• autism,  milestones,  teen years

    Wolf Boy to Mr. Rogers

    As we head into the last week of October I think of how our life looks so much different now than the other Octobers of our past. Holidays are one of the few times of the year where I can really “see” J’s growth. Maybe it’s because holidays are well documented with pictures. Maybe it’s because holidays bring activities and rituals that are so different from the regular routine of life. I’m not sure. But as J dressed up as Mr. Rogers to go to a church dance this weekend and I look through all the old pictures of Halloween costumes, I realize life has truly gotten a lot easier.…

  • autism,  milestones,  teen years

    Macaroni and Cheese. Ramen. Spaghettios. Repeat.

    Mondays through Thursdays this summer, I’d come home at 12:20 pm to find an empty pot of Macaroni and Cheese, Ramen, or Spaghettios in the middle of the kitchen table, the bowl next to it encrusted in remnants of Parmesan cheese. Parmesan cheese, of course, is a mandatory condiment for every lunch. This summer’s insane schedule has required J to do things I don’t normally ask of him. Here’s an example of what just Mondays looked like (I wrote up a daily schedule for our moms to help everyone be where they needed to be, when they needed to be there when Steve and I were in Europe). 8:20 am:…

  • autism,  high school,  milestones,  teen years

    The Cat Job

    I wasn’t sure how kitties and autism would work, but J and dogs has been working since 2014, so when my friend Sarah (who is also a talented writer!) was looking for someone to cat sit while she went out of town for a few days, I asked her if she would be okay with J taking the job. J has never had a job before and the only person J has ever had to take care of is himself (he can make a mean bowl of spaghettios, soupy Kraft mac n’ cheese, and a salty bowl of ramen topped with about a cup of parmesan cheese—we cycle through a…

  • autism,  exercise,  high school,  milestones

    Practically Glowing

    J has just completed 1 month of running on his own. I call it the “off-season off season.” It’s that time after regular season XC finishes and before the “off season winter running” begins. Because we’ve had an early winter and J’s a better runner, I haven’t been able to trail him with my bike or run a close distance behind him like I have in the past. J’s been running almost every single day after school, on his own, on the XC practice routes that run closest to our house and have the minimum amount of road traffic or intersections. As proud of him as I am, it made…

  • autism,  cross-country,  high school,  milestones,  social skills,  teen years

    16

    Birthdays and autism can be a really rough combination. Birthdays for kids on the spectrum can be a sensory overload circus. (I have years of videos and pictures of J covering his ears and crying at not only his birthday parties, but W’s too.). Milestone birthdays are rough on parents because it’s another one of those reminders of all of the things your kid isn’t doing. When W turned 14 in August, we threw her a masquerade murder mystery party. I even made homemade stuffed shells and bought rosemary rolls from Breadsmith and cheesecake to make the dinner part fancy schmancy. She prepped for that party almost a full month…

  • autism,  cross-country,  exercise,  high school,  milestones,  teen years,  track

    A New Label

      J’s met with a lot of new people this month–a new orthopedic doctor, new trainers in his weight training class, new therapists at the eye doctor. And in almost every conversation he’s had, one of the first things out of J’s mouth? “I’m a runner.” J has never identified himself with another label besides his name, so to hear him describe himself in a conversation as a runner? I was shocked, and elated, and little emotional. It’s been amazing to see J’s growth both emotionally and physically with this running journey. It’s like every few months, he becomes a new kid. And once again, this week, I got to…

  • family,  milestones,  mindfulness,  motherhood

    This is our life right now

    I have a favourite coping strategy and it goes sort of like this: “Give yourself (insert number of days or weeks). This crazy will be over in (that number of days or weeks) and then life will be manageable again and you’ll be able to do get to that list of things you really want to do.” It’s not a good coping strategy. It’s living in survival mode. I feel like a lot of my life is run in a constant rush or whirlwind or copious amounts of stress and I feel like I’m just hanging in there by the skin of my teeth. But sometimes I’m good and I…

  • autism,  cross-country,  exercise,  family,  milestones,  track

    Born to run

    I don’t know how he does it, but without fail, when J starts a new season of XC, track, or runs a race in the Fargo Marathon, he takes off minutes–MINUTES off of his PR from the previous season.  This weekend was the Fargo Marathon and J took off 1:39 off of his 5K time and 3:21 off of his 10K time. And Steve and I were totally shocked at how much improvement he’s made from last year’s 2017 5 and 10K races. J’s been running XC and track for three years now. He’s a conditioned runner and those dramatic reductions in time should start to wane and finally plateau. But…

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

    This Kid

    While going through the MFA program, I wrote about J a lot. J wasn’t my thesis, but he was the topic of my Creative Nonfiction classes. He was eight years old at the time, and I had a lot of subject matter to write about. I wrote about the quirkiness of autism, the feelings of inadequacy I felt being his mother, the small victories we had, the really puzzling aspects of autism to which I had no answers. I didn’t realize it, but often I would refer to J as “that kid, this kid, or the kid.” Someone in workshop picked up on my word choice and asked me, “why…

  • autism,  Education,  family,  high school,  IEP,  milestones,  motherhood,  siblings and autism,  teen years

    The four year plan

    W is the second child in our family, so it’s really rare (as a parent) to experience something that I haven’t experienced with J. In grade 3, J’s whole class made gingerbread houses before winter break, so I knew that when W hit grade 3, she’d be doing gingerbread houses too. When J started touring with the elementary school choir at the mall and rest homes, I knew when W got to that age, she’d be doing it too. When J graduated from elementary school in a “classic” coming of age ceremony with a field trip to the zoo, followed by a graduation slideshow with cake and lemonade, I knew…