

I know we would not be long so I carried her. She did look sweet with her little head rested on my shoulder as I made my way up and down the aisles.  People stopped and let me cross in front of them or just stopped to smile at her.  The words “she precious” and “look how sweet she is” came out of more than a few mouths.  When I got to the register to checkout there were only two lanes opened. As I waited patiently a young clerk, early twenties max, came over and asked if I was ready to checkout. I told him I was, after all I was standing in line, and he took my little shopping chart and walked it over to lane 3.  He offered to carry my things out, but I told him I could manage and smiled. I grabbed my three bags in my right hand(I always buy more than what I go in for)  and out the door we went.  As we were walking out the door two more people stopped me and asked if they could help me to my car.

Why can’t people’s response be this way when I have my son with me?  

This question has made me both mad and hurt me over the last couple of days.


JR loves to spend time with me. The problem if we are anywhere other than our home his system goes into overdrive.  When I found out the grocery store had special needs shopping charts I was ecstatic.  The normal charts he can no longer get his legs in and if I place him in the chart there is no room for the groceries.  Does not sound like a big problem, but to an autistic six year old trust me it is. So about a month ago I decided to take him shopping with me.  Just me and him while my husband stayed home with our other kids.   He was so excited.  When he saw the chart his arms started flying. He giggled and said ” hey momma look at me” all through the store.  He is loud, he can’t help it.  He covered and uncovered his eyes a thousand times for the fluorescent lights hurt them. He covered his ears as we passed the cooler because the humming rolling off of them was loud.  He screamed when he saw the lobsters in the water tank. He didn’t notice the people starring at him. But I did. Some shook their heads while others whispered.  Times like these I am thankful for his autism for he does not see that they are judging him.  I even passed a store employee and I watched as her eyes traced my son as to say, ” why are you using that chart he looks perfectly normal”  I tried to let it go but I could not. I went up to the employee and told them to thank the store manager for getting the charts in. I made it a point to tell her he was excited to be able to go to the store with his mom and that I wished every store, not just grocery stores, had these charts.   She facial expression changed a little and she said she would be sure to tell the store owner. I thanked her and proceeded to go check out.  We waited our turn in the long line and not one person offered to help me and me wailing six year old to the car they were just happy to see us go.

I get it, babies are cute and sweet and everyone makes over them.  And for the record my daughter is adorable, however so is my son.  I’m so tired of the stares. And he is only six.  What will it be like when he turns 10, 16, or 21?  Why could they not see that he was just enjoying the day with his momma? Why would you ask a mom if she needed help with a sleeping baby and not ask to help a mom who’s child is having a meltdown?  I get so tired of the If you took him out more he would learn to behave comments.  It does not work that way, he does not work that way.  Why can people see what I see in him? 
From our beautiful chaos to yours look past the differences of others we are all beautifully made. 

Simple trip to the Zoo

Tuesday was an exciting day for my five year old son. It was the big field trip to the zoo. For the last few weeks he had talked about “zoo day.”  We had spent hours looking at pictures of the different animals he would see there and learning the different sounds they made. He was excited and I was excited for him.

The permission slip was signed and his lunch was packed and the school had agreed to let his aid go with him. So on Tuesday he got up and got ready and out the door he went.  I dressed our other little ones and dropped them off to preschool and headed to the zoo. 

It was raining some but not enough to ruin the day. Wild man loves to play on the rain anyways so it did not even phase him.  He was all smiles.  He walked in between me and his aid “Ms T” and pointed out to everyone that his momma and baby sister was there.   He engaged well with the questions his aid asked him about the animals and he was eager to share his knowledge of his favorite ones.   My heart could not have been more full. 

He loved the giraffes
 

His class was given tickets to feed the giraffes.  I was not allowed (safety measures for the animals) to take the stroller passed a certain point, so he and Ms T went with the class so he could take his turn feeding the giraffe.  Pure joy came across his face as the giraffe took the carrot from his hand.  He clapped and jumped and smiled from ear to ear.  Life was good. 
When it was time for lunch we made our way over to the picnic tables so that the class could eat together.  The teacher and other staff passed out the brown bagged lunches the school sent and passed out the lunches the parents had sent.   My son sat patiently ( well as patiently as he can) waiting on his lunch.  The teacher asked me several times what I had sent his lunch in.  I replied, “I sent his green camouflage lunch box. The same lunch box he has used all year.”  They looked and looked and then sent someone to the bus to see if it was with another classes lunch.  The teacher then came over and looked at my son and asked him(and me) if he had taken it out of his backpack that morning.  My son’s reply “backpack backpack backpack” while clapping his hands in shear delight.  She then looks at me and says, “Well if he didn’t take it out of his backpack then it’s not here. We are working on teaching him to do things like that on his own.”  “We have an extra school lunch he can have if he wants.”  
Mad is an understatement.  First off, my son is still new to the “regular kindergarten room”. He goes to the regular room half a day and then to his autism classroom the other half and he has only been doing this about two months. He is still getting use to the idea and still learning the day in and day out routine of how things are done in a regular classroom. Second, he takes his lunch to school EVERYDAY because he has sensory issues that prevent him from eating “normal foods”.  Third, I get that they are trying to teach him to be independent however if you know he brings his lunch everyday would it have hurt to check his backpack that morning to make sure he took it out especially if you know he is still forgetting to take it out of his backpack?  I understand that the morning was most likely filled with chaos as the children were excited about the trip, but he is the only autistic child in the class one extra step would have changed the whole outcome of the day.   

We declined the lunch from school.  I am sure that the ham and cheese sandwich was delicious but my son does not eat meat. I do appreciate the teacher giving him her chips from her Subway meal she brought, I do really but I could tell she was not happy about it.   As I looked at him and then looked at all the other children eating their lunch I became aggravated.  This is Exactly why I was worried about him being placed in a regular classroom.  He looks normal and people overlook his abilities and lack of abilities.  But the truth is he is not like all kids his age.  What if I had not been there? Would anyone even noticed that he did not have a lunch?  

I seen the meltdown coming so I walked over to the little consession stand and paid $12 for two orders of nachos and cheese and two juices, one for him to eat and one for me to eat so he would understand it was safe to eat.  As I walked back over to the table I received the “we were told  to pack a lunch” head shakes and glares from some of the other parents while a few of the other kids wanted to know why my son got special treatment and got to eat from the consession stand when they were told they were not allowed.  At the end of the thirty minute lunch I was ready to scream.     

His aid was overly apologetic. She felt terrible that his lunch and been left at school.   She was sorry and I believed her. She went as far as to text my sons other teacher (the one in his autism classroom) to let her know he would need a snack when he got back to class. She could tell I was upset because my son was upset with the events that had taken place.  
As I left the zoo to pick up my preschoolers from class, my son was walking around with Ms T looking at the monkeys.  He was back to his happy go lucky self and I was thankful, still mad but thankful. 

As a mom I worry about things like this all the time. Is he being well cared for while at school? Is he making friends? Are other kids picking on him? Is he really adjusting to the new class or are they just overlooking him?  

And while I want to be mad(I am still pretty ticked) I am going to remember this day as a day my son played with the giraffes and talked to the zebras.  Yes we had a meltdown and people stared but at this point on our autism journey I don’t care.  It’s part of our life.  The smiles and laughs that day far outweigh the forgotten lunch. 
From our beautiful chaos to yours it’s not the situations that make us it’s how we react to them that shape us.

Autism Awareness Month…Why My Son will never be Accepted 

Unless you live under a rock you know by know that April is Autism Awareness Month. Many people will be “supporting” awareness by making donations to local organizations or wearing their blue shirts or bragging about how they “one time helped an autistic child carry books to their class” on social media.  And while all of that is well and good, as an autism mom here is what I would have you do if I could. 
I want you to see my son through my eyes.  He is just a child. A wonderful little boy. Treat him as such!

My boy cheering on our favorite football team💛💚🏈

Don’t whisper things like “I bet life at home is hard with that one.” Or “She should bust his ass, my child would never act that way in public” Or the all famous “Control your kid, what a terrible mother she must be” line.   First off life at our home is just fine. At home our son is not judge for his actions that are out of his control, he has autism he does not see things they way you or I do therefore his behavior is different. Second, I’m thrilled your child behaves for you while you are out where everyone can see.  Truly I am. As for me, I don’t get to pick when or what will cause my son to have a meltdown, but I know busting his ass will Not make the situation any easier on any of us.  And third, I am controlling my kid, trust me on this one.

Me and my little guy enjoying some playtime a few years back

Don’t stare at him at the playground or make your children play somewhere else. As his mom all I want is for him to have the best childhood he can, just like you want for your child.  And while he will not notice that you are pointing at him and shaking your head…. I will notice.  He will not see that you quickly gathered your children up and moved them away from the swings and over to the sandbox…..but I will see and it hurts.  Playgrounds are suppose to be safe places where children can be just that… kids. Please help me help me child be “just a kid” for just a few minutes out of the day.

Wild man and his Papaw laughing at one of his airplane video’s

Don’t ask me if I’ve tried this or that to help with his eating habits or his outburst.  I know you mean well, I do, but autism is my life 24/7 if we thought it could help we have tried it.  As his mom do I want to see my almost six year old eat only yogurts, Barbecue potato chips, and stage two Gerber peas, the answer is no. Babies don’t even want to eat stage two peas. But I want him to eat so we take what we can get.  We have tried dairy free diets and gluten free diets and we have taken ideas from them and other diets to come up with what works best for him.

Wild man loved to pet sit Bacon Bit more than anything

“Why is he still not toilet trained, there is no way I would be changing crap diapers at his age.  If he can pee in the toilet he can poop in it”.  There again if it were your son and he needed you to change his diaper at the age of 6 or at 30 you would do so, because you love him just as I love my son.  And no just because he can pee in the toilet (most days) does not mean he can poop in it. With his limited diet he does not “poo” like everyone else. It’s hard and painful for him.  And before you ask, yes he is on medicine to help and he still only goes once every 8 to 10 days.  Autism moms are painful poo experts.

Me and my boy doing what he loves best
Game day. Go Pack Go

You should take him out more places, that way he would learn how to behave around others”. Don’t you think I want to take my child out? I want more than anything to be able to go to the store or out to eat as a family without the noise or the lights sending him into a major meltdown. I want to take him to an amusement park to ride rides but know the crowd and the lines would overstimulate him and led to more harm than good.  I want to enjoy family get togthers and family reunions just as much as the next person, but I know as soon as he tries to get a snack that he saw hanging out of cousin Karries bag things will get heated because those were not his but for her daughter and she does not want to share.  They will not care that he does not understand personal space or personal belongs. I know school plays and class parties are to much for him, and seeing all of the other kids enjoy them hurts. I want a normal life for him but know his limitations better than anyone.  So I stay home where I know he is safe.

Morning cuddles with this guy ❤️

My son hates clothes so if you get offended by an almost six year old running around in our house in only a pull-up or underwear, please do use a favor and don’t come around.  He has to keep clothes on while he is at school or at church, but as soon as he is home he knows he is safe and the clothes come off. Sensory issues at their finest. Remember this is his home not yours. My job as his mom is to make him feel safe, especially at his house. I’m not trying to be mean but I use up all my patience and love on him (and our other kiddos) I don’t have time to entertain your ignorance about my sons disabilities. If it bothers you don’t come around. You can just call.  You can always reach me on the phone and this will be less hurtful for all of us.

My son is not unruly or a mistake or nuisance or the monster-child uneducated society portrays him as.  He is a sweet, loving, adorable kid that I’m blessed to have call me “momma”  

In Our world we celebrate autism awareness every month, every day, and every minute. I do appreciate the thought of bringing awareness to something that many people deal with day in and day out but the fact is this my son will never be accepted in the social norm of things and that is something I am still trying to process and accept myself. He is loud and he chirps at different things. He looks just like any “normal child” but his meltdowns set him apart. He screams. He sits and lines cars up for hours while he rocks in place. He talks about the same airplanes for hours.  He has a room “his office” where, although a cluttered mess, he knows where every lego or every piece of paper is because they are ALL his “treats” aka treasures.  He plays on his tablet more than I’m sure you think he should, but that keeps him engaged for more than two minutes, in his games and videos he is in control of his otherwise out of control world.  He is so smart and so funny, his laugh lights up my world more than a few times daily.  He did not choose this life but it is what was given to him and he is making them most of it. So as an autism mom I ask this of you.  The next time you see a child don’t be so quick to judge their behavior. If you know a family who has an autistic child offer to watch their child so they can go out to dinner or on a date with their spouse. Encourage not discourage your own child to play with them, laugh with them and be friendly with them. Treat that child with love and respect just as you treat other kids.  Kids with autism are just like other kids trying to make it in this difficult world. They just have to find a way as unique as they are.

My autism awareness 💙

Buying a tshirt or donating money to an organization is great, but getting it actually know someone with autism is a much brighter beautiful action.  And by doing so it could just be the first step to making our world a better place for everyone to live it.   

So this month I will flood my social media with facts about autism and pictures of my amazing little guy in the hopes that one, just one person takes the “awesomeness” to heart and takes time to actually get to know someone with autism.  They might be surprised to see just how bright that person shines.     

From our beautiful chaos to yours God does not create junk. We are all beautifully made in His image. Remember that. Much love