The “D” Word and Winnie the Pooh

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The “D” Word is a word all to familiar to special needs families. It’s not surprising that many marriages simply cannot withstand the constant strain, pressure, confusion and exhaustion of the life we lead. We are constantly slaying dragons that mere mortals never have to face. We have medical charts memorized, we can recite every star wars movie line in order by heart and often multi task to the point of insanity. So my hiatus from the blog and announcement of my impending divorce should come as no surprise. Although many of the “normal” community think of me as a super hero for taking on all I do, I don’t feel that way. I feel like many of you have who have crossed this bridge. I feel like a failure. Technically I am. I have failed twice at marriage.  Not that I wanted to, but I have. Autism Boy  was the amazing blessing given to me with my first marriage. My ex and I have a civil relationship and work to do all we can to support Autism Boy but time, space and the differences in opinions can make that challenging. And now I am in the middle of getting another divorce. These are words I didn’t think I would ever utter. I have failed twice. Clearly I am not good at this marriage thing. I have been doing a lot of soul searching during the hiatus away from my blog. I have come to identify a few things about me.

1) God is first in my life and as much as I say it, my actions need to live up to my words. I need to be putting him first and showing it in my actions.

2) I am a fighter! I hate the idea of failing but I am not going to let this destroy me. It took two to fail. I hate that it ended but it did.

3) I will rise from the ashes of this divorce, dust myself off and show just how awesome this dynamic duo of myself and Autism Boy can be.

If you are going through the divorce journey also, my heart goes out to you. It takes time, is painful, and well, can destroy you but it doesn’t have to. We will get through this. I have chosen this quote to lead me through today: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think,” said Christopher Robin to Winnie-the-Pooh

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Celebrating in Silence

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Veteran’s Day is a very important day to me. I come from a family where all of the men served. My father, all my uncles, my grandfathers and their father’s before them all proudly served. It was what was expected. It was an honor and a privilege.  And now I proudly add my husband to our list of veteran’s.

To many this day is a time to stock up on linens at a department store sale, a day off work, one extra holiday before the winter holiday season kicks in. Not for me. It is a somber day. Autism Boy grew up admiring the fact that so many men in our family before him served. He would often say he wanted to join the Air Force and serve like Daddy when he grows up. That was the day my heart sank and Veteran’s Day took on a new meaning.

Veteran’s Day for me is still a reminder of all of those who serve, those who paid the ultimate price. But now it is also a reminder of all those innocent like my little man who long to serve but never will. One this day we will have the talk about the things he can and cannot do, but today I let him dream. Today he takes his takes his tanks and lines them up to play  war. Tomorrow we shed the tears for our dreams which can not come true.

The rocky road of school

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Rocky Road – When I hear those words I think of dark chocolate, creamy marshmallows, crunchy walnuts, and hot fudge drizzled over the scoops of decadence heaped in my bowl, as I slide onto the couch for a cozy Saturday night. That is the way I like to think of Rocky Road, but I also have another image that comes to mind. It is an image of pain, tears, heartache, mistakes, grace, love and acceptance. It is what we go through at the start of every home school year.

Autism Boy loves home schooling and 99 % of the time so do I, that is until we start a another year. At the start of every year is the pain of the curriculum change, teacher change, new ways that we have to do everything and it is a living nightmare. The last two weeks for us have been filled with tears, long talks, revamping the system and tons of prayers to God for peace.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise each year as we walk this road, but it does. Somehow the bliss of the 99 % of awesome makes me forget the horror of the first few weeks. So as we are smoothing out our road of homeschooling this week, I think I will settle into my chair with a giant bowl of rocky road ice cream.

Our Kryptonite

superman-kryptonite-lego-970x545Over the last few years Autism Boy has struggled with tics. They can be small, just a flinch or wink to full body, painful muscle contracting tics. We have seen countless doctors and probably paid for a few nice cars for them. Autism Boy’s tics come and go. I thought there was no rhyme or reason, but when he was about 8, we have started putting the pieces together.

Usually, if Autism Boy is getting stressed they start. They start small, but if the stress is not addressed they quickly progress. They also present when illness is on the way. These tics are different and less controllable. So why tell you this. Well, each kid is different and the “ignore it” answer from the doctors didn’t work for me. No, I’m not going to ignore something painful that we can work on. Instead of ignoring it, the second a tic appears, I pull Autism Boy aside and we talk. We identify a possible “why”. What are his concerns? What is he worried about? Autism Boy doesn’t offer information about his feelings freely. In fact, he generally doesn’t think about it till it is too late. If we can address his feelings, we can generally help to make the tics go away. It’s not perfect. But it works for us now.

I feel awful that Autism Boy had to put up with all the doctors who never had an answer but we figured it out. I feel sick thinking of all the times I didn’t know what to do or what question to ask. But, I didn’t give up. Don’t give up on your kiddo. From one Heavily Caffeinated Mommy to another, you can do this!

All By Himself

61H3NZ5BQ8L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Autism boy has always loved the Mercer Mayer books of “Little Critters”. If you are familiar, Little Critter books are about a little boy critter who has common adventures, trials and tribulations that other kids experience. These books were a staple in our when when I was growing up and the amazing Nana made sure that Autism Boy had a full set of these books. Well, one book is especially important to us. The book, “All By Myself” was a motto for Autism Boy. Too often in school and people in the community try to take away the accomplishments that our kids can do. They think that they are helping by doing things for them. Yes, our kids may be slower, take longer to learn, or complete it in a way different from what you expected, but they can do it. So I taught Autism Boy to say that he could do things all by himself. He can! Challenge your kids. Don’t let your fear hold them back. Today he vacuumed the house “All By Himself”!

Sharknado

640Heavily caffeinated mommy loves b rated movies. I love sitting with my Ben and Jerry’s and trashing a movie to shreds. This has been a solo activity for a long time, and I have dreamed about the day when I would have a companion to laugh along with me. Today is that day. As Autism Boy is growing up, he has asked to see new and goofier movies. Sharknado was one of these.

So on a hot summer evening we curled up in the couch and watched our first Sharknado. This was of course preceded by a long talk on what is real, what is fake, how CGI works, and the fact that no sharks or humans were harmed during the making of the film. Well this quickly started Autism Boy’s love affair with bad movies.

We have been blessed that Autism Boy’s friends also have a sick love of these horrible films. So a few weekends ago they hosted a Sharknado party. It was a dream come true for the kids. We all curled around the TV and laughed, yelled and cried at the TV as we rooted for the sharks. Sometimes we think our kids can’t handle these things. But given the chance they may really enjoy it. The talk Autism Boy and I had was long. It lasted several days but was worth all the effort. Hang in there. Maybe there is a B rated movie in your future.

Big boys do cry

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Autism boy started swim lessons this year. He is a polliwog who loves water. He has learned all the basic strokes. It has been a huge accomplishment for him. Well today he struggled. Today he tried diving. As he stood at the edge of the pool, he slipped. His legs smacked against the dock as he fell in. My heart leaped out of my chest. His instructor was in the water and caught him, but the damage was done. Biting his lip, he asked to go see Mommy. He walked slowly through the shallow end and climbed the stairs to my waiting arms and then lost it. He eyes told me everything. I’m hurt. I’m scared. I need you. And then he cried. And the tears kept coming. As he sobbed he said he didn’t wanna cry in from of his instructor cause big boys don’t cry. But they do cry and it’s ok. So tonight we cuddled and more tears flowed as the bruises and wounds swelled. But the safety of a Mommy’s arms helped to heal his heart.

I don’t ever want Autism boy to think he can’t cry. Things are going to hurt in life and there will be times where you cry. He will suffer loss, experience pain, grief, and tears are a healthy expression of what we experience. Tears are not a daily occurrence and they shouldn’t be. Tears help to cleanse our heart, soul and mind of what we can’t express into words. So the next time a child, young man, or adult cries, don’t stop them. You could be stopping their healing. Instead, embrace them and show them love, compassion, and sympathy. Hugs to all who hurt.

Deep Fried Heaven

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The fair is a huge in our house. We have never missed a year. In fact, when I was 9 months pregnant, I walked my way around the fair. As soon as Autism Boy was born we started taking him so he could enjoy this summer tradition.

Usually the sights, smells and crowds would be something that would send him into over-drive, but the regularity with which we have gone has created a welcome routine for Autism Boy.

Each year we follow the same path. We head tot he new products where we ogle the junk being hawked and walk away with more infomercial stuff that we could not live without. Then we head to the arts and crafts displays to marvel at the craftsmanship of our community. Then comes Autism Boy’s favorite part…the food. Rows and rows of food trucks lined up with every fried concoction from here to the east coast. Each year we get daring and try a new something fried and cross it off our bucket list. This year he tried the deep fried Oreo’s. Not my favorite but the sheer joy of his smile made it worth it.

As you wander through your summer, I hope you too have some fun and memorable routines to look forward to.

Hunting and Autism

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Many kids hate loud noises. Autism Boy is no exception. But his dislike of loud sounds is different. Sounds that are soft to you and I are deafening, painful and out right crushing to his ability to function.

As a little kid, I can remember an ambulance passing on the street and Autism Boy stuck his arms straight up in the air. Not to wave hello and show excitement, but to press his arms tightly against his ears and block the sound. More and more I saw him uncomfortable in everyday situations. This just wasn’t ok with me. I was determined to find a solution. But what was I to do.

Exhausted Daddy and I tossed Autism Boy into the car and made a trip to our local hunting store. No, it wasn’t time to buy him a rifle. Exhausted Daddy and I decided to try out noise canceling headphones. Having been an avid hunter, Exhausted Daddy explained how the headphones would soften sounds and help to protect Autism Boy’s delicate ears. Do they work. YES!!!! At the age of 6, Autism Boy got his first pair and it changed his life. Our world opened up again. Things that were impossible due to sound, were now something we could try. Are they perfect, no. But they are better than nothing.

Autism Boy is processing sound much better now that he has aged. Things change with time and now we use the headphones only occasionally. Autism Boy carries them in his backpack with his other superhero supplies and he decides when he needs them. If the crowd is too big, sounds are too many, or he simply needs a break he can put them on and regroup.

I know for many in the beginning stages of autism your saying wow, my kid is no where near that. Well neither were we at 3, 4 or 5. This has been an ongoing process. It’s a journey and we are still on it. Hang in there. You can do this. Praying for each of you on your journey.

The Giant White Lie

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Hello, my name is Heavily Caffeinated Mommy and I lie. Yes, I lie regularly to my kid. I can already see the comments, how dare you, you are creating distrust, you are harming your child.Before you also go down this road paved to hell, let me explain.

For most kids getting a little excited as a date approaches is a normal part of the growing process. The anticipation is something they enjoy. For Autism Boy it is HELL. I don’t say this lightly. I learned really early on that knowing something was coming and when the blessed event was going to happen became his own personal hell. He wouldn’t sleep. He made himself sick. He was miserable. He couldn’t stop thinking about the event. It didn’t matter if it was a birthday party or Christmas. The angst and anticipation overwhelmed him and us to the point that life shut down.

Our first true experience with this was the advent calendar. You know, these cute little calendars designed to help us count down to Christmas. I hate them. That year he barely slept for a week, so I barely slept for a week. Attitudes were short, and caffeine was not doing the trick. Well that year his birthday was the same thing. Silly Mommy told him when it was and he lost it. Although he tried, he didn’t sleep, got sick, and was miserable.

So fine, I needed a solution. I lied. Yup, I did. I sat down with Autism Boy after one of our really horrible holidays and asked what he loved most about it. He talked about the people, the food, the fun. I asked if not sleeping made it fun and he cried. He honestly hated that he couldn’t sleep. So I asked his permission to lie. I told him I would never let a holiday pass and not celebrate it but that I just would not tell him when it was. He cheered and guess what, it worked. Yes, Autism Boy does not really know what the exact date is but he doesn’t exactly need to. He isn’t out there writing checks or paying bills. He knows whether it is a Monday or Wednesday  and the month but not the exact date. And yes, I have fibbed as special dates have grown closer all for him and right now it works.

Yes, this is a skill we need to work through, just not yet. When the time is right we will start with something small, but for now I am a liar, liar, pants on fire Mommy.