• anxiety,  autism,  family,  travel

    New York Trip Part 1: If we can make it there, we’ll make it anywhere

    I feel like Sinatra’s words couldn’t be more appropriate for today’s blog post—in the most literal sense. When we started our Spring(ish) Break: New York Tour we knew there’d be some hurdles to navigate. Steve chose New York as our spring break destination months ago and we knew that despite the hurdles, there were things working in our favour. Steve’s sister Heather lives in New Jersey, just an hour’s train ride into the city. Steve and I both have been to New York before and we figured we’d be able to pick out some things our kids would enjoy seeing. But still we anticipated a few hiccups and knew with…

  • anxiety,  autism,  medication

    The J and Rudy Connection

    I don’t know what it is about our family, but when it comes to kids and dogs, the dogs we choose end up a lot like the kids in our house. Actually just one kid in our house. This week I found myself yelling from the top of the stairs, “You need to stop obsessing!” and no, this time it wasn’t at J, but to the dog, and when J heard it, his face lit up immediately. “Hey,” J said, with a big grin on his face. “Like me!–We’re twins!” Rudy, like Fred before him, and like his human brother now, suffers from anxiety. I knew it from the moment…

  • anxiety,  autism,  high school,  learning strategies

    Temple Grandin Still Hates Algebra

    Temple Grandin absolutely hates Algebra. I knew that already–she had mentioned it during her 2013 lecture here in Fargo–and six years later, in Crookston, Minnesota, she said it again. Multiple times. In a college gymnasium–GYMNASIUM–full of people. Overhead lights off. Stage spotlight on. People restless trying to find a comfortable position in the wooden bleachers. A service dog on the basketball court pacing around the floor. The exit doors wide open with people still trickling in and out throughout the lecture. I was astounded. This couldn’t have been a worse venue for sensory overload for an individual with autism. It was a venue in stark contrast to the ones I…

  • anxiety,  autism,  high school

    To Be J.B.

    Friday was a day. Not a terrible day, but not a great day.  J’s got a great support team at school. He’s paras are and case manager are phenomenal. He’s got great peers in his classes who help him out and encourage him when he needs it. But even with that support structure in place, to J, school is a really, really stressful place to be. Friday was one of those stressful days. J was on his way to PE and during the passing period, overheard someone say the word “evacuation,” and the rest of the day was spent getting J off the edge of the panic attack cliff and…

  • anxiety,  autism,  Early Intervention,  motherhood

    The Power of a Box of French Fries

    Have I talked about French fries before? Surely I have–just because it’s such a significant, random, reoccurring force that pops up periodically to make life a little uncomfortable and remind me that no matter how well I think I understand J’s anxiety I know absolutely nothing about it all. To J, French fries are like the numbers 67 or 142 or 55. Terrifying. I have absolutely no idea why. But they’re also not like the numbers 67, 142, or 55.  “Tainted” numbers change all the time. J gets stuck on bad numbers and eventually we can condition the fear out of them. I know one day 67, 142, and 55…

  • anxiety,  autism,  high school

    This Time I Remembered

    If I ever were to write a memoir, I’d have to write about the Novembers. There’s at least three chapters worth of Novembers. J and November have a thing. I’m not sure exactly what it is. But it’s a turbulent, hostile thing. For the last three years, during the second week of November, J has been kicked out of school. The gales of November? The witch of November? The Ides of November? I feel like it should have an official name or diagnosis. And since there hasn’t been any logical explanation for the annual event, I feel like there must be some almost supernatural force behind it. Because that’s what…

  • anxiety,  autism,  cross-country

    Willmar with a Side of Poutine

    At around 5:00 Saturday night J, Steve, W, and I sat in a Wendy’s in Alexandria, Minnesota. Actually Steve, W, and I sat at one table. J sat at another table, insisting he eat by himself. We weren’t going to push eating together as a family. J had cleared the two biggest hurdles that have consumed his mind since Labour Day weekend–exit 55 and 67–on the way to his Willmar, Minnesota meet and he ran a good race. We weren’t going to force him to be at the same table as a box of French fries. J has a phobia about French fries. It doesn’t permeate to all potato-related foods.…

  • anxiety,  autism,  cross-country,  motherhood

    A Tale of Two Meets

    It’s been interesting to watch the last week two weeks go down. After the Minneapolis fiasco last weekend I’ve been high alert for J’s triggers while looking back to the days leading up to that weekend, trying to understand why he just couldn’t pull through things like those two darn numbers. J had two cross country meets in the last two weeks. The first one was in Wahpeton/Breckenridge (North Dakota/Minnesota) on the Thursday before the long weekend. Historically, this meet has been one of the worst meets for J. I’m not talking worst times–I’m talking worst because of not finishing the course/having a meltdown during the race, so Steve and…

  • anxiety,  autism,  travel

    The Minneapolis Trip That Didn’t Happen

    Three years ago we brought autism to a rock concert and the Women’s FIFA World Cup. Since then we’ve taken autism to California, Ontario, Manitoba, Kansas, Florida, Colorado, and Utah. We’ve taken autism to the Canadian Rockies and we’ve taken autism to Hawaii. I go back to these posts and look at all of the little hiccups we encountered along the way. Sensory overload at the Imagine Dragons concert, “tainted” hotel room numbers, late nights, disrupted schedules, toenail injuries and urgent care visits. Anxiety over tram rides. Time zone jumping and red-eye flights. None of these trips happened without some sort of minor autism crisis–but we managed them all. I’d consider all of…

  • anxiety,  Early Intervention,  family,  motherhood,  siblings and autism,  teen years

    Drops in the bucket

    It was raining and I had one preschooler to get from the parking lot to the school. The toddler had to come along too, because you can’t leave toddlers in the car by themselves. Toddlers and preschoolers don’t like you when it’s raining and you’re in a hurry. They either lift up their feet and execute very exaggerated, enthusiastic stomps in the middle of a puddle sending water up their legs, pants, diaper, and everyone else in close proximity, (which is you because you’re holding their hand trying to lead them away from all the water hazards in the parking lot), or they stand petrified in the middle of the…