Autism Watch: 2007

Archive for December 2010

First, despite being down a child due to the one still living out-of-state for college, it was an excellent Christmas.

I had worries — what happens if it gets too loud, too crazy, he doesn’t get the cellphone he’s been asking for, the list goes on. We had realities — he needed time to decompress, one part of his favorite gift had a minor break the night of Christmas (when he insisted that this kit go with us to see family, despite us telling him not to take it), he got over the cellphone even though his cousin the same age got one (despite us telling him ten-year-olds don’t need cellphones), he had meltdowns during both the decoration of the gingerbread house and the gingerbread cookies (maybe the ginger smell gets to him?) and he cried more than once that his oldest sister wasn’t with us. But, he made it through and nothing was that serious.

The good things, the things that went above and beyond ‘normal’ Christmas fun, negated the problems. He spent hours playing tag in the dark with his cousins on Christmas night, he played basketball with them, without a problem, and when his sister spent the night (without anyone really inviting him), he came home without a problem or even a mention. But the biggest deal? The thing that made this Christmas absolutely most amazing? SNOW.

We’d been hearing for days that it would snow late Christmas night. A lot of people said that it wouldn’t really happen, it’d be a sprinkling to not get excited about, and how ridiculous it was to want it to snow. Still, we wanted it to snow and hoped the weatherman would be right. Before we moved from the west coast, we had to drive an hour or so to get to the snow, and we’d get to the beautiful mountains only to see that every other family within three hours was there right along with us. In your square foot of clean white untrodden snow, you could play but if you had to use a restroom, get your car out of the rut in the snowbank or want to avoid ambulances because too many people decided fast-food lunch trays were credible, safe sledding devices, you were out of luck. We went to bed close to midnight, and I woke every hour to see if it was snowing. Around 4:30, we’d gotten a couple of inches, so I woke BB up as promised. He wouldn’t go past the front porch — I think the sheer cold caught him off-guard. I took a few pictures and went back to bed. I was woken up around 8am with a loud HECK YEAH from dh. Snow, and not just a little. Inches and inches, and it was still falling. We woke up BB and our older son (dd was still at her cousin’s) and took pictures at the dogs’ first foray in the snow. Hilarious. They loved it, and didn’t want to come back in. We bundled BB up as much as he’d let us and he ran out to jump into the snow. Dad went to get snow gear out of storage at the in-laws and it was four hours before BB would come inside; even then, it was only to get some lunch. Another couple of hours of snow play followed, where we built three full-size snow forts and a slide, had numerous snowball wars, and built a life-sized snowman, complete with carrot nose. He then pooped-out, made a bed in front of the fireplace, pulled out his favorite gift (the magic kit) and put on Despicable Me. The snow’s still around, three days later, but he has no interest in going back out. He just wanted to be sure we put a scoop of snow in the freezer to save as evidence of our awesome day. Works for me, a lot of good memories from that one day.

We’re noticing that the “I must be in charge” trait is coming out really heavily. It’s hard to deal with some days. I can say “Please wait five minutes until I get <xxx> done, and then I’ll make your snack,” and he barrels on about the snack, as though I’ve not even spoken. “Mom, want to hear a joke?” “Sure! Let me finish dressing and I’ll be right out.” But he has other ideas, he’s telling me through the door. “Can I read this story to you?” “Yes, as soon as I’m off the phone.” As fast as I can finish my sentence, he’s reading the story to me, like he never heard me. I can have conversation after conversation with him about how friendships/discussions are two-way. One talks, then the other talks. One chooses the activity, then the next chooses the activity. And I daily teach him that he can’t tell me when I can get up and get a drink, when I can start dinner, or what I’m putting on the TV. Yet we go on and on with him insisting he’s in charge, having such a hard time dealing with the fact that the world doesn’t operate on his plans, and that other people have wants and needs and their own minds. Such a test of my patience, though he’s not being malicious. I can’t be mad when he often just wants to sit with me, cuddle with me, or read with me. It’s just something we need to work on, but if only there was a therapy or something available that a) worked, and b) was available to people with jobs and other kids to provide for as well.

Come the new year, aka the closest we’ll get to normalcy, we’re going to start working with the RDI program. I’ve got a couple of excellent other books to read as well, including “Lost at School,” and I hope to put some of what I learn to use, adding to my homegrown degree in Autism. (That should probably come before my web/blog design certification studies and photography and Photoshop classes. Oh, and the jewelry I need to get to the consignment store.)

Today, we ventured out of our snow-covered city and visited a local zoo. What a blast! BB was upset at first, said he didn’t want to be there (he’d forgotten his gum at home and that constituted enough reason for him to hate the outing) and that he’d rather be at the movies. (However, the movies wouldn’t work as the only one they wanted to see showed too late this evening to make the trek home during this holiday-traffic week that time of night.) He got over his issues soon enough though, and we had a great time. As always, the second he got there, he was hungry. And thirsty. And hungry again an hour later. I almost spend more on food when we got anywhere than I do on tickets! Tomorrow is going to be a ‘stay at home’ day, where he gets to decompress before family visits on New Year’s Eve, and any partying we may do that evening. I think we’ll make cookies, and I mean we loosely — we’ll start, and I’ll end up finishing them beyond the first tray.

Happy New Year’s to all!

When I’m not being a mom to my kids, one of them of course being BB (the cutest little boy in the world who just happens to have autism), working or doing some other mother/wife/house-related chore, I am in my kitchen. (Okay, I do make jewelry and scrapbook, but not nearly as often as I’d like.) I love to bake and cook, and I’m taking photography classes on the side so a favorite website of mine is The Pioneer Woman. She not only shares the best recipes on her Tasty Kitchen page, but she is just an entertaining read, and I always come away from her site feeling like I’ve been given a window onto a life I’ll never experience and probably would fall in love. Well, most of it, some of the ranching stuff is over my head.

Anyway, she’s got this fantastic giveaway going on (again) and you can read about it here: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/special-offers/2010/11/name-your-favorite-holiday-recipes-and-enter-to-win-a-printer/ Or, because I’m nice this way, click here: The Pioneer Woman/HP Printer Giveaway.

My favorite recipe of hers — right now, at least, as there are so many, new and old, that I change frequently as I try new things — is the Dulce de Leche coffee. I was making the dulce de leche homemade until I found it in Walmart of all places the other day. I think I did a little skip, I’d been looking forever, and I couldn’t even find it in California before I moved here to the good ole south, where awesome food ingredients and fancy equipment is harder to find. That was yesterday, and while I had no time to make any last night, it is on the menu for this evening.

Try it out yourself, you will LOVE it. Dulce de Leche Coffee. You can thank me later. Even us autism moms, or maybe especially us autism moms, need to take a little break for ourselves and enjoy a treat, which this most definitely is. (My abs couldn’t take it if I did it too often!)

 

We’re a family that’s big on Christmas. BIG.  B I G. We put up two trees, garland, the family of Christmas teddy bears, wall hangings, nativity sets, candles, snow globes, and that’s all just inside. The outdoor of the house is covered in enough lights to mix us up with an airport, and we’ve got baked goods stocked up to last through New Year’s. Christmas carols play in the car and we have memorized the channel numbers of the Christmas music television radio station. We write lists of things to buy, things to make, and we take time off work to shop and prep. Christmas eve is a routine — read T’was the Night Before Christmas, the Nativity Story, and put out cookies. Then stay up late wrapping presents to surprise everyone with on Christmas morning. Christmas day is a relaxed event, everyone hanging out testing their gifts, snacking, eating, snacking, visiting with drop-in guests, and just having fun with everyone around. It’s not just a day, it’s an event, a whole month preparing for The Big Day, and being thankful for the reason for the day in the first place.

So, imagine our surprise when we move and find that not just sporadic homes put up decorations, but they ALL do. Nary a house can be seen without some type of Christmas decor. The little town we live in is covered with stars and lights and has an annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. You hear “Merry Christmas,” not the ridiculous “Happy holidays!” But we’re also surprised with the lack of holiday parties outside of church. Our open house was a success, and the fact we put wine, aka alcohol, out on the counter didn’t seem to offend anyone. (Out here in the South, you either like alcohol, or you hate it. There are people who won’t enter a home if there’s alcohol present…for real.) Good thing we had that party though, it may be the only one we get to attend!

During the open house, BB hid in his room. The entire time. Getting him to come out and say hello was even hard. Luckily, people understood him and no one seemed put off. It’s our house, so we’d have taken care of that anyway, but it’s nice to not even have to worry about it. Doesn’t happen enough! Let’s count that holiday difficult #1. Parties.

Holiday difficulty #2: Santa Claus. BB still believes, but a lot of other kids his age don’t, and some of them have told BB about it. He’s questioned me numerous times, but seems quite content with my responses, though now and then he throws in a “But Santa’s you anyway, Mom.” I still think he believes though, or at least really, really wants to. A couple of families we’ve run into, the children don’t believe and the parents talk about it openly in front of BB. I’ve had to quickly say “Well, Santa still comes to our house..” so the parent gets a mental kick on the backside to watch what they say. (And I really want to just say “duh?” to them but I bite my tongue.)

Another holiday difficulty is illness. We’ll call it #3, #4, and #5. Not only does it mean that they can’t go to school and might therefore go over the allotted days of illness allowed by the school district, but when they are home, it’s an interesting time. It can throw them for a serious loop, and as a result, us, too. Not all cold meds are good for them, tylenol for fevers is not recommended, and they are even more demanding than usual…and you can’t help but cater to them, because they’re sick and soooo darn cute. Your Christmas baking gets put off, your Hallmark holiday movie gets paused, and your hot cocoa gets cold. Nothing else matters.

Holiday difficulty #6 is the chaos. There’s not necessarily a routine. Things pop up, people drop in (well, you hope they do at least…since this move, we’re still not as socially involved as we used to be but we have hopes) and you come up with things to do on the spur of the moment. Without time to prep BB, well, you know the drill. Imagine earlier this week when my younger daughter sang in a Christmas concert. BB was just starting to get sick, and we knew if we told him way in advance, he’d flip. So we chose for the Last Minute Flip. “WHAT??? WE’RE GOING WHERE??? WHEN??? NOW???” Yep, it was pretty. But the promise of the ability to play with his DSi while waiting for it to start, and subsequently through it, as we were front-row and it was loud, won out and he was fine. Yes, fine. Well, he did fuss halfway through but so did dh..the show was long, and I think the teacher somehow mistook the concert for a church service. (I’m sure there were some phonecalls post-concert, I’ll leave it at that.) He ended up making it the whole way. And so did dh!

And let’s not forget #7. I bet this is a favorite amongst many of you. All the holiday crap snacks available. Everywhere we look is a bowl of candy (red dye 41), a box of chocolates (caffeine), a candy cane (high-fructose corn syrup) and more of that red dye 41 as far as the eye can see. Christmas is the month of red, so you can’t leave it out. It’s in coffee, donuts, mashed potatoes..okay, maybe not the mashed potatoes but pretty much everything else. They mine as well just put the big jar of red dye 41 that I actually saw at the IGA out on the counter. Yum. Melatonin, you are blessed amongst over-the-counter supplements.

Autism brings on a lot of difficulties year-round, so I’m sure my list could be a lot longer, but I’m working on — after I get over this nasty sinus/cold I’ve been fighting the last three days — looking beyond the difficulties. It’s Christmas, and there’s a whole lot to be happy about.


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