• autism,  high school,  learning strategies,  milestones,  modifications,  motherhood,  teen years

    “Here at the end of all things”

    Two weeks ago, J graduated high school. It still feels pretty surreal–amplified by a pretty surreal year and a half. I’m so grateful that you’ve been here with us on this journey as we find ourselves “here at the end of all things.” I can still remember sitting Dr. Hoffman’s office in Overland Park, Kansas thirteen years ago. We were just two months from moving to Fargo. J had already undergone 2 rigorous assessments (one at the Child and Family services clinic at KU in Lawrence Kansas, one at the KU med center in Kansas City), and although we knew and agreed with J’s autism diagnosis from the two prior…

  • autism,  high school,  milestones,  teen years,  track

    How it started…how it’s going

    I keep reminding myself that J’s running career hasn’t ended, it’s just his high school XC and track career that have ended. J may have ran his last high school race a few weeks ago, but he’s still got a lifetime’s worth of races to run. As I look back on J’s last six years, I would have to say that XC and track have been some of the most impactful experiences in J’s social, emotional, and physical growth. I truly believe that everyone is born to run. But for some people the running journey is harder than others. J really had to work at his running journey. J struggles…

  • autism,  COVID life,  high school,  milestones,  teen years

    The Good-byes Are Starting

    I’m trying not to think about it too much, but the fact of the matter is, we’re getting closer to the end of high school. I’m packing up all of the feelings I’m having about it in little boxes in my brain. Not the healthiest choice, I know, but for now, it’s working for me. I’ve talked about autism and milestones before, and how that’s a tricky business for moms and dads of children with autism. I’ll touch on that again in a few weeks, I’m sure. But for now, I’m just trying to be present with what we’re experiencing right now. Our first good-bye was J’s final choir concert…

  • autism,  COVID life,  high school,  milestones,  teen years

    Prom

    I know the world looks very different for all of us right now–city to city, state to state, country to country–we are all going through our different COVID-19 pandemic experiences. In North Dakota, we’ve had our share of pandemic ups and downs. We’ve had really scary numbers (back in the late fall). We’ve had cancellations of important high school events (Prom 2020, Homecoming 2021). But we’ve also had some good things too. My kids go to a school where the student body and staff cooperate with mask-wearing. Since March we’ve been very lucky to have a smooth vaccine rollout with plenty of stock available for anyone who wants it. Somehow…

  • autism,  COVID life,  high school,  track

    The Comfort of Normal

    This Thursday was J’s first track meet of the year. It was blustery and cold. And absolutely wonderful. It was the closest I’ve felt to “normal” since March 2020. Even more “normal” than the XC meets of 2020. J rode the bus to the meet. Hung out at camp, ran his 1600, ordered from the concession stand. I know we’re not normal yet. We’re nowhere close to normal. We’ve got vaccines and we’re getting close, but it also feels like we’re on the cusp of the fourth wave. I know that at any moment things can change again. I know there’s still a risk someone in our family could come…

  • anxiety,  autism,  COVID life

    It takes a village to get a vaccine

    Vaccines have always been a tricky thing with J. No, not in the “do vaccines cause autism way” (just to clarify for the umpteen millionth time VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE AUTISM. THEY DON’T. PERIOD.), J has a lot of anxiety over needles. There was a stretch in his vaccine schedule where J was able to master his mindfulness techniques and aced those vaccines with a few deep breaths, but this last October J wasn’t able to channel those skills well enough to be successful. J and I sat in a cramped room in the clinic with our masks on for a full hour, practicing those breathing skills, taking short walking…

  • anxiety,  autism,  COVID life,  family,  high school,  motherhood

    The world has to stop spinning first

    Sometimes I get a glimpse into what I think it might be like to experience the world like J. Not often, but sometimes. About a week and a half ago I had one of those times. I was on the couch with Steve sitting with a 386-page draft of my novel in my lap, discussing with Steve some of the problems I was having with it. I had 4 chapters that needed substantial revision near the tail end of the novel and I had spent the entire day untangling them, trying to figure out where to start again. 386 pages is a lot of story to be managing in your…

  • autism,  special education

    What Happened Wednesday

    Last Monday I wrote about moving slowly into the New Year and how, so far, it had been gentle. Two days later–six days into the New Year–well, that all changed. Wednesday afternoon, there were a lot of words flying around. On my screen, on the radio as I was driving the kids home from school. A lot of government words, a lot of politician’s names, a lot of procedures, all coming out as rapid fire descriptions and questions. Words with a lot of emotion behind them. For those of you who have never sat in the car with J, watched a movie with him, or tried to have any sort…

  • COVID life,  family,  motherhood

    “So we beat on, boats against the current..”

    The day after the new year began we drove out to Buffalo River State Park, MN to go for a trail run as a family. Hoar frost had settled on the frozen blades of grass and naked tree branches. It was a breath-taking morning for a brand new year. A truly spectacular day. So far, the new year has been gentle. I feel like I’m reaching into it slowly, cautiously–just in case it bites my hand like 2020 did. After all, we were only eight days into last year’s new year when Iran and the US were flirting with the idea of WW3. I’m careful with this new introduction. I’ve…

  • autism,  COVID life,  teen years

    Life Skills

    We’ve been out of a washing machine since November 19. To say that a broken washing machine is an inconvenience for 12 days is a slight understatement. Remember, this is 2020, and we’re still living in a pandemic. I don’t know about the rest of you out there, but the Beck household goes through about 3-4 loads of laundry a day. We are an active family. Everyone in our house runs, which means we go through a lot of workout clothes. Because of all of those workouts, we also shower a lot, so there’s also quite a few towel loads to go through. J also has tactile sensory issues, which…