Its a birthday down folks! Birthday down!! My oldest son (also my ASD child, M, is now 8. Eight!! I feel old!! Or rather, more like I just can’t even believe he’s not five anymore! He can do things! Climb things! Write things! (when he wants to) Do math! Bathe himself even! Woot! :::deep breath here:::: And its such an incredible ride. I remember the day he was born, I remember his low apgard scores and how blue he was at first. I remember his first cry and how relieved we were! I remember how sweet and cuddly, and happy and content he was as a newborn infant. I remember how skinny he was! (and still is!!) I remember his first smile at me. He has done incredible things. He made me a mom! He taught me that having a child with special needs is not a traumatic situation. They are simply children – with different needs. He taught me that my patience can actually be extended, even when I think it can’t. He sees the world from a different perspective than neurotypicals, and now so do I, or at least I am learning to. I now know more about autism than I ever thought possible, and I don’t know nearly enough. I know what I can see – that his brain in some respect works faster in some areas and much slower in others. While he is not twice-gifted as some autistic children are, he has an incredible gift to see 3-D spatial perspectives in his head. He has a talent for math, but can’t always tell you how he got the answer. In any case, he has changed my world. We had his birthday at home this year and pretty much just had a big playdate in the backyard and then cupcakes and snacks inside. I don’t think we’ll ever be doing that again. LOL! It was fine, I feel like the children all had a good time just playing together, but I was so flustered. That evening I planned my two younger children’s birthdays at outside venues. I have deposits on the way, and I’ve already made guest lists. Not doing it at home again. When they were younger it was easier and cuter and less stressful, now that they’re older, I feel like there should be more organized activities or entertainment for such a larger group of children. The downside, for M, is that he doesn’t do well with large groups. When we sang happy birthday to him he screamed that it was too loud and went to hide under the chairs in the living room. O.o And I should have known that it might happen, and I wasn’t too surprised, I just thought that maybe since we were at home, where he is very comfortable, maybe the noise, etc wouldn’t be too much. He also hid in the bathroom twice during the party. So – maybe next year we’ll just take one friend with our family to do something special for the day like a children’s museum or a play space – maybe Sky High Sports? Oh well, I always feel like with M we try things and sometimes they work, like swimming lessons, and sometimes they don’t, like a birthday party. Still, he’s 8, he’s had the birthday, we celebrated, he got lots of gifts, he’s all set for the year. As a special needs parent, you win some and lose some. As a parent in general I suppose.
BTW!! There is a book that is helpful! Party Planning for Children on the Austism Spectrum (children through teenagers) available from Amazon and probably a gillion other places and I found it to be very helpful and enlightening! I may purchase it just to have it on hand. I just checked it out from the library this time, so if you’d like to look at it first that may be a good option if you have an ASD child or teen. Great advice for autistic teen parties too.
Be Fierce Anyway. Try something new!
Lately I have felt myself heading towards the whirlpool of depression. I have been caught in a vortex somehow and I haven’t been able to wrangle myself free for a couple of weeks now, and I see myself getting deeper and deeper farther from the shore of balance. It usually doesn’t take too much to halt my downward spiral, but I’m not particularly good at asking for help and I don’t like to talk about depression, so I’m usually very slow to emerge from the whirlpool of darkness if I have to pull myself out on my own. One of my downward spiral “traits” is that I stop doing little self-care things for myself that improve my happiness and ward off depression and anxiety and basically just make my life easier. Often, like now, I can tell that I’m headed into that dark spiral, but I can’t stop it. And…. I’m not good at asking for help, so I just kind of drift off into the swirling abyss of sadness and confusion. On the outside, I’m fine. I have what I guess is called functional depression? So, to the outside world, I’m just moving right along, but on the inside I’m not good. In any case, I’ve been battling this for about 2 weeks now and a new-ish friend casually asked why I hadn’t been going to my “self-care mom group” (basically a support group for SAHMs), and I mentioned that I had just been rather melancholy and hadn’t felt like going out a lot. (This was a step in the right direction for me because normally, I would have made something up.) So, this morning, I got a text from the aforementioned friend asking if I was going to group today and I thought about it and mustered up the “umph” to text back that “yes”, I was going. Really, that’s all it took. I feel better. I’m not absolutely out of the vortex, but I’m headed in the direction of the shore. I even got to the gym. Taking that first step is often the hardest for me. Hearing that someone, anyone out there has noticed, remembered or cared is often all it takes to give me a little push towards the light. Why is that light so hard to find sometimes?? I have a strong belief that depression is often due to a chemical imbalance, so when my chemicals get more off kilter than usual, I find myself in the darkness again. So, notes to self: #reachout #lookforthelight
Be fierce. Find the light.
Its National Walk to School Day and we did it! Ok, actually the boys scootered, but in any case, we didn’t drive. As DH pointed out, we live on the very fringes of our school district, so it was a nice walk, about a mile. The weather was lovely for it though! The boys began to “hem and haw” by the time we got close. I tried to remind them that we walk this far all the time to the beach in the summer – that didn’t seem to help. I guess carrying backpacks with lunchboxes while trying to maintain your balance on a scooter is taxing after a while. Nevertheless, I was super proud of them! Here is the site for more info if you’d like to participate in 2015. Walk To School Day / Bike To School Day The date for next year is October 7th so put that on your calendar! They also have a link so that you can upload your photos from this year onto their FB page to celebrate! This is a global event that happens each October. It involves more than 40 countries and all 50 states. Our community had extra police officers out to ensure everyone’s safety while out and about this morning. Our community has also been involved in the “Walking School Buses” idea where volunteer adults walk at the beginning and end of a group of children and either 1) pick up children along the walk to school just like a bus, or 2) meet at a designated location and walk together to school.
And…. parent bonus here. We stopped for pie on the way home. (That’s right, PIE!) From Hoosier Mama Pie Co. & Dollop Coffee. This is a new pie/coffee house in So. Evanston that is a branch from their Chicago location I believe. Anyway, SO delish! I had the banana cream pie and DH had the pear pie. They also offer pie FLIGHTS O.o after 6:00PM. So, you know, go. And then we browsed the new eco-friendly Walgreens near us – they use solar power panels, wind turbines and geothermal energy to power the building. Its the “Nation’s First Net Zero Energy Retail Store”. You can read more about that here. Its seriously the nicest Walgreens I’ve ever been in. The displays are enticing, the lighting is bright, high ceilings, etc. My only complaint would be that their shelves seem a little cluttered with items. Its walking distance from my house though so I’ll definitely be back! LOL! I’m such a creature of habit, it takes me a while to change shopping establishments which is why its been open for many months now, and I’m just now checking it out. I feel like I need to scope it out first from the outside. I’m a sly shopper. LOL!
Alright Moms! And Dads! Be fierce! With pie!
This is me now: I’m so nervous. I feel like an ostrich with their head in the sand only I’m trying to do what I normally do… with my head in the sand. Oy. Today M (my spectrum child) has his first group swimming lesson with his 2nd grade class. So, after school, he’ll go with group on the bus from the school to the YMCA for lunch and swimming lessons and then he’ll change and come back to the school and I’m supposed to pick him up there. I’m just terrifed. What if he gets separated from his group, distracted and wanders off, what if the echo in the pool area is so intense and he can’t take it, what if he becomes so disconnected he begins to stem. :::shaking::: Ugh. Letting your children grow up is hard. Harrrdd. I drilled him this morning on my name and phone number, made sure he understood his schedule, etc. (We’ve lost him a couple of times – actually LOST him, and I don’t think I’ve ever really gotten over it, its the most horrible feeling.) I feel like he’s old enough now, he’s had more “big kid” experiences, and he can do this. DH and I talked about it and we just really felt like this was something he needed to try to do. A small step of independence (sort of). We need to know if he can participate in things like this or if its too much, so we’re trying. And, he needs to learn to swim, so there’s that. I’m basically holding my breath for the next 3 hours. And praying. Holding my breath and praying that he doesn’t get lost or hurt or I don’t even know. Or go into the pool (or hallway at the YMCA) naked. ::::head desk:::: I kind of just want to scream into the school, “Be careful with my baby!!! Careful now!!”, when I drop him off, but I probably shouldn’t do that. Ok. I’ll post when its over. I’m going to try to continue on with my afternoon with one eyeball open.
And this is what happened in the meantime: Parking ticket for a Wheel Tax?? (O.o What’s a Wheel Tax??) Hmmm…. and my daughter took a nose dive off the top of the slide at the playground. Omg. Luckily she was ok. And I lost my phone while running to get to her – some children picked it up and played with the phone, tossed the phone case down a sewer drain. Another playground mom got my phone back for me. ::::deep breath:::: At least I got my phone back. The kids were toddlers, little kids. And then, I stepped on a bee, while barefoot. I think I’m finished. I’d like to be done with the day. I’m afraid to go outside now.
And this is me after:
I’m so relieved! M did great at his swimming lesson! He had a super fun time and followed directions like a champ! This was huge for him and for us! I now feel so much more comfortable letting him try out different extra curricular activities that may cause a change in his schedule. I really feel like he’s coming a long way in handling transitions. His aide from school actually went with him. I’m so glad! I would have been more relaxed if I had known she would be with him. Also, I learned that they separated out the students with special needs / sensory issues so that it would be quieter for them. I love our school district. I mean love it. Really love heart love it. They have 3 specific classrooms for autistic children in the school as well as a CDC (communications disorder classroom) and also alternative pull-out options for the inclusion students who are in traditional classrooms AND they are creating a “student academic center” for the children who just need a quieter setting to concentrate, so that when they have tests or a larger amount of reading / writing to do, they can go there to work. It will be kind of like a study hall from what I understand. :::collapses::: I’m calling in exhausted tomorrow! ROFL! Just kidding. I’m a mom. No sick days for me. Ha!
Be fierce. Take those baby steps to independence! #IamAFierceMom