Inside the Mind of a Child with Autism

Sometimes my AUsome kiddo would burst into tears. He would cry and repeatedly say, “I’m sorry, Mom.” It is distressing to watch and listen to your kiddo cry and unable to understand what made him upset, let alone help him cope with whatever is distressing him. I thought I would never be able to understand what exactly goes through my child’s mind. I think like all parents with kids on the spectrum, we can really only guess what they are thinking and how they feel.

Then today I happened to find The Reason I Jump by Naomi Higashida. A book that was written by a Japanese autistic child when he was only thirteen years old. This book is presented as a series of questions about Autism that Higashida answers from his perspective. Higashida used an alphabet grid to answer these questions. By the time I got to the fourth question, I was already holding back tears. I felt that I was gaining insight into my son’s mind through Higashida words.

I have attempted to read other books on Autism but could never get past the introduction  because there was what I perceived to be a sort haughtiness from the author. Many books are written from the parent’s perspective or the book is really about super high functioning Autism. And to be honest, how does reading the history of Autism help me when my child is throwing a f-ing tantrum at the grocery store?!

Higashida explains how autism affects his body but also his self-perception. Higashida explains that people with autism just can’t control themselves and some behaviors are soothing, and they are aware that it does cause distress to those around them.  He repeatedly begs us to be patient and keep trying.

Higashida also includes pieces of his own writings. Higashida’s pieces of fiction and his insights on Autism demonstrate the potential of children on the spectrum. It is truly amazing that this wisdom existed in a non-verbal child who was only thirteen when it was written!

Higashida does talk about something that now that has me rethinking how I parent my child and how others are teaching him. Higashida explains that he doesn’t like visual schedules. Visual schedules is something that my son’s team wants to implement but Higashida explains how they are actually more harmful than helpful. But again Higashida does mention visuals may help others on the spectrum but in his experience they were restrictive. I don’t think Higasuida’s words should be taken as a manual on how to approach therapy.  I feel his words are more for us as the caregivers to develop more empathy towards our children on the Spectrum.

I think this is a fascinating read not just for parents of kids with Autism but for teachers, aides, therapists, the whole world! I wish I would have read this first, so that I can enjoy knowing a little bit more how my son’s minds works and to be more understanding of his atypical behaviors. Higashida words left me with a recharged determination to not give up on my son but also hope that my son won’t give up on me.

 

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The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida is a fascinating, quick read. You won’t be able to put it down until you have absorbed all of Higashida’s insight into the world of Autism.

A little note before bedtime

Today, I was finally able to get blog out. I have been trying to write for weeks. If you read my last post, I stated there was drama. There is always drama. And I am still struggling to survive each day. I have so many ideas about things I want to write about or even scrap book but there are not enough hours in a day. And unfortunately, many of my hours are spent worrying how I will ever get things done and truly thrive.

But yeah, just trying to get through this and hopefully I can start writing about topics like autism. I have so much I want to say from a mother’s point of view. But it will have to wait, because I have to get my kiddos and I to bed because the therapist will be here at 8:30 am. Actually, she’s always late.

Goodnight.

 

Date Night with Myself

I finally done it. After months of eyeing the new wine bar in my hood, I finally decided to give it a try. I am not afraid of trying new restaurants or foods (okay, maybe oysters). I have been afraid of eating at a restaurant alone. And fast food joints don’t count. I have been grabbing take-out for months and those places are starting to know my exact orders. I needed to get out of my comfort zone, mostly off my couch and away from Netflix. Well, at least for one kid-free evening. This solitary dining experience was to be different. No kids. No friends. Just me.

As the children were getting ready to leave, I was busy running around getting myself ready. I put on my silky blue shirt dress that I have been dying to wear all summer. Seriously, wish I had worn it more. I added my strappy brown low heel sandals and very minimal jewelry. Minimal makeup as well except, I dabbed on my red Korean lip tint and mascara. Obsessed with K-beauty and this tint does not disappoint. It’s super pigmented and very little goes a long way, just careful not to get it on your teeth. Trust me. And I was ready for my date with myself.

I escorted the kids out and said goodbye. I always give them a few minutes to walk away to give them space to be with him but also to protect my privacy from him. After a few minutes, I see them turn the corner and I know that I am free for the next 48 hours. Actually, less than 48 hours because he needed me to watch them for a few hours. I will serve you that drama in another post.

I walked a short way to the new restaurant. Not many people were inside. The few people there were coupled. It made me nervous because I wanted to get lost in the crowd hoping not to get glances because I would be dining alone. I went in anyway and there was no hostess or server in sight. I had to ask the bartender if I could sit anywhere. Way not to draw attention to myself. I very quickly chose the furthest seat by the window.  I wish I chosen a seat rationally because the setting sun was scorching. I had to leave my sunglasses on but I didn’t mind because it offered some security from the stares.

My server finally came over and took my order. I ordered a glass of wine and pasta with mussels. She brought out bread and olive oil before my meal was served. Not only was I grateful for the bread to keep me busy and feeling less awkward but it was so good. Love when restaurants serve rustic, handmade bread.

So yeah …eating my bread and totally feeling fine. And that is when I ruined it. I checked my phone. I wanted to check some emails and I realized I forgot to send one of my kiddos with something. I had already told him that I would send it with him so I need to go on TalkingParents and apologize for the oversight. But then I very quickly received a message in return. I should have waited to check it later but I thought it was something wrong with kiddo #1 since he was very recently diagnosed with asthma. Nope, it wasn’t. He needed me to send #1’s swimsuit.

I sent this message:

” Yes, I will send his things since I provide everything!!!!I will send the swimsuit but you must provide a change of clothes. And thanks for ruining my dinner!!!!”

To my Friend. It’s great to text angry messages that you meant for ex to your friend. It lets out the frustration. So grateful for that friend.

So to sum up my first date with myself: decent food, overpriced wine, Instagram worthy atmosphere, except I am not on Instagram. I am proud that I finally ventured out solo. I didn’t hide behind my kids or a friend. But next time for sure, I will try to leave the phone and sunglasses at home. But definitely wear the Korean lip tint again, it stayed on after all that pasta!

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Etude House, Dear Darling Lip Tint

Just so it’s clear…

I will forever be editing and re-editing

Obviously, I am not a writer. I don’t pretend to be some great, grammatically correct essayist. I am just a mom sitting down at her son’s laptop and typing what I feel at that moment.  I reread my posts and self-edit, in fact I just corrected this post like months later. And I have had this blog for a year and only have like 5 posts.

I will commit to this and try to do better. I am still mommy-ing through the chaos one year post- family break-up. And when I can finally sit down at the computer, I will share more of what it’s like to be a single mom of three with one on the spectrum.

Reasons Why My Autistic Kiddo is Awesome

IMG_6714This is an ongoing list of all the reasons why I love this awesome kid:

  • He sleeps in on Christmas morning.
  • He gives me the best hugs.
  • He turns his back when hugging every one else.
  • When he tries really hard, he sticks out his tongue.
  • He can read!!!
  • He memorized the bus and train routes.
  • He skips along in the crisp, winter air likes its the middle of summer.
  • He likes going to the pool.
  • He secretly gives hugs to his little sister.
  • He mistook dog pee for a puddle.
  • So last night he bit my leg…this is why I shave my legs despite being single.
  • He is the only kid that I know that likes Charlie Brown.
  • And on that note, he actually replied to his speech therapist, “Blah, blah, blah,blah.”
  • He still doesn’t understand the big deal about opening presents.
  • When I pick him up from school, he literally runs and jumps into my arms.
  • He will strut around in his underwear…he is totally comfortable with his beach bod, wish I was.
  • He is a bottomless pit.
  • Bottomless pit keeps me skinny by stealing my food.
  • He will sneak his edible rewards from his therapist when they are not paying attention.
  • He keeps his therapists on their toes.
  • He can add.
  • He has really good penmanship.
  • He likes to cuddle.
  • He has a sense of humor.
  • He is afraid of the dark.
  • He has the quirkiest little dance.
  • He can count to 15 en Español. I only learned to 10.
  • He likes to sing.
  • He misses and asks for his brother and sister when they are not around.
  • He is emotional and cries.
  • He tries so hard to play Mario on WiiU.
  • When he was three, he sang Frozen’s “Love is an Open Door” at the top of his lungs while shopping at Michael’s.
  • Then he turned it into a duet.
  • He stims using my nose.
  • He walks to school holding his Woody doll.
  • He is just not into sweatpants or anything stretchy…I wish I could get out of my yoga pants.
  • When he gets himself dressed, he puts his t-shirt on backwards.
  • Me singing, “Everything is…” He finishes with “Awesome.” That is officially our song!
  • He fell asleep holding  a carrot.
  • He doesn’t like to eat carrots.
  • On his first day of Kindergarten, he got lost in the school. And we hadn’t told the school he was autistic, yet.*
  • Last night, he needed to cuddle.
  • I love when he says, “C’mon mom.”
  • So no longer holding onto Woody. He walks around with Olaf.
  • New habit: Taking my hand up to his mouth and using my fingernail as floss. EWWW  but why fight it.
  • Love hearing him say, “Stay with mom?”
  • He just turned nine and asked for “Uppy?” Not even his four year old sister likes to be picked up.

 

*So you’re maybe thinking, ‘well that was a lousy irresponsible thing to do by not letting the school know before hand! Shame on you Mom!’ Yeah, f— you! By not letting the school know about the autism was the only chance my son could even attend his neighborhood school. Long story but that CPS for you.

Out and Proud…

No wonder why there is the saying “April showers bring May flowers.” We had the most wonderful May.  I can’t remember being so happy and hopeful in such a long time. This month was filled laughter and milestones.

Wether we were at our first Cubs game or our first school play,  I was determined to do “normal” things. Yes, we were going to do what other families take for granted. And we did. We made it to the 7th inning stretch and sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” We sat in the school auditorium and didn’t get asked to excuse ourselves by the door monitor. We even made a dinner date with friends on Friday, family swim on Saturday, then our favorite diner for breakfast on Sunday.

Of course it wasn’t all perfect, but it was fun. Did my kiddo actually watch the baseball game? No, he jumped on my lap and got uncomfortably close to the people next to him (we need to work on personal space). At the pool, he threw our towels in the water. And on the way to breakfast, he mistook dog pee for a puddle.

We got a lot of stares but they weren’t the mean kind that all mothers dread. My kiddo got glances at the ball park because he sat there holding his Woody doll. And he made people laugh when he ate the piece of pretzel off the ground. He would do his little dance and cheer when everyone else did. He was just so adorably different. On Sunday, my little miss got all the stares when she twirled on the sidewalk with her Jesse doll, with her big brother behind holding Woody.

Oh yeah, we are an “Out and Proud Autism Family.”

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Hello Again, I’m Back

I have been on a hiatus due to life. However, I was not writing because my children and I were beginning to thrive. I started divorce proceedings, moved us to our own apartment, and got us all back on a good routine. We were finally getting to a good place place but now the shock of what has happened is wearing off and I have turned off survival mode.

Yet as we get use to our new environment and family dynamics, there is regression creeping back. The children must adjust to seeing the other “parent” ( I am the parent as I do the the actual parenting) and there has been expressed fear of staying with him at his place. All the these changes haven taken its toll on my oldest mental health and my second autistic child is now struggling to perform basic skills. Even the youngest at two is beginning to throw major tantrums when she returns from being with him.

I think partly for the children being so confused is that they now have to go back and forth between two completely different households. Here at my home, I keep to routines and consistent rules and expectations. An example, of this is that my second child with Autism does not like to wear pants but I make sure he keeps them on and will do so through out the day no matter how hard of a time he gives me. He needs to get use to wearing pants and not putting them back on him will only make it that much harder.

I can’t help them when they are with their father, I can only reassure them that I am here waiting for them to get back. I do love when they come back and it seems that they can take a deep breath. Relieved they can be themselves  and relax in their home. Yes, I am home.