I wonder when Owen will be on to me about “twinkle twinkle”. I had it playing in the hall again. My trap was set. I can’t imagine that it will keep working, but for now, it’s still my go-to for getting him up and moving. He wants it off, but as soon as we got to the bus stop he asked me to sing it, multiple times, prompting me if I attempted to stop early. I’m extremely fascinated by how his brain works, but I’m also daunted by it. There are times trying to stay ahead of his emotions kick my emotions into overdrive. Instant tears fall sometimes even when I try to keep my emotions at bay. Before we left for the bus stop I put his shoes on him. Over the last few weeks, the wear and tear on his shoes has caused the need to pull the Velcro tighter. This makes it flip up a little at the edges. This is what started happening with his last pair but I thought the way these were designed wouldn’t be a problem. He sat there on the couch flipping the Velcro up and down stating, “your shoes are fine”, the words I’ve spoken so many times, hoping to reassure him, but maybe causing more anxiety with them. As we walked to the bus stop he had to bend over multiple times to look at them and then standing, waiting on the bus, I could feel his anxiousness rising. So it’s back to the drawing board for shoes. Velcro truly seemed the way to go. Slip-on shoes are not an option for him. Those bring instant meltdowns as he tries to walk in them. No flip flops or sandals of any kind, so sneakers are the go-to choice. I think I will try to find a shoe that has laces but are stretchy instead. Before Owen could really communicate even a portion of his emotions I always worried about his socks. I can’t stand when the seam isn’t right. And that’s one of the things that still gets me all choked up and fighting back tears as I write. How was he ever going to tell me when something was wrong. He’s vocabulary is forming and his expressive words are stronger every day, but sometimes there are still those moments when neither one of us knows what to say. We stand facing each other and if he gets stuck on a thought or can’t process what I am saying, I repeat, “I love you” every time he says something. Many days we now stand there repeating it over and over. For the love of my sweet baby O, I keep pushing forward every day. Find your strength, be inspired, and follow your dreams. Smiles to all and donut daze!
There are days that literally putting one foot in front of the other is hard. Partly because of the arthritis I have and partly because it always feels two shades of cloudy. Today has been one of those days. I feel like crying nonstop might take some of the hurt away but I cried multiple times today and that solved nothing. This weekend has felt off for Owen, sensory seeking and lots of input high on the list. I wonder if it’s the growth in his body that is causing these moments or my own emotions. Potty training seems like it has taken a backward spin. I get mad at myself for not being able to figure it all out. And then I can turn right around and say he’s done so well this weekend. We went to lunch today with some church friends. I’ll tell you it’s exactly what I needed. I almost told them, no, but I’m thankful I pushed myself to go. Not only was it nice to talk to people that understand so much of what I go through it was wonderful for Owen to go. He also ate great. I got him four chicken nuggets and fries. Not only did he eat all four “potato” as he was calling the chicken, he asked for more, eating two more in the restaurant and the other two on the way home. Plus, he ate a handful of fries. When we got home I think that is when the emotions overflowed. He went to the bathroom numerous times only to come out and pee on the floor. He does so incredibly well at school, but at home, it seems to be one distraction after another that keeps him from going to the potty. I’ve tried not letting him have his tablet, but that hasn’t helped matters either. We worked on his fine motor skills throughout the day, mostly trying to count to ten with his fingers and painting. I wonder sometimes if he likes the emotions I have when he wets himself instead of going to the potty. He truly feeds off my feelings so I try to keep them in check, but here they sit raw and in his face because he knows how to read me so well. Today I’m trying to let go of the emotions and walk the walk of being proud of our accomplishments. I’m thankful for the laughter he gave me even through my tears. Smile for the whole world to see and know that even on your harder days you are not alone. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Saturdays always feel like I have a grasp on some sort of a daily life. Coffee shop, bowling, maybe some lunch, and Owen goes to his grandma’s for a few hours. And then I’m getting a haircut and my eyes examined. Those feel like luxuries anymore. Stolen hours to do something. The only reason I like going to get my eyes examined is that it means new glasses. I think I could own a hundred pairs of glasses and want a hundred more. Owen had a good morning, albeit it loud, it felt relaxed for him. He has done great with potty training in the last few days. And then today I couldn’t figure out what to do. We were going to be out in a world full of bathrooms but none he had been to. What if we went to one and someone was in there too. What if they used the hand dryer. What if we couldn’t get to one in time. And a thousand other what-ifs ran through my overthinking-mind. I need to work through all of these scenarios or at least enough to make sure we can handle a public restroom. I never imagined the thought process I would go through to overthink something I had already thought about a million times. He wore training pants today. They stayed dry the whole time we were out. Have I mentioned the overthinking. I need to find a location to take him that has hand dryers and an easy escape route. I want to make sure he can handle it before it is something that we have to encounter at the moment he needs to use the bathroom. Hairdryers are instant meltdowns for him, so I’m not sure how he would handle a hand dryer. I don’t even try to dry my hair when he’s awake anymore. I can’t even remember the last time he saw my hair wet. And today I got about six inches of my hair cut off. He noticed right away but it wasn’t enough to change the way I looked since it’s still very long. In his eyes, I have to look like mommy. He gets very upset when I don’t have my glasses on yelling “summer glasses” in a squeal anytime I take them off. Today I have to focus on the progress we both made and not dwell on the steps I didn’t take. One day at a time and sometimes it’s one moment at a time. Live life forward and know that today is a stepping stone for tomorrow. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I have to give myself three cheers for getting the octopus out of bed quickly this morning. Owen came to my bed around four, but after a quick discussion he was back to sleep and I realized I had a headache. Besides sleeping sideways it seems like he slept pretty good. I thought I would try for round two of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and it worked like a dream for the second day in a row. I was thankful. I went through the same basic steps as yesterday and luckily he went to get his tablet. Last night potty time was the last thing on Owen’s mind and he let me know every time it was on my mind. I kept pushing him to go though. Six potty trips, three pairs of underwear, and two hours later he was in his nighttime training pants and I wanted to cry. Potty training has been going on and off since he was two. And it only frustrates me and upsets me to read about the success stories of how a child with autism can be potty trained by the age of four. I then choose to read the studies that say my child wasn’t trained until seven. It’s hard to compare one journey to another. Our story may be similar to others, but there are so many factors on why something is different from one moment to the next for each family. Last night part of the reason Owen didn’t want to go to the potty is that I was not sitting down at different times throughout the evening. He yelled at me numerous times to “sit down” and when I wouldn’t he screamed. Sometimes it doesn’t even phase him that I’m not sitting, but last night it was of great concern. Today he has done better with the bathroom trips, but the emotional trips have been something else, for both of us. When I think I have something figured out I don’t. I never imagined the rollercoaster of emotions I would go through. Today I’ve asked the question a lot, how do I help my baby. Tomorrow may be the one foot in front of the other thing that will all make sense. Always remember you are a lot stronger than you think you are. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Day three of the octopus report and I may have beaten Owen at his own game. It was raining this morning. I wasn’t sure if we would have to take the car to the bus stop so I knew I needed to get Owen going. I turned on his bedroom light, but I knew that as soon as I did it he would cover his head. On to the second stage of the plan. I put his tablet in the hall. I then turned on the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and waited. I figured it wouldn’t take long and he would be darting out of his bed to turn it off. He loves the song, loves playing it on his tablet, but only when it is his idea. I was ready for him when he got to the tablet. I knew if I wasn’t ready he would either take his tablet and head to my bed or back to his. I got Grumpy McGrumpyson into the bathroom and he “peepeed in de potty”. We were on a roll. His teeth and hair were done albeit quickly, but done. Hey, that was better than the whole week. Next came clothes. He’s been in a diaper at night, but I ordered night training pants. Every day he is doing better with the process and the changing of the rules in his world. When you have a sensory-driven mindset there is a big difference between underwear and a diaper. I have to let go of my own expectations of how something should be and try to understand and think through how he sees the options. A diaper is all he knows so the change is daunting for him. The same for winter clothes versus summer clothes. We’ve had a few cool mornings and he wants nothing to do with a coat. I’m trying to slowly transition from shorts at home to lounge pants. I walked him to the bus in yoga pants that have pockets. Today the pockets were filled with more things than normal. I had carried my wallet in case we needed to take the car to the bus stop. I had to distract Owen from focusing on my pockets because he was about to go into a meltdown over the fact that they were different. He sees the littlest of details. And through his eyes, I’ve learned to appreciate the small things and celebrate all of our victories. Count your victories one by one. Make today matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Battling the octopus day two is now complete. Owen was up for many hours during the middle of the night. He came to my bed, mixed with emotions, ready for his day, and very unable to settle. He was humming a tune I couldn’t recognize and his legs were going ninety to nothing constantly. This is where the big drug debate could happen, but I don’t focus on that. No matter which way you choose you will have someone that suggests something else. Owen is dairy and gluten-free. He’s been on different types of supplements and we’ve tried a few other things for him. I steer clear of the debate whenever possible because at this point what is the right answer for your child may not work for someone else. Our bodies react to things differently and because of that, there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. Today however I am focused on the fact that Owen did, in fact, get out of bed, multiple times, and multiple beds, to get to the bus stop on time in underwear. He had his clothes on too, but my child is kinda sorta mostly maybe potty trained. He got to school, put his stuff up, and took himself right to the potty. Can I get a hallelujah. Next was breakfast, eating with a fork, and drinking out of a cup without a lid. School rules. That phrase can be taken in many ways. The rules at school are completely different than the rules at home. And like one his favorite pastimes, the elevator, he is good at pushing my buttons. He knows the right amount of scream, with a dose of crying, and a side of emotions to get me. But there are still the meltdown moments too. I have to figure out the fine line between what is him being Owen and what is about to cause a meltdown. I don’t always get it remotely correct. And sometimes I’m just tired. Today I celebrate the victories. My sweet baby O is finding his voice, his way, and growing before my very eyes. Believe in miracles, know that life can change in a minute, and through determination, you can make a difference. Smiles to all and donut daze!
When one emotion flows into the next you know you're starting off with your child doing the one thing you hoped they’d never do, stay in bed. That’s all it took. His bed is higher off the ground. It is virtually impossible for me to get him out of it. Add new bed to the list of things I’ve got to do. Like so many other things it’s waiting for me to have the energy to put it together. Last night was a rough potty training time. “When de timer goes off you can have your diaper on”, he says to me. That was the original strategy we worked on, setting the timer to keep his underwear on. He’s doing great at school, but at home, the rules are so different. “My voice of authority” voice is broken and he no longer listens to it. Instead pushing all the buttons he knows how to push. How does that become something they learn to do and how can I get my child to listen to my voice. The good news he’s been sleeping better. He refused to go to the potty but was upset because his diaper was on. The second struggle of the morning. We were now rushed to get to the bus stop because getting the octopus out of his bed this morning was daunting. Which moment do I breathe and let go of. Walking to the bus stop he was so excited and happy. Five minutes earlier he was in his bed kicking and wailing. He asked for all the things I told him he couldn’t have because he wasn’t listening to mommy’s words, threw in a couple driving directions, and he made sure to smile the biggest smile ever. But the one thing I wasn’t prepared for, the one thing that changed my pent up tears of sadness to gladness was Owen holding up his finger asking for “twinkle twinkle one more time”. Here he was showing me with his pointer finger for one more time. He held up his finger. He said the words. That washed away all of our struggles from the morning. My baby wanted me to sing the new bus waiting for song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star one more time. So the potty training struggles are real and emotional, as he pooped one more time in the tub after sitting on the toilet for ten minutes last night, but here we are with growth in so many other ways. Through happy tears I let the sadness go. This is one moment in time. Dwelling on the past is hard on your soul. Find your happiness, focus on the little things, and move forward. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I gotta get off the cranky train stage left. I woke early, thankful Owen was still asleep in his bed, but he woke around six, climbing into my bed. At this point, he was asking for his teacher, but quickly fell back asleep. When it was time to get up he didn’t want to. And then once he did his “ball” was of great concern. He wants his teeth out as soon as they are loose and he wants them back in his mouth as soon as they are gone. I explained to him “they will grow back”, but he wants me to find his ball and put it back in. I’m not sure why he started calling his teeth “balls”, but here we are. He will reference them as teeth too, only after I ask him about his teeth. I’m thankful for his words though. I’m thankful that he can explain enough for me to understand his concerns. It’s so hard when he can’t express what he wants to tell me or ask for things he is looking for. Many meltdowns have come when I can’t understand his words, especially when he knows exactly what he wants, but I can’t figure it out. This happens a lot with the voice-activated control. He may have heard a phrase one time on a video and he expects to be able to say it and me to find it. It’s even harder if he thinks he is saying the words exactly like the video, but he can’t understand why I’m not responding. He calls Sesame Street “sesame trick”. He wants Peekaboo Sesame Street, but for some reason, the app is no longer available. He gets so upset when I can’t load it for him. He watches the video and then wants to play the game. He does this with a lot of apps. He finds the videos either in the App Store or on YouTube and then wants to do the same steps as he watched. He especially likes to watch the reviews people do and then follow along with the app, reciting the words. My sweet baby O is growing and learning. I’m amazed at his memory and hold on to his smiles that get me through my day. Today is one moment in time. Follow your heart, go after your dreams, and make today matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen woke, sounding in a panic. He came running to my bed. He was yelling his teacher’s name. “School”, he said. “It’s Monday”, he proclaimed and started yelling his teacher’s name again. I said it’s Sunday. He moved to, “church let’s go to church”. It was still only five in the morning. Almost on cue, in the middle of a cry out for church he fell back asleep, at the same moment I was saying, it’s nighttime. He woke an hour later in the same way, yelling for his teacher. I told him again it was Sunday. He kicked for a few minutes, moving around the bed, and then asked for the blanket that was already on him. I’m finding that he wants me to cover his head with it when he yells for the blanket. This knowledge is helping the process. And the fact that I now have the type of blanket that he likes in all the important locations we are making progress. The yelling. It’s constant. Today he has yelled because his tablet is slow to respond to the internet. “Click it”, he squeals at the top of his lungs. I know he will be running to me soon after that. I explained to him that I click the arrows, which he is now learning to do, and after clicking it a few times it magically starts again. This has been happening a lot in the last couple of days. I ask him to count to ten, hoping it will distract him from it not working, but it seems to frustrate him more. I had a little panic myself today, thinking about Halloween over a month away. The letting go of expectations is sometimes one of the hardest things I have to do. Halloween was always my favorite holiday growing up. My mom always let me have big parties that we would plan for months. Now Owen doesn’t want to cover his face or wear headgear of any kind, so I have to think outside the box to figure out a costume that Owen will tolerate. But then I think it’s all for me anyways. Owen doesn’t even like candy. And going from door to door seems very overwhelming even to me. Today I breathe and remember at least we are able to talk about holidays and what they mean to us now. Owen sings, “single bells single bells single all the way” throughout the year and that lights up my world when he does it. Life is not always easy to explain, but the love sure is. Today is a stepping stone for tomorrow. Let go of yesterday, smile through your day, and know that you matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen woke up asking for his teacher, referenced Monday, and then quickly got onto the bowling adventure. For the last few weeks, every day is Monday to him. And today feels like a month on Mondays to me. For some reason, I woke up emotional and cranky, with a side of headache du jour. Nothing, in particular, has me going this morning, but that’s why emotions are just so much fun. Now if everyone could stop dropping hats I might stop crying. Potty training is in full swing, but the rules get us sometimes. Owen is doing excellent with it at school, but at home, he is in between struggling and exemplary. It will come. I tell myself to be patient with my own heart, but it’s not that easy. I get mad at myself for not being able to understand all the rules and to know which ones to push and which ones to wait on. It can make the difference between a calm day or meltdowns. We will be off to our bowling adventure soon. I’m not sure if I’m ready for the world today. Do we stay on the potty train, do we let it go for the moment, or do I embrace this new reality. One step at a time, I tell myself, breathing through this new reality. It’s like everything else we’ll get through it together. Owen is thriving and this is the next phase of his growing experience. He’s really doing great with it, probably better than me. He’s squished up against me, watching a video, and singing. When the emotions won't quit you still have to keep pushing forward. So that’s how today shall go. Autism is as much about how I handle it as it is about Owen having it. Today I breathe, I walk a mile in my own shoes, and I forgive myself for those moments I cry. Here’s to a great bowling day and the growth of my semi-pro bowler in the making. This is one moment in time. It may feel overwhelming, but this too shall pass and there is always someone that will understand your story. Make today matter. 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.