Responding to Autism’s Surprises

Dec 16, 2014 by

We are forever learning to be better parents to our children, and that is not different when parenting a child with special needs.  Occasionally, someone from Sage’s school will ask if we have any tips to respond to a certain trigger or behavior, and outside of bonding over our shared helplessness, at times we’ve got nothing.  Sometimes we wing it, probably more often than we would like.  While there are certain things we can prepare for, there are always surprises.

half donna and kids

1. The unexpected loud space:  If we know we’re headed somewhere over-stimulating, we’ll throw a pair of earmuffs or headphones in a purse “just in case.”  Yet, there are places we know we don’t need them.  Enter mistake number one.  Church is a place that isn’t “too loud.”  Well, until last weekend.  No ear muffs.

Please Don’t Scold My Child!

Dec 2, 2014 by

We got out of the car at a dog park, walked into the fenced area, let the dog off leash, and not twenty seconds went by before someone was telling my daughter “You can’t run in a dog park, it’s not safe.”  When my daughter broke down into tears, the woman looks to me and says, “I didn’t mean to make her cry.”

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I’m not sure what she thought would happen.

My daughter is six and she runs in open spaces.  Go figure.  While I understand that dogs like to chase running children, we have a dog, we have running children, and we know that.  We risk that because with two running children, a dog, and not enough financial resources to fence in the yard, the dog park keeps us happy.

Wait.  Why am I explaining?

“I Cannot Say Okay Mommy”

Oct 21, 2014 by

Bedtime has come and gone.  Songs have been sung.  Pillows have been fluffed.  Blankets have been tucked in.  Kisses have been placed on foreheads.  The dog has received his last head pat.  Off to dreamland we go.

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Only we forgot something.

“Mommy, what will Monday bring?”

Our dear Sage needs to have a sense of “what’s next?”  It is a regular question in our days, and it helps her organize her world.  Tonight during our nighttime routine we forgot to talk about what tomorrow will bring.  Since last Monday was a day off, she’s not sure.

“You’re right, tomorrow is Monday, and tomorrow is a school day.  Okay?”

“Awwww.  I cannot say okay Mommy.  Good night and sweet dreams.”

My wife and I crack up in the bathroom, “does she have any idea how funny she is?”  “Oh my gosh, so darn cute.”  But then we stumble on the gem, “But honestly, she’s right.  Honey, I have to work tomorrow, and I ‘cannot say okay.'”

Riding through the Rough Patches

Oct 14, 2014 by

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We’re going through a couple of rough patches with both kids.  They’re both having a tough time adjusting to their new grade levels.  Our daughter’s behavioral outbursts are escalating.  She’s spent a lot of time with substitutes and we just learned that today her teacher will be switched due to another teacher’s very untimely transfer to a different school.  Autism, ADD and constant change is now equaling nervous moms every morning when we wave to her on the bus.

Our son is experiencing more anxiety than I’m comfortable with about school, and it’s not about his ability to learn.  He’s an award-winning rule follower (when not at home).  He’s a dynamite kid but the pressure he puts on himself to have flawless behavior in school is intense.

Put these two together and this means more phone calls from the school than I ever wanted in their entire elementary education, a care conference promotion to an early PPT and more bedtime pep-talks than I know how to manage creatively.

Dare to be Moved

Sep 16, 2014 by

My daughter mastering the art of the selfie.

My daughter mastering the art of the selfie.

When one member of a family is identified as having “special needs” the entire unit becomes a “Family with Special Needs.”  There is little about how we function that isn’t somehow structured in a deliberate way to encourage the best possible outcomes, interactions and moments for all of us.  We have an outdoor playhouse inside so there’s somewhere to climb during all four seasons, ditto the swing upstairs.  Around items we don’t want a power struggle the kids each have their own same item, such as their treasured kindles.  Yet, to push the goal of sharing and turn-taking, there are several items of which there are one, such as the sled.  Don’t let me kid you, there’s plenty of disorganization, too much paper, more than one junk drawer and ample broken toys we haven’t sifted through.  You pegged it, normal mayhem.  The truth simply is, special needs made our normal mayhem more conscious.  One of the gifts in that, truthfully, is that I don’t miss much anymore.  I’m awake.

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