We have been working on potty training for years now. Again, I think this is one of those things that’s it’s as much about how I handle it as it is about Owen needing to be potty trained. For a child with autism, this process can be very long and daunting, for both the parent and child. Owen has clothes sensitivity to appearance and textures. He wants me to be in certain clothes at certain times and he wants to be dressed a certain way depending on where he is. We’ve tried many different methods with Owen and he has come a long way but we’ve yet to get to the finish line. Yesterday I put a new type of underwear on him. He immediately got upset and started screaming. He thoughts they were pants and pants are supposed to be worn at home, they are only for stepping foot outside our door. This goes for shorts as well. He kept screaming, “pants are on”. I had to convince him to leave them on. That was a battle in itself. He started yelling about “when de timer goes off you can take your pants off”. Okay, so let’s start there I thought. I told him we would set the timer for an hour and then he could have a diaper back on. How on earth did we keep that thing on him an hour I don’t know. And I sure don’t even know why I suggested an hour. But there we were an hour later and I took him to the bathroom. He had wet his pants, but these are waterproof to an extent, so I literally went with the flow. I asked him to go to the bathroom numerous times in the hour, trying to take him several times, but that wasn’t happening. So I thought let’s do one victory at a time. He was very upset to have the underwear on, but we made it. Half the battle is overcoming the set in stone rules. The rules weren’t even something I thought about at first. I only knew we needed to try this new underwear. I feel defeated and I feel like we accomplished huge steps with that one hour. One of the hardest things for me to do is stayed focused and in my own thoughts. Owen’s constant state of emotions pushes me to concentrate on him and keeping meltdowns at bay. But the emotions wear on me and I have to remember that I’m allowed to have emotions too. One can not always be as cool as a cucumber. We’ll try again today. I have to push myself through this as much as I have to make him do it. For now, I’m thankful he slept through the night and school starts in less than a week. He teacher was once again his first question to me like he sees the goal line in sight. Today is one moment in time. Know that you can do great things if you set your mind to it. Find your strength and go after your dreams. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Sleep, I’m by no means caught up on it, but I’m certainly back in the realm of the waking world. Owen slept all night, in his bed, and late. Let’s all rejoice that. He woke, running from room to room looking for me. Once he found me in the kitchen he immediately asked for his teacher. I told him he would see her next week and then my heart immediately sank. I need to start preparing him for next year when he won’t have the same teacher. I have to start on that now. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t ask for some part of his school activities. It’s so hard to explain to him why he can’t have his routine that he loves and thrives on. And here we are a year away from him not having his same teacher and I’m anxious about it. He’s growing so big, losing teeth left and right, and finding his voice to explain his joys and his concerns. He seems to be more aware of his actions and knows what buttons of mine to push and how hard to push them. My mind spins of ways to help my baby and most of all to keep him safe. I watch him walk down the stairs and my heart skips a beat. He will not watch where he is going, turning willy-nilly as he goes down them. I make him walk with me as much as possible, but I’m not sure if that truly helps the process. I ask him to hold onto the rails, but that doesn’t always keep his attention. I’m closer to convincing him to not stick his foot in the car door as I shut it. I have to stay focused on the steps that keep him safe. He is very routine about what he does and if I’m in a hurry or forget one step it throws us both off and it can risk him getting hurt. There is no convincing him there’s danger in the world because he doesn’t understand what that means to him. I hold on to hope because he now is starting to respond to pain. That makes my heart hurt because I am holding on to the hope because he now responds to pain. His cries “did you hurt yourself” when he stubs his toe brings comfort and sadness in the same breath to me. I hold back the tears thinking of those emotions. My son can at least tell me he is hurting. I’ve worried for years that he couldn’t tell me if something was wrong with his socks or what was bothering him. But now the words and emotions are coming. There’s the hope I needed to see for his future and his wellbeing. He fell asleep in my arms last night. He doesn’t do that much anymore. After a good, but an emotional day with him, that moment was exactly what I needed. Autism wasn’t important to me until autism was important to me. I’ve learned so much through the eyes of my child. He’s taught me what unconditional love means. His heart is mine and my heart is his. Remember it can only be one day at a time. Take time for you, be kind to your heart, and know that you are important. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Once you embrace a miracle can happen the world seems brighter. I look at Owen and I think back to where we came from. My son, my precious baby, for a long time, couldn’t even look me in the eyes. It was too much for him to process. But now he is talking to me and finding ways to express his needs. Yesterday it was the topsy-turvy rollercoastery day of life for me. I wanted to cry because Owen was trying to do something on his own that he hadn’t done before and I wanted to cry because he told me about his aches and pains. We went bowling yesterday and some days I try to prepare Owen that our game is almost over. I told him he had eight more balls. He immediately held up his hands, both hands to show the number. The one hand was mostly up and the other hand he was trying to move his fingers to show three. He didn’t quite get it, but that didn’t even matter. I wanted to cry right there on the spot. He was trying to count with his fingers and I hadn’t prompted him, nor helped him with moving his hands, he did it all by himself. He tried it all the way down to the second to last ball. I never want to forget that moment, never. This is a skill we have been working on for years and here it was in action. My heart was exploding with pride and joy for my sweet baby O. Last night as he was taking his bath he started making faces. He then cried out, sounding like he was in pain. I asked him if he was sick. He winced a little more and then he said, “are you sick bewwy”. He said it a few more times, but didn’t want to get out of his bath. Every couple seconds he would wince a little and grab at his belly, pulling up the skin at his stomach. I got him out of the bath and he said, “wash his face”. He will say this in a singsong manner when we wash his hands or if I use a baby wipe. I handed him a baby wipe and he rubbed his belly up and down for several moments. He put it down and wanted another one immediately. That happened two more times and then off he ran holding his towel around him so he could get dressed. Within fifteen minutes he was acting like nothing was wrong, happily putting his nightclothes on and going about our routine. I was thankful he was able to tell me he wasn’t feeling well. Even though he still couldn’t tell me exactly what was wrong with him it does bring comfort knowing he can explain he has pain. The cry-rejoice moment was there again. Through the rain, I still smile. Be proud of your accomplishment, be thankful in your day, and be kind to your soul. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Today’s our day. “Coffee shop den bowling den grandma”, Owen has already repeated multiple times. He knows our Saturday routine. He slept most of the night in his bed, coming to mine really early, but falling back to sleep and sleeping late. I’ll take it. He’s got another tooth loose and it is of great wiggle concern. Shake, shake, wiggle, wiggle, runs to me to show me what is happening. I try to explain to him it’s like the other three, telling him repeatedly to give it to me if it falls out. The first two I don’t know where they went. The third one I got to it before he did. He wanted to “fix de ball” by putting it back in his mouth. He kept trying to get it from me. We’ve been watching teeth videos, hoping that helps the process. I’m thankful he’s in such a great mood this morning. Although as the morning wears on I can tell he is in need of sensory input. He is currently under a blanket, squished into his beanbag pillow. His beloved coffee shop and bowling are up next. Happy, hyper, and needing input are where we are at. I’m excited about our adventure today and I’m excited because I’m going to eat all the foods. Well, at least Mexican or Italian and a latte. I met my weight loss goal. I’ll get right back on the fitness train, but today I’m celebrating. I’ll pay for it in the days to come because arthritis is a beast, but a today I celebrate me with a little hip hip hoorah. One of the hardest things is learning to be kind to ourselves. Self-care is more important than I ever realized. Staying focused on a goal is worth it. But also know that you are human and allow yourself to have those moments in time for you. Food has always been my life. I grew up working in an Italian bakery and my family had restaurants, plus they were all amazing cooks. I never realized the impact of food until I started learning about it for Owen. The food choices we make are life-changing. I watch Owen blossom when I took dairy and gluten out of his life. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Be motivated, be inspired, and be you. Make today matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen slept all night. Me, I woke with one of those resounding headaches that makes you keep one eye closed. It reminds me I need to get my eyes checked. I’ll add it to the list. Owen is laughing away at his tablet. It’s telling him “wrong one” and he keeps hitting the same one, laughing harder. He gets as much joy from choosing the wrong items as he does from selecting the correct ones, all depending on the action the app takes for either selection. In general, he knows the right response, but he likes the process of selecting the same thing over and over. He walked over to me, taking my hand, and making me push one of the buttons on his app. He knows how to do it, but he wants me to be a part of it. I think back to when he couldn’t do the movements himself, not completely understanding how he hands worked. He would take my hand putting it on his tablet for me to do the motions for him. We worked on activities to strengthen his fine motor skills. And we are still working on his fine motor skills. I decided to start painting with him a little over a year ago. He helps me paint the backgrounds of our paintings with a hand over hand method. He will also ask “let’s paint a church” and he will paint his beloved church, still using the same method, but he goes through all the motions. I showed him he could create the church using shapes he knows and from there he loved painting them. And we paint a lot of them. I think painting has given me a new outlook and inspired me to do things I never thought were possible. I always said I couldn’t paint, but it was because I couldn’t paint perfectly. Now I find excitement in painting perfectly imperfect paintings. Life is not always what you expected, but letting going of those expectations and embracing you will bring you joy like you never knew. Be bold, be beautiful, be you. Smiles to all and donut daze!
The thing I’ve learned today is that we are each hurting in our own ways, we are each rejoicing, and we find ways to push through the moments of life. When I think I’m not doing something right it’s proven that I am and when I question everything in the world along comes an answer. It’s not always the answer I want, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Last night Owen didn’t sleep. He woke around two and that was the end of our sleep. He stayed in bed with me for several hours, but it was anything but peaceful. He rolled, he talked, he kicked, he pulled my hair, and he took the blanket away from me. I really needed sleep so I laid there, but sleep wasn’t anything that came. Maybe if I had moved to the couch he would have let me sleep a few hours. This is where I think the new supplement is starting to have a reverse effect on Owen. It’s happened before and I’m sure it will happen again. It works like a dream to get him to sleep, but it’s almost like it puts a rocket ship in his brain in the middle of the night. I was so hopeful for this one. I thought for sure it was going to be the one. I dream of calm for my baby. He’s wide awake and happy as a lark this evening, with a slight edge to him. He ran to the door, one more time, to check to make sure the lock was positioned upright. He checks it several times a night now. I’m thankful it’s still in a locked state. In the middle of the night, when all I wanted was sleep, I kept telling myself to be thankful. We have come so far. Autism is as much about how I handle it as it is about Owen having it. Together we grow stronger and through it all, we are a team. Even in the middle of storms, the sun will shine. Smile and let the world see you shine. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I’m telling myself to breathe today. Deep, long breaths. Yesterday it seemed like the carnival came to town and I was stuck on the merry-go-round. I’m just gonna breathe through that and move on. I have too many emotions trapped from yesterday. I need to let go of it and move on, but when it’s concerning my child it’s hard. How do I explain his behavior to others when sometimes I can’t even understand them myself. Love and compassion help me through our days. Some days I feel like we are drifting in space, bouncing off meteorites as we float along, waiting for what’s going to crash to earth. Owen lost his third tooth last night. It added to the stress of an already emotional day. It had been loose for days. He walked over to his tablet, using it as a mirror, touched his tooth, and it fell right out on the screen. I grabbed it as quick as I could, beating him to it only by a second. “Fix the ball”, he kept yelling. He wanted his tooth back in his mouth and he wasn’t taking no for an answer. We watch videos about teeth together, trying to help him through these moments, but until it happens to him I don’t know if he really understands it. Once I got him to calm down he hasn’t really been upset about it, only putting his fingers to his mouth a few times here and there. My heart explodes with emotions. I wish I could explain it to him in a way that he could process. I wish I could process more of it myself. I’m getting better at expecting the unexpected, but there are still moments when I’m truly not prepared enough. Today as we were heading home it wasn’t even a light that got us, Owen started yelling about me not turning. As I breathed through the moment I had to think positive and realized he yelled, “turn right”. That’s progress. He normally says, “straight up” or “turn left”. Find the positive moments in your life, smile through your sadness, and let your light shine. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Let’s just face it, I’m cranky. The new supplement has been working like a dream to get Owen to sleep, but staying asleep is a whole different ballgame. He got into bed with me and then from there, it was rock and roll. He didn’t fall asleep for several hours. He kept talking about school and his teacher. He moved on to his diaper upsetting him and the blanket being pulled all over the bed. Milk was his next move and at that point, I’m like dude ya gotta go back to sleep. Nights like these don’t happen very much anymore, but when they do it takes a lot for me to process and deal with. I have to stay calm, I have to think through the right answers because the wrong answers will cause more harm than good, and I have to figure out if there is something wrong with Owen or if he can’t sleep for some other reason. There was a span of months, I would say even close to a year, where Owen woke two and three times a night. I am thankful that we aren’t at that stage, but nights with no sleep have me on the edge that this will keep happening. Luckily he fell back asleep and we slept as late as we could, but I dream about the day he is calm through the night, even if he is awake. He woke with a purpose, “school”, but he moved on when he realized he was going to spend the day with “grandma”. I’m counting the days till all his ducks are back in a row, the bus, his teacher, and school. All in all the summer has gone well for us, but breaks in routine, no matter the amount of time are hard on Owen. He thrives on the predictability of his days. And I thrive on him having the comfort of that routine. The world is ever-changing, I get that, but for Owen, the consistency of a schedule helps him get through his days. Unpredictability is not easily explained. Each and every day I’m thankful for his words and his growth. It helps us to keep stepping forward. In the middle of our struggles or those moments that seem never-ending, I remind Owen that he is amazing and can work through these times. And I try to be kind to myself. That sometimes is the hardest part. Through strength and understanding, we can accomplish great things. Walk on the positive side of life and see how your world blooms. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Adapt, adjust, avail, that’s what I kept repeating to myself yesterday. It was my mantra to get through the day. All in all, he had a good day, but the meltdowns were in full swing. He got very upset when one of his apps kept freezing. Luckily, now he brings me his tablet instead of throwing it across the room, most times. However, I was unable to fix the app. It seemed like it was a software glitch, plus it was in Chinese. He loves downloading the kids’ apps in Chinese. He will have the English and Chinese versions going at the same time. The app not working was upsetting to him, but me not being able to fix it caused him to go instantly into a meltdown. He ran from the couch before I could even try to go through the steps of keeping him calm. He ran to his hammock swing, falling to the pillow beanbag I put underneath to cover up the bars from the swing’s stand. I put it there so if he fell he would land on it. However, it is also where he likes to fall asleep and do meltdowns. He threw himself on it, flattening an area, moving the pillow as he kept banging his head on the pillow. He kept doing it. He must have hit the bar underneath because he immediately popped up. He ran to me. “Did you hit your nose ouch it hurts”, he said. Rejoice and cry in the same breath. The bittersweet words of knowing he can tell me he’s hurt, but I need those words to help him through moments like this. He stopped pulling at his nose within seconds of running to me, maybe it was shock. We got through it. This is why it’s so important for me to try and stop the meltdown before it even starts. He emotions come quick and he finds ways to get those emotions out. Meltdowns can last for hours or minutes, either way, it’s emotional for both of us. I’m learning to adapt, so we can adjust, and together we will avail. Take one day at a time. Know that you are a lot stronger than you can imagine and you are not on this journey alone. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I am not sure if Owen understands the days of the week, but I do know he understands his routine. He fell asleep easily last night, woke up very early, but it seems like he was almost sleepwalking to my bed. And then we slept for hours longer. He woke saying, “church” and hasn’t stopped asking for it since we got up. The dude knows what he likes and what’s important. This past week no less than ten times, each day we went over his schedule for the week. Talking about the days of the week, looking at his calendar, and when he will start back to school. His teacher is asked about every day. This will be his third year having her and then he transitions to another school and a new teacher. I can’t even imagine that yet, but I’m trying to embrace the preparation for it. Stoplights have become really hard for Owen. It was a particular one at first but then it has progressed to all of them needing to be green. And now it’s to the point, even if we are stopped for any reason in the car, he yells, “green”. He wants forward progress. There is a fine line of him being upset and us not moving that causes his meltdowns. I have to be on top of his emotions and keep mine in check too. I constantly try to distract him as we are approaching lights so a meltdown doesn’t happen. They can last for hours with him crying and screaming. Yesterday, as we were driving from bowling, I said to Owen, you have to get over the stoplights upsetting you. And I thought, no that’s wrong. I have to get over the stoplights upsetting Owen. I have to help him work through these feelings. I have to find ways to explain it to him and get him to understand why there are stoplights. This morning we have spent time watching kid’s videos about stoplights and what the colors mean. I’m hoping the songs will help him become something that helps him through this. The more I can expose him to how things work the more he becomes comfortable with it, but this isn’t a quick process. We have to go over it again and again for him to understand. Today and always we are a team. One day at a time and we are learning as we grow. Be inspired by the world around you. Let today be the stepping stone to your future. 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.