• anxiety,  autism,  high school,  teen years,  track

    The stories we tell ourselves

    Self talk. It’s that narration we use to look through at the moments of our life. That voice in our heads that tells us that we’re having a good hair day or that we look fat in that shirt. The voice that tells you that you’ve done a really good job getting through something tough or that you’re a complete failure and always will be. J’s had a lot of training in self-talk and coping skills, but he always needs someone to walk him through it, because usually he’s in a state of distress when he needs that motivational story told to him. This week was the first time I’ve…

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

    Still behind, but still moving forward

    Wednesday afternoon before track practice, a reporter and a photographer from the local paper met with J to ask him a few questions and take a few pictures for a story featuring J, his autism, and his running experience. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. J’s not much of a talker–at least a talker that stays on topic. J and the reporter met for about 20 minutes and it was a bit of a struggle–J couldn’t give him any great quotes to use for his story–but boy, J is a million times better at small talk than he used to be. I don’t get to watch him…

  • autism,  teen years,  travel

    New York Trip Part 2: Autism and the City

    This whole trip had me thinking: What if we lived in New York City? How would J function living in such a busy, overstimulating place? I know there’s got to be autistic children and adults who live and function in New York every single day. Where are they? And how do they do it? New York City is definitely NOT disability friendly (I don’t know how someone in a wheelchair could use the subway system or get into any of the little or shops or restaurants we walked by). It’s busy, it’s fast, and totally unpredictable. And those things are hard to navigate when you have a disability. 1. The…

  • Education,  family,  high school,  mental health,  siblings and autism,  teen years

    Golden Students

    Two weeks ago, W and I were sitting at the kitchen table, talking through her AP Human Geography Packet answers. She’s been struggling to keep her grades up in that class, so Steve and I have been doing a little more intervention. We’ve been monitoring her homework in that class. We never, ever monitor her homework. But this is a “college” class, and will count for “college credit” if she passes the AP exam. It will also permanently affect her transcript when she applies for college, so we decided we better see what’s going on. Our first strategy? having her read her homework responses to us and talking through them…

  • autism,  high school,  teen years

    An Unexpected Week

    I look back at last week and feel like I’ve had 3 different weeks packed into one. It started last Monday morning with a 2 hour late start for the kids. I should have expected it– J had a really rough Monday. It was the 28th of January and he had kept track that there still hadn’t been a fire drill yet for the month (I think the two hour late start and change of schedule triggered an extra fight/flight response in him). I picked up J a little early from school Monday (because he was absolutely non-functional in the state he was in) and took him to visual that…

  • autism,  Imagine Dragons,  teen years

    Imagine Dragons Love

    Tuesday afternoon I unpacked J’s backpack and I found a newspaper article folded up carefully, tucked inside the side pocket. The article had no note or explanation–no indication who it was from. But it was apparent that whoever tucked it into J’s backpack knew J very well: The backpack article wasn’t the first notice of the new Imagine Dragons album. One of J’s XC coaches was talking to him about the new album when I picked him up after school and the look on J’s face when Coach L told J the news was priceless–in fact, I wasn’t quite sure if J really believed him. The new album came out…

  • autism,  cross-country,  high school,  teen years

    Measurable Success

    Even though J’s XC season is over, he’s had a lot of XC excitement this weekend. Saturday we were able to head out to Jamestown to cheer on the State runners (J’s high school came in 5th at the State level!!!) and yesterday the team had their recognition reception. I always come out of J’s XC recognition reception a little overwhelmed emotionally. I’m not saying that I’m feeling a million different emotions, I’m just feeling a lot of big emotions. I think the biggest feeling I came out with was that of gratitude. I’m so grateful for the kids on J’s team. I’m so grateful for the coaches that mentor…

  • autism,  cross-country,  high school,  teen years

    My kids get more than 17 seconds

    This weekend Steve introduced the kids to one of the most inspirational sports movies of all time–Rudy–and while they both really enjoyed it, W was a little confused as to why Rudy, who had worked so hard at school and at practice, wasn’t ever able to play in a game until the last college game of his senior year. And even then he only got to play for 17 seconds. 17 seconds. After all of the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears of every single practice, Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger  only got to actually play 17 seconds of a real game of college football. After all of the heart and sweat our…

  • autism,  cross-country,  high school,  teen years

    Support Squad

    I talk a lot about J’s XC team and the amazing boys and coaches he gets to hang out with every day. I haven’t really talked about the parents and families of the kids who run XC. They’re pretty amazing too. This Saturday was EDC–where all class A schools in Eastern North Dakota run against each other. It’s a pretty big race, with lots of kids and schools (11 schools I think?). It’s also one of the biggest races for the kids hoping to go to State. The parents of both the boys and girls teams worked really hard behind the scenes to make this meet really special for the…

  • 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…