Where are the boundaries, and how did they get out of control. These, and many other questions I have asked today. Owen is recovering from his sickness. Me, I’m tired. He fell asleep pretty easily last night, but then when I was moving him to his bed he woke up. And he woke hysterically crying, beyond upset, but wasn’t really even completely awake. The later it got the more he yelled, and the more I wanted to cry. After hours of him almost falling back asleep, to waking up completely, multiple times, I moved him to my bed. He couldn’t calm down. I tried everything, and gave him what he asked for. Once we were in my bed, he kept screaming words repeatedly. At this point I knew he had to go to sleep, or he would be up all night again. I put my mom face on, told him that we were a team, and that he couldn’t yell at me. I also told him that he needed to stop talking. Now this is the one, two punch to the gut. How on earth can I tell my baby that struggles with words to stop talking, to be quiet. But there I was doing just that. He needed to go to sleep. With my mom face still on, I hovered over him, only a few inches from his face. He looked at me, almost screamed again, and instead closed his mouth. His eyes slowly closed, only to pop open a few seconds later, but no words. A few more times of him looking at my face, only a few inches from his, and he was out. He woke up early, and somehow I convinced him to go back to sleep. He slept three more hours. I know he needed it. He woke cranky, but with lots of words, incredible connections, and wanting to go bowling. He talked about the “elevator at de mall” and lollipops. He’s never had a lollipop, only a lick of one once that he pushed away, but we were out the other day, and someone offered him one. He amazes me with his words, and his “inCreedaBull” memory. Thankful he is feeling better, and tomorrow is a brand new day. Be inspired, be thankful, and be positive, the rest will follow. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Sickness struct the household. The cough came first, then Owen’s fever; he’s eating, and drinking. But he was up around midnight, and has yet to fall back asleep. “Keep screaming e tablet es gone”, his words snap me to attention. He holds on to all my words. It was never more evident that kids reflect, and own the words you say until I heard Owen say my words back to me. As he grows, and his language skills develop, I can tell he has a very good memory for his past. I always knew he did, but now I hear it every day. It makes me more aware of how I approach subjects with him, and how I try to teach him. I always feel like I’m his personal tour guide when we are driving, explaining what we do at certain stores, and what we can get there. Owen’s coughing, and he says “bwess ewe” when he coughs. For being sick, up since midnight, he has more energy than a wound up, singing, and dancing stuffed animal, that’s about to fall off the shelf at a store, waiting to be bought for Valentine’s Day. Me, I’m sitting. He’s looking at his calendar, in between playing on his tablet, and jumping on the couch. He is in need of input today, and I find that is common for him when he is sick. His connection to places, and words is growing. As he looks at his calendar I ask him to tell me about it. Usually there is no answer when I ask him something like “how was your day at school” or “what did you have for lunch”, but today was different. He was looking at a month that had buildings in the picture, and he started naming the colors in the picture. There’s progress in moments like this; I think about these memories when we are having rough days, it gets me through them. I’m waiting for the day when the voice activated command works for him on his tablet. The few times it has recognized his words he still thought I did it. I can’t wait to see what the tomorrows bring for him. Never give up hope, keep pushing for a better tomorrow, and know that you are amazing. Smiles to all and donut daze!
When we came home yesterday there was a box on our porch. I knew what it was; the clear bags the city provides for recycling. What I didn’t know was what was behind it. Owen was ahead of me, walking to the porch. When he got there he bent down to look at the box, I thought, but no, it was the city’s calendar sitting next to the box. He has always had a fascination with magazines, and pictures of places; depending on the look, or texture. Normally he paces back, and forth on the porch, until I get there, but he stood by the door, looking at the calendar. I’m always saying watch your step, as he runs in front of me. The steps leading to the porch are like an afterthought to the rest of the world. Forwards, backwards, sideways he’ll walk up the steps; invisible they seem to him. He walks up them looking willy nilly around, focusing on lights, sounds, or objects he sees in the distance. But today he was focused on the porch, bending down, as soon as he was on the first step. I hurried a little to make sure he was fine. I saw it then, the calendar. He picked it up, something he rarely does when he sees things. He stood, holding the calendar, staring at it with great interest. He started talking to it, in a language all to his own. He was beyond delighted. I think he recognized the pictures. They were of our city, places we walk, and here they were before his very eyes. Once we came inside, I had him put it down, so he could take of his jacket, and shoes. He quickly did, talking to the calendar occasionally. Normally he is so focused on what I’m doing at this point; wanting me to get his milk, and crackers - his beloved veggie straws. Plus, I have to change my clothes; home clothes, so he knows we are not going back out. And all at the same time, but the calendar was his distraction. He was calmer, taking his time for things. It was something he looked at throughout the entire night. I know it triggers things in his mind, and I wish he could tell me what they were, but for now I know he is happy. Find your happiness, and go after your dreams. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Sometimes I’m not prepared for autism. Owen has been doing so good about going places, I forget sometimes how hard it is for him to go places. When I picked him up from school he asked to go to all his favorite places. I told him we were going to see different fish today, and that we were going to a different restaurant. “Nopeidy nope”, was immediately spoken. I kept driving. He asked for the fish. I took him to the pet store, instead of going to Cabela’s to see the big fish tank. I thought he might like seeing some of the other animals, as well. He looked at the fish for a couple minutes, but then he saw a large step ladder, that he thought was a swing. It had a chain across the front of it, to detour customers from using it. I walked him to another area, hoping to distract him from the “swinga”. We walked near the birds, and reptiles. He showed little interest in the birds, but quickly wanted to go back to the swing. We walked by the fish again, but he only had eyes for the “swinga”. We left without much fanfare. He asked for the fish, knowing he might the big tank. I told him we would go another day. I wanted to take him to a different restaurant, but that didn’t go as planned. We pulled up to the restaurant, I got out of the car, and I tried to get Owen out. The crocodile tears came immediately, he pushed his feet on the seat in front of him, and he attempted to buckle himself back in. Joy, then sadness sat there in my heart. My baby was trying to buckle himself back into his seat, but the reality of this all being too overwhelming for him sunk in. I pushed forward. I knew we should go home, but I knew we needed to go to the restaurant more; for both of us. Off to Bob Evans we went. We got there, and he wasn’t convinced we needed to go, but he also didn’t want to go home. We stood in the parking lot. I asked him if he wanted food, or he wanted to go home. He walked towards the restaurant. It wasn’t probably one of our top performances in a restaurant, but it certainly wasn’t our worst. We had a very nice waitress, that related to us, and got our order to us quickly. We made it. That’s what I kept telling myself. Today I pushed us. I’m not sure if it was the right decision, but tonight Owen’s happy, and I’m not crying, so there’s success in there somewhere. Never give up. Today may seem like a valley, but know that tomorrow you can climb the mountain to success. Smiles to all and donut daze!
First, I would like to thank the meltdown light for being green. That right there was something to celebrate. And secondly, I would like to thank Owen for being my cheerleader. When we got to our house I had to parallel park. This is not my favorite thing to do. Owen had been talking nonstop since I picked him up from school, reciting many of the things we had talked about the day before on our travels. When I started parking, he said, “you ok need a hug”. My words coming back to me that I have said to him on many occasions. And I thought, yes buddy, I do need a hug. This is such an emotional journey, and the fact that I can’t parallel park doesn’t help. Owen is making new connections every day, and the words are becoming more fluid. He grabbed his milk cup, walked into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator got the milk carton, and he said, “milk”, handing them both to me. That’s some big progress right there. I think about how far we’ve come, and I’m beyond thankful for his growth. He’s full of words tonight, but they are repeated words strung together until I respond. “You can see the fish you can see the fish you can see the fish”, repeated numerous, and then when I respond he changes it to “ok you can see the fish ok fish ok fish ok fish”. He will move through the words he can use. He’ll repeatedly ask for all of his favorites, throwing random things in like “take a baff”. I know that is how he can communicate with me, but it’s figuring out what I encourage, and discourage that is so difficult. I don’t want to discourage his communication efforts, but I want to find ways to help him understand that he doesn’t need to repeat the same phrase for an hour, and expect a response from me every time. It’s amazing, and daunting all at the same time. I try to come up with things to distract him. I told him to name ten animals, and he named ten animals; one I didn’t understand what he said, but his confidence told me that it was one. I have learned as much from Owen, as I have taught him. Life is full of challenges, but find your confidence, and know that you are a lot stronger than you think you are. Make today matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
As Owen learns to talk, he is expressing himself through other people’s emotions, and tones. I will emphasize certain words, saying them louder, or with a different tone. When he is uses those phrases, he will do the same thing. He will also repeat the same word, or phrase, twenty or more times; sometimes the same words for hours. I wonder how he breathes. I know he does, but that’s what it feels like. Some of his words still are indistinguishable, but I hear progress. After church Owen wanted to go see the fish at Cabela’s again. As we were walking in the doors he was talking about seeing the fish, turkey, and bears. Then he asked for Santa, and before I could reply he said, “he gone to de pole”. I keep telling him that Santa went back to the North Pole. I’m excited that he is making these connections from one moment to the next. I told him if he wanted to see the fish he had to wear the hat they gave him yesterday. He wore the hat, the entire time. My baby is changing right before my very eyes, as he screams a happy scream about the app he is working on. I took his tablet away from him earlier, because he kept screaming, and was acting out. I told him to go play with something else. He hit me, so I put him in timeout. Timeouts are when I actually see a little kid in Owen. He slides himself down the chair, he rocks back, and forth, and if I even glance in his direction he will scream. Timeout finally worked though, and he calmed down; for a minute. I can tell he is processing a lot today. He will run to me, repeating the same phrase over, and over again, making sure he has it right, and then run back to play. We are both full of a lot of emotions. He is wanting mischief, and comfort, all at the same time, and I’m wanting peace for my baby. The river of emotions runs through my body; hot, and cold currents run amuck through my system, hoping for my own comfort. Life can be emotional, but find your comfort, and make time for yourself. Smiles to all and donut daze!
We went to see the “gooey fish” at Cabela’s. That’s how Owen references the fish there. He makes the connection to them from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. When we were leaving we talked with two associates. I explained that Owen loves to come see the fish. He told them about the fish, and the other animals we came to see. One of them suggested he needed a hat. They gave Owen a baseball cap with Cabela’s on it. I wasn’t sure how Owen would react to it, but I was so excited to receive it. Owen doesn’t generally like to wear things on his head. His teacher can get him to wear his hood of his coat, but I can’t. That’s part of the rules. When we got in the car I put the hat on him again. I told him to wear it for me. He did. For the rest of the afternoon he would occasionally put the hat back on. This was huge progress. We then went to “bob evaN resRonT”. He did amazing. He asked to go. I want to take him to different places to establish a routine for him, but yet I also want to change it up, so if we can’t do something it won’t upset him as much. After we left Bob Evans we needed to go to the post office. This has become a place that Owen doesn’t want to go to, but I thought I would try a different one, and see how he did. Off to the mall we went. He got to ride the elevators, and I got to go to the post office in the mall. I didn’t tell him it was the post office, it looked like any other store. We were in, and out in five minutes. I told him as we left that he did amazing at the post office. He said, “no post office”. Soon we’ll have to try the post office near us that has caused him so many meltdowns to see if we can overcome it. One step at a time I tell myself. We finished off our day with his beloved coffee shop, and bowling, followed up with a visit for him with his grandma, so I could do some shopping. I’m very proud of how far Owen has come. We did a lot today. On the way home our light got us, and the meltdown was a big one. I have to stay focused on the beautiful journey we had today, and not that one moment in time. Today was a great day. Find what makes you happy, go after your dreams, and celebrate your victories. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen fell asleep fairly quickly last night, but woke around four ready for his day. He got into bed with me, but sleep was not on his mind, milk was. “Wanna milk you can have milk”, and many other versions were repeated over, and over again. He really doesn’t want milk, he wants his tablet, but milk is his go to mommy motivator. Or so he thinks. We laid there for quite awhile, knowing we should have gotten up, but I kept hoping he would fall back asleep. He then started saying, “timer go off then you can have milk”. I set timers for a lot of things, milk not being one of them, but I’m happy he is making the connections. He had a rough morning, everything was causing him to be anxious. When I picked him up from school he was excited, and seemed to be calm, so I was glad that his day had gotten better. As we drove home, he told me about the lights, making it all the way home without any meltdowns. I still walk on the side of caution, but it feels good to have accomplished this, two days in a row. Today we are working on following directions, and pointing. Owen is getting better about following two step directions. I will tell him to get his milk, and close the refrigerator door; this took several times for him to understand the second step. I will point to something, asking him to bring it to me, but the imaginary point to where my finger goes is not a concept he understands. He will run around the room looking for something that is right at the end of my finger pointing. I try to point at objects now, hoping he will get the connection. Everything is something he has to learn, and process. He couldn’t find his tablet, I pointed to it, the cries started immediately. I pointed again, stating his tablet was on the couch, the screams began. I asked him to look where I was pointing, he didn’t, but he did find his tablet. The more he learns, the more he needs to learn. I’m thankful for the connections he is making, and his growth. As I listen to Owen sing a song, getting most of the words right, I think about the joy he brings me, and that makes me smile. Sing a song out loud, share your joy, and find what inspires you. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I’m supposed to be doing a lot of things, but instead I’m concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other. Some days feel rough around the edges, but there are parts that are like those chocolates that have the awesome gooey centers. Owen’s smile makes my day, his laughter is contagious, but his cries break my heart. Last night he seemed to be happy, and then as he laid there trying to sleep, he started crying. It’s emotions he can’t describe, but there they were. All I could do is hold him, letting him know I was here. He fell asleep quickly after that, and slept most of the night. I could hardly sleep last night. Everything, and nothing woke me. When I picked Owen up from school, he started talking to me. He recites all the different places he wants to go, and the phrases he knows. As we drove, we talked about each light as we were coming up to them. I’m trying to find ways to lessen the meltdowns over the one particular light. As we are approaching the lights I will say, “what color is it”, going on to tell him the color, and that we may, or may not have to stop. He now says, “what color is it” as we drive down the road, sometimes saying the colors. I was anxious, and hopeful as we approached the light that always causes him meltdowns. My new strategy hadn’t worked yet, but I felt good about today. The light right before it turned green as soon as we stopped, I was hoping the next one would turn green. I prepared him, I had to stay calm, and ahead we went. We had to stop. I talked, and talked, and talked as we sat there. His voice got a squeak in it. I heard it. I talked louder. Seconds seemed like hours. I told him to count to ten if he was upset, that we would be through the light soon. The numbers were rambled off quickly, and the light changed, but the meltdown did not start. I celebrate that huge victory with him. I shouted, “you did it I’m so proud of you”. He said, “we are home we will be soon”. And off to home I drove. This was a huge moment for us, thankful for his progress. I’m still walking on eggshells, but I think the strategy is working. Rejoice in your victories, celebrate your journeys, and keep moving forward. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen woke in an interesting mode; happy, confused, mad, it all seemed to be mixed together. I did not turn the lights on in the proper order, and then I turned my bedroom light on. He certainly was not ready for that. These are grounds for meltdowns. “No”, he screamed. And he held it for a long time. I asked him if he wanted to go to school, I went on before he screamed again. I told him we had to get dressed if he wanted to go. He ran off to the living room. I heard his tablet going. I was thankful he had the distraction for a moment. I walked to the living room, he immediately started naming off the different days of the week, and what he does on those days. He can say the days of the week in order, but this was a mixture of the days, yelling them out at me, looking for some order in his routine. I have to really think through what day of the week it actually is. I’ve tried different types of schedule reminders with him, but nothing has clicked. I got a new schedule board, hoping this one will do the trick. I know that routine helps him focus, and I’m trying to figure out ways to bring it all together for him. It’s interesting how he processes time. It’s almost like he can sense time, but he can’t tell time. I got him his own clock, hoping that he will make a connection to when we do things. I set timers for Owen, so he can associate that with his actions. He is now setting his own timers, and telling me to set them when he wants to do something. I haven’t figure out how to explain to him that it doesn’t always work that way, but I’m excited that he is getting the concept. I am thankful for the leaps, and bounds he is making in our world full of routine, and boundaries. Find what inspires you, put time on your side, and make today matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!