Posted in autism

Brussel Sprouts and Bubble Baths

Tonights bubble bath ended in tears and screaming, a dripping wet and sobbing kid with a little quivering chin begging to get out. Bathes are usually a go to for fun and calming down but tonight it was like torture for him. Cold, he kept saying as I dried him off. His face was all crumpled, his eyes all red and sad inside. Theres something about drying him off after a bath that is one of my favorite mom duties but tonight he just collapsed into my arms, all bundled up in his towel and he just hung there on my shoulder. I carried him into his room, his legs dangling past my knee caps and he just sat quietly on the bed as I got his pjs. After trying on three different shirts he looked at me in the eyes and said ” I want up please” so of course I scooped up my 60 pound 7 year old and just held him. I felt the weight of his body in my arms but in a way where he just melted into me, even without saying anything I just knew how he was feeling. Life is different as a non-verbal child, you have to express yourself and needs in different ways. Tonight I read all the cues and we just sat there and he draped his arms around me, tucked his head into my neck and we just quietly sat, I told him it was all going to be ok.

Navigating this sudden upheaval in life is difficult enough as a grown adult who can express my feelings, process whats happening and have my own independence however, I can’g even imagine the struggles Brody is feeling. While we have these outlets and support systems, Brody just has me at the moment. We work on homeschooling and therapy, avoiding regression and curbing self injurious behaviors. Things that he used to love upset him, he spits out chicken nuggets and chocolate milk, humpty dumpty can never be drawn just right and bubbles just arent working out like he wants. I can see the frustration and anger winding him up like a top and watching him you can just tell that he cant express himself. His OCD has been worse, standing up markers in a line, the bathroom fans always on and the foam roller in the corner of the room. He manically draws on a stack of four reams of paper until he gets his drawings just right, every time he makes a mistake he bites his finger and hits his leg, throws away the paper and starts again. Sometimes I just stand and watch him and just feel like I dont know how to help, how to ease this frustration bubbling up in him. I try to put myself in his shoes, unable to communicate and say how hes feeling, having to play cherades through nonverbal cues to get me to understand. While I see and hear people complaining about thier child talking non stop, I wish more than anything he could vocalize whats wrong. I prompt him all day, ” use your words” I say to him, “I…want, what do you want?” I repeat throughout the day. His eyes always dart around the room and he avoids eye contact, he mumbles and his words are all muddled together. Hes trying, he works so hard and Im working hard. We are just doing the best we can.

I bought the laminator and the glue, the construction paper and flashcards. I dove into Pinterest and google, books and YouTube, just trying to get a grasp on what we were walking into. Carrying the weight of all the adult things while parenting a special needs child is catching up to me. What has only been a few months feels like so much longer, nothing could have prepared me for the many things I have felt and dealt with during this quarantine. Routines are non existant and I wonder what Brody thinks is going on. Where are his friends and therapists? The fish at the petstore? Jumping at bounce and splashing at the beach? I can’t even put myself inside his mind to understand how confusing this must be for someone who thrives on structure. While we have struggled at times, there have been many great memories made and progression in unexpected areas. Brody has drawn new things, learned to roller skate and even tried eating brussel sprouts. Together endless puzzles were put together, pizza was made, so much dancing to Baby Shark and oreos for breakfast. While this can be overwhelming at times, I am thankful the health and safety at home and the time we have spent together. I learned that while words are important they are not always needed, these tough times have only made us closer. At the end of the day, after 10 minutes of just sitting quietly, a little tickling and kiss and that little smile was back. I pull the blankets up, tuck him in and kiss him goodnight. His sweet face is peeking out from the blankets as I turn out the light and he says “Goodnight, sleep well. See you in the morning”. Seeing him curled up and sleepy reminds me of how thankful I am that tomorrow we get to wake up and do it all over again.

So here I sit, typing this post and using it as an outlet for my emotions and stress, a bandaid for my achy heart. This was just a peek into our lives and while our situation may be completely different, there are so many feelings and emotions we all share when we lay our heads down at night. The bottom line is that things may be overwhelming, the news is difficult to watch and there are so many unknowns ahead, being compassionate is so important. I ask that you try and remember that you don’t know everyone’s story and understand we are all doing our best to navigate these times. We will get through this, one day at a time.

Posted in autism

I spy, with my little eyes.

What do you see, Brody?

What do you see when you wake up early every day, getting yourself ready for therapy? While the other kids play and celebrate being free of a classroom, enjoying their time how they want while you work so hard daily to learn life skills that come so naturally to most. You may see an exhausted mom behind the wheel driving you but I hope you see the admiration I feel for you. I hope what you don’t see is the pain in my eyes leaving you every day, how I want to be home with you and able to have the energy to do all the things you want to. I hope you don’t see the worry and the heartbreak, the stress and the overflowing of emotions I feel on a daily basis. What I hope you do see is a mom trying her hardest to be strong, who sacrifices and gladly puts you at the forefront of her mind. What I do want you to see is the way my face lights up when I see you, my open arms and the happiness I feel as soon as I’m around you. I know you’re always watching and I am trying my best to be the mother and role model you need.

What do you think? What do you think when hour therapist tells me she counted over 160 whines in just one day from you. Over 160 thoughts and things you wanted to say but couldn’t express, trapped inside of of your amazing mind. You squint and daze off, you can actually see the wheels turning in your brain that it actually sounds loud to me. I try to get in your mind, I feel like I know what you think most of the time but I always find myself wondering if it’s right or just wishful thinking. I know you see sounds and hear colors, smell and feel things most couldn’t imagine and I find myself always longing to know what you were thinking. Is your brain as tired yet in overdrive like mine? I see your mind racing along with your body then suddenly you’re asleep and your body is so still. Let your mind and body rest, I hope you are thinking about nothing at all and your mind is slowly wandering free.

What do you hear? We walk out the door and your hands are immediately over your ears… those birds are singing again. Do you hear the truth in my voice when I hug you goodbye and tell you I’ll miss you? When I tell you I love you and I hope you have a great day, I’ve never meant anything more. I know you hear me say you’re a good boy because you tell anyone who will listen and no one argues it. You’re the best boy. You are the best, even when you’re at your worst. Do you hear your whines and cries, the sharp inhale from your mom when you hit your head and head butt your knee out of frustration. I know you are overwhelmed and I hope through the frustration and exhaustion I feel at times, you hear the patience I try to practice and the last ounce of energy I put into trying to be there for you. Sitting on your bed and brushing your bangs to the side while you sleep, I tell you how you’re just the most brave and amazing person I’ve ever known. I tell you how everything I do is for you and us, how I’ll be glad to have you to care for no matter your age and needs. Someday we will have the life we have always dreamed and how we will make it through the hard times, no matter how hard. Please let the things I say sink in and be daily thoughts for you. I hope you hear me.

Looking at you, your legs are gangly, you are missing two bottom teeth, have a stylish haircut and the words are flowing more freely from you. It’s like I hardly recognize you with the changes in the past year yet your personality and individuality has only grown stronger. I look forward to the day we can talk about what you see, think and feel, I want to see into your amazing autistic mind but for now I am content with these simple unspoken moments.

Posted in autism

Count momula

How many nights have I locked my doors, all three, making sure we are safe inside. One click, two click, thee. Picking up two plates and two cups, dumping milk and chicken nuggets…two more nuggets and some fries wasted. All I see is money down the drain. Three rows of 48 crayons are on my floor, nightly I transfer them back to their boxes like he likes. At least a dozen sheets of paper are scattered around with pigs, wolves and jars of tomato sauce precisely drawn. I find it hard to throw them away but I know there will be hundreds more to follow. The lights and fans go off, 9 switches. There was a rave in my house today, Brody’s fingerprints are all over the wall where he flips them on and off all day long. I go to his room and turn off the fish light he loves so much, put the book in his hand back for the 15th time. Finally the bedtime routine has caught on.

Two and half hours. That’s how long I’ve had of me time since he’s been asleep. You’d think me time would be relaxing but how can I relax when all I do is count in my head. I have two cartons of milk left, 3 days until my cell phone is due, four days until the weekend and countless nights of worry and stress. I do count my blessings, it isn’t all bad things. I have one mom, one Dad, two sisters and an uncle. I have a few people who have entered into my life and become family. I have a car, a condo and food to eat. I have more friends now then I ever have before. I have an incredible and special son who looks half like me. Life is hard and amazing at the same time.

I’m 1,2600 miles away from things that I love and where my heart broke. 1,359 miles away is my family I love and miss. 1,426 miles from the house that is my home, from the town that shaped me and started building me to be who I am now. It’s been 8 months since I moved and 13 months since I chose my own ending rather then going down the same wrong way Road. It’s been 7 years since I’ve been just me but it feels like forever. There’s no number for the meals I’ve made myself, the trips to the grocery store, diapers I’ve changed, loads of laundry done, times I’ve drank some wine just to help my heart go numb a little. How many times have I stared at this fan going around, struggling to close my eyes just to wake up and do this over again and resume the counting.

Silence is deafening was a saying that never rang true to me until I was alone. Tonight it’s so quiet it’s almost like there’s a ringing in my ears. I always think how many friends and family feel or have felt how I feel, how many people are laying in bed right now doing their own counting. When the counting gets too loud I try focus on keeping my eyes forward. To put one foot in front of the other and keep going, to not let it bog me down.

Yes I’m counting my balance in my bank account but I’m trying to remember that someday I’ll look back and not have to count. I’ll be able to remember how it was, how I made it work with some help and sacrifices. I’ll be understanding that others are fighting that battle and be compassionate and helpful when I can. I’m counting how many job postings and applications I’ve read over and the hours spent trying to find a job that fits. Someday I’ll have a career that makes me happy and helps support Brody and I. I’ll feel proud of where I’ve gotten and the steps I’ve taken to get there. I’m counting the hours spent inside, watching paw patrol, drawing bricks and a wolf, Blowing bubbles and cleaning up after a potty training boy. I’ll also count while I cherish the kisses, the words my nonverbal child spoke, the milestones hit and the bedtime stories and tuck-ins I give Brody, just like I remember from being a kid.

The loudest counting in my head is my age. I’m 29. 12 years ago I graduated high school, 8 years ago was college, almost five ago I added mom to my list. I still have so many years to add onto my age, so many not counted yet. I have no idea what those years hold but hopefully I can add on more children, a husband, more friends and family and many amazing adventures with Brody. This is what I dream about when I close my eyes, it’s what fuels me to open my eyes for the 10,340th time.

Posted in autism

As I am…

Life knew what it was doing when it sent Brody to me. It was teaching me a lesson I just couldn’t see.

Autism came in with one foul swoop, forcing me to dump all my cards and regroup.

This came in and turned our world on its axis, what I didn’t know was that this was my practice.

Patience and kindness, understanding and love, I hope we are making our family proud up above.

His story inspires others, he’s teaching lessons just by being, he’s got a team of cheerleaders who can’t believe what they are seeing.

The progress he’s made and the changes occurring, you can see in his eyes that his minds constantly stirring.

He’s fearless and different, unapologetically unique, the next thing he will conquer is learning to speak.

When his feet hit the sand and he swims like an otter, he finds peace in his mind when he’s in the saltwater.

As the sun sets, all I can see is his silhouette, I’m snapping mental pictures, thankful for the time we have left.

Different not less, is what they all say, Bonita beach is where Brodys autism washes away.

I have no idea what our future has in store, what I do know is I was meant to be his mother for sure.

He’s the non verbal one, yet he leaves me without words, growing each day is something we’re always working towards.

So thank you to life for sending me this blue eyes baby, I think in the end he’s the one who really saved me.

Posted in autism

I’m trying but I’m tired…

I’m laying next to you in my big bed. You have a cold and you’re sniffling, you’re watching paw patrol for the millionth time on your kindle and dozing off. We just wrestled while I had to hold you down to give you medicine, you cried and spit it all up and I feel like a mean mom. I hate seeing you upset but while you’re the non verbal one, I wish you could read my mind like I can read yours.

I wish you knew the daily thoughts I have about your future, that everything I say and do is for you. I always wonder if I’ll be a soccer mom one day, if you’ll be singing in a Christmas concert at school like my friends kids are. I think further down the road, if you’ll go on to go to college or have a career, if you’ll live on your own, if you’ll meet someone special someday and create a family. I wonder how being a single mom will influence you and how you grow up, I worry it will hurt you somehow. I try so hard to be both roles for you but I’m only one person. My minds tired, Brody.

I wish sometimes you can could see how much of my mind you consume but glad you don’t see the other part of my mind. This year has brought some internal battles for me, I’ve had to be out of my comfort zone a lot. I’ve had to fake being strong for you and force a smile, I’ve hidden when I cried. I’m trying to heal my heart while being there for you, trying to see not just your future but mine. No one teaches you how to parent when you’re feeling broken, I just wake up and try each morning and chip away at it. You’re not a burden but my biggest blessing, Brody. You’re my consistent when most other things aren’t.

My body’s tired Brody. I pick up millions of crayons a day, Reese’s wrappers are shredded all over the house. My hands are sore from filling out your paperwork, my eyes are strained from emailing and constant researching on my tiny phone. I swear my left eye is going to twitch until the day I die, the bags under my eyes are getting darker every day. My body runs on coffee and creamer, I get sleep thanks to melatonin now. You’re 42 lbs and can’t walk far, I’m always carrying you on my hip, having to use both arms to support you. My body aches and cracks like I’ve never heard before and I feel older then I am. Potty training is the bane of my existence, the laundry I’ve been doing is solely supporting the power company. I drive you to doctors appointments, soon school and therapy, swim lessons, the store for bubbles and crayons. My body doesn’t stop but when it does, it still feels like it’s moving. If it’s not moving a million miles a minute, my mind is. All of this but I still bring you to see Santa and goats at the farm. We go to the beach and watch sunsets, I take photos of you even though I’ll never forget those memories. We swing at the playground while kids say you’re too big for the “baby swings”, they don’t know you can’t support yourself on the big swings. You spin in circles in front of the playground while the other kids play around you. They try to ask your name and get upset and ask me why you don’t talk. I tell them you don’t know how yet, “We are learning” I tell them. This makes my heart hurt too.

My heart hurts because others don’t understand you, and it hurts more because I don’t either. I see you slip into Autism land, which may seem awful to some but you’d know what I meant if you saw what I did. A little boy in a pile of blankets and pillows he has stripped off the beds, all on top of him with his head poking out. His eyes are open but no ones home, it’s like Brody’s left and watching him is difficult because his disability kind of reaches out and slaps me. I’m then faced with the fact I don’t know so much about my son, even doctors and therapists don’t. Guilt doesn’t creep in often but when it does it’s consuming. I always wonder if I did something wrong, if it’s my fault you have autism. It’s times like that I can actually feel my heart hurting, the worst pain of all.

I am tired Brody, and I’m sure deep down you know. You are so smart it stops me in my tracks sometimes, you know and understand way more then any of us realize. If you see that I hope you know that it won’t always be like this. Some of the things will get harder, some will get easier, some are just a phase we will work through together. Christmas and holidays seem to be extra hard on me, I try hard not to compare our situation to others. You aren’t writing a list to Santa, you don’t know what Christmas is, I don’t have extra money to buy you gifts this year. But you know what? This year you sat on Santa’s lap and you said his name while looking him in the eyes. You know how to unwrap gifts this year from amazing friends and family who love and care about you, who are your biggest fans and our amazing support system. You’ll go to sleep in your own awesome new bed, in your brand new room in our own condo. You’ll wake up to our cute tree that you helped me decorate and see the cookies Santa ate that you helped me decorate. All of these things I couldn’t say last year but I can today. And that, that’s enough to get me through because although a day in our life is more work then some, it’s worth it in the end. So here’s to a year of progress and another day of trying our hardest to be better. Every days goal is moving forward from where we were yesterday, no matter how small the step. Moms tired Brody, but I look forward to every day with you.

Posted in Uncategorized

Gut punch and a broken heart.

I’m watching Good Morning America as I type this, not even sure if I can eat breakfast because I’m so sick to my stomach. I’m watching a sheriff giving a press conference, barely holding it together and trying to hold back tears. I know I’ve already cried multiple times watching videos this morning as I’m sure you all have too. Brody had just crawled into my bed and was cuddled up with me and watching cartoons when I found out the news. I just looked at him and thought of all the people who wouldn’t be able to have this again and the parents who raised these people, doing the same as I was, only to have their child ripped from them so senselessly.

I just went through an evacuation for the hurricane and remember my 22 hours of traveling to Georgia alone. Brody was in the car and behaved the whole time, he only cried once the whole trip. It was almost like he just knew I needed him to behave, that he was making an effort in such a stressful situation to make it a little easier on me. When you have that long on the road it makes you do some soul searching and really evaluate your life and where you’re going. My life, path and goals were all in my mind and I was pretty honest with myself and acknowledged both good and bad. It was a very humbling experience that was needed, it was just what I needed in a way.

During my Internal conversation on highway 75 what I kept going back to was that baby in the backseat. I was raised saying I love you every time you hang up the phone. I’ve learned through my 29 years that the little moments are just as important as the big ones. Just last night when Brody was fresh out of the bath, all wrapped up in a big towel I was overcome with feelings of gratefulness. I took a photo because I thought to myself how happy I felt at that moment and how I wanted to remember that smiling face.

I feel that through my time as a mother, people tell me a lot how they love watching Brody and I and the relationship we share. I think that honestly a big part of our bond is the time we take and the small moments we share. I live in the moment, even if it’s him drawing while I drink my morning coffee. I put so much value in every minute spent with him and try to teach him as much as possible. While autism makes my parenting a little different, acceptance and love will always be at the center of what I want to teach him. I know it’s a hopeless feeling not being able to help the victims in Vegas and the other heartbreaking events going on lately but you can do something to help. You can raise great children, you can love unconditionally, you can take that risk of doing what you have always wanted to do and do it in the victims honor. You can wake up every morning when your feet hit the ground with the mindset that you want to make the world a better place, no matter the scale you do it on. Live with a purpose, love people unconditionally and tell people how much they matter. It’s times like this that we all need to rally together and make a conscious effort to do better, to be more.

Life will always happen and unfortunately horrific events are inevitable. I want to live my life to the fullest, love hard and leave a legacy that carries on through my child. I’m going to keep hugging, kissing and loving unconditionally until I find a way to help more then just spreading love. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of these victims, you have a whole country holding you in their hearts. Don’t let hate and violence win guys, lets pick each-other up and keep and keep moving forward together.

Posted in autism

Anxiety and autism.

I dont like admitting my weaknesses or when I need help. I try to put on a front, carry on and go about my business because things still need to be done. Being a mom is a full time job, its responsibilities never end and that, I dont mind. I had been trucking along, dealing with things along the way the last few months as they came but this week things got to be too much for me. I was in the bathroom, getting ready for work, trying to get things together while Brody was yanking on my arm and crying, dogs barking in the background and so many other things on my mind. I suddenly felt like wave came crashing down on me, I felt my whole body feel sick all of a sudden. I had to stop getting ready because I felt lightheaded, my chest suddenly felt tight and I felt like I was in the middle of a whirlwind. I started crying and just didnt know how to make myself feel better. I have never had an anxiety attack before but that day everything caught up to me and bulldozed me over. I never want to feel that way again, It was paralyzing and I felt like I had been in a car wreck afterwards. I am not used to anxiety, I had seen the signs of it slowly creeping into my day to day life and acknowledged that it was unhealthy but just didnt have the understanding of how to change it. So many things swirling in my mind, deadlines to meet, stress, Brodys health, thoughts of the future… the list goes on and on but it was too late, my head was underwater.

Why am I writing about this? Because kids and adults with autism tend to have severe anxiety and are unable to communicate how they feel. I can see moments of Brodys anxiety come through sometimes, often when he is touching his fingers together one at a time, “nesting” in blankets, pillows and anything he can pile up and several other instances. Being a parent of a child who has autism is very challenging and has so many times of difficulty but its hard to accept that because its something out of his control. He is an amazing person, so sweet and smart but so in his own mind and withdrawn sometimes. I feel guilt for feeling anxiety over my sons behavior (due to his anxiety and autism), it is hard to properly sort through these feelings. As an adult and parent,  I’m supposed to be the one who knows what to do, how to handle things and how to help. Like I have said in the past, thats one of the challenges I have with autism is not knowing answers or solutions to the daily challenges we face. How can I help my son through his anxiety when I cant even manage my own? I know there should be no guilt and there is no easy solution but I sure wish there was.


After I collected myself from my anxiety attack I started driving to work which is a 30 minute trip on the highway and just lost myself in thought. I felt awful thinking about how the anxiety I have been feeling are similar to what Brody feels yet he cannot verbalize any of his thoughts. He has to cope with so many things internally and somehow decompress on his own, finding ways to overcome his anxiety. It amazes me the things that goes on in his mind and how many things he is thinking about on a daily basis. Sometimes when you’re sitting with him you can see him off in another world, he looks all around and is in a sort of trance for a few minutes then snaps back to whatever he is doing. His autism is a challenge at times but I am so inspired and proud of him for overcoming these obstacles and difficulties and trying to find ways to go about his day, coping with his anxiety.

This type of situation is one of the parts of parenthood that aren’t talked about as much, can be uncomfortable to talk about and also can be embarrassing to admit. I try to keep it extremely real and raw on my blog and opening up about this has not been my favorite topic but a necessary one. A lot of times I post about the amazing things going on in our lives, updates on progress and just the other things happening but behind the scenes we are dealing with so many other feelings. Its okay to have low times, they come along with the highs and thats O.K. Life forces you to learn lessons when you need to learn them, not when its convenient and I just got a big dose of it. I think it will help me better understand and sympathize with Brody and others and also listen to myself when I see my mentality start to shift. I know that I am not alone and that so many people suffer from anxiety, not just those with autism, and that is can be so crippling and something that pours into many aspects of your life. I’m sorry for any that experience these feelings, I wish I could give you all a hug. If anything, I hope this post makes you not feel alone. One day at a time, deep breathes and carry on. Sleep and ice cream helps too 😉 

Posted in autism

Division

So today my post may ruffle some feathers but i’m going to speak my mind anyway. If you are someone who disagrees or is offended by my opinion then I am sorry, we are all entitled to our own opinion and I am speaking mine. I have known Brody had autism since he was very young, about 18 months old although he was not officially diagnosed until May of this year. I had little to no experience with autism so this was a whole new world I plunged into head first, I instantly felt overwhelmed. Taking in so much information at one time made it hard to sort out my own thoughts and to see where Brody fit in this community.

Right off the bat I noticed a trend that I have touched on somewhat in some of my previous posts and its something that I dont want to be associated with.


^meme that sparked this topic for me

Not an autism mom…I’m a mom. Not an autism mom…I’m a mom.   

There seems to be sort of division being created between mothers and “Autism moms” and I cant seem to wrap my head around why. I have read blog posts, Facebook statuses, instagram captions and viewed pages after pages online that have memes or posts of parents putting themselves above other parents. While my child has a disability, it is not a contest or something that should be made to feel like I have it so much harder then others. At the end of these posts I always see “Only autism parents will understand” and I cant stand behind it. There is a wide range of disabilities in the world, parents and families with challenges, individuals coping with loss or health problems, the list goes on. I am all for being a community, having reminders on my newsfeed that I am not alone in having a child with autism and knowing some of the things I face are shared with people all over the world. While having a child with autism is a challenge at times and forces me to go about our day differently then a “typical” kid may, I realize that others are also doing the same. The quote that says ” Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about” applies here. I try to apply it to others and I hope others look at us and realize the same thing. While having Brody as my son presents its challenges, he is healthy and happy kid and I am a protective and loving parent who wants nothing but the best for my son. I think all parents feel the same in this aspect and I think this is what should be focused more on. I would love to have Brody feel included with the other children his age, go to birthday parties, play at the playground and make friends like a 3 year old should be. I also don’t know many people who have kids with disabilities but I still am friends with so many parents. I think the problem is that posts where “autism parents” put themselves on a different level then other parents, it makes it uncomfortable for parents of “typical” kids to know how to interact with kids like Brody and parents like me. I see those posts putting us on a different level and in the same breath I see posts begging for inclusion and acceptance from those in the autism community and this is where it must be confusing. You cant ask for acceptance and say you’re just like everyone else then post a meme stating something and follow it up with “only autism parents understand”. I hope that we can start really looking at what we post and the impression it gives off to those reading so we can continue to be accepted and smooth the interactions and just appreciate each others company and the uniqueness we bring to the table.


^Another example of what sparked this for me, all parents for the most part take bullying seriously. 


^ I think that with children’s lives something wonderful can happen every day as well. Kids with autism are no different, just maybe in what may be considered wonderful (different milestones etc) 

This leads me into my next topic. August and September is the time for school to kick off and its a very exciting time for parents and kids (hopefully) and can be extremely chaotic and sometimes stressful. I know there are a lot of things to check of the list for supplies, making sure you’re aware of classes your child will be attending, teachers who will be instructing the classes and the after school activities your kid will be enrolled in. In this whirlwind that is called back to school, please take the time to sit down and have a talk with your child about something important that needs to be taught to our youth : bullying and acceptance. I previously posted about a 13 year old who committed suicide because he was bullied so severely and I hope that stories like this lessen because any life lost because of bullying is too many. I am also aware that like myself, everyone may not have had many interactions with those who have a disability growing up.This can make kids unaware of some of the things that may come with a disability such as different tendencies in behaviors, physical appearance and speech issues or even in some cases like Brody, being non-verbal. Take a moment and have a talk with your child about what that may look like along with how to treat those who may need some extra understanding and kindness.

I would like if we all entered into the new school year with a feeling of one community, not a divided one. Kids are a blessing and deserve to feel welcomed no matter what, they are our future. I also would like to welcome anyone who had any questions to ask parents like myself if you’re unsure how to approach a topic like this, anything you may be unsure about or just what exactly the diagnosis is. I am sure that I can speak for most parents of kids with disabilities that I would rather answer questions then be treated differently or avoided because it is uncomfortable. I am learning every day I have Brody in my life and I would love to help others learn as well, I am hoping my blog is one way to spread the word and make things like autism a more comfortable topic to discuss. I am excited to start a new school year, see what Brody and his classmates take on and to have an excellent teacher to encourage these special kids. I am enjoying all the back to school photos and I love seeing how much love is behind all the posts, it is such an exciting and scary time for parents to see you child growing and becoming more independent. Its just so encouraging to see the positivity being sent out in the world and I hope it carries through the year and doesn’t die off because our children feed off of that energy.

I’d like to end on a bragging note about Brody, he has made so much progress and really shown how much information he has retained lately and it is so awesome.

“(TD?tyuhjkoopyttttttgh
jbjkbhlkcjnkalshdlkhsdkjsahdkjsahdksajdklsajmcnbxzjhvc

dn dwe fejwkf3

Just got blog bombed, Brody had something to say so that is what he wrote! haha. Wonder what he was trying to say.

Anyway, Brody had his Paw Patrol toys lined up so I started counting, 1,2,3,4,5! I go to do it again and I go 1, Brody goes 2,3 then sounds attempting to be 4 &5. He clearly said two and three though. I had no idea that he knew to count like that. He even made me point my finger along with each dog. That was really neat and I wish I could have caught it on camera but still happy I got to see that. Brodys drawing has also improved so much lately, It amazes me to see his little drawings transform. Below is the progression from Spring until now. I hope you enjoy his works of art like I do. Have a great night everyone and enjoy this time with your children before the break neck pace of the school year begins.




 

 

 

Posted in autism

Call to action. 

“” 💔
Hey everyone. I know every blog post I feel the need to apologize for posting sporadically but I think im past that now. I’m so happy you seem to be enjoying my posts and to keep them real and as honest as possible I am writing when I feel inspired. I started a new job this week and have been so exhausted every day. A few nights ago I plopped down in my recliner after my shift was done at 8:30pm.  The third story in and I read the headline, 13 year old commits suicide because of bullying. I found myself with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Another sweet soul with so much potential and life, gone because of something so preventable. 💔

By now you should pretty much have a feel for how I am and my feelings on certain things if you’ve been reading along. If you actually know me then you definitely get it. I’m a bleeding heart with little filter on my mouth. I’m not afraid to stand up for what’s right and I’ll vocalize my feelings when I see something I feel as wrong. I befriend those who may need someone, I enjoy the company of people with a wide range of personalities. I am aware I am considered odd and don’t fit in with a few different groups of people. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, that I’m flawed and am still working on myself and may lose people in the process. I’ve had a hard time accepting this and honestly I still wish everyone liked me and that I fit in like I see others do. Every day older I get I accept it a little more and it becomes more ok with me. Do I like it? No. Is that how it goes with everyone? Yes. This topic is a deep one that strikes a cord in me, here comes a lengthy but worthy of your time post. 


At five years old I had long, blonde hair, wore colorful and crazy outfits and had round, rainbow glasses. By fourth grade I had a full mouth of braces, had elastics and headgear. I chose to wear them all day long rather then just at night since it would cut a year off my time with them. I had those painful, aeful glasses for five years. Five. Years. By freshman year my braces and glasses were gone and I started to come into my own. I made more friends in highschool, found my passion for art and golf, had a couple boyfriends and learned a lot of life lessons. I had a few friends who had stuck with me through it all and for that I will always be thankful. At the end of the day though it was my family who got me through it. My sisters were my best friends and my parents were the rock I needed. They loved me through it all, coached me along the way and lifted me up when kids had knocked me down. I was never truly bullied like I hear about now but let me tell you, some comments and remarks still stick with my today. I feel that insecurity still carry with me even now and I have to tell my 13 year old self to sit down because I’m an adult and I can be myself and not have to worry about others opinions and judgements. To this day when I go back to Maine to visit, I’m remembered as the girl with glasses and headgear. I’ve even had a few ask me if I was in a wheelchair as a kid because for some reason they thought I was. I laugh and brush it off, it doesn’t phase me as much now but I’m thankful I was able to process my feelings in a proper way when I was a kid so I could come out the other side ok. It made me have thicker skin, taught me to laugh at myself when appropriate and to also sympathize with those going through similar things as me. It also taught me to have a voice, to be an advocate for others and to brush off those who feel the need to tear others down to make themselves feel better. 


I’ve had several times where this lesson has come into play since I graduated from school but nothing was as trying as having it happen to my own son. My sweet son, struggling with communicating his feelings, stressed from bouncing from place to place and with only one parent in his life at the time. I’ve posted before about my fitness journey but by the end I was so burned out. The tipping over point that led me to stop going to the gym was Brody being bullied. There is a daycare at the gym where I would drop Brody off while working out. Brody is non verbal and at this point he had not started at the school he attends for kids with special needs. This was also before his diet change, he was struggling so hard with aggression issues and was having tantrums and anger issues regularly. It was difficult for me to leave him because I knew he could be difficult to understand and care for if you didn’t know him well enough. One day I went to drop Brody off and a 7 year old kid ran up to Brody and I and yelled “Brody, don’t come in here. No one likes you”. I’m already tearing up as I type this because to this day it has to be my most painful parenting moment. I was sick to my stomach while running on the treadmill and after fifteen minutes I jumped off and scooped Brody out of there. A few times when I had picked him up he had been separated in the baby area by himself, away from all the other kids. Other times he would be sitting alone in the high chair table or crying and wandering around. I took a few days off and forced myself to get back. I go in, open the gate and here comes the same kid. “Are you leaving Brody here? Nobody like him. He’s mean”. There goes my heart, shattering in a million pieces. 


There are so many more things were said to Brody and I, I would say about six instances I clearly remember where this happened. I addressed it with a manager who promised it would be taken care of, he would follow up the next day and it wouldn’t happen again. My issue was the workers watched this happening and did nothing. Just watched and dismissed it. Anyway, I waited the next day for follow up and nothing came. I took a break from the gym for a month, how could I go back? I ran outside, did home workouts but finally went back after some time. A week into returning and the same thing started happening again. One day I looked at the daycare worker and couldn’t control my facial expressions. It was a “hello!” Face with my hands thrown up in the air. The worker said “******, that’s not nice” then tells me to have a good workout. I couldn’t leave my child there, took Brody and left. I sat in the parking lot, cried so hard I couldn’t see and called my dad. The next day I went to the gym and asked to speak with the manager in charge of the whole gym. I spoke with her, explained everything and she seemed understanding and supportive. She had me work out while she sat in on the classroom to observe. A half hour into my workout I was pulled out of the gym by a daycare worker saying my son hit someone. I was met by the manager and so began the most most appalling conversation in my adult life. 

Sometimes when I get upset it’s like my mind is in a fog, I’m too mad to vocalize what is going on in my head. This is how I felt listening to the manager, telling me it was my son that was the bully. How I need to be working out while I can get a sitter for him or choosing to go to another location since this one was not a good fit for him. I tried to defend my son, explain what would help and why he does the things he does. I realized it was pointless, this woman was close minded, that my son was a thorn in her side and I we left it would be an easy solve to the problem. She told me if I wanted to stay there and workout they could just come get me when he was “being a bully”. I should have asked if the same thing was applied to other kids who had hit or who said cruel things but I was too stunned at what I was being told. I realize my child is not perfect but I know him well enough to know that typically his anger stemmed from him trying to communicate and not being listened to or respected. That situation really taught me so many things and set a fire in me to try to make a difference in any way possible. I vowed this would never happen to my child again and I stick with it now. Disability or not, adults or kids, this behavior from the manager AND child is unacceptable. 


There is no excuse for bullying. None. Kids are a direct reflection of their upbringing and parenting for the most part. As an adult you have a choice, sit by the wayside and allow behavior this to continue or to make a change. We are raising the next generation of kids, by deciding to have children you’ve agreed to shape a humans life and to be a role model for them. It’s not easy and no one is saying that, there are times where you may feel uncomfortable, disliked and afraid to do what’s right but it’s your responsibility. If you don’t do your part, the bullying and cruelty will continue, more lives will be effected and lost and it could be you or your family suffering one day. You just never know. This situation with Brody was one of the reasons I started this blog and my heart is happy knowing the impact is has had. While my reach is small, it can be a ripple effect that may make a difference some day. Please don’t dismiss problems that arise, be an advocate and backbone for those who need it. In the note the 13 years old boy left before killing himself he said one teacher helped him but it was not enough, no one else helped him. Imagine if others had taken it more seriously, that poor boy would still be here. At 13 his life was just beginning, he could have been the one to cure cancer or be our next president. He was someone’s kid, sibling and friend. He could have grown up to be an amazing parent, shaping the generation after his on how to be a good parent. Now he’s gone from this world and all because his little voice wasn’t heard. I can tell you from experience that a short time of being uncomfortable when confronting a situation of bullying or cruelty is worth it in the end. Do your part, it matters. So ill conclude with asking you all to join me in sending love to the loved ones who having aching hearts because of this boys absence and hoping he rests in peace. I also hope that what comes out of his death is a lesson to those who pushed him to this point, those who allowed it to happen and those who needed to see be impact words have. Thank you for reading this and sticking through something that means a lot to me. 💕

Posted in Believing in Brody

Let me tell you

My eyelids are heavy and my eye is twitching from exhaustion. I am coming down with a cold that I am sure is a result of stress and lack of sleep. Vacation is such an exciting and special thing, I am so thankful that I am able to take one at all considering many aren’t able to. The things we have been doing and the amazing friends and family we have seen during this trip already has made my heart so happy. I love talking to people about our visit and catching up, so many people I have been missing. I have received so much positivity on not only Brody and his journey but my health/fitness progression as well which is so appreciated. It is so flattering to know that people are truly paying attention and care about the daily things going on in your life, especially living 8 hours away and seeing them once a year if I’m lucky. The outpouring of support I have gotten for Brody and just the love I hear in everyones voices while talking about him just leaves me baffled. He is so lucky to have such a cheerleading team behind him, only wanting the best and success in his life. I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you, even little comments and conversations mean more then you will ever know. Your positivity and encouragement give me strength on some days where I am struggling and feeling low.

So now for some real talk. So many people follow up our conversations with something along the lines of “enjoy your vacation, you’re lucky to get time off” or something like that. The thing I’ve learned and come to understand about vacations and time off is that while my day to day activities are different and a lot more fun, there is no vacation from autism. Brody has been great and truly have never seen him as happy as he has been. The thing is with the highest highs comes some low lows. His temper tantrums have been so out of control, his anger and hitting/ kicking is to the point where it is leaving a bruise and his attention span is nonexistent. I love my child through it all of course but as I’m typing this I am a zombie of exhaustion mentally and physically. In between typing this I have probably peeled about 12 crayons and have been redirecting to coloring to avoid a meltdown. None of the things that normally make Brody happy or calm is working today and I am left confused on how to even handle him. I am not sure if he is on sensory overload and just coping with the change of scenery since I am at my moms house now for a while but it is strange to watch his behavior. Donuts are always a go to for a happy kid but instead he sat at the table with ten munchkins in front of him, staring into space with glazed eyes for ten minutes. He didn’t touch a single one and my mom and I watched him, trying to figure out what was going on. I know I have heard and read about kids having seizers where they stop everything and look up and stare off into “space”. I will tell you, one of the hardest things to swallow as Brodys mom is knowing something is off with him, asking whats wrong and trying to figure it out with no response. Times like this I would love to point out to those who tell me I’m lucky he doesn’t talk because “once he starts talking, he won’t stop”. In moments like this I can actually feel my heart ache from not getting a response, I would do anything to hear whats going on in his mind and help him with whatever he is sorting out.

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Now that I have gotten through the autism and sensory specific things I am going to voice something that has irritated me since Brodys diagnosis. I find that I often see “autism parents” saying things like we aren’t just parents, we are “autism parents” or other things indicating we have it so much harder. Ive already blogged about my feelings on the reference of “autism parent”. I could go on about some of the hypocritical posts I’ve seen about wanting to be included but then putting themselves in a category above “typical parents ” but that could be its own blog post for a later day. I am here to say that a parent is a parent and you all have my respect so long as you are actually parenting your child. I also want to say that the same associated with looking on the outside as you do on the inside needs to fall away. Parenting is hard you guys, give yourself some credit. I say this as I am in leggings, a baggy hoodie with a ponytail in and makeup from yesterday looking like a mess. The bags under my eyes are huge and heavy but this morning I threw on some shades and headed out the door to the park. The thing is that I knew Brody typically likes to play on the playground and I was desperate to make him happy because of the off mood he was in. Once we got to the playground he started to stare into space again like at breakfast and had no care for the jungle gym in front of him. My mom and I took a video because of the off behavior and watched him closely. He still didn’t care about it so instead it took off his shoes and brought him to his favorite field. As I’ve already stated several times I am exhausted but Brody can not pass up a chance to run freely and chase me around. I took off, “ready, set” followed off by the smallest and cutest “go!” you’ve ever heard. I ran around and around, he was smiling and enjoying himself and that made it worth it to me. Even if he was only happy for a minute, knowing that I did what i could to make him happy is worth it to me to see that crooked grin.

brody 1

Basically I am just trying to get across that a parent is never truly on vacation but I admire those that still bend over backwards and go to any length to make your child happy. Personally, I feel pride in myself that i know I am the parent I’ve hoped to be and am not ashamed to sound like i am boasting about it because its an accomplishment that is far from easy. I am glad I am getting to the point where I am realizing that its ok to not always look your best (my fashion merchandising background had brain washed me into this though process) as long as you are comfortable and happy. There is no shame in these dark circles under my eyes because I got them through long and exhausting hours caring for Brody. I am coming around to self acceptance in a different way then I have ever known in my 27 years on earth. I hope someone took something away from this post, although I had a lot of thoughts on my mind as I wrote this. Hope you were able to follow along somewhat. I just want  you, you exhausted parent, to take your hand and pat yourself on the back because you’re awesome and sometimes we don’t hear it enough verbally.

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I’ll end this post saying that my sweet baby put himself to sleep on the couch as I typed this ten minutes ago and is looking so sweet. I am glad his mind is at rest and am hoping he wakes up feeling less anxiety and stress. I am going to join him now so I can stop being a mom zombie and function since I am surrounded by my amazing family right now.

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