Owen was back in bed with me again. This time it was seamless, out of his bed, directly in my bed. No words were exchanged and then he was out. I watched Owen last night for twenty minutes playing with his rocket ship. Sometimes I’ll sit and watch him interact with what’s around him. It’s my time for reflection on the growth we have both made. He was playing with a toy. This doesn’t happen often and when it does it’s not always the way you would play with a certain toy. Last night he counted the rocket ship down for flight, he used his fingers to count, shaking his hand as he counted, and he flew it back and forth in the air. The waves of excitement crash over me as I watch the thought process he goes through for all of this. The steps are very calculated still, learning how to put everything in motion at the same time, and watching his hand as he moves it learning to count with his fingers. I wait for the day he can hold each finger up representing one through ten. This skill has taken him years to learn and make this connection to his own hands. I rejoice and I cry at the same time. These steps did not come easy for my baby but through effort, he is accomplishing great things. Have you ever seen an apple fall from a tree. And then another. And another. If you pick up one apple it may have survived the fall without blemishes. The next one may be bruised. And the third one could have rolled down the hill. How do we compare apples to apples when they are all unique in their own way. I think about how many times I’ve wished for Owen to be able to do this or that, putting my own expectations out there, but I looked at my sweet baby O last night and my heart exploded with love when I saw him counting down his rocket ship for flight. I tell Owen that he can accomplish anything he wants if he puts his mind to it. He proves to me all the time what perseverance means. Never give up. Never give up on yourself or your dreams. Make today matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I heard him running to me. It wasn’t even four in the morning and here Owen came. His words started flying at me before I couldn’t totally even process it all. I heard his foot tapping the ground and the squeal in his voice. I knew I had to calm him quickly so he would go back to sleep. He started saying his teacher’s name. I said it’s nighttime you need to go back to sleep. He repeated her name and started chanting “school”. I told him that he would see her in the morning, that he did have school today. He was standing at the foot of my bed. The squeals were louder and he started banging his body on the bed. I needed him to calm. I needed to remain calm. I told him to get in bed and when he woke up it would be time to go to school. Four more days and he’s out for a week. I want to cry. His schedule and our routine were already thrown off because of his sickness and now Thanksgiving is next week. My heart explodes when I can’t explain things to him and it makes him more upset. He repeated his teacher’s name a few more times and then crawled in bed with me. He fell asleep quickly. Me, I’m going to need lots of coffee. I can’t stop crying. Owen has words now but he has a hard time always expressing and communicating what he needs or wants. He still has outbursts of anger that I know I have to quickly disperse. As a toddler, he would rip full handfuls of my hair out of my head. No training in the world prepares you for this in the middle of the night when you are trying to calm your child. I work with Owen every day on trying to get him to understand his emotions and feelings and work through his meltdowns. I have him count to ten. If that doesn’t work I distract him with rapid-fire questions, and to this day he will sing the song that I made up on the spot trying anything to calm my baby, but he still remembers it. Years later I hear the words, “I’m a rolly polly rolly polly and I’m bigger than this”. I sang it with him, taking his arms and doing motions as we sang. The two different activities of song and motion helped ease him through many meltdowns. My alarm will go off soon. I lay here wondering which of the forgotten things I should try to focus on today. I’m thankful for his words and how far he’s come. Well aware of the parent reading this so desperate to hear their own child’s first word. The rivers still crest and the sun still shines, even when we are not looking at them. Take the smallest of victories and let them shine through your heart. Smiles to all and donut daze!
At some point in time, you realize there has to be more to life than what you are doing right at that moment. In the last couple of years, I’ve felt my world crumbling around me but didn’t even know what to do to change it. Painting is one of the things that has changed my life. I stared at the canvas that Owen and I painted together, working on his fine motor skills. I poured four paint colors on the palette and I started painting a very abstract face. It was blue and emotions drifted out from there. Words mean nothing if you don’t put actions behind them. I can speak until I’m blue in the face but I must learn to move forward with my actions. I look at Owen and I want so many things for him. I sat on my couch for years playing video games on my tablet avoiding things that would upset Owen. There is this fine line of trying to avoid meltdowns and finding ways to guide him through a life that explains why he is having the meltdowns. And trying to even understand them myself. For several months, every day Owen would walk to our front door, multiple times, and flip the lock back and forth trying to get it in the right position for him. He would stand there squealing until it was perfect in his sight. It had to be straight up. We talked about it, he screamed about it, and I finally was going to change the lock. I would tell him the door was fine. The day that I was going to look for a new lock, he walked up to our door, screamed, looked at the lock, walked away coming to me, and said, “de door is fine”. Every day since then the screams are less and he tells me, “de door is fine”. I would love to say he is through this phase but a lot of times he cycles back through things. We choose to change and grow. Sometimes it’s through life’s experiences, other times it comes from working through our emotions. In this moment know that the impossible might become possible through change. Smiles to all and donut daze!
The gift of acceptance is something we should all feel. I get emotional when I think about that for Owen. He doesn’t understand personal space and he doesn’t really understand the realm outside his world. Every single thing is a lesson for him to learn. And not a quick one at that. He has to live it and experience it over and over again to make it part of his understanding. Changing his routine or the structure of our world is hard for him too. I think about how he kept himself from having a meltdown yesterday while we were bowling. I try to find ways to distract him. I will rapid-fire questions at him or I will tell him to count to ten if he feels himself getting frustrated. He didn’t get all the pins down. He started jumping up and down and then he stopped. He looked up at me and he started counting. “One two free four fif sick sefvin ayate nine ten”, he screams and ran to get his ball. In that moment of sadness, the victory washed over me. He did it. He found his calm. Me, I was trying to breathe. I never imagined the noise that would echo through my head even when there is silence around. You pray for calm. You try to find calm in the chaos when there is none to be found. Owen’s yelled at me no less than ten times this morning. And then we saw the moon on the way to church. He sang about the moon and he said, “I wuv ewe”. Life is calm at that moment for that second. And I knew walking through those doors at church would be acceptance for all. Today I dream of the moment life is easier for my sweet baby O, when the world doesn’t feel like it is crashing all around us, but oh so thankful for the gift of my son and the people that love and accept us for who we are. Keep pushing forward. Know that you are important and you matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
You truly never know the moment your life will change forever. And I think our story gets written anew every day if we so choose and depending on what curveball you are thrown. Today was the true meaning of keep pushing forward and my baby standing on a balance beam. If that doesn’t make sense that pretty much sums up my life. With every curveball that was thrown at Owen today he melted-down and then he overcame the moment for an incredible victory. Me, I’m still over here in the corner shaking. I’ve told Owen for days that we were going to a birthday party. He went through his Saturday scenario, “coffee shop den bowling grandma”. I said, yes, but then we are going to a birthday party. He said, “happy birthday wanna slide”. The last time we went to a birthday party it was at a different place that he absolutely loved. They have huge slides and a maze of climbing activities that he truly loved. I tried to explain to him this wasn’t the same place but he didn’t understand. Driving to the birthday party I got lost. It was exactly where I thought it was but between the GPS and people telling me the wrong way I was within fifty feet of the place only to then drive miles from it. This upset Owen because there was so much traffic. He yells constantly at me to go no matter the circumstances. Sitting in a car is not good for Owen. Trying to explain sitting in a car to Owen is impossible at this stage. We got back to the place and the next obstacle was upon us. This was not “sing happy birthday slide” place. And he let everyone know it when we walked in the door. I too could have melted into the ground like the witch from Wizard Of Oz but I moved forward. After a moment that seemed like hours Owen calmed. I still wanted to cry. He easily took his shoes and socks off and the fun began. He had a great time. The people were very friendly. The hosts were very supportive of us and truly understand. Walking out my door is one of the hardest things I do but for the love of Owen, I keep making us go. The world feels beyond lonely some days when all he does is scream at me but when we got back home today he crawled in my lap and gave me a “big hug”. My world feels like it is crumbling but through tears, I will say I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. We made progress today. My baby stood on a balance beam because we walked out of our door. I prayed for strength, I tell myself I will not crumble, and I will make tomorrow a better day. You are not alone. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I woke up in one of the most positive attitudes that I have in a very long time. Owen was yelling about his tablet. “Look it’s over dhere you have dem all”, he said. I didn’t have them charging in the same place as he normally goes to get them. He had his old one but it wasn’t the one he wanted. It wasn’t quite five in the morning yet but he was certainly ready to go. I said my usual, it’s nighttime, you can’t have your tablet yet. Plus, you have to go to the bathroom first, I continued. He answered, “yes ma’am no ma’am”, getting into bed with me. This is now his standard answer for when I ask him if he has to go potty. I try to teach him manners and responses to questions but he hasn’t made the connection that he doesn’t have to answer both. We’ve been working on math and spelling. A lot of times it’s my go-to in the car trying to distract him from yelling about the lights and “twaffic”. As we were laying there I had looked at my phone to see the time. The shadows from my hands were on the ceiling. It took me back to my childhood when my mom would show me shadow animals on the walls. I said, “what’s two plus two”. Owen answers, “equals”. I held up my hands with two fingers on each hand. I tried to get him to look at the ceiling, asking him to count my fingers. He didn’t understand any of those directions. I wanted him to look up. I tried switching to making animals with my fingers, hoping to swift his focus to the ceiling if I kept moving my hand. He didn’t understand that directions at all. Within a few minutes, my alarm was going off. We got up and he ran off to the potty. Owen knew to say equals. This is a huge step for him. The sadness and the expectations can overcome you but I have to focus on the positive moments. My sweet baby O is making tremendous progress. The journey through autism is not what I expected but the love is beyond compare. Be kind to your soul, make time for yourself, and know that you are important. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Sleep is clearly a necessity but one I seem to not get often. Stress and life keep the wheels turning. Thankfully Owen has been sleeping a little better again and I pray that the sickness is leaving him. He was able to go to his church program last night and that makes him so happy. Earlier in the day, he went on a field trip with school. I see progress with Owen but there are still moments that I try to figure out what to do and how to keep the progress moving forward. He has clear lines of where people should be and when someone is in a different location it can be hard for him to process. I wanted to go with him on his field trip but I felt like he would have more fun without me. Depending on where we go he is more focused on me than the event. Other times he is completely fine with me being there. This also has to do with the fact of who else is with us. If I met Owen at the location he would think that I was picking him up and we should go home. This is changing and I am able to go more places with him but it’s still an emotional journey for me. And the rules of today will change for tomorrow unless they don’t. He’s asking to go more places, he’s doing more things, and our world is changing every day. Never give up. Believe in miracles, I look at mine every day. And know that you can accomplish great things if you put your mind to it. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Some days the coffee isn’t strong enough. Everything has a place and everyone must follow the rules until the rules can be broken and we can change. I had a parent-teacher conference by FaceTime with his teacher. I didn’t think this through. This meant his teacher, albeit a video of her, was in our house. She’s supposed to be at school not in our home. That’s a rule. And a rookie mistake as I like to call them. He was anxious when I was on the phone with her, trying to turn it off. He squealed the whole time and his foot was a’tapping. I hadn’t even thought that through. I could have gone to school but I thought we would do FaceTime instead. I tell myself he needs to get used to things being different but it can also affect how the rest of our day goes. She had wonderful things to say about Owen and very proud of his progress. Luckily, when we hung up he was calm again but asking about his teacher he hadn’t seen in a week. I was able to take it all in. My sweet baby O is thriving and that’s what matters. One step at a time for both of us on this journey. Last night Owen fell asleep before seven. He asked for a bath very early on but then he laid down on his beanbag pillow. Within a few minutes, he was asleep. So what do I do. He is doing really great about going to the bathroom when he’s awake but during the night he doesn’t understand to get up if he has to go. Most nights he stays dry but it’s still a process. I let him lay there for several hours until I tried to change him and move him. He fought me in his sleep. He finally woke enough for me to change him and get him to bed. He slept all night. The sickness is leaving his body but I think the lack of sleep finally caught up to him. I took those hours when he fell asleep and accomplished many things. The quiet gave me time to think. Owen is always in constant motion and never a silent moment. And some days the accomplishments are amazing and the coffee is just right. Learning to be kind to myself is one of the hardest parts of this journey through life. Find your happiness and know that you can accomplish great things. Positive words and positive actions equal a positive life. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen was beyond happy with what he was going to do today. In fact, he was so happy we have been talking about it since five o’clock in the morning. And technically since Sunday. Today is parent-teacher conferences so it’s one more day off for Owen. He is ready to go back to school but today he got to go spend time with beloved friends and he couldn’t wait. Yesterday was probably one of the roughest days I have had in a long time. I’m trying to push through Owen’s demands of sitting and doing exactly as he wants to be able to find a medium ground that works for us both. My child screams a lot. It’s emotional for me. You find yourself trying to not ever rock the boat so there are no emotional outbursts or meltdowns. But they still come. Yesterday I did laundry when Owen was awake. This caused a lot of stress for me and him but I kept pushing forward on it. He has to know that there are other things mommy needs to do besides sit when he commands me to sit. The rollercoaster of emotions is strong thinking about what is the right and wrong way to handle this. I had groceries delivered yesterday. This has helped in so many ways but yesterday when I was done getting the groceries I didn’t turn the deadbolt to the exact location he needed it to be and he couldn’t get it into the exact location either. My sweet baby O was in full meltdown mode over the lock not being completely vertical. Over an hour later he was calm. This morning I went out to the car to make sure the doors were not frozen shut from the snow. Owen always watched me from the window if I have to go outside. Even if I’m only stepping on the porch I always take my keys because Owen will immediately shut the door and lock it. I try to explain to him that he can’t lock mommy out but he doesn’t understand. When I unlock the door from the other side he jumps up and down because “momma knock knock on de door” and “mommy home”. I’m thankful for his progress and his growth. I never imagined all of the emotions we would both go through. His smile is what keeps me moving forward. Share your smile with the world. You truly never know who might need to see it. Smiles to all and donut daze!
To say my child is hyper might be an understatement of all understatements. He keeps walking up to me, letting out a slow high pitched squeal, laughing, and then walking off. Mix that with the coughing and dropping things on purpose, saying, “did it fall”, to get more attention when he is coughing and we gots ourselves some fun. My sensory seeker wants to drink all the milk in all the lands to make himself cough even more. I gave him water and that causes him to get nose to nose with me saying “shockuwit mulk pwease”. And that happens every few seconds. I got up to do some laundry and he stands, yelling, “sit down”. I pushed forward. He yelled more. He followed me into my room. He wanted the light off. I didn’t turn it off. I walked out to the room for a second and come back to the fan on full blast, with him trying to turn the light off. I turned the fan off and he started yelling for the light. I kept folding the laundry. He then started jumping on the bed. I got him to stop and he started eating the bedding. Everything goes in his mouth, especially on days that he needs a lot of input. The comforter was first and when I told him to stop it was the sheets, then the blanket and pillows. I’m back to sitting in the living room. He’s concerned with when he will see his teacher again. This has been an extremely hard past week for him. Between the ongoing sickness, a holiday, and tomorrow’s parent-teacher conferences, it will be a week that he has been out of school. The routine of routine is what we need. There is no calm for my baby. It is a constant roar for him and in turn for me. I share our story so you know you are not alone. Our journey is through autism, yours may not be autism but everybody’s got something. Today is but one moment in time. Know that you can do great things if you put your mind to it. Make today matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I'm Lynn Browder. Owen's Mommy. The best moments in time are when I get to see the smile on his face and that giggle come from his heart.