• 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,  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,  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,  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…

  • 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,  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,  teen years

    Big Dogs

    The first night we brought Rudy home I bawled–even though I mentally prepared myself that those first weeks were going to be rough. The first few weeks of bringing home a dog are like bringing home a baby. It’s emotional. You know nothing about the dog or how to communicate with it. Yourroutine is suddenly interrupted and there are potty accidents and there’s a lot of stress. Because we had Fred (and went through that entire “new” experience before) I reminded myself that the first few weeks were tough before we brought Rudy home. It didn’t matter. I still ended up bawling a lot. The one adjustment I hadn’t expected…

  • 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…