• 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.…

  • anxiety,  autism,  high school,  sensory processing,  teen years

    Is this normal?

    Last night we had lasagna for dinner and spaghetti and “meatballs.” I don’t usually make two dinners in one night but the Costco lasagna wasn’t vegetarian, so I warmed up some spaghetti and frozen “meatballs” for W and me. As the kids filled their plates, J grabbed the serving utensils and smiled as he reached for the pot, announcing: “Spaghetti AND lasagna!” “No,” I said. “The lasagna is for you and dad. The spaghetti is for me and W.” “No, I want both,” he snapped. “J,” I sighed. “The spaghetti is for me and W.” “Shut up. I want both.” “J, you can have as much lasagna as you want.”…

  • autism,  sensory processing

    Rattle and Hum

    Thursday we got a new fridge. A beautiful, stainless steel, French door fridge. You know–the type of fridge that probably everyone else has owned since the early 2000’s. We’re now one step closer to having all of the kitchen appliances match. Even better–we are now proud owners of a monolith masterpiece-meets-organizational-miracle machine. At least I felt that way two hours after the Home Depot team installed it. We were elated that the installers were able to move our old fridge down our two narrow staircases and into the basement. Is the second fridge absolutely necessary? No. But can we have two fridges? Yes. Because this is America and why not.…

  • autism,  high school,  home strategies,  learning strategies,  math,  sensory processing

    My Black is Your Navy

    For as long as I can remember, my dad has struggled with colour.  I remember him rushing out the door to get to work, asking my mom one last time, “is this shirt blue or grey?’ or “does this shirt match this tie?” There were a lot of questions about socks too. “Are these socks black or navy?” and the guaranteed followup question: “Are you sure they’re navy? They look black to me.” My dad is red green colourblind, but he also has a hard time sorting out cool greens and light greys; light blues and light greys, light pink and light greys, brown and greens.  When he was dating…

  • autism,  Early Intervention,  sensory processing,  special education

    On Re-Finding Your People

    Tuesday afternoons I sit in the visual therapy waiting room and watch moms give their son or daughter a quick shower of encouragement before their child goes back with their therapist. Almost always there is a sigh of momentary relief. Sometimes they’re alone and they pull out their book or phone and have a peaceful 45 minutes to themselves. Sometimes they’re multi-tasking their book or phone with their other children in the waiting room. Sometimes they’re out the door again to pick up their other children from an activity and ten minutes later they’re back again with another child in tow. It wasn’t until J gave me a very enthusiastic,…

  • autism,  Education,  helps,  high school,  home strategies,  learning strategies,  math,  sensory processing,  special education,  strategies

    Two Incredible Surprises that Emerged from Finals Week

    Like all things autism, the strategies for finals week were thought out long in advance. Back in December, J’s teachers sent home various forms of “study guides” the last few days before break so we could get a head start on studying for January finals, and we took FULL advantage of that. Over the break, J and I read all the short stories again. I made DOZENS of flash cards for English vocab, Foods vocab. I made picture cards for the short stories and we worked on those every single day of the break. No rest for the wicked, I guess. When J returned after the break, J’s special ed…

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  • autism,  milestones,  motherhood,  sensory processing,  special education

    The Sound of Music

    After the choir concert Thursday night, it was J’s special education teacher that reminded us how far J has come. I needed that reminder, because I came out of that auditorium with a knot of embarrassment in my stomach. I wanted to pull J aside, scold for chewing his mouth raw while standing on stage while the rest of his peers sang all the songs he’d practiced at home and sang with such gusto. I wanted to scold him on the way home in the car for suddenly getting obsessed with his hair onstage, picking at it and combing it with his fingers while the rest of the group stood…

  • anxiety,  autism,  cross-country,  high school,  mental health,  milestones,  sensory processing

    Going beyond self regulation

    Now that J’s conquered a lot of these “keeping it together” challenges, I’m starting to see the other challenges that have been eclipsed by the mental and behavioural ones. J doesn’t know how to do things on his own, even when he’s “checked in” and running a good effort. All of his life, he’s had someone beside him telling him what to do or how to push through something and through this season of XC, I’ve seen these problems come to the forefront because he’s managing himself so well on his own.

  • autism,  high school,  home strategies,  sensory processing

    To stim or not to stim

    One of the first things I noticed when J was a toddler was the quirky behaviour. J liked to play games–spinning games. He liked to spin coasters, spin plastic plates, any sort of disc he could find, he would bring the disc to me and beg me to spin it. He LOVED it. He’d giggle and beg for more. He would also do this thing when we were outside, and run to the corner of our little town home in Illinois, tilt and close one eye, staring down the corner of the side of the house and run back. He’d run back and forth, giggling the whole time. I had…

  • anxiety,  autism,  sensory processing

    When someone knows autism better than you

    Outside of Steve, J, W, and me, there are three tiers of people who understand J’s autism. The first tier is made up of our close friends, family, special ed teachers/paras, and coaches who initially knew nothing about J’s brand of autism but feel a connection with J and ask Steve or I how to best interact with him. They often go out of their way to try to find out more information about autism and because of their interest and determination come up with their own ways of reaching and teaching J. I love the first tier. They make our lives so much easier. They help us bridge that…

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