I have to mentally prepare myself at four in the morning to go to the bathroom. It could be midnight or it could be four in the afternoon too. But it’s those middle of the night ones that get me the most. I might need a cup of coffee to get through this moment without tears. I never know when Owen is going to be mad because I’m going to the bathroom. I never know when he is going to scream on the other side of the door, barge in, or maybe he will sleep through it. The screams echo through the footsteps in my mind. This is my sweet baby O, my little boy, and he can’t process that I have to go to the bathroom when he doesn’t want me to. It’s not all the time and now it doesn’t happen like it did even a year ago, but I’m still trapped in those emotions because it still randomly happens. He hadn’t done it in quite some time and then here I was with him screaming at me again a few days ago. The emotions washed over me and now every time I go to the bathroom I wait for him to scream again. I have to push through all of it. There’s a sadness that can sit on my heart. It’s hard not getting replies from Owen when I ask him a question. And it’s hard asking him to answer when I know he’s going to scream. But we have to keep moving forward. He can’t count to ten with his fingers. I go through spurts where I try to help him move his fingers through each number up to ten. He’s closer now than he has ever been and we have been working on this skill for years. I felt a victory today though when he was on the swing at his grandma’s house and he said, “two more minutes”, his go-to phrase for everything. At that moment he started moving his hand, trying to show two fingers. He’ll do this occasionally and it always brings a smile to my face, knowing we are on the right path. A few moments ago I said, “can I see you smile”. He said, “no watch a video”. He took my hand and wanted me to watch a “ViB-oh videE-oh” with him of Peekaboo Barn. He was all smiles now and had been practicing how to say the word “video” very excited to get it right. He informed me it was “13 o'clock” and then said, “no it's 100 o'clock”. We have been working on telling time since he is so fascinated with cuckoo clocks now. And with that, I pushed through more of the sadness I’ve felt today. When I see his smile and I hear his words I can tell we are making progress. Today is one moment in time. Don’t let yesterday control how your tomorrow will be. Find your smile, celebrate your victories, and walk with your head held high. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I think my child rolled his eyes at me. Sometimes mommy is a good singer and other days he just doesn’t think I have the chops. And he’s truly right. As they say, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Owen, however, has a beautiful tone and rhythm. When he is singing in his natural voice it’s truly amazing to hear. He doesn’t even understand yet how to control it, but I work with him on singing scales and exercising his voice. It was always important to me for him to understand what music can do for the soul. His smile is beyond wide today after a rough start, maybe because he’s eating his beloved “swrimp” now. I got up before five this morning to go to the bathroom. I didn’t turn the light on, but he heard me move through the house. He came running to the bathroom screaming, opened the door, turned on the light, and tried to slam the door shut. He stood outside the door screaming. I told him that I would be done in a moment and to go back to bed. He switched the screams to “wanna mulk pwease”. I told him he could have some milk. I always have a cup ready in the refrigerator for him, trying to promote independence, and allowing him to get it when he wants it. Instead of going to the refrigerator, I heard him go back to bed. Ahh, I thought and prayed he went back to sleep. This momma needed it. We slept for another hour and thankfully the next go-around he woke with a new attitude, I’m still trying to determine mine. The “swrimp” for breakfast request came in quickly with a side of Peekaboo Barn, cereal, and veggie straws. After breakfast, he ran to “go pottEE” and then to watch more video reviews of Peekaboo Barn, while occasionally reaching over and playing his keyboard. I think I determined my mood, happy. Owen’s laughing and smiling, learning and growing, and I am too. Life is what we make it so let’s make it grand. Follow your heart, be inspired, and be the change you want to see in the world. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen was much calmer today. The glow in his eyes was a little brighter, if not maybe a little mischievous even. I watched him eat his lunch. I’m always amazed at the sensory play that happens for one bite of food, and of course it was shrimp. He moves it between his fingers with great dexterity that he doesn’t always show when he is doing other activities. It’s almost like how you would twirl a coin between your fingers. He then moves it to his mouth. And this is like another magician’s trick waiting to happen. The food is in and out of his mouth so many times I lose track. Occasionally, I look at his plate and there will be shrimp that have at some point lost their breading only to be eaten on the second pass through. He’s pretty good at the clean plate club, even though sometimes it takes two rounds. He manages to pretty much get it on every surface, on him, the table, the chairs, the floor, me, his tablet, and if the cat walks by. I think the walls may even take their fair share. He’s words seemed more abundant today as well. And I got really excited when he walked up to me and wanted me to find “sesame strect strict street sesame streetAH” on the voice-activated option. He worked through it and pretty much said Sesame Street. He’s never called it the right name, not truly being able to enunciate the word before. So this felt huge to me. He walked through all of the steps to be able to say the word and the look on his face told me he knew he did it right. I often wonder if he understands his words are not always clear or that he isn’t saying a word at all. It’s one of those things I try not to think about but think about constantly. I want him to be able to express his thoughts, feelings, and dreams. He listened well for most of the day, only a few meltdowns, but a whole lot of love and learning. Through the victories of today I celebrate for what tomorrow can bring. When all else fails succeed at something else. Never give up. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen walked on the serious side of life today. This happens. You can see it in his face. He thinks through all of his exchanges more, he smiles less, and his anxiety increases. I sat down at our table, holding my phone. It wasn’t on and I wasn’t even looking at it. The screams started instantly. He ran to me trying to stop me from making a phone call I wasn’t even making. The screams continued. The meltdown was escalating quickly and I could tell if I didn’t stop it the train would be derailed. I started rapid-firing questions at him, trying to distract him, and bring him back to the now. He started crying within the next breath it seemed. It started then. “Schools over”, he said. He repeated it and repeated it and repeated it again. He yelled for his teacher and the screams started again. The swig of coffee really doesn’t stop my tears sometimes. It’s been months now and he hasn’t seen his teacher or gone to school, but he still has every single one of his emotions balled up inside of him. I held him, trying to help him find peace. My heart aches for him. He still doesn’t understand this. It’s hard for me to understand any of it. He wanted a lot of input today and he wanted to be held as he fell asleep. I think back to the morning and how it started. He’s on his shrimp kick and it was pretty much requested for all the meals. He had a hard time answering questions today, but he repeated a lot of words and phrases back to me. Questions are hard for him. I try to ask him once that he can answer, but also not overload him with them because I know they can be hard for him to process. I want him to understand that he has to answer me though. And then there’s that fine line again. If I push too hard or ask too many questions more meltdowns happen. One of the hardest emotions I deal with is not being able to know my son’s thoughts or how he is feeling. I want him to know that I am here for him and we will get through it as a team. I pray every day for his growth and understanding. I tell him he is amazing and can do anything he sets his mind to. Never give up, know that today is one moment in time, and you too are amazing. Live life to the fullest. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I woke with an octopus by my side. I’ve yet to understand how this tiny little human can take up more of the bed than me, pull my hair, and kick me all at the same time, but there we were. Owen’s always been a sideways sleeper and now he takes up the whole bed. I can tell he needs a lot of input. Me, I was reading the work that I needed to do and he kept running to me saying, “more hugs”. He then starts counting, “one two free”. He wants me to pick him up and shoot him up to the sky like a rocket ship. Some days he needs more input than others and today has been one of those days. At lunchtime, he wouldn’t sit at all. He stood next to his chair jumping up and down, eating a bite here and there. We break the rules often. Hey, he’s eating and eating kinda with his fork. He takes the fork stabs his food, pushing some of it on with his hand, getting it to his mouth, putting it in with his hand helping to then pull it back out again and push it back in. At least macaroni and cheese is not a food that goes in his toes. We worked on his spelling and sight words. I have little puzzles that have pictures and he has to match them to the words. He half knows words by sight and half guesses. When the letter Q comes up he guesses the word is queen instead of reading the word. He did great with the puzzles though and got more than half of the words right by sounding them out when he wasn’t guessing because of the letter. He has so much information stored, but actually being able to say it or express it can be hard for him. And it’s emotional for me. I will ask him a question and he doesn’t always know how to respond or can’t. It might take him an hour to respond or the next day even. He processes it when he can and responds when he can form the words. I see growth in him though and I find that he is making new connections every day. Today was double “swrimp” day, for breakfast and dinner. When the dude makes the request before I even have to ask him what he wants to eat I’m going for it. I’m learning that life will pass you by if you don’t lead it in the direction you want to be headed. Positive words and positive actions equal a positive life. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I stood tonight watching Owen drink his “sip of water” from a regular bottle and my heart burst with joy. He always asks for ￼”a sip of milk”, generally right after he has gotten into bed so he can get back out, but has now started asking for it before he goes to bed. However, tonight after his sip of milk he asked for a sip of water. I thought hey let’s do this. He has used a water bottle numerous times before, but will squeeze it trying to make the water come out, drop it on purpose so he can say “oops you dropped it”, or stick his fingers in it. When trying to discipline Owen or teach him something the extremes usually happen. Whatever I said or did in those teaching moments are generally where things go. So even if I don’t realize the words I’m saying they influence our days, weeks, months to come. Like “a sip of milk”. I said this to him one night and the rest is history. And now a sip of water I believe will be added into the mix. We all handle life differently and our past crosses our daily path even if we try to put it behind us. As time moves forward I realize that I kept floating through our days, surviving not thriving. I took Owen’s silence hard because I needed him to communicate his needs and wants with me. I think this helped me grow as his mommy because every day I worked with him on talking, expressing his emotions, and letting him know he has choices, it made me realize I have them too. I tell him every day I love him and together we will find our way. There is no greater gift than Owen. Being his mommy has made me whole. We all have challenges, we all have a past, but it’s what we do with our future that matters. If we can’t learn from the moments we’ve been through then we will keep living through those moments. I see Owen’s successes, even on our challenging days and I celebrate them, each and every one. Today’s victories were numerous and I’m thankful for my sweet baby O. He has taught me so much about life. And his words today made me know that he is listening, processing, and growing. Autism is as much about how I handle it as it is about Owen having it. Let your past go, celebrate your victories no matter how small you think they are, and rejoice at how far you’ve come. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Today’s a holiday, but to Owen it’s another day he doesn’t get to go to school or do any of his activities. Last night was one of the hardest nights we’ve had since all of this has begun. He got the days of the week on his mind and the more he thought about them the more upset he got about not doing his favorite activities. He knows he goes to church on Sundays and school was during the week. Saturdays are for our beloved coffee shop and bowling. And his newest activity of gymnastics started only a few months before this began, but has absolutely been one of his favorite activities to do. He cried and screamed and couldn’t get past any of it. My heart burst. I went to bed early with Owen from pure exhaustion, but there was no sleep to be had. He tossed and turned all night when he finally fell asleep. I just laid there unable to even move. The hours turned into the morning and luckily he woke happy. I feel like a zombie’s cousin making it through the day. He keeps watching a video about the days of the week and I keep trying to distract him. I don’t want him focusing on the coulda, woulda, shoulda beens. It’s hard enough for him on any given day, but then to add in his emotions about what he wants to be doing and my heart aches for him. He’s become my little social butterfly, wanting to go places, and interacting with people. That wasn’t always the case at first and there are still rules with that as well, but his growth is amazing and I pray that this doesn’t set us back. He’s having a really good day and using his words to ask for things he wants. I pray that tonight he is able to let go of the days of the week and get a night of sleep. He has repeated “school’s over” numerous times today, wanting me to agree and go through the motions with him. I try to tell him he will go back to school at some point, but that only gets us with him crying again. I hope that when he gets to ride the bus and school starts again it will be an easy transition for him. The times of uncertainty make it hard for me to prepare him for anything and I cry from knowing how this lack of routine is really hurting my son. I can see the anxiety in him increasing and I try to reassure him that we are in this together. Today we’ve laughed a lot, I made sure and tomorrow is a brand new day. We can wait for life to happen or we can go for our dreams. Dream big, dream often, and watch your world soar. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I was sitting at the kitchen table and Owen was in the living room, maybe twenty feet from me. I didn’t even think about it because my back was to Owen and I took my glasses off for a moment. Within seconds he comes running to me and yells, “summer glasses”. All glasses are called summer glasses and my glasses need to remain on my face. I had taken them off, laying them down to wipe something out of my eye. He doesn’t understand that sometimes you have to take your glasses off and sometimes I have to move my hair a certain direction to get it out of my face. I get emotional about this because he’s my sweet baby O. I have to be picture perfect to what he sees. I try not to think about it, but some days it feels harder than others to keep all the rules straight. Some days it doesn’t bother him at all or if it does he doesn’t show it or express it. We ate our lunch and he ran off to go to the bathroom. He’s not throwing as much of a fit now about having to wash his hands or go to the potty after we eat. He stopped in the doorway looking at me, but wouldn’t respond to my questions. He then went into the bathroom, went potty, mostly fix his clothes kinda, and started washing his hands. I helped him with the soap and when he was done instead of wiping them on the towel he shook them around. This still surprises me when he does it. He doesn’t do it each time so I never know what to expect. He does not like to dry his hands at all on the towel. I think it causes him sensory overload. He was going to go spend a few hours with his grandma so I got him ready and at this point he goes back and forth through his emotions, trying to process the steps and what day of the week it is. I had his clothes on him and then he said, “I’m not going to see grandma today” and started taken them off. I told him if he took his clothes off that meant he would not see her today. He then pulled his shorts back up, but he kept repeating that he wasn’t going to see her. It’s hard for him to understand it all. It’s hard for me to help him with everything. After another thirty minutes he finally let me put his shoes on so we could go. He wanted to see his grandma, but emotionally he had to process the steps to get there. We don’t always walk out our door quickly and sometimes not at all. When we got to the car he saw his reflection in the paint. He likes to watch himself spit to see his teeth, but today’s adventure consisted of him pulling down his shorts as well. I quickly got that resolved and off we went. Our yard, our domain, our porch we have no boundaries for any of this. When we come home I have to remind him not to undress on the porch. We stretch the rules of the universe and put rules on it at the same time. Find your inspiration and motivation and change your world. What are you waiting for. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Some days we float through them pretty seamlessly, today was one of those days. I absolutely tried to do nothing that would rock the boat. We had a few little moments, but in general we stayed above water. His words are becoming stronger every day. He doesn’t grasp that the voice-activated option on his tablet will understand most of his words now. He still brings it to me, putting it either in my face, or on my hands no matter what else I might be holding or doing, and then say the words he wants me to say to his tablet. The even harder part about this is generally he was watching the exact video he wants me to find, but for some reason he decided years ago that he needed me to find it this way. This is where the loop begins. If I can’t understand his words or I ask for the wrong thing it can quickly spiral to a meltdown. He says, “oops try again” every time I get it wrong. But then what he does is goes right to the history and pull up the video that we couldn’t find by the voice-activated option. This doesn’t happen quite as much now that his words are becoming clearer but it’s still something we go through. He also asks for videos in other languages. He listens to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in numerous languages, singing away to the words without missing a beat. All languages are one big language soup for him. He has no concept or boundaries that he shouldn’t be able to use all of them. And I have absolutely no way to gauge what he knows. I know that he laughs at the same episodes in multiple languages, laughing in the same spots. He will sing the English version while another language is playing or he might sing another language while the English show is on. Sometimes I think this is why he has a hard time using certain letters in the English language. The word “jump” is more like “sump” and when he tries to say words that have an “L” in them it depends on the position of where the letter is if he can say it. The day was filled with love, laughter, and hugs that generally were sought because he wanted to bite my hair. When my baby has a happy heart he has a happy momma. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Dream the possible dream and make it happen. You can do anything if you set your mind to it. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Some days are tougher than tough and other days we breeze on through them. Right now the weight of the world feels heavy and I see how it is affecting my child. He cries out for the people and places he cannot see or go to. How do I even explain this to him. The river of emotions sits heavy with me because this is my sweet baby O. I want to make him laugh when my heart is crying. Yesterday weighed on us. He doesn’t even realize it was technically the end of school for him because “school’s over” has been part of our everyday vocabulary for months now. We still did school-like activities, but having him work on his actual schoolwork produced meltdown after meltdown. I try to explain to him that he will be going back to school, but that causes meltdowns as well. It hasn’t been as hard on him with our other activities like church, bowling, and gymnastics because they weren’t an everyday event. He still asks about them and the people connected to them, but it is more of a confirmation of when he will go back with only the occasional meltdown over them. He’s much calmer today than yesterday. Some days he gets something on his mind and he can’t let go. You can see him going through it all, but there’s no clear way of getting him to stop the train. He’s singing tonight in several languages. I don’t think he understands the concept of what a language is so it’s all one language to him. And just like that we are singing Christmas carols and practicing his gymnastics moves. The smile is stronger on both our faces today. He keeps running to me and giving me a big hug. I think he is partly checking on my hair because I moved it over my shoulder while we were eating dinner and he immediately had to fix it by pulling it across my back. I have to be picture perfect some days more than others and today is one of those days. Through the rain I still see my son shine and I’m thankful. Never give up on the tomorrow yet to come because that’s where your dreams will grow. 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.