• anxiety,  autism,  COVID life,  mental health,  sensory processing

    J is Struggling

    We have a problem with masks. No, not for the political reasons that everyone else seems to have about masks. We have a problem with masks because for the last bazillion months of the pandemic, masks, for the most part, have kept people from getting sick. Not just from COVID but from colds and other respiratory issues. Which means people aren’t coughing. And that’s a really bad thing for J. For 2020 and most of 2021, you’d go to the grocery store and it would be silent. Church was silent. Classrooms? Silent. Almost every public place without a hack or cleared throat. To be honest, I didn’t notice. At all.…

  • 18+,  autism,  COVID life,  family,  motherhood,  siblings and autism

    Determined as the Universe

    2021 sure put up a fight before disappearing into history. In fact it was downright argumentative. Pugnacious. Scrappy. It felt like we were battling the 10 plagues of Egypt trying to get my mom home after she came to visit over Christmas. Bitter cold and blizzard winds cancelled my mom’s flight out on December 27. The soonest we could rebook her Denver flight was for New Year’s Eve. The day before her rescheduled flight–out of nowhere–wildfires on the outskirts of Denver ravaged nearby Louisville and Superior with 115 mph winds and an oncoming winter storm. We watched American and United cancel flight after flight to destinations all over the US…

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  • autism,  COVID life,  life skills

    Skittles and CVS

    One of the things we’re working on with J is improving his phone skills. Don’t get me wrong, J has no problem navigating his smartphone. He listens to music and plays games on his phone all the time (for hours on end if we would let him), but using his phone to actually communicate with others–we’re still working on that. Part of the issue is that phone communication is a new medium or “genre” for him. He was never formally taught in school how to send a text, how to speak on the phone, not in the way he was explicitly taught to write sentences and paragraphs with topic sentences…

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

    With all the people

    Saturday was the Fargo Marathon. For weeks I had gone back and forth whether or not I should sign up J for the 10K. J’s been wanting to do the 10K forever, well, at least since the Fargo Marathon events were cancelled in 2020. Speaking of the 2020 Fargo Marathon… If you were around reading this blog last year at this time, you’ll remember that I was struggling to decide if I was going to go ahead and run my first marathon scheduled for late August of last year. I had been training since January, and was supposed to run it in May 2020. Then, of course, it was cancelled,…

  • autism,  COVID life,  mental health,  motherhood,  post high school

    Little paper trails

    I began my personal paper trail a few months shy of 16 years old. I got my first passport in June of 1996, and on August 5 of that year (I still have the original immigration visa stamp in that passport) my mom, sister, and I moved to the States to join my dad in Nebraska where he had started his new job a few months earlier. I remember sitting in the Coutts/Sweetgrass Border Patrol Building which straddles the border of Alberta and Montana where Customs officers scoured over the paperwork my mom had filled out for me and my sister. The room was small. Wood paneling. There was a…

  • 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…

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  • 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…

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