We slept a little later than we normally do. Hey, I’ll take those few extra moments of quiet even though I got up numerous times throughout the night for one reason or another. Owen was calm when we got out of bed but I could tell he was also very anxious. He wants to know every detail of his day over and over and over again. And even when he has gone through it he still wants to discuss it again. He can’t let it go. He followed directions fairly well this morning as we were getting ready for church until I had to tell him numerous times to get his shoes. So I told him that I was going to get his black shoes or rain boots since he hadn’t gotten his shoes already. That’s always my response. He prefers his blue shoes even though they are exactly the same as the black pair. He said, “black shoes” and ran to get them. I found it interesting that he didn’t get his blue shoes at this point but instead he got the black ones. I was happy that he followed through on my words. Even though he didn’t get his shoes originally I felt like it was a victory and I told him I was proud of him. I remind myself to always be patient because he can’t process it all and I have to breathe. When he is in high gear I want him to slow down sometimes but that’s hard to even explain to him. When we left for church he did great in the car until we got close to church. Then he started saying, “wanna go home have to go to sleep first” and then he would see his teacher tomorrow. The anxiety of tomorrow is already here today. Lately, his anxiety seems to keep him in circles and repeating the same words and actions. Once we got to church all the way to his class he kept saying he needed to go home to go to sleep. I knew as soon as he was in class though he would be happy and he had a great time. As the day continued he started getting a snotty nose. Yesterday he sounded a little nasally but when he woke this morning it didn’t seem as bad but as nighttime came he was constant sniffles and putting his finger in his ear. He was making a screech sound throughout the day as well. I think he does this to cover up the noise he is hearing in his head because it happens more when he isn’t feeling well. He screams a lot but when he’s sick it’s more of a constant shrill. I’m praying that it is allergies and he will feel better tomorrow so he can go to school. I made the mistake of telling him that if he wasn’t feeling well that I was going to take him to the doctor tomorrow and he wouldn’t go to school. This was the wrong step because it sent him into an hour-long spiral about seeing his teacher first but wanting to go to his doctor who he loves. He told me all the steps she would do to make sure he was feeling well. When he was a baby I would always tell him that he was going to the doctor and what was going to happen. I would talk to him about how important these visits were and that the doctor was there to help us. I never wanted him to be afraid of going to the doctor. To this day I always try to make it like the appointments will be fun. I think it has helped him. Plus he gets to “ride on the elevator” and that is worth the trip anywhere to him. It took him a while but he calmed down and fell asleep talking about his doctor and his teacher. I pray that he is better and he can go to school. I tried to explain to him either way he would see his doctor this week because we already had his wellness checkup scheduled for Wednesday but he really couldn’t process the difference even though he knows the days of the week and his routine. He spent a lot of his day sitting next to me and I’m thankful he was happy for most of the day. Find your strength, push forward, and know that you are amazing. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Three o’clock in the morning comes awfully earlier when one o’clock at night is bedtime. Owen got into bed with me shortly after I fell asleep, and then he woke up around three or four. It was all blending together at the time but once he was awake again there was no convincing him it was bedtime. I then told him he could take his tablet to his bedroom and stay in there. What he heard was coming back every two minutes to see if mommy had her eyes closed. At that point, I got up. His anxiety has been high the last week, constantly checking on his schedule, or making sure everything is in its place. I went to the bathroom and when I was done he came running from the other room to fix the door. Like with everything in this house it must have a place even if that place is out of place. He has to have it at a certain angle and that doesn’t necessarily mean a straight angle but one that makes sense to him. I remind him to breathe through this. I completely understand that he has to, wants to, or needs to have certain objects in their place but I also need him to understand that the door will not always stay in its place. He will try to adjust it before I’m even out of the way. Teaching him a skill is not a once and we are done kinda thing. It can take weeks, months, even years of repetitive actions to get him to understand the process. Like counting cars and breathing techniques to help with his emotions and anxiety have been years in the making. He went to visit his grandma today and on the way home, he started screaming and having a huge meltdown at a light. I tried to calm him but he kept screaming. I started crying and he stopped. I couldn’t control my emotions. At nine years old he was screaming because I had to stop at a traffic light and he wanted to sit on the other side of the car. Plus, add in the fact that it “was raining it’s not raining it’s not raining the sky is blue it’s grey the sky is raining” and I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. He said, “you're sad”. I cried harder. Connections, they are overwhelming for both of us but this was also a huge amount of progress. When we got home he was pretty calm but he wanted to sit with me and he wanted me to ask Siri lots of questions. He then moved on to having a discussion with Alexa and she was wrong according to him. And I do believe he got her straightened out. You would think he would have been ready for bedtime but it took a lot of convincing to get him to go. Once I did he was out with the lights. He fell asleep with his head at the foot of the bed and talked about going to church tomorrow. Each step forward is a step I cherish. As emotional as today was I’m thankful for his connections and that I see progress. Share your smile and know that you can make a difference in our world. Smiles to all and donut daze!
It felt like one of those good days for a great day with a little side of anxiety from both of us. The bigger Owen gets the more I feel the entire house shake when he jumps. And he jumps a lot. We have a basement so when he jumps he really makes the floor move. I keep thinking that I’m going to need to reinforce the floors. I wasn’t sure how this morning was going to go. I tried to make his costume as simple as possible. A farmer in overalls and a “farmer shirt” was the request and we did it. I showed him the overalls yesterday after showing them to him numerous other times to hope he would be comfortable with them and he said, “wear sweatpants” grabbing them. I said these are overalls and he ran off to play. When I put them on him he didn’t even say anything about the color. He always talks about “blue pants” but today he was ready for his “farmer shirt” to be put on him. I put a red T-shirt under his overalls and then his plaid flannel shirt. He listened to everything I said, we finished getting ready, and off to the bus stop we went. He stood there asking Alexa everything he could think of and then his bus arrived and off he went to his beloved school and teacher. When he came home he was very anxious about what he was going to do tomorrow but I was happy because he was still wearing his farmer outfit. He has not wanted to go bowling and any mention of it has sent him into a tailspin. I’m sure it has to do with his routine so I’m going to wait a few more weeks and see what happens. He would not stop asking me when he was going to “see grandma tomorrow”. It was to the point that it was surely going to be a meltdown. His foot was beating on the ground and I could tell by the squeal in his voice. I have been working with him on breathing techniques for years but it’s mostly me that breathes and tries to move forward, until today. I got him to breathe in and out with me to calm down. He stood with me holding my hands and breathing. That was huge huge huge. If I can get him to keep focusing like that it will be amazing and hopefully he will learn it like some of his other centering mechanisms we have worked on. I asked him what he celebrated at school today and after a few minutes he said, “Halloween”. I said, did you enjoy the party. He said, “no”. He had YouTube on the tv tonight reading all of the captions and he only had trouble with a few of the words. He felt connected even though he was anxious. He went to the bathroom twice all by himself. He washed his hands once and the second time I reminded him to wash them. He went right back in to do it and didn’t cry or yell “no more wash ya hands”. I’m thankful for today and his laughter got me through our day. Every step forward is a victory in my book. Follow your heart, dream big, and know that you can move mountains if you want to. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Sometimes I sit listening to the noises all around me. I never feel like it’s ever quiet. I hear Owen’s voice on top of mine constantly. As soon as he woke this morning the commands started once again. The hardest part for me is trying to not react to every single thing he says or does. If he wants me to help him with something he wants instant gratification. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing he will be right in my face trying to get me to help him. And if I don’t do it right away the demands escalate and his frustration quickly turns into him being very upset or a meltdown. The emotional train for me is emotional and I find myself being part of the repetitive behaviors. I answer him before I can even think to not answer him. I feel like sometimes it perpetuates his emotions when I answer exactly as he wants me to and other times I feel like if I don’t say every single word he wants it will go on for hours and it has. And then I breathe. “It is not a potato”, he said to me. I asked him what it was. He was pointing to a building on a video he was watching. He went on but his foot started beating the ground. I asked him why he was getting upset. I want him to understand his emotions. I try to explain to him that his feelings are valid but he can’t beat his foot on the ground and hurt himself over something he is saying incorrectly on purpose. I see such progress in him and so do his teacher and therapists but it is still hard to move him forward some days. He will constantly say the wrong words to see how I react and I think it is part of his processing. The door to our bathroom has to be angled exactly the right way. If I go to the bathroom and he is sitting in the other room he will stop what he is doing, come to the bathroom, and fix the door. But I think back to years ago when he would sit outside the bathroom door and scream, kicking, and hitting the door but he was the one that would close the door and he could also open the door and come in. I think about those moments and I know how far we’ve come. One day at a time I remind myself. Tomorrow is their Halloween party at school. Owen is going to be a farmer, maybe. I am trying not to cry about it. My expectations for Halloween are way different than the realities of what he wants for Halloween. And what he wants is to be dressed the same as any other day. So when he gets ready for school he may or may not let me put the flannel shirt and overalls on him and I have to remember it’s his day, he gets to choose. My victory for the day is knowing my baby can march, he can march. He was jumping in the bathroom after his bath and I reminded him we don’t jump in the bathroom so I asked him if he could march to the bedroom and he did. My little miracle is amazing. Every step forward is your victory. Keep moving forward. Smiles to all and donut daze!
The commands came before I even left the bed. “Sit”, he said, “wanna hug I need a hug please”. “No cat no dog no raccoon”, he went on. I knew that this was his art of distraction. Mornings feel complicated to me. I’m not sure how to help him with the routine even though he knows it perfectly. He wants to go to school but he also needs to process the moments in his time and that can be harder if he sleeps even five minutes longer than he normally does. And sometimes this momma just don’t wanna get up. I know it would help him if every single morning we were up at the exact time but that is hard when we are up numerous times a night. When he got home from school he was extremely focused on the rest of his week. He wanted me to tell him over and over what his schedule was for tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and it kept going and starting over and going. His foot started beating on the carpet and I reminded him to breathe and refocus his mind. This went on periodically throughout the afternoon. He finally changed course when he decided that he needed to turn the microwave on repeatedly while he was watching a video about a toy microwave. He always wants to “cook in the microwave” so we at least “make water”. This kept him busy off and on for the rest of the night. He would run to it wanting to “cook more dinner”, which he ate a huge dinner, asked for more, and devoured that. When he got into bed he rambled off words, phrases, and parts of videos. He was saying the words he asks Siri for as well as what she says. “Translate hippopotamus in Arabic,” he said and then said it in Arabic. He said, “fish noises in Arabic”, he laughed and made a bubbly kind of noise. “That’s a good one”, he said. You would think by now I wouldn’t be shocked at all the words he says and phrases he has memorized but years of waiting for those communication skills has me beyond thankful for every single word he says. I can only imagine how many languages he understands but it still amazes me. I was drinking my coffee earlier, my hair was wet but Owen wasn’t home. And then I thought one day it happens when you least expect it. You find your footing in all of this and it makes me reflect on how far we’ve come. I got my haircut a week ago, he still plays with it. In fact, he plays with it even more now than he did before me getting it cut but he’s processing it and that’s the progress that keeps moving us forward. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Yesterday is written in stone but tomorrow the possibilities are endless. Smiles to all and donut daze!
The pure belly-gut laughter will always make this momma smile. And the more Owen laughs the more I smile. “No raccoon no cat no raccoon no cat no dog no pig no cat no pig no cat”, he went on and on. I’m not sure how this has become something but now he runs up to me and will get about an inch from my nose and rattle this off. When Owen was little he would take my finger and put it on the screen of his tablet and move it to where he wanted it to go. It was almost like he didn’t understand his fingers could do the same thing. It was hard for him to process the concept. After a while, he started doing more on his own but he would still bring me his tablet to open apps or change the screen, and then one day he started finding videos on his own but still needed help once he would close the screen. Now I watch him fly through the different screens and find everything he wants, unless he wants to use the voice-activated option and then he asks me to do it sometimes. He goes through stages where he will take his finger and instead of tapping directly on an app he will hit next to it, repeatedly poking the screen hard, pulling his finger back, and doing it again. Sometimes instead of pulling it back, he will drag it off the edge of the tablet. He has started doing this again after a long time of not doing it. I wish he could tell me why he does this. I would love to be able to understand the process he goes through or if this is to help him center himself. It feels like it is more of a need for him like he can’t move forward until he hits the screen so many times. At first, I tried to get him to stop because it looked like he was hitting the tablet and I thought it was something he couldn’t open so I tried to help him. Then I realized no matter how many times I tried to help him or open the app he would still close it and go through the motions. This happens with numerous activities that he needs to go through all the steps over and over until he can move forward. I learned early on I can try to distract him and it may take his mind off of it for a moment but once he has time he goes right back to what he was doing so I know it is something he is processing. He was very calm today and I can tell he is growing. When he got home from school he ate and ate and ate. He fell asleep quickly tonight in my arms and in my face he said, “no cats no dogs no raccoons no cats” and he was out. Thankful today for his smile that carries me through our days. Find your joy, follow your heart, and live your dreams out loud. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen has been really happy the last few days and I can tell it has a lot to do with his routine being a little more consistent. He struggles with emotions when his day-to-day routine is interrupted for any reason. And it seems lately it is one interruption after another. Before we even got out of bed this morning he told me to sit, however, he is learning. He first told me “good morning mommy” and then he told me to sit. He had about twenty minutes before we had to go to the bus stop. He didn’t exactly want to get ready but he really wanted to go to school and get on that bus. I think it’s all part of the process and he doesn’t always know how to explain his emotions or feelings. When we got to the bus stop he was so animated. He wanted to hear all of the animal sounds he could think of and asked for words in every language Siri would translate into. He reminds me of one of the impressionists that can mimic someone’s accent the way he will make the animal noises or like the clicks from the turn signal of cars he is in. I’m always amazed at how accurate he sounds. Between that and being able to repeat word for word what Alexa or Siri have said. Plus he can do it in numerous languages. When he got home from school it had been raining. We were supposed to go to the park with our friends but it was too wet. He asked me about it immediately when he got off the bus and I told him why we couldn’t go but fortunately, he handled it really well. The dude is definitely on a growth spurt because he didn’t stop eating from the minute he got home until almost bedtime. Every time I would sit down he would ask me for something else. He had snacks after snacks and he ate a huge dinner. He listened well when I told him it was bedtime and off we went to get ready. His smile was bright today. He helped me find different objects around the house. I’m trying to give him more directions and thankfully tonight he did great. I’m thankful for his bold laugh. Be bold, be beautiful, be you. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I’m thankful for today, very, very thankful. Owen was pretty calm all day, hardly repeated himself in his general manner, and laughed himself silly numerous times, which always puts a smile on my face. Over the last week, I’ve reflected on how far we’ve come. I remember going into a store when he was a baby. As soon I would push the cart inside he would start getting agitated and it wouldn’t take him long until he would start crying and screaming. I thought it was because he was hungry or wet but as soon as we would go outside he would calm down again. The same thing would happen with a couple of the grocery stores. One of the stores I couldn’t even get to the front doors and he would start crying and the older he got he would throw himself down on the ground if he could so I wouldn’t take him in. In the other store, he was fine in the back half of the store but as soon as I got towards the front of the store he would start crying. As time went on and I learned he had autism I realized more of the connections and I could quickly tell when he was going to struggle with a store or building. Every little noise now he tells me about. “Hear it”, he says and it could be traffic noise or a bug, the rain, a street sign, a dog across the road, or maybe even blocks away. He absolutely hears it all and remembers it all. He doesn’t want to wear any type of headphones to muffle sounds but that might change one day. I’m also working with him to center his emotions and try to counteract the noises he hears by refocusing his brain on other events or sounds. It all takes time for him to learn a process and adapt what works for him but I see progress I see his determination and I know he will succeed. He was so excited to go to church this morning and on the way there I told him we were going to pray. I asked him to name something he was thankful for. He said, “our dog we gonna get and today”. He went on, “puzzles I’m thankful for puzzle pieces”. So he prayed, “dear God thank you for my dog and today and puzzles amen”. The last few days he has been talking about getting a dog again. He told me it was going to lay in bed with him and he was going to throw a frisbee to it. He hasn’t talked about it in months so we will see where this leads and maybe we will get a dog in the next month or year. It’s no rush because I want to make sure he is happy about it completely. “Whale noises go the splash of elephant pa roo a splashing frog go a gorilla goes buffalo noise”, and on and on and on he went. He was quoting Alexa without even talking to her. He fell asleep quickly and I’m thankful he had such a great day. He’s ready for school tomorrow and I pray he sleeps the night. There is hope all around us. Find your happiness and make tomorrow matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
“Itsy bitsy official lyrics”, Owen said to me, wanting me to ask Alexa. Sometimes he can’t get Siri and Alexa to understand his words but I think about how far he’s come. He went on to ask, “phonics with the phonics song L”. He emphasized the “L” almost pushing his tongue out to say it. His letters are becoming clearer every day. I love his attitude about learning new things and always asking questions, even if it is hard sometimes because he wants immediate responses from me, Alexa, or Siri. He started screaming at me for getting an apple and then he immediately went to his tablet and asks for the song “apples and bananas”. He wants to hear the song but not see the food on smell it. He showed me a video of a cartoon lion. He’s becoming great at explaining and imagining what something is or could be. There were a few trees without leaves on the screen beside the lion. He pointed to them and said, “those are deer”. They looked like antlers to him I’m sure. I thought it was amazing how he thought through the screen and was able to tell me what he saw. I’m always on my toes waiting for the squeal to come and his foot to bang on the floor if I don’t say or do something correctly or fast enough. We were getting ready to go to grandma’s house since bowling isn’t something he wants to do right now. I was trying to put my brown shoes on since I had a brown shirt on. Immediately he started screaming, foot going, and hands to his ears. “Not the blue pants”, he yells, “those are brown shoes not the black shoes”. I breathed. He went on, “black shoes”. He kept yelling. Really black shoes are fine with me I thought. I couldn’t take it. I didn’t want to cry and my shoes for some reason at that moment really mattered to him. I have two approved pairs of shoes, one of which is borderline and the brown shoes are not an option yet because maybe they are too new or their style. We got in the car and off we went. “It’s raining it’s not raining”, he starts crying when we got to the stoplight. There are only so many ways we can drive to grandma’s house and they each have a set of rules that can change at any moment. Right now the weather is a big concern for him and it always starts at this one particular light. If I answer he screams, if I ignore him he cries, and if I cry he stops. Which emotions do I use, which emotions do I set in motion. I breathed. He cried for a couple of miles, screaming periodically. I try to talk to him about our emotions and that we can’t be upset about everything that we encounter but how does any of that make sense. His emotions are what he is sharing. But I hold on to his growth, his smile, his laugh, and it gets me through our days. I tell him that I know it’s hard on him and his emotions are valid but we have to find calm in the chaos so we can keep going places and moving forward. I have faith in tomorrow and I know he will do great things. Dream big and make your dreams come true. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen had a pep in his step on the way to the bus stop. He was ready to get there. He had the usual questions for Siri and a few new ones. I wish sometimes he could tell me how many languages he understands. One day I’m sure he will be able to. I got my hair cut. I sat in the chair excited, dreading it, scared, happy, and every other emotion I could think of. I was worried about how Owen would handle it and how he would react. I got at least six inches taken off and this matters to him. I wondered if he would scream, ignore it, try to bite it, sniff it, or pull it right out of my head. I have to look like me. The stylist curled it for me and I wondered how he would react to that, too. I was a ball of nerves. I used to love getting my hair done or even doing it myself but now it’s emotional. Owen hasn’t seen my hair completely wet in years. I was trying to build him up to it by wetting it in sections every few days but it lead to meltdown after meltdown. He’s a little older now so I’m going to try again but the tears want to form thinking about it and all the emotions it brings for both of us. How can a haircut or my hair being wet be so incredibly hard on my baby? It breaks my heart to see him upset about it. I liked my haircut. I was excited about it but I was anxious about how Owen would handle it. I sat in the chair with all the noises that a beauty shop makes echoing through my mind and knowing how hard it would be for him. The hairdryers, the curling irons clacking, the hair vacuum, the everything. It’s a loud, loud world and my baby can’t always handle it. When he got off the bus he noticed it immediately. We started walking up the steps to our house and he kept reaching up to my hair. He wanted to give me a “big hug” which basically means he is going to pull or eat my hair. I always try to remind him not to turn around on the steps and watch where he is walking. When we got inside he was still inspecting my hair but the screams never came. He couldn’t keep his hands out of it all night but at least it didn’t cause a meltdown. He’s growing and this was our victory today. He had a great night. He only asked me a few times to go over his schedule with him and he listened to my instructions really well. He got excited about his tablet and was showing me a picture on it. He said, “that’s a man hi man” and laughed with delight. I’m thankful for his growth, his laughter, and his song. Know that every day is a moment to learn and grow. Count your blessings, share your joys, and find your happiness. 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.