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.

Preparing for the Worst

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It’s something you never want to think about. Accidents. They happen. In fact, they happen so often we almost never prepare. With Autism Boy, we are constantly preparing. I telling you this, so you can prepare.

It has taken me nearly a year to be in a place where I could write this post. It was a brisk fall afternoon, I was sitting at my desk, in my cozy office and Autism Boy and Exhausted Daddy were on there way to my work to drop Autism Boy off for a bring your kid to work day event. At least that’s what I was calling it. Exhausted Daddy had an appointment and honestly just needed a little free time and I loved the idea of having Autism Boy at work. We were gonna do school work, have lunch, and maybe take a stroll through the gardens and watch the falling leaves. I was just preparing to head down to meet them outside when my cell rang. Exhausted Daddy  had a tone of desperation. “We’re not going to meet you. We were in an accident. The car is totaled.” My heart sank. My entire world was in that car. I had no details, just an overwhelming fear. Exhausted Daddy remained calm and relayed their coordinates and I flew out of my office.  I past both the traffic officer and medics on the way to the scene. I don’t want to say that I was speeding the mile to the scene but I flew faster than a jet plane. Mama had to get to her boys and nothing was gonna stop me.

I remember coming up to the scene and praying. I didn’t know the condition of anyone, whose fault, or what I would need to do. Shock was taking over. Exhausted Daddy was fine and walking outside the car. The vehicle that had rear ended them at full speed, was completely under the SUV. I hugged my husband and ran to Autism Boy. He was still strapped in the car, which was the safest place for him. Tears were rolling down his face. Although he had initially said he was fine, he was now complaining of pain. The ambulance was on it’s way.

Why am I telling you this deeply personal story. Weeks before the accident, Autism Boy and I started practicing what to do in different scenarios, including an accident. We talked about the need to stay in the car. An adult has to get him out. If Mommy or Daddy is not awake to stay in the car and help will come. We talked about what Mommy or Daddy would do after the accident. We talked about his emergency bracelet and how it reminds him and others who he is and how to get in touch with Mommy and Daddy. We looked at accident photos and talked about all the loud noises and strange motions that occur in an accident. We talked about all the helpers and what the helpers do.

Now was our moment to meet the helpers. Autism Boy and I rode in an ambulance that day as Exhausted Daddy stayed with the car. It was another thing we had talked about. We had recently toured a fire station and seen the firemen and ambulance drivers. They had made him familiar with all things in the rig and it helped. Autism Boy was fine that day, but only cause we prepared.

Accidents are something you normally don’t prepare for, but why not. In our home we prepare for all sorts of things, accidents, fire, tornadoes, and earthquakes. Having a few talks and showing a few pictures could change the outcome during any incident.

I have no doubt in my mind that Autism Boy didn’t run because of all the talking and practice we had done in the weeks prior to the accident. I know his staying in the car ensured that he didn’t incur additional injuries. I know that had my husband been injured Autism Boy knew where his bracelet was and who to show it to, to get Mommy called for help. I am thankful my family is safe and I hope you will talk to your family and stay safe also.

Autism and the Big Bang Theory

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The Big Bang Theory (tv show, not scientific theory) is very popular with Exhausted Hubby and I. We have spent many nights cuddled up on the couch laughing as these geeks(I say only cause I am one) engage in life.

And it was all fun and games until The Big Bang Theory came to our house. Sheldon sleeps in our house. This year Autism Boy started to resemble Sheldon. Although loveable, he has a clear lack of understand of why society expects certain things.  I can’t say I blame him. I wish I didn’t have to conform sometimes but I have had to start describing things as socially necessary, so he could understand why we were going to do certain things. You don’t need to understand why, just do it because it’s socially required.

Now if he starts to claim a spot on the couch as his, I will really lose it.

Shaving

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It happened a few nights ago. At least that’s what I want to believe. All of a sudden my little guy had facial hair. A full mustache. Well the peach fuzz kind. Having started my life with my son alone, as a single Mom, this was one of the many things I feared. I have always feared those moments when a Dad would pull his little guy to side and guide him gently into manhood. I have feared the talks, the questions, and the sheer fact that there is so much I don’t know that I should be teaching him.

My first experience with this was with the cup. Not the sippy cup, the manly cup. The one that I had to go into the store to buy so he could play sports. The one that I had no idea what to do  with. But God blessed me with a trusting young man who without fear followed my lead and the directions I found on google.

Well, we are again about to cross another bridge. Autism Boy has facial hair. I am terrified. I have to teach this boy to shave. Exhausted Daddy has been trying to talk to him, but sometimes he just understands Mommy better. So together we are venturing into this uncharted territory. I have to ensure that he does this right. I have to ensure that it doesn’t end up like a scene from a horror movie.  So tonight, with my pint of Ben and Jerry’s I will sit down and explore the world of men’s grooming with google and my husband. My husband has tried to explain all these delicate matters to me, but the lotions, smells, and various torture devices scare me. I am so thankful that Exhausted Daddy is here by my side. But for all the guys out there who know a single Mom with a son……….have pity on her. She’s trying her hardest. She wants to raise a man. She wants to provide for him and doesn’t know it all. Be kind and pull her under your wing. She is probably too proud to ask or fears rejection when someone doesn’t have the time or energy to teach her what she needs to know to raise a young man. Please offer help. I’m sure they would both appreciate it.