A long day happens when it starts at four o’clock in the morning. Owen doesn’t like his bedroom door closed, but he also does not like light. I got out of bed around five after tossing and turning for an hour. I have a blackout curtain hanging in between the hall and the kitchen, hoping it would keep enough of the light from shining into his bedroom. I wanted to make coffee, I needed my coffee. I didn’t even turn the overhead light on, but instead used the flashlight from my phone. Owen was awake in a heartbeat, screaming about the light. I’ve had the curtain up for a while and sometimes it works, but most of the time he wakes quickly when there is any light on in the kitchen. I need to explore more options so the light does not bother him. The things I was going to do were put on the back burner and our day began. He was in a good mood most of the day, very talkative and expressive as well. He wasn’t much in the mood to listen to my instructions, but I could also tell he was having a hard time processing everything. I asked him to show me a video on the tv. He couldn’t do it right away. He will find something on his tablet and then project it onto the tv. It took him about thirty minutes before he could go through all the steps. I forget how hard it is sometimes for him to process a request I have made. He has to completely change gears and then do the steps. I was excited that he was able to show it to me after he thought it through. It seems like all we did today was eat. He feels taller to me and I think all that food was fueling his growth spurt. Even though we both were purely exhausted from our early morning we both fought sleep. I kept thinking about all the food I wanted to eat and the things I didn’t get accomplished, but they will be saved for another rainy day. He sang a lot and played his instruments as the day went on. I didn’t even try to have him paint. I figured I would wait a couple more days for that again. The smiles, the giggles, and the song in my heart carried us through our day. Never give up on the miracle that is right around the corner. Tomorrow is a brand new day. Smiles to all and donut daze!
If I can see anything in Owen it’s growth. His attention span seems to be increasing. He’s watching longer videos all the way through. And to me long for him is three or four minutes. He will then go back and watch the same video over again. That feels like progress to me even though he is repeating it. I walked to our table and heard the telltale crunch of a veggie straw under my foot. A lot of days he won’t listen to my mom-voice. And some days I know he can’t process it. He has been really happy all day, but won’t listen to a thing I say. Food has been flying and everything he wanted to do yesterday was hard on him today. He wanted to cook again in the microwave at lunch, but I didn’t have the two things he wanted, pizza and yogurt, and when we made the cookie dessert I had to start the microwave a second time and that sent him into a huge meltdown. He watches a cooking show that features a recipe with yogurt so that has been his big request to make things with. It’s added to the list of groceries to be ordered this week. The microwave pizza I’m really not sure how he decided he wanted that but he asked for it three times now since yesterday at lunch, on the list it goes. I’m thankful that he has been falling asleep a little easier the last couple of nights. I hope tonight it continues. This momma could use a good night’s sleep. He wanted to paint and then when I got all the paints together he said, “no way” his new go-to phrase, and off he ran to watch the character on YouTube that he wanted to paint. He keeps coming to me, showing me the character, looking at the painting he did yesterday, and telling me he will paint tomorrow. So tomorrow it is. We learn, we grow, we breathe, we pause, and we reflect. And I think the let go comes next. Find your inspiration and motivation and watch your world change. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Hop to it Wednesday
It was more smiles and giggles than sadness and screams today. The hardest part of our day was when I was on a conference meeting for Owen. When he can hear people talking to us and see a video he gets very upset. Regular phone calls don’t upset him as much unless they do, and it’s a fifty-fifty shot of which way it will go. Owen has been asking to cook more. I have him help me in the kitchen with getting food out, putting things away, and now we are working on preparing our food. He’s very fascinated with the microwave. The very same microwave that if you have to start it again after it stops he screams, but nonetheless he now wants to watch the microwave constantly. He watches a lot of kids cooking shows and videos that show making Play-Doh items in a kid’s toy microwave. I have been making different dishes in the microwave and we tried a cake in a cup option. I had gotten several mixes and I let him choose which one he wanted to make. Once he selected the cake I read the directions with him and then we went through each of the steps. He helped me pour the water and stir the mix. He didn’t want to push the buttons on the microwave, stating, “you push it”. I pushed the buttons and he immediately started jumping up and down in front of it. After it cooked we had to let it cool and add the crumbly pieces to the top. I never imagined Owen would even try it, but I still had him eat a bite. Not only did he eat the bite, but he grabbed the spoon from me and ate it right off the spoon. This was all like tiny little miracles one after another. I gave him another spoonful and he ate it as well. He ate a total of three and that was a lot for my non-sweet eating dude. He has very few sweets even though he loves his chocolate almond milk. During lunch, he asked to paint. I told him we would after dinner. He told me exactly what he wanted to paint, a character from one of his learning apps. I am thrilled that he is asking to paint more and that he is telling me exactly what he wants to paint. While we were painting together he asked to paint another character and I told him we could do it tomorrow. To see the excitement wash over him as he paints makes this momma happy. We still do the hand over hand method, but I look at how far he has come. Through tired eyes, I watch my son soar. Remind yourself of your victories. Praise yourself for your accomplishments. And know that great things will come when you keep pushing forward. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I’m emotional and I’m exhausted. Owen went to spend a few hours with his grandma today. Before I picked him up I ran a few errands. When I got to her house I stood at the sink to wash my hands. Owen came to me and hit me, yelling, “turn it off”. From there it kept going into full meltdown mode. He pushed me a couple more times and then we made him sit and apologize to me. As soon as he got up he started throwing the pillows off the couch. He wanted to watch TV, but he was having a hard time processing it all. He ran from room to room and then to turn the TV on. I told him we were leaving, that he could watch TV at home. He kept spiraling. We tried to distract him. Finally, I told him that we were going home, but he could play frisbee with the dog next door. This really didn’t register with him what that meant so my mom told him he could go to the swing. It still took convincing, but out the door, we finally went. He’s getting bigger and stronger. I want to make sure he understands his emotions and that we have to be nice to others. And I want to cry. People tell me this gets easier. I tell them it just gets different. This is my little boy, my heart, my soul, and he struggles with different things every day. When we walked outside the neighbor saw us and he got the frisbee for the dog. Owen was still not processing everything at first, but after a few times of seeing the dog catch the frisbee, he was ready to throw it to her. The difference felt amazing. He played with her for about fifteen minutes, still struggling but juggling his emotions much better. The night went pretty calm after that until bath time and when he came to his room I still had some laundry on his bed. Before I could get to him he threw it all on the floor, screaming about his bed. Owen’s squeals and squeaks and squawks and screams get me. I want to laugh and cry and scream right there with him and hold him tight through all his emotions. I’m thankful it only took him about an hour to fall asleep tonight. His smile, that’s what I hold on to and the happy moments that he ran across the yard with “de puppy” playing. Find your joy, hold it close to your heart, and remember to smile through your day. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I don’t think there is enough coffee in the world right now. The night seemed never-ending, the morning was hard, and then the calm happened and I was hoping it wasn’t before a storm. We played a new game after we ate our lunch, well after I ate my lunch. Owen’s lunch seemed never-ending today, one big day of food. He loves Old MacDonald and Peekaboo Barn so I thought I would look for barn toys. I found a balancing game that rocks and he has to stack the animals on top of the barn. At first, he was mad because everything kept crashing down, but I stayed positive and kept going. It took several tries to stack all the animals so they stayed, but he was overjoyed and then done once we did. He knocked them down, put them in the box, announced “all done”, and off he ran. Hey, I was happy for the interaction and the completion of the game. He was even excited about it being a barn and knowing all the animals. He was searching all over for the remote to the TV. I wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but as the moments wore on the squeal in his voice told me I had better figure it out. It took me a moment to see where it was, but then I realized it was under the TV stand. I wanted him to take directions to find it. This is extremely difficult for him. He understood the word table, but he associates that with the kitchen table so off he ran. I stopped him and told him to sit down on the floor. This was another frustrating process for him. I have to walk him through the motions without causing a meltdown. After a few more moments and my finger continuing to point exactly where he needed to look he saw it. Those steps were hard on him, but I also want him to be able to take directions and problem solve. I sit emotional most of the time, but showing my emotions makes it even harder on Owen and in turn myself. I got him to smile and that’s what matters. He hugged me a lot as the day wore on and he didn’t try to bite my hair or lick me so I was thankful for that. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Believe in yourself and make your dreams come true. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Word Up Sunday
Last night as Owen was going to sleep he kept popping up in the bed and asking to paint. I knew it was the old ploy to stay up as long as possible, but I told him we would paint today. I always let him decide what he wants to paint. We use a hand over hand method with me lightly holding around his wrist to work on his fine motor skills. He helps me paint the backgrounds for our other paintings as well. After the background dried I asked him what he wanted to paint and he said, “baby red bird”. It’s from one of his favorite Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes. I pulled up a picture of the bird and the smile washed across Owen’s face. Nothing makes me happier than seeing his smile. We finished his painting and he was off and running to the next activity. Me, I was thrilled. He doesn’t always want to paint and I don’t push. When he asks to paint it makes my heart soar. He was much happier with his lunch menu of shrimp than the dinner selection of chicken, but he’s eaten a lot of snacks today too. He’s been pretty calm. There have only been a few moments where he was upset and mostly it was because his tablet needed to be charged. The bathroom trips were with varied experiences, but in general, goals were met. His connections feel strong even though I am getting that come on mom look a lot today. I realize that he is reading more than I thought he was. He loves space videos and he was watching one about SpaceX. Before they said the name he said it like it was one word, including the X almost like a plural sound. It made me realize he is reading more words. He’s even played a few of his instruments as the day wore on. Another shirt has been destroyed, but he didn’t chew on the couch. I’m thankful for his growth, his smile, and those bright eyes that melt my heart every time. Find your inspiration, know that you can do great things, and be the change you want to see in the world. Smiles to all and donut daze!
How do you explain something is temporary when you don’t see an end in sight or you don’t know when it will end. Last night I watched a very short video of one of Owen’s church friends. I had it on for just a few seconds. He doesn’t handle videos or phone calls well and especially if they are people he knows, but I still thought I would try. The rules and emotions can change so I am always trying to be gentle with his emotions, but also want him to know that people are still around for him. He screamed for several minutes after watching the videos for literally seconds. This morning he said the word “friend”. He quickly followed it up with “I have no friends”. My heart broke in a million pieces. How do I explain to him that we can’t see them right at this moment, but they are still our friends? Since he can’t process any type of video interaction with people it’s hard to show him his friends or people that care about us. I wish I knew how to show him of people he knows without it upsetting him, especially since he watches videos with people in them all day. One day at a time I remind myself. When I picked Owen up from my mom’s he was playing with the neighbor’s dog. He was so excited and totally engaged. He was throwing a frisbee to her but kept dropping it close to himself and the dog would get it. He then was throwing it into the creek for her and she would run down to retrieve it. He kept yelling different things at her like great job, terrific, you do good work, and awesome. It was so wonderful to see him excited about the dog and interactive. It’s memories I will hold close to my heart. When Owen was falling asleep tonight he kept popping up saying, “wanna paint let’s paint”. The rollercoaster ride of emotions strikes again for the day. I was so sad about him not understanding about his friends this morning, but the joys kept coming throughout the day and this momma was moved with happiness. Never give up. What seems like the impossible can quickly change to the possible. Believe and the rest will follow. Smiles to all and donut daze!
The day felt like it started with a bang and kept going. I went to bed after one, woke around four, and at some point, I ordered groceries to be delivered today. I must say I like the way sleepy me thinks about food choices. We got cookies. And by we, I mean me because Owen really doesn’t eat a lot of sweets. I ordered multiple random breads and several kinds of french fries. When I made dinner tonight I had to laugh. Hey, I wanted to try some new things. I put waffle fries in front of Owen and he said, “you done”. I told him they were fries, that he likes fries. Well, he was not a fan of the waffle fries. But he ate every bit of his shrimp I put on his plate. I made extra tonight, never imagining he would eat them all. He went to his room and got his Very Hungry Caterpillar book, then he sat back down, and he opened YouTube to a video that they were reading the book. When they read the page that showed the moon he said, “twelve people walked on the moon”. He loves watching videos about space and I’m always amazed at how much information he stores. He turned the pages right along with the video and read the story with them. It’s hard to ever tell what he has memorized and what he is actually reading. At some point, I think they are about the same thing. He’s been looking more at his history on YouTube to find videos. He finds them by the words so it makes me wonder even more what he is actually reading. Today we worked on his spelling and he wasn’t exactly pleased I was asking, but he spelled several words for me. The other day I had him spell the word “sheep” and then I talked to him about a Mickey Mouse episode he hadn’t watched in a long time. Today he found it and watched it. We had a little disagreement about bath time, me wanting to cut his hair, and him wanting to yell at me about everything. The last few times I’ve tried to cut his hair he’s wanted nothing to do with it. I’ve always cut his hair and generally, he’s very patient about it. I cut a little every few days until it is short all the way around. It might finally be time to take him for an actual haircut. I’ll have to think awhile on that one. The day felt like a rollercoaster ride, but I still saw amazing growth in Owen. Never give up. Follow your heart, soar with your dreams, and know that the possibilities are endless when you believe. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Too Many Thursday
To say I got myself all twisted in a circle is an understatement. I want to hang the gone fishing sign out and be out on the water. Some days feel so incredibly hard. Owen fell asleep quicker last night than he had in quite a while, but then he was crying off and on all night. I don’t think he was ever fully awake when he was crying either. Once he fell asleep he started crying. I never even left his bed last night. I stayed and held him through his emotions. My own emotions got the better of me tonight. He started yelling at me because he wanted to keep playing and I told him it was time to get ready for his bath. He walked up to me and pushed me from behind. Whenever he hits me I immediately get down to eye level with him and talk to him about hitting. He doesn’t really like it when I correct him. And he especially doesn’t like it when I try to explain to him about actions, reactions, and emotions, then add in the fact I was eye level with him, making him concentrate on my words is extremely hard for him to process it and can easily push him into overload quickly. I still have to explain it to him though and make him understand why we can’t be mean to people. I made him apologize to me and then I gave him a big bear hug, telling him I love him. The rollercoaster ride was long today. He was so happy most of the day, but constantly on the edge of a meltdown. I dreaded bedtime all day, but fortunately after the yelling and hitting it was an easy transition from bath to bed. I have been trying new calming music and without any supplements, he has been falling asleep easier without the constant motions of kicking and flailing in bed. Even through his anxious moments today we had a lot of laughs, his smile shined bright, and my heart soared. The tears in my eyes fell down my check more times than I wanted them to today, but we both got through our emotions and together we are a team. Autism wasn’t important to me until autism was important to me. Find your motivation, be inspired by the world around you, and know that you can do great things if you set your mind to it. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Some days feel like they go in circles. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat and repeat, and repeat again. Three nights I gave Owen a new supplement for sleep and three nights he was extremely hyper. Tonight, no supplement. And only a little over an hour to fall asleep compared to the two to three hours the last couple of nights. I pretty much dread bedtime. My heart aches for my sweet baby O. The tossing and turning he does makes my head spin, but thankfully it wasn’t quite as hard for him tonight. I tried to work with Owen on how to tell a story. He really wasn’t interested, but I want him to use his words more so I’m looking for ways to create more interactions with him. I notice that he tends to use more words when he is frustrated and can’t figure something out or if his tablet stops connecting to the internet. He immediately has a waterfall of words, but I want him to be able to express himself when he is calm as well. He loves to sing and music is a big focus for me so I hope between music and working on storytelling the connections to words will increase. I tell him all the time he’s my blooming songwriter. I want him to know he can accomplish anything if he sets his mind to it. I’m always amazed at the little songs he comes up or adds to different tunes. I wonder if he truly understands what he is saying or creating. He was emotional tonight as he fell asleep, even though he was calmer than the last few nights. These moments are when I wish for his words even more. I want him to be able to explain to me why he is sad or what I can do to comfort him. For now, I hold him tighter, tell him I love him, and let him know it’s going to be alright. I see growth in Owen and I’m inspired by his smile. Dream big, be inspired, and move forward. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. 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.