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.

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.

Two Stepping

CASD023Have you ever seen people square dance. They get dressed up in elaborate costumes and twirl around the dance floor as a caller yells out instructions. I realized yesterday, I am my son’s caller. No, I do not yell at him as he goes about his day. But I am the person giving the instructions leading him through the dance that is his life.

As children grow it is important that they learn the skill of following multiple step directions. It is a skill that Autism Boy’s teachers pressed upon us that if he could not master it, he would never succeed. Tough words for any parent to take in. Well for Autism Boy, this is a skill which comes and goes. Exhausted Hubby and I have known for a long time that on good days we can do more than bad days, but yesterday was a eye opener.

Back to multiple step instructions as it relates to square dancing:
A single step instruction is: Put the book on the table.
Two Step instruction: Put the book on the table and come back here.
Three Step Instruction: Put the book on the table, pick up the remote and bring it to the kitchen.

You get the gist. Well on our bad days we can go from mastering multiple step instructions to struggling with single step instructions.

If you see your little superhero becoming easily frustrated examine what you are saying. Are the words starting to sound like that of a square dancing caller. Although as a champion dancer you may get it, your amateur child may not. The words become a jumble, they may only hear the first part and then focus on that until it is complete, never hearing the second set of instructions. Choose your words carefully. Autism Boy has an invisible counter and can only handle a certain number of words per day. This number changes every day and when the threshold is met, chaos ensues.

How do you solve this. Practice, patience and the occasional glass of caffeine when it will just not going to happen that day. Do not be discouraged. On days when I see I am repeating myself over and over like a vintage record player I save myself a few breaths and go to a lower set of instructions.

Today we one step and we are doing it with grace, dignity and a really cool cape cause that’s our style and were sticking to it.  Do you one step?

Magic Beans and Snake Oil

snake-oilOver the years, Exhausted Hubby and I have tried everything we can find to help Autism Boy. We have joined support groups, read whatever literature we could find and sought alternative therapies when conventional medicine had no reasonable answer.

In our home we tried, GFCF diet, Sugarfree diet, Feingold diet, vitamin supplements, organic eating, clean eating, coconut oil, music therapy, ABA, speech therapy, physical therapy, melatonin and a few others that escape my sleep deprived mind. In desperation we would have tried magic beans or snake oil if a parent said it did something that we were trying to achieve. Lack of sleep will do that to you. Then a few years ago, Exhausted Hubby and I decided to try something revolutionary, Nothing. Yes, you read that right. We did nothing. We quit the groups, therapies, and diets. We brought take out back into the house. We stopped the madness and we smiled. The stress over what would help and what wouldn’t was driving us insane. The criticism of other parents and why we had not tried a product, therapy or treatment was just too much. So we quit. We got off the Autism train and decided that we needed a break. We were so worried about whether or not the snake oil we bought was going to work and if there was a better magic bean out there that we had stopped living. We took a vacation and reaccessed what we wanted out of life.

It has been a few years for us since we jumped off the Autism train and it turns out, we like our food made from scratch. Not because it will make Autism Boy fly, sing or dance any better, but because it tastes really good.  Now instead of social group, play therapy or floor time we just go to the park and let him play with the kids there. It is hard and some days he just runs, but he’s happy. I will get a lot of flack for this and many will say but you have not tried (insert name of trendy new therapy, supplement or diet here) and I will delete those comments. If something works for you great. Many of these items described work for many, they were just not for us. I have made a life choice and for us, we choose not to have the magic beans. Autism Boy is happy and so are we.

I encourage all parents of supers to do what you think is right.

Autism … The New Chihuahua

Heavily Caffeinated Mommy in case you can not tell, is not always current on pop culture. I don’t watch the celebrity shows, know who is dating who, heck I can’t even tell you the name of the actor in a movie. I am one who just likes to sit, watch and enjoy.  But the one thing I do know, the chihuahua phenomenon.

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A few years ago Paris Hilton and all the other celebrities started carrying around little dogs in their purses. I thought it was the goofiest thing when I saw a photo of it. Who wants to carry a dog in your purse. I keep praying it would pee in their purse and teach them a lesson. Well, this phenomenon spread like the plague and started affecting communities around us. PTA moms, soccer moms, little teeny boppers, they were all walking around with things little yappy dogs in their purses that cost more than my first car. It was a craze, a fad, something they had to be a part of. They were everywhere and you could not escape it.

Well we have now entered into the new fad. I call it the Autism Fad.

The other day I am in Target (yes, the only place I ever seem to get to) and I overhear two women talk really  loudly (no I was not eavesdropping) about how they now know someone with Autism.

What is this now the trendy thing. I thought it was a fluke until my friend got a call from her sister in law inviting (insert name of Autism Boy’s Friend here) to a party. The reason… she wants to show her friends she supports the cause, Autism that is. What is she kidding. She hasn’t attended one of that kids birthday parties, she doesn’t know what grade he is in,  and has never babysat for him and she wants to support the cause. Apparently Autism is the new Chihuahua. Everyone wants to be cool and know someone who has it. They want to show a personal connection to the cause. They claim to want to do something to support it. They love displaying the fun and colorful puzzle piece on their car to show how awesome they are.

Fads always fade away. The Autism in my life never will, and I am not asking it to. In 5 years when everyone is out exploiting with the new fad…maybe wooden shoes (picture shoes from Holland) I will still be fighting for Autism Boy.

No, you can not borrow our kids so you look cool. Big whop for you that you put a puzzle piece on your car.

You really want to help, come give us an hour of respite.  Till then, move on to your next fad. Our kids are not chihuahuas.

Three Day Weekends

Three day weekends. When you hear those words you get a little giddy with excitement and anticipation.

So what does Heavily Caffeinated Mommy do on our first three-day weekend of the year? I schedule an EEG for Autism Boy.  Yes, I am face-palming myself right now. Instead of going away, sleeping in (lol, yeah  thought that would make you laugh) or just kicking back in pj’s, I will be prepping Autism Boy for torture.

In case you have not had the pleasure of torturing your child and the rest of the family who have to live through this, let me give you the brief synopsis.  Monday night Autism Boy has to stay up till after midnight, which means so does Heavily Caffeinated Mommy. Autism Boy can then sleep no later than 6am which means, neither can Heavily Caffeinated Mommy. Then after a day of fighting and struggling to keep cranky Autism Boy awake we get to take a trip to the doctor.

Once we reach the doctors office they will place magical little electrodes on his head. I described this to him as having the Doc Ock stuff stuck to his head. He is surprising comfortable with that.

 Heavily Caffeinated Mommy will then spend time (what will fill like years due to my level of exhaustion) entertaining Autism Boy so he will stay still for the duration of the procedure. I am fully aware that I may have to sing, dance and do tricks to accomplish this feat. I pray that between the ipod, ipad, and legos stuffed in my purse that we will manage. This is how I spend a three day weekend. What was I thinking?

And the Blog Award goes to….?

It’s January and this is the time of year when people start talking about the Golden Globes, the Oscars and remarking about whether or not someone looked good in a particular gown.  Well this weekend as I sat watching one of the award shows my email pinged and I felt like I had just won the Academy Award. Two wonderful people nominated me for the Liebster Award, which is an award that highlights up and coming blogs! I am so excited that people are enjoying my blog and honored to nominated. Before I pull out my Sally Field impression I have to get down to business.

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Here are the rules:

1) You must thank the person who gave you this award

2) You must display the Liebster heart on your blog

3) You should nominate 3 to 5 up-and-coming blogs (some rule variations say 11) with less than 200 subscribers

4) Each person must post 11 things about themselves

5) Answer the questions given to you by the blogger who nominated you

6) Create 11 questions for those you nominate to answer

7) Notify your nominees and provide a link back to your post

8) And no tag backs (the point is to try and highlight new bloggers so let’s spread the support )

I send out a huge thank you to  caffeineplease at Did I Earn A Smile?  and Amber at “Normal” Is the new Boring. Thank you both for making my day and nominating me.

My nominees are (in no particular order):

Homeschool Year – I love the creative ideas this Mom has to keep her child learning. Great blog for a new homeschooling parent!

What’s New in the Zoo – I love this blog. Ever seen snow angels in the house. She has.

Being Special – This blog is written by a special needs teacher who really knows what she is talking about.

Eleven Things About Myself:

1) I am a Christian. I am proud and greatful to be able to say that. That does not mean I am perfect. In fact, I am far from it. I am striving to do my best every day and help those I meet along my journey.

2) I have known my husband forever. Ok, since we were in high school but it feels like a wonderful forever.

3) I live in California and dream of living anywhere else. Well, almost anywhere.

4) I am addicted to caffeine. It is a problem. And I don’t intend to do anything about it. (Stolen from nominator, but still true)

5) I sing Christmas songs in the car whenever I get mad. Yes, even in July. It’s really hard to mad when singing “Joy to the World”.  Just don’t do it with the windows down, the looks you will get are priceless.

6) I love geeky shows. Star Wars, superhero movies, Firefly just to name a few. Having a boy was icing on the cake so I had an excuse to buy comics, play with legos and wear a superhero cape.

7) I am a huge crafter.  Pintrest is my new obsession. When I am not sleeping I am looking for something else to craft.

8) Disneyland, I love it. I still get butterflies in my stomach when we enter through the main gate. It is a magical place to me. I love it all.

9) I love chick flicks. Nothing like seeing movie love (a love story that will never happen in real life, but you can still dream) and getting swept away.

10) 80’s music. It is a thing of wonder. I wonder why more people aren’t into it.

11) High Heels. Yes I own them and they are in near mint condition. I choose to never wear them. I opt for cowboy boots or tennis shoes. Comfort is everything when chasing down your little man.

My Questions For Nominees:

1. What was your very first blog post about and what inspired it?

2. If you could meet anyone and have lunch with them, who would it be?

3. What is the most important thing that you do every day?

4. What is your favorite thing to cook?

5. What movie makes you cry?

6. If you could be a contestant on a game show, which one would it be?

7. Name one thing on your “bucket list”.

8. What is the best part of being you?

9. What is your biggest vice?

10. What’s your favorite new music find?

11. What’s your favorite food?

Answers to the Questions I was Asked (More than 11 since I was nominated by two people):

1) What was your very first blog post about and what inspired it?

My first blog post was called Super Powers. After several sleepless nights I kept thinking, I must have super powers to maintain this incredible strength to make it through the day and thus my blog was formed.

2) Do you believe in fate/destiny?

No. I believe that things happen for a reason.

3) What feeds your soul?

The bible. I find great comfort and peace in reading it.

4) If you could be anyone else in the world for just one day, who would it be?

President of the United States. I want to go in there and fix our budget. Balancing a budget on what we earn is hard. I am sure with a glass of sweet tea and few hours I could straighten up that mess. Simple trick, don’t spend more than you earn.

5) What is the most important thing that you do every day?

I say “I love you” to my family. What better thing can I do than to make someone else feel great!

6) What was your biggest dream that you fulfilled?

I became a Mom.

7) What was the biggest dream left unfulfilled?

I would like to travel to Italy. I know I will go someday.

8) Name one thing you would change about yourself if you could.

I would like to lose a few pounds and be a little healthier. I am working on this now. It’s a journey, just like my life.

9) What is the best part of being you?

I’m happy! Nuff said.

10) What is your biggest vice?

Southern sweet tea full of ice.  YUMMMM!

11) If there was just one social issue that you could fix-magically-what would it be and how would you fix it?

I think it would be unemployment. When you are working and have something you can take pride in doing each day your attitude changes.

12) What would be your dream job?

My dream job would be working for the USO. I love volunteering and servicing the men and women who keep us safe and their families is my dream.

13) What is your favorite thing to cook?

I am a bit like the old Paula Dean. Anything with butter. I am a comfort food cook. I make homemade bread, cakes, and desserts. I just love to cook.

14) What movie makes you cry?

Armageddon.  Bruce Willis saying goodbye gets me every time.

15) If you could pick anywhere to live for one year (can’t be your current location, has to be somewhere else), where would you go and why?

I would love to live in Georgia. I love the southern hospitality and incredible architecture.

16) Do you keep a journal? Did you ever?

I find it so hard to believe that I can blog because I can’t seem to keep up with a journal. The pen and paper haunt me.

17) Dogs or cats? Why?

Dogs, their unconditional love does it for me. Cats are too independent.

18) What’s your favorite new music find?

I love the song,  “I make my own sunshine” by Alyssa Bonagura. Such a cute song.

19) If you could be a contestant on a game show, which one would it be?

This is a toughie. What I lack in coordination, make up for in my spirit and willingness’ to try. I think I would do best on a mental style game show. Maybe “Who Wants to Be Millionaire”. I must confess I don’t really watch these types of shows very often.

20) Name one thing on your “bucket list”.

I want to see the grunion run. So I am hoping this year we can cross this off our list.

21) What motivates you to get out of bed every morning?

I got very sick several years ago and learned how quickly and precious life it. I love family, my life and I don’t want to waste a minute of my life in bed when I could be out living it. So joyfully I get up every day to take on the day!

Thank you again for this incredible honor and congrats to my nominees. You are wonderful bloggers.

I got my first blog award!

What an exciting weekend. I got an email saying I’ve been nominated for the 2012 Blog of the Year!

I was actually notified in 2012, but as you may know, moms are busy women! I’m sorry it took so long.
We sometimes say we are running on Autism time. I’m truly honored that anyone would think of me for this award and appreciate the thought.

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First, a huge thank you to  Caffieneplease at Did I Earn A Smile?Thank you for nominating me. I was really surprised and touched that you would think of me for this award.

The blogs I nominate for this award are (in no particular order):

Medina Mom-A wonderful homeschool blog from a Christian mom helping make her way through autism

Being Special -This is a blog from a very loving and passionate special needs teacher.

Scouter Adam -This is a blog I’ve been following about boy scouts. It is full of great facts and new ideas.

Here are the rules for this award:

Here are the rules for this award:
1.  Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award
2.  Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.
3.  Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/ and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)
4 . Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them
5.  You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience
6.  As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s WonderDog

Several years ago our family grew with the addition of WonderDog (Name changed to protect his secret identity). WonderDog is also a superhero. He came to our family by way of a secret society. He is an autism service dog. Wherever Autism Boy may roam, WonderDog is right by his side. WonderDog works tirelessly to ensure the safety of Autism Boy.

When Autism Boy turned 3 he developed a talent for playing hide and seek. Actually it was just hide and many times heavily caffeinated mommy would wake up in the middle of the night to find out that the game was already in progress. This did not always please heavily caffeinated mommy since we were also playing the silent game at that time. I once found him hiding under the dining room table in the dark. Since I am not one for playing games late at night we sought help and introduced WonderDog. WonderDog is a wonder and a bit of a narc as exhausted daddy would say. WonderDog likes to snitch and let me know what Autism Boy is up to when I leave the room for more that a moment. He assists in keeping our little  superhero safe and that is just the way we like it.