Autism Watch: 2007

Posts Tagged ‘move

I just took a break.

Let’s just blame it on life being crazy. Like everyone else’s.

Let’s see…in the last two months, I:

Took on new work tasks.

Decided to move back to California.

Got tired of re-living the traumas of autism by writing about them.

Started a new blog for my cupcake obsession.

Ramped up my blog/web design education.

Did I mention we’re planning another cross-country move?

Autism is only one part of my life. A big one, albeit, but only one part. I live with school issues almost daily, some that require phonecalls 3-4 days a week, and summer is such a blessing. BB is a different child. With no routine, other than getting up like normal, eating his waffle with extra chocolate chips, sitting in the same place with the same computer and the same toys in the same bedroom, he’s oh so happy. Compliant. Pleasant. Yeah, he still yells at his computer when another online player causes issues, but he’s also getting better at HTML coding and game scripting. The words he throws at me sometimes, I think he can be a partner at my business at some point. And I’m not kidding.

Since it’s only one part of my life, I have tried to not let it take over, a struggle I’ve had for years. Some days, there’s no time to blog when I’m dealing with autism-related issues; others, when it’s a good day, I’d rather not talk about it. And I don’t want to blog just to blog. Why write something forced? You’ll know it, I’ll know it, I won’t sleep because of the guilt…

I do hope to get back here more regularly. It really isn’t that hard, and God knows there’s enough to write about. I just need to make time between extra work hours, packing, showing my house, signing contracts (thinking positively!) and prepping for the move, while still enjoying this house that I truly love and having fun with the family.

I hope all is well out there, and I plan on touching base with you again soon.

There are times my son looks “normal.” He’s not screaming or yelling and if you watched through a window, you’d see him focus on his laptop for hours at a time or play his DSi. You’d see him do his homework and eat some dinner, and give me a hug when he goes to bed. So what’s wrong with that? Nothing..except without hearing him, looks are entirely deceiving.

This past weekend, we were house hunting. We spent about 1.5 hours at one particular house, deciding if it was “the one.” In fact, it was “the one,” but we didn’t make an offer until the next day, and we heard this afternoon that it was accepted. (Can I hear a big YAHOOOOOO?) BB wanted to go with us to the open house. We’d promised him a quick (ha) tour of a home we were considering buying, and we wanted him to have an idea of what to expect in case we did purchase it. From a distance, it probably seemed fine, but if you couldn’t interpret the look on his face, the slope of his shoulders, or the shuffling of his feet, you wouldn’t know what was really going on. It probably looked like an everyday family but plug in the sonic ear and you’d have heard a completely different side.

See, this house we looked at is in “the” neighborhood. It’s a custom home on a two-acre lot, surrounded by homes closer to, or more than a million dollars in value. It’s got a pool, a jacuzzi and a sauna, along with workshop, craft building and this white picket fence that screams home. To us, it’s ideal…”us” being my husband, my older son, and my younger daughter. BB? Not so much.

He started off in the screened-in pool area. He wouldn’t leave it, no matter where we went. He had run in there the second we got in the home, and wouldn’t look anywhere else, no matter how hard we tried. We thought “perfect, he’s loving the pool, just as we’d hoped.” Ha. If only things were that easy.

“BB, what do you think of this bedroom? It would be yours!”

“NO! This is an OLD LADY HOUSE!”

“Old lady? Huh?”

“Mom, it’s wayyyy smaller than the neighbor homes, surrounded by mansions and we’re going to be the poor people!!”

Okay, here’s where I admit to having to turn away before he could see my amused face…or my ‘he did NOT just say that! omg, that’s hilarious, what a butthead!’ face.

However, he didn’t stop. Family, including Dh, had to come in and talk to him, all to no avail. He didn’t yell. He didn’t scream. His words weren’t nasty or things I couldn’t repeat. But, they were not the words of a child happy to move out of our in-laws’ home and into our own home where he could get to all his stuff. Heck-a-no.

Two days later, escrow/lender/legal paperwork in the works, and he’s still not changed his mind. Now, he’s not entirely wrong. Our house is the smaller of the three neighbors that surround us. (We back up to a gorgeous forest.) But, it’s bigger than other homes beyond those ‘mansions’ and bigger than many other homes that are in the neighborhood. We aren’t, by far, the “poor” people. In fact, if I could get him to listen, there don’t appear to be “poor” people, even if I wanted to go there with my commentary. (I don’t, so please just take what I’m saying in the spirit of the story, not the literal sense. Hmmph.)

Not sure what it’s going to take, but he’s not having any of it right now. We’ll continue to work on it with him over the coming weeks before the close of escrow. We’re thoroughly excited…”we” not necessarily including BB, but we don’t let that dampen the mood. We’ve looked at a lot of houses, configured a lot of budget plans, and decided what’s important to us. Local to our family, same schools they’re already in, one-story, good amount of land to garden, and room to relax without hearing our neighbor’s breathe. (In fact, we can barely see our neighbors.) We got that. All of it. And more. Jackpot. Now I just hope BB will adapt to it before we move in, though I have no doubt a few days of easy pool access will play a big part in making our new house feel like home.

…and we just happened to end up here in the south.

Finally, it happened. We sold our house and closed escrow on 3/24. We had three days to pack it up and get outta Dodge. Gladly. We ended up at a KOA for a couple of days, ensuring our 53′ trailer full of way too many things was picked up by the transportation company hired to drive it out for us. (And at a significantly decreased cost over using a professional moving company, even with the cost of the trailer factored in we saved over $12k. And now we have storage for our belongings until our house is built.)

The drive went well. At the time, it was on/off boring, exhausting, exciting, interesting, tedious, and expensive. Our caravan consisted of our SUV pulling our 32′ travel trailer, otherwise known as the RV, driven by DH and navigated by our 15 yod, carrying the 14-year-old Husky. I followed behind in my sporty sports car, carrying the 90-pound service dog in the back seat (and I do mean the WHOLE back seat), the little Yorkshire Terrier on my lap, and BB in his handmade seatbelt covers to my right. Following me was my son in my husband’s car, with the backseat/floor full of cages for our guinea pig, turtle and bearded dragon. BB was usually carrying his DS, covered in his blue blankie because the sun made it hard for him to see the DS. We drove to the Grand Canyon right before sunset, and ended up in a comfortable KOA in Arizona, resting with a bottle of wine and homemade burritos. Ahhh, sounds nice for a long roadtrip, right?

Let’s see, what did I leave out. Oh yes, the truck inexplicably died at the top of the highest pass outside of Scottsdale, Arizona. Poof. No smoke, no sound, no power. Fifteen minutes later, we re-started, it worked, we drove. Leaving Gallup, New Mexico on Tuesday, a tire on the SUV went flat…in the midst of an hour-long delay due to a bad rockslide, where we ended up going 2-3mph. We made it to an offramp, where very nice Arizona transportation workers allowed us to change the tire on the onramp on the other side, as it was closed to traffic because too many special people were trying to utilize the ramps as shortcuts around the traffic. (Arizona, what a great idea you have! Other states, listen up…implement this practice! Stop the special people!!) Back to my story…we get back on the freeway, make it another hour and we see the SUV/RV start to fishtail. Scary stuff. My baby! My baby’s in there! (DH tells me later “I see where I stand. The dog wants to know why you didn’t worry about him either.”) He gets it safely to the side of the road, where we learn the back left tire had shredded, and the rim was shot. Because of the aforementioned flat tire, being in the midst of nowhere, and being stuck in a one-hour delay for the rockslide, we’d not been able to reach a service station to repair the spare. So we had to buckle down and call AAA.

I will spare you all the tired eyeballs that will result from reading that saga, but suffice it to say, AAA stunk. Big time. After an hour-plus alongside a very busy freeway in high winds — three cars, a disabled vehicle, a windblown RV and an autistic child — the SUV was rescued…but ended up with it and DH (and the dog!) stuck on the other side of the freeway, 30 miles west of me, out of gas..then they couldn’t figure out how to get it started. Three hours later, me and the RV were rescued, but DH was still stranded..cold and hungry. Long story short, we were literally dropped by a rude towtruck company owner at another KOA, off-center and unable to open our slideout or use all our hookups, around 630pm. DH was still stuck until around 7pm, and he made it to our KOA spot around 800pm, four new tires and spare. AAA, still waiting on the reimbursements and admittance you won’t hold these two, ahem, “tows” on our record since I hardly think they qualify. We ended up backwards and a day behind, but oh the stories we can tell now! (How I renew our auto club membership will NOT  be a story I’ll be able to tell. Pay on our own sounds like a good plan.)

The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. We made it to our destination on Saturday instead of Friday, but saw a lot of hilarious things and really could say it was a good time after all was said and done. We did have a few meltdowns, the scariest of which was at the Grand Canyon, but that was resolved after, hmmm, 40 minutes or so? People still stare at kids with meltdowns, even if they’re faced with literally one of the most gorgeous distractions in the world. Go figure. Kid in tantrum, Grand Canyon…hmmmm, I’d look at the Grand Canyon, but that’s just me.

BB’s doing really well. Settling in here has been easy, he’s surrounded by family and a relaxing environment. He’s got his dog, and a lot of room to run. Couldn’t ask for more.

I’ll update tomorrow on the school situation. Too much for one entry already!

As I’ve bemoaned about recently, we’re in the midst of a move. We’re excited about moving but the move itself, not so much. It’s work. A lot of it. It’s chaos. As I type this, I have a bottle of barbecue sauce next to me on the table, because I was packing up our Nascar cabinet and I am not moving a bottle of barbecue sauce, even if it has a picture of our favorite Nascar race car on it. We love our driver, but barbecue sauce sitting in a box for six months…no, thank you. Past the barbecue sauce is a stack of boxes, and an empty hutch that once held our Nascar collectibles. Tons of it. Wow, I could sponsor a race if I sold it all. It was no easy feat packing up the autographed memorabilia, the occasional lug nut and odd items collected from race tracks for the last six years. Beyond that, empty boxes, calling my name, screaming “Pack pictures in me! Wrap the rest of your wine glasses and put them in me too!” Then there’s my couch, nestled amongst those boxes and a pile of displaced items that had a home on a wall unit until my husband moved it to put it in the 53′ trailer we now own in the morning. And that’s just one room, so you get the idea. (I’ll spare you what my bedroom looks like, devoid of half its furniture and items, leaving me wondering how I’ll peacefully sleep in there for the next 2-3 weeks.)

Last night, I had to go through BB’s toy cabinets. He has two huge ones, and there was overflow under his foozball/air hockey table, and in his sister’s closet. It took me quite some time to sort out the things I knew he wouldn’t want, and then to ask him over and over, “Do you want this? What about this?” “Mom, I’m too old for Hungry, Hungry Hippos..” and “Mom, we played Guess Who so much at therapy, I don’t want it anymore.” On one hand, I was repeatedly thinking how great it was that we only had to pack half of his stuff. But on the other hand? My baby is growing up!

There was some sadness as I stacked Chutes ‘n Ladders in the garage sale pile. We’d played that game over and over. It didn’t require him to speak or maintain eye contact, and he’d win almost every time. The cards that he’d sort out and lay out perfectly in order, side by side, not off by a hair went, too. I almost kept them, but what in the world would I do with them? They were a good memory, because we’d spent hours upon hours working and playing together, but they were bittersweet — they were such a sign that he had autism, and I never picked up on it.

I was so happy when he chose to pack his Ratatouille chef’s hat and apron. He looks so darn cute when he puts them on and makes his famous Club Cracker, mustard and deli meat sandwiches. He decided to keep all his dinosaurs and his pirate swords, but I was sad when he put the “little kid” pirate costume in the go pile. Sniff. Then we got to things I was sure he’d keep, all his Hot Wheels and Matchbox buildings and garages. “Mom, I’m not a little kid anymore.” Then my husband just had to chime in, “His interests have changed, it’s okay.” I think he knew my ambivalence about seeing some other kid run away with Rocket Park playset, something he’d play with for hours, even if he played with it a bit weirdly. When the entire Little People world goes, for not a cheap price, I may cry.

He’s got a new interest in drawing this week, and it’s one that fits right in with his computer animation and gaming interests. We’ll definitely be encouraging it and getting him whatever training he wants, as long as it remains fun for him. He drew an eagle that easily rivals something a much older child would do, and Dad was amazed at how fast he did it. (Dare I say that part of me is thinking a-ha, I passed something down! I was an art freak and an art major. It’s still a love of mine, though now I mainly view art instead of creating it. Who has time and the kind of focus it needs?)

Now we’re at the phase of the move where he just wants it over with. The disruption of his bedroom and routine is getting on his nerves. When he asks for a new subscription for a month to Club Penguin or wants to go see a movie on a certain day, I have to remind him that we’ll be on the road for five days, and in transition a few days before and after that. Online time may be at a premium. (Then again, we are staying at KOAs with wi-fi all the way through our drive.) He wants to move, but doesn’t hesitate to remind me, frequently, how much it’s getting in the way of his normal things. Sigh. Please, Lord, let the rest of escrow go smoothly and let it all come together so we can really be out of here soon.

I love loved Dickeys Barbecue. It’s the closest to real Southern food I can get here in California. The melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork, the soft bun, the hot sauce with the chunks of peppers…I digress. Anyway, I was excited when our local franchise reopened after a temporary closure. We ordered their catering for our New Year’s Eve party, and it was gone in minutes.  We got take-out from there last week, and BB downed a roast turkey sandwich in under two minutes. Every last bite of the bun even, a world record. So last night, the fourth night that I was on my own for dinner with just the younger two kids, since dh is traveling for work all week out-of-state (in the cold, cold, snowy South, to be exact) it seemed the natural choice for our takeout.

It had been one heck of a day. Tired from a busy week on my own with the kids and home-sale business, I’d gotten the house clean for a late-evening showing and got the call about another one at lunchtime. 1:30 came and went before I learned, by making a phonecall instead of receiving one, that the agent was a no-show for technical reasons. Sigh. I know, it happens, but I’d eaten an early lunch and rearranged my schedule so I could quietly sit at my desk (aka the dining-room table these last few months) and be as inconspicuous as possible. The cranky notch went up quite a bit, because home showings all seem to focus on the buyer — while I understand that it IS about the buyer, because we want them to like the house and want to buy it, but the seller isn’t inconsequential. We’re not sitting around with nothing to do; we’re putting off other appointments, we’ve cleaned our house and don’t want to mess it up, and we may have business phone calls we have to make. We’re also trying to keep autistic children from having meltdowns because yet another person is “snooping” in their room or “looking” at them and interrupting the daily schedule. We’re trying to keep our routine as normal as possible and get to school to pick them up on time. We’re doing the best we can and would love a phone call if you’re running late — we are as important as the buyer.

Now that I’m off that rant…phew, I feel better…we got ready to go pick up dinner. BB had experienced a complete and total hysterical fit the night before upon hugging his biggest sister goodbye, when she left for the evening to go back to her apartment, he saw a picture of him and daddy, sitting on the piano. The sobs ensued. Big, hairy, sad, body-shaking, tears falling to the floor sobs. It took an hour of me, then daddy via speakerphone, calming him before he was any semblance of normal…his brand of normal. On the way to dinner, he was a bit “off.” After seeing the hysterics the night before, I knew it was a possibility, especially since I took him out of his domain, but I figured “we run in, pay, grab our drinks, and run out. How bad could it be?”

Ha ha ha ha, famous last words.

It was pretty bad.

It all started, after waiting wayyyyyyyyyyy too long for the one couple of men in front of me to place their orders. Like five minutes just for them to decide how to qualify for a free pulled pork sandwich. I kid you not. I was about to hand him $5 and say there, now you have a free pulled pork sandwich. He was handed his cup, and that was the beginning of the end. “This?? I get THIS sized cup? I want a BIG CUP!”


Ten minutes later, I was towing him to the car by holding onto his jacket zipper with my left hand, my drink and bag of sandwiches in my right hand. I’d already been kicked in the shins, yelled at and called some choice words. The couple sitting next to the drink machines? Thanks for trying hard not to stare, but I could still see the “Oh my gosh, did you SEE???” happening between the two of you. And manager’s wife? I think you were about to pick up the phone, you looked astounded to see a misbehaving child..though I will give it to you, the kick in the shins probably was a bit over the top. However, I still think you should get off the counter if you’re not working there, and plant it at a table rather than looking but pretending not to every time I glanced your way. My husband says I should ignore you all, but it’s easier said than done, because your stares don’t just mean you’re watching, but they mean you’re judging. Otherwise, you’d have totally not looked or you’d have asked if you could help me carry my food. Why does the help never come, though the stares and comments are fast and furious?? I’ll have to ponder that one.

Halfway to the car, in the lot, I got another kick in the shins so hard it about knocked me over. I’d already left his cup behind, and I almost lost mine. That was not going to happen. By then, I really really wanted and needed my special mix of Lite Lemonade and Diet Coke. If anyone ever deserved their drink of choice, it was me, right then. I listened to him rage at me all the way home, and when I got inside, after putting down the little bit of food that was left, I took his laptop and all its accessories and hid them away. Far, far away.

I’d like to say that was the end of it, but I’d be lying. It’s still going on, and it’s been over 24 hours. He finally fell asleep last night around 8:45, and why oh why do they look so cute when they’re sleeping? He woke up foul, and while there have been glimmers of my sweetie here and there, the anger still lurks oh so closely beneath the surface. Walking on eggshells was coined by the mom of an autistic kid, I’m sure of it. (Okay, not sure, please don’t google the phrase and prove me wrong, I couldn’t take it.)

Oh, I almost forgot the best part, where he grabbed his turkey sandwich, hidden in the fridge until the next day since he didn’t get the yummy food after that behavior. (I was about to make him something healthy but boring instead.) He decided to run off with it, me trying to get him to agree to hand it back to me, when both hands came up, like slow motion…smash, twist, pull..THROW. Turkey sandwich Turkey on the walls. Turkey on the floor. Turkey on my Cuisinart and in my Kitchenaid. Turkey on all six of my kitchen table chairs. Turkey on the sliding glass door. Turkey on the floor in the hallway 10′ away. And people 15 minutes away from coming to see my house. Get away, puppies, no eating the turkey. Grab the broom, sweep what is dry enough and wet-rag wipe up the rest. Windex the slider and appliances, wipe down the chairs..doorbell rings. That was close.

So, that was my last visit to Dickey’s. Love the food, though last night’s po’ boy was the driest food I’ve ever paid for. Not sure if they made it the second they hung up the phone from me placing the order, but the entire thing was colder than it should have been for a 10-minute interim. Anyway, off the food, lady, off the food…I won’t go back because I’m sure that they printed our photos off of surveillance footage and posted them to the wall. “Wanted: lady with bruised shins and an extra $5. Do now allow inside.” I was on the new Target’s wall a few years ago, I just know it…but I’ll save that similar story for another day.

Meltdowns suck. Autism sucks. Kicks in the shin suck.

I was going to say “holy crap,” but I didn’t think that was the most auspicious post title.  And, as we all know, I’m all about being “auspicious.” 😉

It’s been a while now. It’s been not necessarily the easiest “while,” but what the heck, we all have these times.

It’s not been the worst while either. Just busy. Confused yet?

As I’ve mentioned, we’re planning a cross-country move within the next couple of months. We’re planning on dragging everyone and everything (that I don’t throw away) to a small guest house in the Carolinas to live until we decide what to do next. Build our dream house on our land? (Which we already bought.) Buy a pre-existing home and save some time? It’s a lot to ponder. I literally wake up nightly, sometimes several times, wondering if we’re doing the right thing, while knowing that giving my kids time to know my husband’s side of the family, cousins their age, real space, and calmness is the right thing. Real peace. But real peace takes time.

We’re about to hang our realtor sign. BB (Barnacle Boy, for any new readers) is enjoying his Christmas vacation. He’s much less anxious not having to worry about how his daily social events at school will play out, and quite honestly, so am I. He’s loving the holidays — all the gifts, all the days where he can hang out in “softs” (lounge pants) until bedtime, and he doesn’t have to worry about social issues. And so am I! I took almost two weeks off to hang with the family. The older two are coming and going intermittently with their work/social schedules, but we had a fantastic Christmas day — friends stopped by, dinner was good, and Santa pleased everyone. (And our bank account is a-okay. Planning ahead really is key for stress relief.)

With the real estate sign comes a tremendous amount of packing. I don’t think it’ll affect BB too much. He survived the re-painting of his room without a hitch. He also survived me being gone for 9 days as I stayed in the South with the in-laws to help my sister-in-law recuperate from ankle surgery. (I feel guilty almost saying I helped; I did help, but I also enjoyed — the weather, the company, the bonding, and in the end, the relaxation. Dh was home with all four kids by himself. Welcome to my world!) I do wonder how he’ll do when I can’t pack Every. Little. Thing. in the RV, and then the guest house while we make plans on what to do next. Then again, I hope he’ll find a new interest in running around outside — and that he’ll make friends in school so he can hang out with them.

Tomorrow, we’re taking him to the restaurant our kids work at for dinner. He’s looking forward to clam chowder, and I’m looking forward to getting out of the house. We did some quick shopping yesterday (Tar-jay), but otherwise, I haven’t really been out of the house since Dec. 23. And it was a wonderful night, I must say. BB and the rest of us toured a neighborhood full of Christmas lights and music and noise and crowds, and he didn’t flip! In fact, he even posed for a picture…though he did pull the hat over his eyes. Can’t have everything, right?

He did lose laptop priveleges today. We have U-verse, and while we were promised no slowness because “you’ll have your own fiber-optic lines that you don’t share,” we really didn’t st0p to think that those lines all originate in the same place, which is shared by a ton of neighbors. If my neighbors were non-judgmental (aka nice) enough to talk to, I’d ask if they experience the same slowness we do at peak hours of the day, but I can surmise they are if we are. We aren’t big downloaders, so someone out there is a bandwidth hog. Anyway, he was bugged by the slowness and was yelling at his laptop enough to bug me. Laptop privs gone till tomorrow. But, he didn’t throw the laptop, so I’ll call it a success! 😉   Kidding, but it definitely could have been worse. Working on dealing with impatience, not yelling, and chewing with your mouth closed. Always something, eh?

Happy holidays to everyone! For the holidays, I gave myself a break from online visitations, but I miss it. I should be around more often, if anyone misses me. Happy New Year!

Today little dude had what is hopefully his last ‘work’ appointment…you know, where work outside of the normal cleaning and checkup gets done. I had to do this one on my own, since I “HAD THE DAY OFF.” Notice those words in caps –  apparently they mean that today is just a fun day, you know, where you have fun all day long and nothing makes you tired or keeps you busy. But anyway, dh didn’t have the day off and we figured since this wasn’t a root canal, I was good to go handling it on my own. Sounds good in theory, right?

Happily, this is a situation where the theory was in keeping with the reality. Barnacle Boy laid down, let the nitrous do its thing, and cracked us all up, even throughout the novocaine shots around the two teeth that were being filled. He even told the dental assistant she was sort of pretty, then said “I can’t believe I just said that.” His speech went really quick, he was thinking fast and the filter was entirely 100% off. SO cute.

(If you don’t believe in using nitrous on your autistic child, I respect that decision but understand that we chose to use the nitrous for our own reasons, so please respect your decision as well, without the assumption that we aren’t educated or didn’t research. Thank you. And if you don’t care what I do, kudos, and I apologize for the off-topic interruption!)

Once we got home, BB laid around for all of an hour, devoured a big bowl of vanilla ice cream, then literally ran off to make animated cartoons on his computer. He just finished dinner with us, where he ate an entire turkey bratwurst and a handful of tater tots. Now he’s back upstairs animating. A new hobby!

In a few months, when we move, we’ll have to choose a new dentist. Not necessarily looking forward to it, though our current dentist has offered to refer us to dentists in our new area and fwd on records. We’ve learned that when you choose a dentist, ask a lot of questions. Decide what you’re comfortable with and what you can’t live with. Check out not only if they accept your insurance, but try to gauge how willing they are to work with them on your behalf. Add in autism and you have to find out what accommodations they’ll make, how quiet/loud the office is, how trained the staff is to work with us, and even things like wait time. I’m tired just thinking about it..and I have to do this with a pediatrician, a neurologist, a family practitioner and the dentist.


These last couple of months have been a busy time. It’s summer, and whoever said ‘lazy days of summer’ didn’t have young children. There’s always something going on, even when there isn’t. We’ve had some negatives — having to increase his meds a bit instead of decreasing them, social events that don’t work out, plans that go awry — but it’s been overwhelmingly positive. See, as the parent of an autistic child, I’ve learned to appreciate things in a different light. When my oldest (now almost 21) was this age (8.5), she was diving off the diving board. I was so impressed, so proud, even if it occurred mainly at our pool at home. Look at my daughter! So exciting! She can dive!

But with a child with autism? The ‘normal’ achievements don’t necessarily occur at the normal aka socially acceptable time, and our goals are a bit different. Some moms want their children to win spelling bees. Mine would fidget and dance and tic all through a contest on stage, but he can outspell and out-vocabulary (my made-up word, deal) most kids years older than him. Thing is, he will tell the kids that and then not understand why neither they nor their parents like that, and tell me “but mom, I was just saying the truth.” Years ago, we put Barnacle Boy in swim classes, with disastrous results. Mommy and Me classes became Mommy and Daddy and Big Sister and Me, and the other moms weren’t quite sure how to react to the three-year-old, the oldest in the class, who cried every time he got wet and refused to go underwater without a huge tantrum. (And, if I were to be completely honest, neither did Mom or Dad or big sister. BB hadn’t yet been diagnosed, and we were just starting to get an inkling that things were more off than what could be attributed to him being a premie after a tenuous pregnancy.) Each summer, even after the diagnosis, we tried swim classes. Moms and Dads (and grandparents and aunts and uncle, none of which my child has ever had come to anything like that) are cheering their kids on for laying on the kickboard or jumping in the pool while staring at mine for licking everything and everyone and refusing to put his head in the water. Some days, he wouldn’t even get in the water. When he did? We cheered like he’d just won a Nascar race, with people staring like we were fools. And we could care less about their stares.

Yep, autism makes you appreciate their accomplishments so much more than other kids. And I can say that as the mom of three other children, too. I cheered them on, was proud and celebrated but this is different. When my son overcomes something that’s more than just a normal challenge, my heart almost hurts because I get so excited. It’s hard to understand or explain unless you’ve been there.

This summer was a summer of changes. First, we took a trip to South/North Carolina, then decided to buy property there. Property bought, now we’re planning a permanent move. Pretty big change, moving from SoCal to the Carolinas, but BB is so excited and wants to go now. (So do I, but that’s a whole different story.) He told me, “Mom, I want to move right away. Everyone here is mean to me, except for xxx, and I have only one friend. I am tired of it. I want a new place to start again.” Who can argue with that? True words of wisdom.

We also made the final decision to change churches. We use to love our church family, but as time went on, the feeling of “shouldn’t ‘family’ be more than this?” continued to grow. BB was never invited to any social events, at least one parent was telling others about how difficult ds is, we were left out of things because of ds, and he wasn’t getting the social interaction that was a big draw in the first place. It got to the point where BB was constantly asking us to stay home, and the one friend that did play with him invited him over less and less. (Social interaction, imo, needs to be reciprocated.) Other parents pointed at him, talked, or whispered, about him, and a few took it upon themselves to discipline him, even if we were right there in the room. Autism is vastly misunderstood, so each year, we gave a lesson during teacher training, and we made a notebook, plans which the pastor approved of. Yet some of the volunteers couldn’t tolerate him, and others disregarded what we wrote entirely. Acceptance and the love that’s supposed to be shown to fellow humans, by Christians, waned. I guess it’s okay, he’s just a kid…not.

And there were good changes, the achievements we are so happy about. One was that ds can almost swim! He can do small spurts across the pool, and last night, at a friend’s pool, I taught him how to blow air through his nose so he didn’t have to plug his nose and swim with one arm. Woohooo!!

Another huge deal was a surprise to us. A week ago yesterday, he learned to RIDE HIS BIKE…without training wheels!

Next up on the agenda? Tying shoes so the new tie vans we bought him a couple of weeks ago can officially be his new school shoes. And he can do it, I have no doubt. Never underestimate a child just because they can’t communicate like society says he should, or because he has meltdowns that make the Grand Canyon look like a a divot on a golf course.

He starts school on Monday. New teacher, new room. Same aide at least. More changes, and there’s a lot of unknowns. He worries about having friends, and so do I. He worries about people picking on him. So do I. I also worry about how long before the first time the school calls because he doesn’t feel right, or if another parent will not be able to stand him and therefore tell the teacher. But, it’s temporary. We’ll be, hopefully, moving within a few months, likely after the holidays. The loss of our best neighbors, the nastiness of another neighbor and the overcrowded, overtaxed and underbudgeted state is on our nerves. (That and the fact you can’t even merge onto the freeway from the onramp without having to shove some uncooperative person out of the way or drive on the shoulder, but I digress.) We have no church family, which isn’t a huge change as we didn’t have much support there anyway, and we aren’t jumping in to join a new church with a pending move. The move will bring BB closer to his cousins, one his same age/sex, and he’ll get to roam our five-plus acres with dogs, wildlife and trees to climb. I really think a slower pace is going to make a world of difference.

As I write, BB’s at his friend’s house. Bless his mom and dad, truly. Ds does well there, but I think a lot of it has to do with them not being stressed-out people who can’t deal with him. They don’t sweat the little things and he doesn’t feel under pressure. And their sons? Wonderful kids, not to mention adorable. They are one of the few friends we will miss. BB is spending the night!! His first overnight, and I’m probably almost as excited as he is. (And my house is actually quiet enough for me to find time to blog, something that doesn’t happen as much as I’d like it to.)

Dh is cross-country right now, working two weeks in a city so small, he’s got one restaurant within 15 miles of his hotel. To his utter delight (I don’t use that word often, but it really fits in this instance), he drove a bit further and found a Cracker Barrel, a favorite restaurant that’s not available here in CA. Not so great for someone who eats really healthily daily and just dropped 25 pounds, but he’ll at least be able to use the hotel gym and vary his choices. He misses BB so much but thanks to Bluetooth technology, my latest favoritest thing, I can take a lot of photos on my cell and bleep them to my laptop and email them to him. We also use texting way more than Dh ever thought he would. Instead of the “what in the world do people have to text about all day long?” I used to hear, now I hear little commentary all day long that cuts through the physical distance.

Think happy thoughts that BB makes it through the sleepover without any issues. He has a tendency to sleepwalk or have night terrors at times, like his brain won’t shut down entirely while he’s asleep. But, they don’t happen every single night, and he was up and around last night, so I think tonight will be fine.

I’m off to enjoy the quiet evening. I can stay up late and work on my list of “Things I’d Do When I Get Free Time” and look forward to seeing BB in the morning.

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