We interrupt this regularly scheduled day for a holiday. Well, in West Virginia at least, it’s a holiday. Happy Birthday to West Virginia. But for Owen, that means a day off from summer school. He went to bed asking for his teacher. He woke asking for her and the bus. And now he wants to know when we are going to the coffee shop and bowling. A change in schedule is not something Owen can easily be convinced is happening. He wants and thrives on routine. He seems to be growing before my very eyes. He’s taller and he has a big appetite lately; as I look over and say, “don’t put the turkey between your toes”. My sensory seeker is very active today. His jumping and stimming are in full swing. He’s very excited; singing, screaming, and stomping his way through the songs, with his underlying “EEEEE” sound coming through when he isn’t singing. Until a moment in time when his tablet stopped working as it should. Somehow he muted the apps, but yet there was still sound coming from the device. He was screaming “fixith” as I was trying to figure out what was even wrong with it. There was still sound, but yet none of the apps were working. I couldn’t concentrate to try and fix it. But I knew I had to fix it. Trying to convince him to play with something else is not easy. He was sitting as close to me as he could, screaming in my ear, and on the verge of a meltdown. I restarted it numerous times, finally thought to Google a solution and came up with the answer. Ahh, the lovely mute button. Somehow he pulled down the menu and muted it. Mute however still lets sound come out when you are testing the sound. As soon as I fixed it, I handed it to him, he put it on the couch, and walked away. So as the adventure goes we are ready for school. Find what makes you happy, go after your dreams, and know that you are amazing. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I feel like there is this huge explosion of information waiting to burst out of Owen at any minute. He went to sleep with a voice like I’d never heard, he woke with words, and for days it feels like we are having conversations that he actively participates in. This is the most thrilling part of our rollercoaster ride. My emotions travel over many paths every day, but hearing and seeing the connections forming for Owen is amazing. This morning I gave him cereal for his first breakfast. He immediately asked for “cracker” when he saw it sitting there. I didn’t answer quick enough so he said, “veggie straw”, running to get a bag out of storage. He got one bag and dropped another. I told him that he could have some later, but for breakfast, he would have cereal. I asked him to take the bag back and he did. Then I asked him to pick up the back he dropped and put it away as well and he did. These are huge steps and huge conversations. He paid attention, he took directions, and he followed through. Add in the fact that he did it without screaming or hesitation and I’m over the moon. It takes a lot for him to process the steps. And even more for him to go through all the motions. There is a change in Owen and I am thankful to see this growth. Last night as he was fighting to stay awake he went through a whole conversation with me. I could see him almost pulling the words out of his brain as he went through everything he wanted to tell me. He would look straight at me, say something, and then his eyes would look upwards as he thought what to say next. He went through this with me for several minutes, telling me exactly what he could, referencing things that didn’t necessarily go together, but I followed through with the conversation, adding and asking what I could. He was happy and it seemed like everything made perfect sense to him. I longed for these days. I wanted his words, his actions, and his reactions. There is a moment in time when you have to breathe, let go of the expectations, and let life be as it is. Some days that is harder than others. And hard to admit. Today, I’m thankful for what is yet to come. I see progress and I know he is making huge strides; we both are. Be motivated, be inspired, be driven, and watch what changes in your world. Smiles to all and donut daze!
The littlest of actions can be the biggest of moments. I stood next to the bus, as I watched the aide buckle Owen in. I always wave to him until the bus leaves. I put my hand in the “I love you” sign and move the two middle fingers up and down in a wave pattern. I want him to know I love him and I’m always there for him. I stood there in amazement as he lifted his little hand and waved to me. His hand was facing outward moving back and forth. Those few brief seconds moved me to tears. There was so much goodness and progress in those moments. He had to focus on me, he knew I was there, and he waved with his hand outward when he usually has it facing him. I’m still floating from that moment in time. Off he went to school, unaware of how much he moved me. He was so excited to go again today. He couldn’t wait for the bus to get there this morning, asking about his teacher, as we walked to the bus. The routine of school is back for us, even if it is only for a few weeks. He thrives in the routine and it makes it so much easier on our days. I’m thankful he likes school and the bus. I can’t imagine the struggle if he didn’t want to go. Last night, as he fell asleep in my arms, he looked up at me and he smiled that big toothy grin. My heart exploded with love, even though it had been a very emotional day. I try not to let the stress of our days linger, but still, it echoes through my mind. We have come so far, but there is still so much progress to be made. One day at a time. Always hold the little things close to your heart. You never know what someone else is going through and that little action of endearment may have taken all they’ve got to give it to you. Your story is important, you are important. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Summer school started today. Thankful doesn’t really even cover it. Owen was happy. With that being said, he was also slow to move through the process of school this morning. Last night I told him that he would be going to school today, as he asked for his teacher one more time before bedtime. Between the excitement of school and the storms that moved through last night, Owen fought to go to sleep. He stared out the window, watching the storm move through, finally laying down, and almost instantly falling asleep. He loves watching the storms. He will sit on the back of the couch, with the curtains spread wide open, talking to the wind in his own language. I don’t know what he is saying, but he will knock on the glass, pointing to random things, speaking out to the world, in complete conversation form, occasionally looking back at me to share their story. I wonder what he is thinking, I wonder what it is he shares with the storms that I can’t understand myself. The storm brews inside my own soul, full of emotions, and wonder. I want to help my baby in every way possible and sometimes I feel so lost in those emotions. I started crying last night because he had an accident on the couch. He walked over to me, laughing hysterically, and gave me a big hug. It snapped me back to reality. As much as I can’t process everything that he goes through, he can’t always process my emotions, as well. I thought, stop crying over the couch. It’s just an object. And we moved on. I’m excited to see how his day goes. I know that he loves riding the bus and doing school work. All day yesterday he played with his school apps and we worked on his writing. One day at a time I tell myself, knowing that we both are growing, and we must keep moving forward. Today is a moment in time. Find your strength and make today matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I cried. I listened to my baby sing, “if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands” and his hands clapped. Owen went on, “if you’re happy and you know it stomp your feet” and there his feet went on the back of the passenger seat. He continued, “if you’re happy and you know it shout hooray” and there it was the hooray. And yet he still went on, “if you’re happy and you know it do all three”. The clap, the stomp, and the hooray all happened in their special way. I thought back to when I wanted to hear a word from him, any word, and here he was not only singing but he was in action and reaction mode. I dreamed, I believed, I imagined, and then I heard everything come together. He’s done this song before, he’s even done the motions, but in that moment I realized he did them all together, in the right order. All of them. He didn’t sing all the words to each verse, but he sure knew how to make this momma cry. Progress is what I hope for every day. Some days it feels like we are going backwards or treading water, but days like this keep me pushing forward and staying strong. He is connecting to the here and now, finding ways to express his wants and needs, and showing interest in things he never did before. The progress is comforting in our ever-changing days that still feel so routined and decided before the day is even started. Today is your day, set in motion what you want the outcome to be, and make it happen. Smiles to all and donut daze!
The coffee shop was Owen’s first major request this morning. Well, second to him wanting me out of bed before five in the morning. I put getting up off as long as I could and now I’m waiting anxiously to get our day started. I love our Saturdays together. We headed to the coffee shop and I got a glorious latte. It’s my one sugar a week treat, but I’m afraid that I’m going to have to find another favorite drink without the sugar. It’s playing havoc on my arthritis. Within a few hours of drinking it, I can feel the difference in my mobility. So, as much as I hate to give up sugary treats, my health is more important and close your eyes when I still eat that occasional cookie. We headed to bowling next and long gone are the days of the ramp. He wants nothing to do with it. We are still waiting for his ball to come in, so, for now, we are bowling together. I have him walk to the lane with me and we swing the ball together. He is loving this as much as he was enjoying using the ramp before. I can’t wait until his ball comes in and he can throw it down the lane on his own. And I think I do mean throw. We shall see how that goes. We roll with the punches and throw with the balls. He’s had a good day. I heard words of great expression and songs that showed off his voice. There’s a new sense of exploration happening and the world is becoming bigger to him. I’m excited to see what tomorrow brings. Let yesterday go and grow for tomorrow. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen was excited about going bowling this morning, only it wasn’t Saturday. I have a calendar hanging with our schedule, but he still doesn’t understand how it works. It’s much easier for him to grasp the days of the week when he is in school. Time seems to be making more sense for Owen now. I try to reference it as often as I can and what it means to our schedule. He doesn’t talk about the wrong days of weeks as often as he used to. He would repeat the advertisements for the Disney channel, in his words, saying that it was Tuesday when it was any day of the week. I always had to think through what day it actually was. We set timers for everything and he will tell me that something is going to take “twELF minute” and then we can do something. He references two, twelve, and twenty minutes, but he doesn’t necessarily understand the difference on how long they take compared to a task we are doing. We stopped at a light and Owen said, “twenty minute and de light will be green”. Every light now he talks about what color it is and how long it will take us to go through it. However, the meltdown light isn’t causing as many meltdowns as it did, instead he only screams for ten minutes after we go through it, no matter if we have to sit at it or not. I’m still prepared for the meltdown; as prepared as you can be. It’s incredibly hard to watch your child scream and be upset at something you can’t control. It’s also very emotional for me waiting for the screams to happen. I’m trying a new approach with stoplights. He wants them green, so I’m having him count through them, explaining to him that sixty seconds equals one minute. And then I breathe. I see growth, I hear it, and I can tell he is taking the whole world in. My happiness comes from his smile. Sometimes when we look at the big picture we still don’t see the little, beautiful steps that got us there. Be proud of where you’ve come from. Know that each step is progress, even on days you may not feel like you are making any. The big picture is out there, waiting for you to hang it from the moon and the stars. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Sometimes routine has to be broken. There are times when it is good to push our limits, both of our limits, but it can also cause spiraling emotions ahead. Last night we went over to a friend’s house for dinner. It definitely pushed our limits, but it was great for us to do. Owen has expectations of how his day should go or even when we do things together. When he goes to someone’s house he doesn’t expect me to stay. And if I do stay, he expects us to not stay long. He did great though. We ate dinner, he interacted with our friends, and he listened really well. When we got home, he still wanted to go through his same routine even though it was later than normal. He slept through the night, coming to me a little earlier than our normal wake up time, but then fell asleep for another hour. This simple excursion is not so simple to me. It’s a mind boggling game of putting all the right pieces in the right place, praying for it to all go smoothly, and no meltdowns after the fact. And last night was picture perfect. Autism is as much about how I handle it as it about Owen having it. The sky is the limit for Owen, we just have to work through the layers to get there. He asks every day for his teacher, he gets to see her next week when summer school starts and for this I’m thankful. He loves riding the bus there, he loves being in the school atmosphere , and he loves riding the bus home. Today we push forward. It’s great to see my little boy thriving and learning. Owen inspired me every day to grow. Find your inspiration, be motivated, and watch your world grow. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Some days are like the waves crashing on the rock, nestled back in the distance from our view. Other days the waves come crashing on to shore, but I can handle what is thrown at me. Today is one of those days I want to cry; the waves are pushing me on my own island. Even with all of my emotions, I realized the beauty of where we are at today. My sweet baby O has come so incredibly far. His words, his expressions, his smile, getting bolder, and more interactive every day. Autism is not what I expected. Some days I cry out to God, please give me calm today. Yesterday, as I was thinking and praying I realized again the gifts that my son has given me. Because of him, I am learning to paint. And this has given me a completely new lease on life. I always said I couldn’t paint. But the truth was I couldn’t paint perfection. Owen and I started painting together to help him with his fine motor skills. He has trouble with the motions of using a pen or utensils, anything like that. We do a hand-over-hand method and he helps me paint the backgrounds to our art. Learning through love, the perfection comes from imperfections in our art. We have to learn to reflect our own happiness and know that there is nothing we can’t do if we keep trying. Owen asks me every day to paint. I ask him what he wants paint and he will say “wanna paint a background” or sometimes he will ask to paint a church. When I look at our paintings I see how far we have come and if we can make one person smile through our art then every emotions poured into them is worth it. Last night Owen crawled into my arms, told me he loved me and fell asleep. There is no greater joy than to be his momma. I find comfort in knowing he is happy and he is growing. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Believe in yourself, know that you can accomplish great things, and make today matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen slept all night in his bed again. At seven years of age this still shocks me. Shocks me because he doesn’t most nights and shocks me when he does. You would think by now I would be used to it, but I’m not. He woke happy and hungry. He has been eating more lately and the coolest thing ever is when he tells me what he wants. He will say, “want some turkey pwease”. There’s a great feeling when he can express his needs and wants. I’m still trying to find more foods that he will eat. He’s not a big sweet eater, unlike his momma, and he prefers crunchy foods or meats to anything else. He will eat things like hummus, egg salad, and salsa quickly, but you hand him a cookie and it may or may not be eaten. If he doesn’t have his shoes on food is automatically put between his toes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “we don’t put food between our toes” and he has proven me wrong. Phrasing is everything. Owen is very in tune with the texture of foods. And he is becoming more aware of it, as well. He loves to not only stick food in his toes but rub it across his face. He had no concept of messy but likes order in the chaos. He wants everything in its spot, almost routine in nature for the items. It’s like he sees the picture of how everything should look and when the picture has something in the wrong place it needs to be corrected. If I go through the house putting things in different places he will go back through and put them where he needs them to go. It’s also the same for the lights in our house. There are certain ones that can only be on for certain moments in time. I can’t walk into my bedroom, turn on the light, realize I left something in the other room, go get it, and expect the bedroom light to still be on. He will run from whatever room he is in to turn it off if he wasn’t already following me, to begin with. It’s a slow process to change these wheels in motion. I will tell him to leave the light on, even when I’m standing in the room, he will turn them off. One step at a time we go through the motions of life. I try to explain to him why we do the things we do. Today and always we grow together, learning and loving, that’s what we do. Life isn’t always easy to explain, but your story is important, you are important. Keep moving forward. 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.