The screams came as soon as I turned the bedroom light on. Next, the baby gate was shut, and Owen started shaking it back, and forth. As soon as I started walking to my bedroom, I thought, I should go back to get my phone from the living room. I went to get nightclothes for Owen. I wanted to get my phone so I could use it as a flashlight. I knew turning on his bedroom light would make him scream, but all I had to do was open a drawer, and pull his clothes out. This is one of those moments that I stress over. Turning on a light, in either one of our bedrooms, can instantly send Owen into a meltdown; unless it doesn’t. There are those times when he is fine with me doing it, even then he’ll come running in the room, turning off the light, no matter what I’m doing. It took me a long time to convince him to leave the living room light on without him being upset, and then he was fine with it for awhile. The kitchen, and bathroom lights have always been fine, but the other lights he doesn’t want on; I’m back to trying to convince him sometimes to leave the living room light on. He’s looking through his tiny bus windows to see the light reflecting through them. He’s sleepy, well, we are both more than sleepy. We’ve been up since three; neither one of us that happy about it. He fell asleep relatively easy last night, but I heard him moving in his bed. Tonight’s big topic, however, is Christmas. He asks about it every five seconds, mixed in with “I’m not going to the post office today”, and asking for the bus, his teacher, and his grandma. I told him that Christmas was at the North Pole with Santa, hoping to distract him. Anything that Owen can’t see, or find he now says is at the North Pole. When we went to Cabela’s, after Christmas was over, I told him Santa went back to the North Pole. Now Santa has a lot of things with him. He’s staring at me through very sleepy eyes, with that smile that gets me through my days. Be inspired by the sunshine, dance in the rain, and know that you are amazing. Make today matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Somewhere down this road I have changed the lyrics to the song, but I always sing with Owen “I see the moon the moon sees me God bless you and God bless me”. Long time ago my momma sang it to me when I was little; maybe that’s how she taught it to me, or I changed it along the way. We walked to the bus stop, me holding his hand through his jacket. The moon was bright this morning. I kept asking him to look up at the moon. He was focused on the upcoming days, repeating the same few phrases over, and over again, but even if he wasn’t focused on the phrases he wouldn’t look up at the moon. He has a hard time with directions, and commands with directions. If I point with my finger at an object, and say, “bring me that”, he can’t do it. His sight line doesn’t follow the imaginary line that I have created with my point. He will run around the room trying to pick up objects to make me happy. He gets a little squeal in his throat as he does it, the impatience washing over him; as if he is doing something wrong, or I’m wanting the impossible. The swimming tears in my eyes I’m trying to hold back with a sip of my hot tea. It’s a struggle for my baby, and it’s a struggle for this momma, too. I often wonder how many concepts can we work on in one day. When we stood at the bus stop, I tried again. “Look up at the moon”, I said. He started singing our song; he had one eye covered with his hand, and the other eye squinted as tight as possible, no looking towards the moon. I asked him to take a picture with me; his eyes were closed, but he smiled, sort of. “De bus is comin”, he said; and almost on cue it turned the corner, many blocks away. The closer it got, the happier he got. He still had one eye covered, and he moved his other hand up towards his face. He did a little squeak sound, and his arms started flapping, like a bird taking flight. He then started moving his feet, jumping the tiniest of jumps. If everyone could feel this much joy in something, the world would be a better place. The bus took my baby away, and I stood there with tears in my eyes. His happiness for those few moments carry me through my day. Find something that lights up your world. Live to love, and love what is around you. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Anxious morning, anxious afternoon, and trying to be calm evening is what I have planned; and so far going well, even with the random scream, from Owen, not me. Owen woke upset, wanting his teacher, but yelling to “turn de light offT”, and mad because I was no longer in the bed. He had gotten into bed with me around three; that’s when sleep evaded me. We walked to the bus stop, and he was moody; I might have been, too. We stood at the bus stop for a few minutes, and then he saw the bus. His excitement, if bottle could brighten the world. His smiles radiates through his entire body, and that’s what matters. As the bus approached, I asked Owen, what color the bus was. He quickly said, yellow. He got on the bus, and the aide strapped him in. I always stand there until they leave, weaving the “I love you” sign, as I’m standing there. Today, he stared right at me as I did it. A lot of times he doesn’t really look toward me, but I always want him to know I’m there. I’m trying to be calm, and content in my own skin today. His anxiousness is my anxiousness, but this evening, so far he is calm. And eating a lot. I can tell my little dude is growing. The last few nights he has eaten all of his dinner, snacks after dinner, and then about thirty minutes before bedtime, he goes to the freezer, getting more meat out of the freezer, and asking for more. Both nights he ate second dinner almost in its entirety. So, tonight my sweet baby O has a plate full of fish, and vegetables, and we’ll see how the night goes. He has asked multiple times to go bowling, church, and school. I told him we would go tomorrow, and then he said, “Saturday we bowl”. He’s growing, learning, and making connections. Never give up. Keep pushing for you dreams to come true. Make today matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
The wind is brutal right now. It has been howling since yesterday. Owen slept all night in his bed; for this I am thankful. I was in my bed, but the sleeping part, no so much. Hopefully we are back on a trend for sleeping again. It will take me days to get back into a sleeping pattern, if Owen sleeps through the night. All I can do is be hopeful. Our internet was not working this morning, before he went to school. Depending on the time, I will let him play with his tablet for a few minutes before he gets ready. This morning there was no convincing him the Internet was broken, and there was no convincing him that he wasn’t allowed to have his tablet. The good, bad, and indifferent views, as to whether the tablet is good for our children will not change my mind, that Owen has learned incredible things by having a tablet. I cannot deny that days like today it is hard. He wants his tablet, and we have built a routine around it. Taking away the tablet from him now would be a whole process in itself, but for Owen the benefits have certainly outweighed the moments like this morning. Now my stress level, that’s a whole other story. All day I hoped when we got home that we would have the internet. Even though we do other things in our evenings, as well, it is still our go to training tool. I try to reference the things he likes on the tablet in the real world. One of the apps he loves on his tablet is an about a restaurant; they make coffee. I started taking him to the coffee shop so he could see this in real life. Same with bowling, the doctor, and dentist, plus many other things. For me it’s a way to get him involved in every day choices, and teach him about something before we go through the steps in a different environment. I show him the activity on his tablet, then we apply it to our real world situations. When we got home the glorious internet was working; for this I am thankful. Owen smiled over at me, as one of the characters did something on the screen. His smile is what motivates me. What is your motivation. Find your inspiration and go after your dreams. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Food, Glorious Food, keeps running through my head. The song from the musical Oliver seems to get sung a lot when I think of all that Owen goes through with eating. Some days I’m not strong enough to keep myself from crying. My high spirited child is pushing every button know available. I’m sitting stone faced on the couch. When I walk away to do something he screams, when I keep going he throws things, or hits the walls, and cabinets for attention. When I attempted to put laundry together he turned the light off, and pushed all the clothes on the floor. I took his tablet away, and made him sit on the couch, counting to one hundred. Maybe the counting was for me. The good news, he’s eating better. Food is always a constant struggle for Owen, but yet for all the challenges we face, he really eats pretty good. He has texture issues, and things like smells, temperatures, and the sight of some foods will either send him into a meltdown, or he will scream. I often wonder how my child will eat hummus, ham salad, and deviled eggs, but the sight of a banana caused him to cry for hours in my arms. One of the best pieces of advice I was given early on was to expose Owen to different brands of the same type of food - like chicken nuggets, never let him see the brand labels, and offer different options. Today is the progress paying off. Owen loves veggie straws, what he calls “crackers”. I found a triangular version of the veggie straws, giving them to Owen at the same time. Owen asked for some more crackers. I asked him if he wanted the straws, or the triangles. He said, “triANgu pwease”. Never give up. Life is not always easy, but that makes victories so much sweeter. Celebrate your victories, and celebrate ours. Make today matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
The sky is the limited for my son. I tell Owen every day that he is amazing, and he can accomplish anything he sets his mind to. I also forget that he knows how to push my buttons, and get away with a lot of things. Discipline is hard for Owen to process, but in the same breath he understands it completely. He lives for my reactions to situations. I have to be careful how I show my expressions, and emotions, because he will continue to do the actions for my reactions. And this may not be at the time I’m correcting him; it could be weeks, or months later. One day he reached up to touch a picture, he almost knocked it off the wall. I told him to be careful, but I gasped as he was doing it. I didn’t want the glass to crack if it fell. Months later, he walks up to the picture every day, pushes it a little, looks over his shoulder, waiting for my reaction. This is where I have to separate the kid, from autism, from Owen, from his age. He repeats the behavior every day even though he has gotten timeout for it, and his tablet taken away. Now to ignore it, and hopefully the behavior will go away. At some point there is a loss at how to handle behavioral issues. You want to correct your child, but that feeds his behaviors. I talk to Owen about behaviors, and how we have to work together as a team. I want him to understand his actions have consequences; this is is a hard lesson to learn, even for me. Current situation, making himself cough, so he can ask me if he is sick, prompting a hug, and kiss from me. Oh where to begin. Life does not come with an instruction manual, but through it all we are learning, and growing. Owen has taught me as much about myself, as I probably have taught him. He’s watching bowling on his tablet. I think it’s time to start our day. Explore your world, find something you love to do, and know that tomorrow is a brand new day. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Some days I want a redo. I woke so many times last night I don’t even know if I slept. Queen of overthinking is my self appointed title; add that into the dreams I had last night, and I’m pretty much in slow motion today. Owen woke with goals in mind; screaming about going to school, crying because he had to get up, and mad because we couldn’t leave right away. Timing is a thing we truly struggle with. I set timers for different events like bedtime, or when we need to leave the house, but then he wants timers for things that can’t happen at that moment. He will say something like, “timer goes off den I go bowling”, but it might be three o’clock in the morning, or when he needs to get ready for school. So the connection is former what the timer means, but now it is more for getting things he wants. When we walked to bus stop, he had one thing on his mind, and that was what he was going to do after school. The more we walked towards the bus stop the louder he got, sharing all his thoughts with the neighborhood. You don’t shush my child, because he will amplify his voice, and I can’t tell him to use his inside voice when we are clearly outside. The art of distraction is what I try to do with Owen, but it generally goes over as well as the shushing. Once we got to the bus stop he was full of laughter, and excitement. He wanted hugs, and kisses, telling me “I wuv ewe”. And then he saw the bus coming down the road. The joy that washes over him is amazing. He started dancing around, and his smile was beyond huge. This is enough to propel my sleepy mood into happiness. For the love of Owen I push myself to be a better me. Find your inspiration, and make your dreams come true. Be bold, be beautiful, be you. Smiles to all and donut daze!
The excitement Owen radiates when he is happy about something is amazing. He couldn’t wait to go to school today. He popped out of my bed, saying his teacher’s name; at some point he snuck into bed with me, and went quickly back to sleep. He was very anxious, but very excited to go to school. Last night, as we were driving to Owen’s church program, I told him to always remember that he is awesome. I went on to say, remember where you have come from, and where you are going. From his carseat, he yells, “church”. Yes baby, that’s where you are going. I’m so excited for his connections. I try to talk to him about everything; explaining our good days, our bad days, and everything in between. I want him to understand that we have to work together through this, and that I’m learning with him. Some days my emotions sit heavier on my heart than others; not being able to process the every day steps my son has to go through. Something that might take another child five, or six times to learn could take my son hundreds, and hundreds of times to learn the steps. He fights some of the processes; not wanting to do things like go to the bathroom, or using utensils. Fine motor skills are really hard for him, yet he can do amazing things on his tablet. Sometimes he wants me to still do the motions, so that he can watch how it is done. He will often stare at his hands, and feet, like he doesn’t realize they are connected, or how they operate. He also doesn’t understand that he has to watch what he’s doing. This morning, as we walking to the bus, he was trying to walk completely sideways with his body, but his feet facing forward. I can’t get him to to watch where he is going; sometimes he will even shield his face, or close his eyes. I know that Owen has changed the way I look at the world. My eyes are more wide open to what’s around me, and I am thankful for all that he has taught me. Believe in yourself, know that you are amazing, and change your world. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen got into bed with me again last night. All I keep thinking is I hope it switches back to a sleep cycle for him soon. Luckily, he went right back to sleep; me, not so much. Although, I really hadn’t slept that great prior to him getting into bed with me either. Some days are like that. He wanted a lot of input this morning, coming to me, sitting on my lap, and getting into a ball. He wants me to hold him, almost folded in half, and then he works himself out of my arms. He’s body is extremely flexible; it’s like he has no bones. He ran back to me several times, going through the same motions. The last few days he hasn’t been able to settle easily; his body is constantly in motion. He is getting taller too, so I know that he has had a growth spurt; this may be affecting his sleep, as well. He gets very emotional about his words. He is trying very hard to ask for things, carrying on conversations with me, but sometimes the words aren’t completely formed, and this leads to his frustration. He wants me to respond in certain ways, or confirm something he is talking about, but I don’t always know how to answer him. I try to have him repeat the word, or I repeat the word I think it is back to him. This doesn’t always help the situation. He has come so far. I look back on our journey, and see his great accomplishments. He went through a stage were he wouldn’t even look at me. He would turn to me, only looking out the corner of his eyes. The tears I shed for those moments. You don’t know what to do, or who to ask. It’s like you are floating from day to day without a safety net. I wanted answers. I wanted someone to tell me what to do. I wanted a hug. There are still days that he will sit next to me, not wanting to respond to me, or can’t respond to me; those days are hard. It’s like he can’t find his words, thoughts, or voice. It puts a lump in my throat. This is my baby. Today he’s smiling, saying “I wuv ewe”, and ready to go to his church program. I’m thankful for today, and I know great things are yet to come. Keep looking forward. The past is written in stone, but your future can be anything you set your mind to. Make today matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Some days we are floating by, making it. Other days I feel like there are so many victories, I lose count of them. And still other days I’m so lost, I want to cry endless tears for all the moments that seem so hard. Owen woke again in the middle of the night. He’s been struggling to fall back asleep; he asked for his teacher, and wanted to go to the bus stop, at three in the morning. I think Owen grasps time, but is not able to distinguish when it matters. It seems like he has an inner clock that tells him length of time, because he will start looking for me when he knows I should be back to pick him up in certain situations. Other times, like when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he wants things immediately, and has a hard time understanding why he can’t have something. He is stimming a lot tonight. He’s playing with one of his apps, and when it gets to a certain point, he takes his hands, making loose fists, shaking them. He then moves on to another part of the app, making his EEEEE sound as he moves through these parts. He can’t stop moving; full of energy, and emotions. Me on the other hand, I’m tired. I hope tonight is the night we get back on a sleep schedule. One day at a time, I tell myself. Owen’s not very talkative tonight, but he’ll run to me, climbing on my lap, leaning in to get a kiss on his forehead, and then off he runs again. He looks over at me, knocks his tablet off the arm of the couch, picks it up, and repeats the same motions again. I’m going with attention getter. The nighttime process begins. It’s all very routine. The steps help, but it can still take him awhile to settle down. And it will take me many hours after that. Rejoice in your accomplishments, find happiness in the flowers of life, and know that you are amazing. 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.