Owen didn’t sleep all night, but he also didn’t kick me all night; that’s the plus part. He woke up somewhat happy, and only turned the light off, he didn’t scream about it. As soon as the lights were back off, he started asking for his teacher. I told him, we needed the lights on if he wanted to get ready for school. He quietly turned them back on. He struggles with directions, and behavioral issues; plus he’s seven. He started yelling at me. I told him that we were a team, and yelling was not an option. He wanted his tablet, but we needed to get ready. He took it anyways. I took his tablet away, and the yelling began. My words come back to me, “you can have it”. He doesn’t ever repeat the phrase, “you can’t have it”. We got him dressed, him helping with the steps he could do, and then he said, “sorry mommy you can have it”. These words tell me he is getting it. And he still wants what he wants; don’t we all. We had five minutes before we had to walk to the bus stop, so I let him have his tablet. The battle picking has begun. As we were walking to the bus stop, Owen was distracted by the world. We only have a short distance to walk, but it’s always quite the adventure. I was holding his hand, but he stopped many times right in front of me. He walks almost sideways, and hardly ever focuses on the steps ahead of him. He stopped, walked backwards, and hung on my sweater, running his hands up, and down on it. We moved a little further, and the sideways walking started again, his feet almost intertwining with mine. We got to the bus stop, and his new thing is to walk backwards, up the sidewalk. He walks to a certain spot, stops, and looks at me. He is waiting for my words, telling him to not go too far. He walks back to me, needing a “big hug pwease”. The bus came around the corner, and he was ready. Dance in the rain, laugh until your heart’s content, and go after your dreams. Smiles to all and donut daze!
When you’re trying to keep it all together, and it still feels like you are going in circles, you have to push forward. That’s what I keep telling myself. Last night was probably one of the hardest nights we’ve had in years, even though Owen slept through it. He got into bed with me around midnight. I was so exhausted, I wasn’t sure what was happening at first. Yesterday, he needed input constantly. Every time I turned around he was needing hugs, or wanting me to massage his legs, or feet. He can’t tell me he needs input, but his actions, and phrases, told me otherwise. He sat on my lap many times, squishing into a ball, pushing against me, and putting his feet in my hands. He can say, “piggy market”; that means he wants me to rub his feet. He started saying this when I would go through the nursery rhyme, about the little piggy going to market, moving through each of his toes. I would then rub his feet, after going through the saying, and do compressions. Through the night, even in his sleep, he was pushing against me. It was like when he was younger, and would try to lay in the small of my back. His hands were intertwined into my hair, seeking comfort like he was a toddler, once again. I woke with my mind spinning, praying this was only a temporary thing. I’m hoping that I can provide the input he needs today, so he can find peace tonight. I wonder if he is growing again, or if his body aches for another reason. I try not to be the queen of overthinking, but here I overthink. He’s very happy now. I picked him up at the bus stop, and we talked all the way home. He stop along our short journey to say, “hi”, to several people, and then, “tell them bye bye”. His words, his glorious words; I’m beyond thankful for them. Autism wasn’t important to me, until autism was important to me. Every day we have a choice, let yesterday go, and rejoice in a new day. Smiles to all and donut daze!
There is nothing more contagious than Owen’s smile. He can light up a room with that grin. Owen woke up happy. I woke up cranky. Okay, so maybe not completely cranky, but for one day, just one day, I’d like to wake up on my own time. Today was not that day. Although, Owen slept in his bed all night, he still woke up on school time, not weekend time; not that he understands we can sleep late. Then he came to my bed. I wanted quiet for a few more minutes. The peace before the storm. He wanted to shout it from the rooftops, that he was awake, and happy. Well, when you have a big toothy grin, two inches from your nose, you tend to have a whole different perspective quickly. “Wanna milk”, Owen said. I said, “dude give me five minutes”. He insisted we both be awake. And he’s having a great day. Within a few minutes of waking, he asked to “go to de potty”. Yes, yes let’s go to the potty. There is great excitement attached to being asked to go to the potty. His words are on point today. Asking questions without me prompting him, listening when I tell him to do something, and telling me to do something that I always tell him to do. I stood at the refrigerator, getting a sauce out for my cheeseburger, when Owen came from the other side of the room, closing the door. He said, “close the refrigerator”, and walked away. I had to laugh. I have Owen’s milk cup in the refrigerator, ready for him to get it, hoping to encourage more independence, but sometimes he still forgets to close the door. He’s come so far. I can see huge strides since he turned seven. Every day it’s like watching a flower bloom. Some days it’s the overwhelming sensation of being overwhelmed that gets me. I want calm in a universe that never seems to provide it for me, but days like today, make me see the hope in our future, and these changes happen every day. I believe in Owen. Find your hope, believe in happiness, and know that tomorrow will be a new day. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Music is good for the soul. Many times I’ve listened to a hard rock song to clear the cobwebs in my head, or a classical sonata to find peace in chaos. When Owen was a baby, I would take his hands, placing one on my heart, and holding one to my mouth, or throat. I wanted him to feel the vibrations of sound when I talked, or sang to him. Music has always been a form of comfort to me, and I wanted Owen to understand the depth of what it could mean for him. Earlier, Owen took his hand, put it over my mouth, and starting singing his scales. I didn’t sing at first, but then he motioned for me to sing. Singing is part of our every day routine. In times of stress, I have Owen singing scales, hoping that he finds peace in the rhythm, and routine of the sounds. I can’t carry a tune in the proverbial bucket, but Owen can. When he is singing in his natural voice, and not mimicking one of the characters he loves, he has beautiful tone. We have several instruments that he likes to play. His keyboard will play songs automatically. He will choose a song, set it to play, and then strum his guitar, singing the song. He hasn’t learned any of the chords yet, but miraculously, he keeps the strumming in sync with the keyboard. His hand, eye coordination is coming. He is now starting to count with his fingers to ten, and learning sign language; I know this will be beneficial to playing the instruments. I think drums will be next, because they are supposed to help with hand, eye coordination, as well. I always remind Owen to sing loud, and sing proud. Find your voice, sing your song, and know that you are amazing. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen said, “guess who’s coming”. I said, who. Owen replied, “the school bus”. I love when our conversations feel like he is telling me a story, connected to the moment. We were standing at the bus stop, after a rocky start to our morning. Owen didn’t want to get out of my bed, then he didn’t want the lights on, and he wanted to make a lot of noise about it all, but he was yelling about going to school the whole time; the bus was high on his list, too. He was happy once we got dressed. The lights have really been bothering him. I’m not sure what has changed, but his concern in the morning is the lights. I wish I knew why. It might be related to when our lights were out for most of a day, because someone hit an electric pole, near our house. But it almost feels like this is full circle, from when he was younger, wanting to dance in the shadows of darkness. When I picked Owen up after school he was full of words, as we headed home. I asked him if he wanted to go see the fish. His reply, “momma change her clothes on”. I asked it a little differently, do you want to go home, or see the fish; his answer was still the same. He wants for me to change to loungewear. He wants to make sure when we are home, we are home. As we are transitioning to summer this gets harder. He’s used to seeing me in winter attire; yoga pants, or sweatpants, and long sleeve shirts, generally. Well, yesterday I wore a tank top, absolutely no sleeves. The thin straps were almost too much for him to take. He kept lifting my shirt, yelling, “bewwee”. For some reason, him referencing belly, means I am supposed to change my shirt. If I have non-approved loungewear on he gets very upset. It took great progress for him to allow my tank top, but we got through it without a meltdown. That is a big step, bigger than huge, huger than huge. We made it. Now to transition to shorts. One victory at a time; I’ll save shorts for another rainy day. Celebrate your progress, celebrate ours. Each step forward is a step. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Once upon a time there was a lot of time; I heard that phrase from when I was little. My mom said it to me. Now I think about that, and I want to make every second count. I sat, playing a mind-numbing, game on my tablet. Sometimes, I don’t want think about anything, besides winning that game. It helps, I suppose, to relieve some stress, but I think of all the hours I’ve wasted doing it. I’m trying to do more for my mind, body, and soul, that will make me feel like I’m accomplishing something, and still not be as stressed. Painting has become one of my new joys, and being able to paint with Owen, makes it even better. Every day he asks to paint. He helps me paint the backgrounds of our artwork, with a hand, over hand method. Some days he asks to paint, and he is really wanting to do it; other days it’s more about the steps after painting, which is bath time. Occasionally, he will ask to paint a church. “Let’s paint a church”, he will say. I showed him that he could paint a church, using shapes he knows. The other day, he painted his first non-church painting. I asked him what he wanted to paint; he said, “bubbles”, but when we started to paint, he changed his mind, wanting to paint a church again. I told him that bubbles were circles, and he could make as many as he wanted. He filled up the whole canvas. We still did the hand, over hand method, but he did all the motions. I tell him that he can do anything, if he sets his mind to it. I don’t want him to see boundaries, I want him to know possibilities. I have to remember myself of this. I will tell myself that something can’t be done, because it’s easier to not do it. Life is too short; once upon a time, and that time is now. We can wait are whole lives to live, or we can live every day to the fullest. Be inspired by your surroundings, and grow. Smiles to all and donut daze!
The school routine is back in swing, but the schedule is still off. Owen woke up in the middle of the night, asking for his teacher. I wish I knew how to keep him from focusing on things during the night; I wish I could do it for myself. The lights made him angry this morning. He wants them off, but wants them on. I don’t know when to be stern, and when to foster his wants. The lights are sensory related, with a side of control. He wants what he wants, but I can tell when he really isn’t ready to process the lights. And then you get the call. I saw Owen’s school number flash across my phone. My heart stopped, thinking he was sick first, and then wondering what could have happened, since he seemed to be feeling fine this morning. The nurse told me, he got pushed into a cabinet. His nose was hurt; he may, or may not get bruising from it, but he was fine. There are millions of emotions swirling around me, but what I focus on is the fact that he is fine. Beside him touching his nose, every once in awhile, I can’t tell that he is hurting. He is extremely cranky this evening, however. For the last week, as soon as we get home, he wants to take a bath. He doesn’t just ask once, he asks again, and again, as soon as he can get the words out. I have his routine set; home, supplements, dinner, painting, and then bath. He does not like that schedule anymore. He wants bath time right away. I stick to the schedule. He yells some more. Dinner is still sitting there. I’m sitting, thinking about all that has happened today; thankful for my sweet baby O, and that he is okay. Life is full of emotions. Find your strength, push through the rough days, and know that tomorrow is a brand new day. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Two o’clock in the morning is a fine time to talk about wanting to go to school, according to Owen. He was ready to go. I had to convince him that it was still nighttime, and we needed sleep. When it was time to get up, neither of us really wanted to do it. And one of us was a little more cranky about it. The lights have really become a focus for Owen, especially after our lights were out for hours, after someone hit a pole, a few weeks back. Now, not only does Owen want certain lights on, and certain lights off, at varying times throughout the day, he wants to make sure we actually have lights. In the car, as we are heading home, he will start saying, “turn de lights on”, and we are still miles from our home. I haven’t taken Owen to the post office in approximately six months, but this is his focus, as well; almost daily he asks about it. He holds onto these moments that had a hold on him. I’m thankful he can tell me enough for me to understand what is upsetting him. These moments still cause his frustration, and strife. I try to distract him; I don’t want him to go into meltdown mode, because of them. It’s hard staying one step ahead of something that you’re not sure is even going to happen. And then sometimes, I unknowingly start his fixation on something again. He will move on from the moment, and a word that I’ll say may trigger the memory all over again. We have been singing The Bear Necessitates a lot lately. It seems appropriate for our days. Owen will start off, “ohhh”, pausing for me to sing. If I don’t respond right away, he does it again; sometimes moving as close to me as he can, so I’ll know my cue. “The bear necessities the simple bear necessities forget about your worries and your strife”, singing the words he wants to hear, knowing that I’ve probably messed up a few of the words. Today, I’m trying to let yesterday go, focusing on the moments of happiness, and growth. Find what makes you happy, and go after your dreams. Smiles to all and donut daze!
The giggles, the wild, wild giggles. They get me every time. After bath time is playtime for us. Owen loves playing peekaboo, and the laughter is enough to soothe my soul. He gets so excited when bath time is over, because he knows what will be happening next. He never wants bath time to end, but the routine of our night makes him happy, afterwards. Yesterday, I was sad. Today, I’m trying to focus on the high points; the moments of celebration, and fun, but yesterday was rough around all the edges. Some days feeling overwhelming, and sad. That was yesterday. Owen screamed about everything. And not for all bad things. Sometimes he screamed, because he was excited about a character on his tablet, or something we were doing. But scream he did do. I tried not to cry after my initial cry fest earlier in the day, but I still snuck a few in, as the day wore on. I didn’t let Owen see me; it makes it worse. He has my reactions down to a tee. His screaming has more layers to it than I even understand. He screams through meltdowns, to get my attention, and when he’s happy. The layers go from there. If I react to the ones that he does for my attention, he then screams for every little thing. If I don’t react to the meltdown screams, then it could be hours longer of him being upset about what happened. And the happy screams, he pretty much ignores my reactions; unless I tell him to quiet down, and then they become louder. I’m learning how my reactions, affect his reactions, but sometimes I still can’t control my emotions. Yesterday was one of those days. I have to let it be as it is some days; holding onto my own emotions, until I can release them in the silence of the night. Owen was happy this morning, because he got to go back to school. He woke before four, getting into bed with me, asking about his teacher. I told him, that today was his day, and he slept for another few hours. As happy as he was when he woke up still didn’t change the fact that he didn’t want the lights on. He ran through the house knocking things over, and pulling things off the wall. I quickly told him to sit down, and if he kept doing it he would not be able to go to school. The lights stayed on. Breathe, that has become the technique I hold onto. His smile, his giggles, and his words “I wuv ewe”, get me through my day. Keep pushing forward, yesterday is gone. Hold onto the good moments, and breathe. Smiles to all and donut daze!
And then I cried. Remember cafeterias; I do. But I remember more what they meant to me; family. I remember, after Sunday church service, going with my family to eat at the local cafeteria, or other family style restaurants. We always saw other family, or friends there. That seemed to be the thing back in the day. Today, as we left church, I asked Owen if he wanted to go to lunch with me. I started crying. Not a little bit of crying, a river, a complete river of tears. I didn’t stop. The tears are still sitting right on the rims of my eyes, waiting to crest, and flow over. I was having my own personal pan pity party. I didn’t wait for him to answer, hours later he never replied. Instead of an answer to my question, Owen told me what he wanted to do, but it wasn’t something I could give him. He wanted his teacher. I told him he would see her tomorrow. In the grand scheme of things this week has gone well. He’s had a few rough days, but overall spring break was fine. He looks like he has grown this week. Now my thoughts run to summer. I think he will go to summer school again, but from there I’m not sure. Trying to find a daycare that will accommodate a child with autism is harder than you think. Most never return your call, or say they are full. I have to not think about it, adds to the tears, but I have to think about it, because it will be summer soon. He’s happy today, for this I am thankful. In the car, as I was crying my river, Owen had been screaming, but the more I cried, the more he tried to get me to stop, in his way. But I couldn’t stop crying. I miss those Sunday traditions with my family. I miss having those moments of comfort, and not to mention it’s Easter. Owen, and I talked about Easter on the way to church. He even brought up the Easter bunny, that we saw at Cabela’s; he wouldn’t sit with the Easter bunny, but he talked to him. I told him the Easter bunny was gone today, and he said, “he’s at de North Pole”. Everything goes to the North Pole these days. Honestly, I’m glad he has found comfort in having a location for things that he can’t see anymore. Today I’m emotional, tomorrow I’ll be stronger. We painted, we laughed, we ate, we counted to ten -a million times, and we smiled. Life is full of challenges, but know that today is a moment in time. Tomorrow is a brand new day. Find your strength, and carry on. 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.