Owen slept all night thankfully. He was asleep by eight and he was ready for his day when he woke up. He asked about “dinner with grandma” but I said we would have to wait and see. I should have said yes we are going but I like to overthink everything and see how his day goes. When we were waiting for the bus he was full of information for me. It is truly amazing how much he has stored in his brain. He knew today was “November twenty-nine” and that Friday would be December. And as much as he does have stored he also has the canny knack of spinning tales and telling the opposite he knows to be true. Sometimes I feel like this is something he does for conversational purposes and sometimes I think it is because he can’t process the correct information. He went back and forth telling me that it was going to snow tomorrow but “it’s fall and it’s winter.” I can only imagine how confusing it all is yet he seems to grasp it. When he got home from school it was back and forth on what he wanted to do. Everything changes and stays the same. He mentioned “dinner with grandma” but took off his shoes so he could put his winter sandals on. He then told me to put a dress on which is what he calls a nightgown or “staying home clothes” but left his pants on so I thought there was a possibility. I should have just stuck with the plan but it’s all the overthinking I like to do. I was surprised he made plans for today which to me was even a huge step. He was ready for his Thursday and he already told me he was doing nothing on Friday. When he was debating back and forth he said he wanted to go to Dairy Queen and I said he could get chicken. He said hotdogs. He was getting a bit agitated and I thought he was acting sleepy so we ultimately didn’t go but I was still taking it as progress because he was getting this whole plan thing down. Maybe his Friday thoughts will change and he will want to do something then. We had a whole conversation about Christmas coming. I said, “Christmas is coming on December 25th” and he started asking me questions like it was a person. So now he is focusing on Christmas going “bye-bye.” He didn’t want it to come to our house today. I told him it’s not a person but he is focused on that. Words are everything and the way I say things. The word “coming” means someone is visiting now for different reasons. He then talked about wanting to go to dinner with Santa. Boy, oh boy, how things have changed. Sleep happened once again as soon as his head was on his pillow. Even though we didn’t go to dinner I still saw incredible progress. On the days that feel heavy remember the sun will shine tomorrow and you are not alone. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Santa didn’t know what was coming. Owen woke up at three telling me all about what he was going to do today. Santa was on his list. I think it is usually the other way around. He couldn’t wait to get to school. This boy was on an agenda. We got ready and off to school he went. And I needed a nap I never really got. When he got home as soon as the dude was off the bus he immediately said, “Santa.” He wanted his snack and he was ready to go but he thought it was the park Santa we had gone to see and not the other Santa. However, he agreed he still wanted to go. I told him we would have to see if we could meet Santa at the park so he could show him his tablet. He has so much information in his mind. He was so happy to see Santa. He saw the fish and was excited they had the fireplace on. He had an agenda to “lay down lay dowwnnn” everywhere he could in the store and he did. He still wants to see “Park Santa” as he was calling him but he enjoyed this Santa. I told him “Park Santa” was not there today because Santa was at Cabela’s. He said, “Park Santa at the North Pole.” He wanted his pizza afterward so I ordered the food and then drove around letting him tell me where to go. I thought we were driving to see the “red flag church” but instead he told me the directions to the daycare center he went to when he was one. We got home and we ate dinner. I pray he sleeps through the night. The hardest part is the hardest part. I think about autism all the time. I wonder when we go anywhere if this is the time my son will walk up to someone and say “hi” or if he will walk up to them saying “blue pants,” bending down to touch their leg or even trying to take over their phone or computer. He fell asleep quickly after screaming at me because I didn’t know Spanish. I truly need to brush up on my skills. Believe in your dreams and make them your reality. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen was happy but not overly happy about going to school. It was the just right amount of happy. It was like there was peace in knowing the day was finally here and routine was back in order. He slept all night and he was very excited about his day. The repetitive questions were still there but I could tell it was a relief for everything. He was happy to know he was also going to his music therapy and vision therapy. We got ready and went out to wait for the bus. He knew “Mommy gonna pick me up mommy going to pick me up” and that was a happy thing for him. The bus came and he was off to school. When I picked him up from school his teacher said he had a good day but there were moments they all had to go through to get back into routine. I totally understand that. He was very happy to be at music therapy. I could hear him singing with the therapist as I waited for him. It warms my heart to hear him sing. His voice is amazing and once he realizes how to use it I know he will be singing his own songs with the music he wrote. After he was done we came home to get a snack before his vision therapy. He was also excited about going but sometimes it is hard for him to process all the steps. We got out the door and we got to his made to his appointment. I brought his glasses with us and thankfully they were covered under warranty. I wasn’t sure if they would be able to fix them but the company will replace them. I have to remember to take them from him when he gets home from school because he tends to play with them more than wear them. He did pretty well at his vision therapy. She had him do some activities with stomping and clapping. It helped a lot. She asked him to try to snap his fingers and he tried. He was able to do some other exercises that he couldn’t do before. I made the mistake of telling him we could eat the pizza at the restaurant if he wanted. He said, “No no no” so we came home. We will try pizza tomorrow when we go to Santa. He wants to show him the app on his tablet that has Santa on it. He chanted Santa all night long. We shall see what he thinks tomorrow when he gets home from school. He ran to me like an idea just occurred to him and he told me he wanted to go to dinner with his grandma on Wednesday. I told him he needed to text her so he could ask her. We will go if all the ducks stay in a row but you know how ducks go. I’m thankful for the return to routine. Be bold, be beautiful, be you. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I am not the only one who will be relieved when tomorrow finally comes. Owen woke early but at least he wasn’t awake all night long. The yelling, all the yelling. He now gets that it gets to me so he does it more and he gets louder. Waiting for the scream is what I do so much of the time. The screams aren’t all mad screams sometimes they are squeals of delight. Those are the ones I wish I heard more often. He woke wanting his tablet, chocolate milk, and to talk about his days ahead. I reminded him about being confident in his words and actions. I told him that he knew about those days and where he was going. I told him to say things with confidence and remind himself that he knew what was happening. I’m not sure if it was because it was the end of the week or because he was calmer about the days ahead but today he didn’t repeat himself quite as much. We got ready for church and we were off. On the way there I talked to him once again about confidence in his words and actions, hoping it would help. I went over the next two days with him and reminded him of who he would see. He was excited about church but he didn’t want to go to see Santa afterwards even though he had asked about him before church. I wasn’t going to push it. I asked him what he wanted for lunch and he said chicken nuggets and a cheeseburger. I have been eating so much junk food lately, letting the stress take over the eating for me. Why do we find hope in the food? When I wrote that I was thinking about all the stress eating I have been doing with all the emotions that sit heavy on my heart. Like today being two years since I lost my brother. But I also thought about all the hope I put into it with Owen. A friend’s suggestion, many articles, and tons of videos later I put him on a gluten and dairy-free diet for years. For me, it was the hope I needed. Within a few days of taking him off dairy, he was able to pull letters out of a box and say them. It was my miracle moment for my son. I am hoping he sleeps all night but all his favorite things return to their scheduled routine so he might be extra excited. I fixed his computer but not with the requested hairdryer and screwdriver he wanted me to use. He was extremely happy and that made my day. The hardest part is the hardest part. Every day can be a struggle through grief or even the happiest day of your life. Tomorrow is a full day of bus riding, school, music therapy, and vision therapy. I’m going to drop off his glasses that he broke and hopefully, they will be able to fix them also probably not with a hairdryer but maybe a screwdriver will be involved. We learn, we love, we grow and I’m thankful he had a good day. Believe in yourself and the rest will follow. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I think I heard “tablet” around two in the morning but since it wasn’t screamed an inch from my nose and I didn’t hear it again I was back asleep pretty quickly. I think I sleep with one eye open, ears that listen for the frogs to sing ten states away, and a foot on the floor ready to get up at any point. Owen has been sleeping better in the last year, ever since the man in the yellow hat told Curious George to go to bed but I still wait for those moments and this past week with him on break has been full of them. I woke again at about five and was greeted with a very sleepy Owen, tablet in hand, saying “grandma” as I scooted past him to go to the bathroom. The good news is he was in his room quietly playing with his tablet even if he was up extremely early. I stay up way too late but the quiet of the night seems to be those moments I reflect and rethink. So maybe I shouldn’t be rethinking everything but I’m exhausted. I try to think of ways to minimize his repetitive behaviors. This is hard. He reads my expressions even if it is a quick sigh. I’m trying to let him scream it out. The results are the same even if I answer back once or every single time. If I sit and wait him out he’s still screaming so I breathe. Once we were up he knew exactly what he wanted to do and that was to get to see his grandma. He stood next to me more than he was away from me telling me that he was ready to go. This lasted for hours. I never gave the exact answer he wanted, trying to not connect the answer with the behavior for him. I talked to him about how brilliant he is and that he can figure this out. I explained to him that his brain was incredible and he already knew the answers. I’m trying to build his confidence in the knowledge that he does know. He needs to remember he is incredible. The closer it was time to go I still wouldn’t say when we were leaving but he knew he had to take his supplements before we left so he kept asking for his yogurt to push me along. I told him that we were going to start going to his grandma’s house on different days. I told my mom that I wanted to occasionally switch his Saturdays to Sundays after church so hopefully this will help the transition of days and behaviors. We finally got out the door and he had a great time with her. On the way home he screamed but I once again tried to stay strong and not reply. I asked him questions and to sing for me. I made no detours and came straight home. He was yelling about going by the fire trucks but I kept going. I was surprised when he got right out of the car but he went right into a pile of leaves. The night was certainly quieter than the morning but the questions started. He wanted to confirm church and school were happening over the next few days. I confirmed once and moved on. Autism is as much about how I handle it as it is about Owen having it. Sometimes we only talk about the things we can handle but that doesn’t mean the world hasn’t shown us other stories. Each day I pray for strength and guidance for a better tomorrow. Tomorrow is two years since I lost my brother. I’m focusing on the memories that grief was built on. The grief is there because I loved him but the strength is coming to face each day without him. I pray Owen sleeps tonight and tomorrow all his dreams come true. Church, Santa, and the fish are on the agenda. The steps may feel hard but the victory will be sweeter with each step forward. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Creaky floors and one bathroom add up to a very long day, longer than long day. Today was probably one of the hardest I’ve had in a long time with Owen. The screaming or repetitive behaviors were neck and neck as to which one got me the most. Maybe one really leads to the other one. If he said, “Grandma” one time today he said it a thousand. He screamed it, he said it, he mouthed, and he even learned how to say it in other languages in my last-ditch effort to get him to move forward. Or maybe my last ditch effort was telling him I now answered to grandma. It seemed to actually get him to stop saying it the quickest. Today was going to be a day we went and did things but the meltdowns, screams, and behaviors kept me rooted in my spot. I didn’t want to go out and have all of the emotions sitting there for him. Plus, he turned down everything that I suggested when I thought for sure we were going to do things today. I tried to explain to him why he needed to not repeat everything. He said, “Do you understand that’s a great idea.” With this alone, I pretty much knew he didn’t understand. I explained to him how brilliant he was and that he didn’t need to repeat his words. I wanted him to understand that he could talk about so many other things. I started quizzing him when he would start repeating. It helped some I suppose. Then I started asking Alexa to translate Grandma into other languages and that helped. Autism is as much about how I handle it as it is about Owen having it. He is learning to communicate and share his words but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other moments that dictate our days like lack of the routine he loves or change in plans. When I was trying to convince him to go somewhere he said, “Slide into the corn” and I knew immediately that he wanted to go to the farm where we had gone to a few months ago but as much as he enjoyed that one thing it was hard for him. Tomorrow will be back to routine for him and then only a couple more days and back to school. He fell asleep talking about tomorrow. I pray for a calm night and a strong bladder so I don’t wake my sweet baby O up. He gave me lots of hugs today and my favorite part of the day was when he put his Spider-Man mask on and told me he was Spider-Man. Your story is only written to chapter one. Write the rest of the story the way you want it told. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen slept until after six. He was very happy that today was the day he got to eat with grandma and then he moved quickly to talking about being with mommy on Friday so he could get to his Saturday where “mommy goes bye-bye” and he spends time with his grandma again. He went through this repeatedly until I could convince him to stop and I gave him a big hug. I asked him to sing his scales with me, and in the middle of them, he asked if I would do them in Spanish. He always says, “Do them in Espanol.”I can’t wait until he can tell me all the languages he knows. We got ready to go to grandma‘s house and he kept talking about me going bye-bye. I told him I was going to leave for a little bit but it wasn’t like a Saturday or they would be going anywhere. In the car ride, I was trying to take his mind off of repeating his words, so I started asking him what he was thankful for. He said, “Elephants, robot, rollercoaster.” I’m not sure where those choices all came from but the robot is his robot BeatBo and he is starting to like the toy rollercoasters again. Before we left, he decided he wanted to play with his rollercoaster and asked me for a new yellow one so I think it was on his mind. I once again started distracting him from repeating his words and asked him for more favorite things. Again I wondered where chocolate, bagels, and broccoli came from. We got to Grandma‘s house, and he was very excited to be there. I left for a little bit, but it wasn’t long enough. We got our food and we sat down to eat. I tried several of the foods with Owen before I made his plate and he liked them until we sat down. He wasn’t interested in sitting for lunch. He did pretty well at first, but he wanted his tablet and to play on his grandma’s computer. We stayed there for a couple more hours, and then we got ready to leave. On the way home. It was a process. I’m trying to get him to understand that we can do other fun things on his days off. He tries to click the days off and not focus on the moment. I told him that we could do something tomorrow, even though he wants to stay home so that he can be prepared for Saturday. after many hours of talking about it, he finally asked if we could go bowling tomorrow. Then he asked if his friends could go. I said I would ask their moms. Trying to get someone to understand that they don’t have to continuously say the same things is a hard process. He will scream the same thing over and over and over and over again until I finally answer him. If I let him scream it then can turn into a meltdown. He stood there, screaming, and I just started to cry. At first, he screamed more, and then he crawled into my lap. He gave me a big hug, and I knew even more there’s so much to this emotional journey. The screams and repetitive behaviors are a mix of learning how to communicate and learning how to express emotions. Plus, he likes to see how it affects me. Sometimes the air moving through the vents sounds so loud. There is never any quiet and I’m always listening for the next noise. Today was hard once again missing my brother Richard knowing that it’s been almost 2 years since he’s been gone. When we walked into my mom‘s house, Owen immediately started talking about my brother and I know there will always be that connection. Each day I pray for more understanding for tomorrow. He fell asleep, asking for his friend repeatedly, and wanting to know if he was coming with us tomorrow wherever we might go. Find your victory in each day ahead. Smiles to all and donut daze!
The four am wake-up call is a little early and when I was technically rounding up to four it was very early. Breaks, we could live without them. And the screaming, we could definitely live without it. You would think I would have learned by now that telling Owen to go back to bed is not a very productive way of suggesting that we need more sleep. He screamed about having his tablet, he screamed about being with me today, he screamed about eating with grandma tomorrow, and he screamed about missing his therapy. There were some other screams but those were the ones that were happening before it was even six. I told him to go back to bed and as soon as I thought he was at least in his bed he would come into my room and scream an inch from my nose. This is always an interesting experience. He would then generally laugh and that was that. He is having a hard time processing that his days are not what he thinks they should be which is routine. And even harder time thinking that we would be eating lunch at my parents’ house and “Mommy go bye-bye” is not going to happen. It’s a difficult process for him to handle. Every change in routine has to be adjusted and thought through and it’s hard. He requested waffles at four, fish around ten, chicken at three, and more snacks than I can imagine. But the biggest request was for us to go to eat with grandma tomorrow and then he wants me to leave for a few hours so he can play on grandma’s computer and convince her to drive him by all the places he wants to go. I told him that it was not happening until Saturday. About halfway through the day, he started saying “Friday be with Mommy” because he wants to prepare for his Saturday with Grandma. It’s all such a process for him to understand. Thankfully I distracted him with art and projects. As the day wore on he was calmer. He still had to confirm his day but he was ready for his days ahead. Each day is a gift and I’m thankful. Dream of the victory in each day. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I slept better than I had in quite some time and Owen slept until after six. He was very calm but focused on his day ahead. He knew he was going to one of his therapy appointments today and he couldn’t wait to see the doctor and therapist. He was too focused on this to make any other decisions about his day but I was fine with that since it would be raining all day. Every few minutes he asked me when we were leaving. And every few minutes I had to tell my brain that I don’t and shouldn’t answer him each and every time. It’s exhausting trying to figure out how to handle this behavior. It cycles through during more stressful times for him and this is certainly one of those times. He’s counting the days until that bus returns for him on Monday. Might I add I’m already dreading Christmas break? I have to remind myself that we get through these breaks and each time we both learn a little more how to handle them. Shrimp was the requested breakfast. He said, “Do you want yes I want do you want shrimp shrimp I want shrimp please” after I had asked him if he wanted every other breakfast food we had and not shrimp. So guess who ate shrimp for breakfast? I’m glad for these food requests though. It helps him grow in his food confidence and he knows the foods that he wants. I always make him try new foods and then he can decide if he wants more of something. And shrimp for breakfast and waffles for dinner is fine in my book if he is eating. It was finally time to go to his appointment after many other food choices throughout the day. It was still raining when we had to go but my anxiousness and anxiety in these moments are not what they were since he likes rain more and because he knows it creates mud. I still wait for the day when he cycles back through rain being hard on him but for now, I’m thankful that we can walk out in the rain without so much as a squeal and that for now, rain spots are a thing of the past. We got to his appointment and he was very happy to see his doctor and therapist. His tablet battery went out during the appointment. I need to get a new one of those small portable chargers because this did not go over well. Thankfully his therapist completely understands and we worked through it. I gave him my phone which is something I always try to avoid because it starts the ripple effect for days, weeks, months, and years to follow. We stopped at Chick-fil-A on the way home because he said he wanted chicken nuggets but as soon as we left the drive-thru he said he wanted Gino’s pizza but I said that would have to be for another day. When he got out of the car he realized there was a river of mud under the car. He stuck his foot in it and said, “Oops sorry stuck it in the car mud under the mud it’s raining” and ran to the porch. If it wasn’t so cold I would have taken him to the park and let him play in it. He was trying to figure out what day he would see his grandma next. He then moved on to the fact that Thursday is Thanksgiving and he is supposed to see his family and that became the talk for the rest of the night. Bedtime came with the follow-up discussion of what was happening the next few days. “We’ll have to wait and see” was not the answer he was looking for but I stuck to it. Sleep called his name and he was out. I pray he sleeps well and we can find some fun things he wants to do tomorrow. Each step forward is progress and our journey to victory. Don’t let yesterday rule how tomorrow will go. The victory is yours for the taking. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen woke in a pretty good mood but interested in his day ahead. Breaks are hard. Any and all breaks are hard for any and all reasons. Routine is life. I told him I was not sure what we were doing today. He started repeating about not having music therapy and riding the bus to school but he was still going to have his vision therapy. He wanted to go see his grandma today but I also want to be careful with what days he does things so he doesn’t think that he can do those exact same things every time. It’s all part of that routine that we have to keep changing so that it doesn’t become routine. Even though routine helps the process, life is anything but routine, and I need him to understand that we can’t always do the exact same things on the exact same days. He wanted to go to breakfast with his grandma and then over to her house but he had an appointment for tomorrow and I thought that might be a better day for him to go to breakfast. As the morning went on, it was supposed to get prettier in the afternoon and my mom and I thought about taking him to the park. I explained to Owen that we were going to go to grandma‘s house and then she was going to take us to the park after we ate lunch. He wanted to play on her computer and her tablet. His computer is still broken and so he is missing his computer. He kept repeating black computer and not the fact that we were going to the park. The whole way to grandma‘s house. I repeated the steps. When we got to Grandma‘s house he wanted me to go bye-bye like I do on Saturdays. Instead, we all went inside for a couple of minutes, and then we went to get lunch. He was not happy that he was not able to direct her to where he thought we were going to go. They go driving on Saturdays and he tells her what he wants to see. Even though he knew what we were doing today and we had gone over the steps numerous times this was still extremely difficult for him to process. We got our food and we were able to go back to my mom‘s house but instead of eating with them, I took my lunch to go so that he could have some time with his grandma. These are the emotional days, these are the hard days. How do you explain to someone that their expectations of a day are not what the day is going to be? Even though I explained it all to him, it was still not what he thought it was going to be. Once he got back to my mom‘s house he was much calmer and ate his lunch. I came back to pick him up to go to his vision therapy and by that time, he was ready to go. It still took me thirty minutes to convince him to leave. Even though he wants to do something he can’t always process the steps to do something. He wanted to go to vision therapy, but it was still hard for him to leave my mom‘s house. When we got to his appointment, he did fine. It was still difficult for him to process everything, the expectations of what he wants to do and what happened are really hard. He has a set agenda he wants, and if that’s not how the day goes it quickly escalates and can turn into meltdowns. After his vision therapy appointment, we came home and I asked him what he wanted for dinner and I gave him several choices. He went with his own selection of waffles. I try to get him involved in the decision-making of what he wants to eat because that helps the process. Constantly cycling through foods and giving more choices is what helps Owen not get stuck on one particular food. I also make him try bites of everything because you never know when he’s going to like some and that keeps him growing in his food choices as well. It’s all part of the expectations of what he wants to eat but including other foods is what helps propel his eating habits. He fell asleep hardly saying anything else about the days ahead, but he knows that he has a therapy appointment tomorrow he’s requesting to go to dinner with Grandma. I don’t know that we will go to dinner and this will probably throw him off too. I’m hoping for a good night's sleep, and a great day tomorrow. I never imagined something like turning left when my son wants me to turn right, would cause meltdowns that would last the day. Trying to find ways to keep him calm and keep him moving forward is the goal. I’m thankful for his growth and I’m thankful for the love and support of his grandma in our days. Find your motivation, know that you are strong, and go after your dreams. 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.