• 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,  family,  social skills,  teen years

    A Mr Rogers Intervention

      Thursday night at 7:30 the Beck family picked up a pepperoni pizza at Little Caesars after the late matinee showing of the Mr. Rogers Documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? I’ll get back to the movie in a moment. It’s important to talk about the 7:30 incident in the Little Caesar’s parking lot first. For some reason, Steve and I had forgotten past incidents of the bewitching hour—when J’s blood sugar is low and hangry levels are high, but being the imperfect parents that we are, we did. In fact, not only did we forget about the bewitching hour, but we decided to make an extra trip to Barnes…

  • autism,  middle school,  milestones,  motherhood,  social skills,  teen years,  track

    One year later

    One year later and here we are again, the first track meet of the season! I was a hot, anxious mess at last year’s first meet. We had tried in every single way to prepare J for his first race. From the sound of the gun, to practicing a few times on the track, to schedule strategies we had thought of everything. And still, I wasn’t sure we were going to make it through that first track meet. J was a ball of anxiety himself that first meet. And not everything went exactly as planned (the gun didn’t go off TWICE!). But J made it. He ran the entire race,…

  • anxiety,  autism,  mental health,  motherhood,  social skills,  travel

    Grown up lessons

    I thought that I was over the whole “I don’t care what people think about me and my family” business, but apparently I’m not. When J was a toddler and I was in the throws of being introduced to the autism experience, I had a sort of crisis of confidence. Not only was my child not “performing” like his peers at peer play groups (and I was enduring daily every mom’s verbal gushing about how wonderfully smart and talented and, well, genius each of there kids were), but I was also struggling with the very public meltdowns. The crying and tantrums at Walmart if we entered the store at a…

  • autism,  home strategies,  learning strategies,  modifications,  social skills

    On books, emotions, and the human condition

    While I was in Canada last week, my aunt and I spent some time pursuing Chapters, a bookstore library chain similar to Barnes and Noble. As a mom of a child with autism, I’m always curious to see what books are out there for autism, like how many shelves in the Parenting section are dedicated to autism. Sometimes I wander through the children’s book section to see how many books are written for “typical” children explaining to them what a child with special needs looks like (there are very rarely any of those types of books out on display). One thing I find really strange, is that we don’t have books for…

  • autism,  creativity,  siblings and autism,  social skills,  travel

    iPhone notes

      I have 267 notes currently on my iPhone, including an extensive amount of memos, lists, and observations. There’s random lines of poetry I’m tinkering around with, story ideas, and J notes. Lots of J notes. Notes to track J’s phobias, notes of ideas as to how to approach J’s phobias, new approaches to try with J, my observations of J. This week’s iPhone notes included this little tidbit of new J behavior. We’ve been on vacation for the last week and a half, and we’ve seen the full gamut of behaviors. This one happened at my parent’s house while the kids were trapped inside for most of the time…

  • autism,  empathy,  mental health,  middle school,  motherhood,  social skills

    Boys and men

    I’ll never forget that 20 week ultrasound (which was really at 18 weeks based on appointment scheduling). The ultrasound tech pointed to the screen, between what I was assuming was J’s legs and said, “See that right there (referring to J’s boy parts). It’s a boy!” Steve was ecstatic. I was terrified. It was overwhelming thinking about raising another human being and I knew nothing about boys. NOTHING. J’s baby shower was all blankets, diapers, onesies, and soothers, blue and sports. The perfect inauguration for a perfectly happy and healthy baby boy. And for a long time, for almost two years, J was exactly the baby boy we both expected him to be.…

  • home strategies,  math,  social skills,  strategies

    Transfer Skills

    Once, as a little girl, I remember standing in line with my mom at a Zellers checkout and my mom asking the cashier for change in quarters, nickels, and dimes. In school teacher fashion, that summer, she taught me and my sister how to make change—with real money. Not paper cut outs of coins or plastic coins, but real coins. Even back when I was 6 or 7 years old, I hated math, but I remember my mom telling me, “This is important. You’re going to have to know how to do this. This is a type of math I guarantee you’ll need to know.” And I believed her. Because I…

  • mental health,  middle school,  social skills

    Where’s the Smart Boy’s Guide?

    Emotions and middle school are such an awful combination–for parents and kids. W had the bulk of her frustrations at the beginning of this year. Understanding social drama is hard at this age. I looked online for resources for middle school girls and emotions, and not only did books come up for parents, but there were dozens of resources for middle school girls. I ordered three books from the American Girl Smart Girl’s Guide series: A Smart Girl’s Guide to Knowing What to Say, A Smart Girls Guide Drama, Rumors, and Secrets, and A Smart Girls’ Guide Friendship Troubles. I was SO impressed with all of them. “How to compromise with your parents and teachers. What to do…

  • family,  learning strategies,  math,  middle school,  social skills

    Staying Inside the Lines

    I feel like when you’re doing the autism gig, you’re constantly keeping your kid within the lines, corralling them into the spaces society creates. There’s personal boundaries, ethical boundaries, social boundaries. As a society I think that’s how we make sense of the world. Autistic kids are always seeking these lines and laws and boundaries too. Except they have their own lines and boundaries and many times they don’t match up with everyone else’s. Of course, “staying inside the figurative lines” has always been sort of an enigma to J. Figurative lines are more nuanced. You can’t see someone’s personal bubble–and everybody’s is different. You can tell a joke but sometimes it backfires…