• autism,  motherhood,  teen years

    Sarah Beck: amateur translator

    This summer I spent a lot of Sundays and a week-long church camp sitting next to a lovely teenager from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She’s smart, a little bit shy, loves music, and is an incredible artist. She moved to the United States in June as a French speaker knowing very little English. And so when the small handful of the true fluent French speakers in the congregation weren’t available to translate English church services into French for her, I would try my best to help her out. My French is decent enough for my own purposes (as in I can make my way around France okay and listen…

  • autism,  cross-country,  Education,  motherhood,  post high school

    J is now 17

    It’s freaking me out a little bit, because that question I’ve gotten from so many people for years, YEARS (like when he was 5 with a freshly official autism diagnosis) of “what do you expect his life to be like as an adult” is just one year away. I’ve had the luxury (luxury? can that exist with an autism diagnosis?) of putting that question off for years because most days we’re just trying to figure out what the next few hours are going to look like. But October 5 has come and gone and here we are! Yes, I know that “adult” is a loaded word (when is one truly…

  • autism,  cross-country,  motherhood,  teen years

    Stories Between the Pictures

    I look at the calendar right now and I’m in denial that we’re in the last week of September. I still feel like I don’t have a handle on the kids’ new school year. We’ve had rough start. But we’ve had a lot of great moments too. So many times we go online and we scroll through Facebook and Instagram and look at all the highlight reels of everyone else’s life and forget that there’s a lot of action that goes on behind the scenes. If you look at a lot of the pictures in this post, you’ll see a lot of great and fun things that have happened to…

  • autism,  high school,  motherhood,  siblings and autism

    Friday afternoon

    Friday afternoon, while W and I were waiting for J to get out of XC practice, a reporter came up to our car with her microphone and camera. “Can I talk to you two about the incident at school this afternoon?” W leaned over to me and said, “What incident?” At around 4:15 that afternoon, I received an call from the kids’ principal, relaying that a teacher had suspected a student to have been under the influence of marijuana. Upon further investigation with this student, they discovered that the student was sober–however they also found the student had brought an unloaded gun to school. The school’s student resource officer was…

  • anxiety,  autism,  family,  mental health,  motherhood,  siblings and autism,  teen years

    Trying to protect my kids’ sanity

    Eleven days of school. We’ve had eleven days of the 2019/2020 school year. It feels as if it’s been an eternity. J has struggled, struggled oh so much these past eleven days. We have tried, what feels like, a million different strategies to put his mind at peace over the fire drill. Nothing has worked. The anxiety for August’s monthly drill had been building since his first XC meet, (August 24) and last week the anticipation for the end of the calendar month built up so much that he ran out of the school with severe panic Wednesday. I sat with him the morning of the drill Thursday. Friday, after…

  • autism,  cross-country,  mental health,  motherhood

    This week I cried over running shoes

    Wednesday night, hours after J told me that he was going to handle the first day of school (only after I assured him that it would be a stupid idea for his principals to have a fire drill on the first day of school), I sat in bed and cried over his running shoes. “His pronation is worse in those shoes,” I bawled to Steve, “he’s had them only four days and he looks like he’s going to sprain his ankles he’s wobbling so much in them. I know if we don’t get his shoes fixed right now, he’s going to get injured, and he’ll only be able to run…

  • autism,  family,  motherhood,  travel

    The boy in Barcelona

    Across the street from Gaudi’s gingerbread church the boy in Barcelona sits sandwiched between his mother and older sister. His arms flail as he squints and stutters sounds of protest in a language I don’t recognize. Scandinavian, I think. Something Nordic or Germanic. White blonde hair and blue eyes. Tourists like me. Like most of us in the park. There’s almost nowhere to sit. Steve and I sit hip to hip next to another man who might be a local and might be a tourist. The Lonely Planet and Rick Steves books say that Barcelona (like Lisbon and Rome) is a hot spot for pickpockets and I’ve developed the habit…

  • autism,  mental health,  motherhood

    Today

    I navigated today with no plan. That’s not how I roll. Autism requires planning. Lots of planning. And backup planning. Plans B, C, and D are all necessary requirements for the survival of both parties (mom and child) to make it through the day. But today, I intentionally decided to have no plan. I decided we would navigate the first day of summer holidays by just “feeling out” how the summer is going to go. Yes, both kids had the first day of their camps today. J had a visual therapy appointment. But I planned nothing for the in between times. I planned nothing for the evening. And that’s not…

  • motherhood

    Mommy, were you in a fire?

    A few years ago, I was in a sports bra and shorts headed downstairs looking for a shirt in the dryer when W looked at me mortified. “Mommy, what’s wrong with you! Were you in a fire?” “No?” I said genuinely confused. “What are you talking about?” “Mommy,” she said with her mouth gaping. “Your tummy. It looks like you were in a fire.” I suddenly realized that this was probably the first time W had ever seen my bare stomach and it kind of does look like something catastrophic has happened to it. I’ve had two kids and two abdominal surgeries (an appendectomy with an umbilical hernia repair and…

  • autism,  Education,  IEP,  motherhood,  special education

    Ave Verum Corpus

    When I was about eight or nine, I remember standing in the middle of my classroom choir on our first stop of our little elementary school musical tour, wanting to crawl in a corner and hide. I knew every single note of the song we were about to sing, but I didn’t know any of the Latin besides the first three words: Ave Verum Corpus. Being good little Canadian kids, this was about the same time we were also learning French. Boy did I love French–I was really, really good at French. I was the master of the weekly French dictee. Not only was I really good at learning language,…