• autism,  empathy,  exercise,  family,  mental health,  mindfulness,  motherhood

    Lessons from the long run

    When I was pregnant I was aware of every single little change in my body at every single stage of my pregnancy. I took prenatal vitamins. I read up on and kept track weekly of what was going on with my body and what was going on with the baby growing inside of me. I figured out really quickly what exact foods and smells would trigger nausea and vomiting. I knew exactly which foods would help a little with the nausea: limes and carrots (I was in my first trimester of pregnancy with J during my last semester in college and so I would carry bags of baby carrots to…

  • anxiety,  apps,  autism,  exercise,  mental health,  mindfulness,  motherhood

    Thoughts from the treadmill

    J has finally, FINALLY recovered from the last two weeks of being really sick, and I thought for sure that we’d be back on track with behaviours and motivation. Apparently, that was wishful thinking. Lately it seems like it’s getting harder to determine if J’s behaviours fall into the “anxiety” category or “I’m a 17 year old boy and just want to be a punk sometimes” category. Throw in illness, changes in schedule, changes in semester, or anything else, it starts to get even more difficult to parse those things out. It’s downright frustrating as a parent (and I sense for J too), and I’m realizing more and more the…

  • autism,  high school,  medication,  motherhood

    January Was a Tough Year, But We Made It

    I picked up J from school Friday morning and he looked exactly like the school nurse described on the phone–“ashen.” School overhead fluorescent lights aren’t flattering on anyone, but the lights weren’t the problem. J looked like a zombie. Eyes vacant. Lethargic. Just all around awful. J’s doctor had warned us that some kids have this type of reaction to clonidine and that J might too. But J never had this reaction the first time he started the medication back in December and I wasn’t sure he had fully recovered from the flu–since he still hadn’t fully gotten over his cough and raspy voice (W and I have been symptom…

  • anxiety,  autism,  medication,  mental health

    The Uneaten Bowl of Spaghettios

    Or “Never a Controlled Experiment” Part 2 We’ve been struggling for months now–probably since the beginning of the school year–trying to decide if J’s current medications are effective and helping him to be the best version of himself. We’re starting to think that they’re not. It was a question J’s Dr asked us back around October. It was our first visit with her (J’s old psychiatrist retired just recently–we loved her!) and as she was familiarizing herself with J’s file she asked us, “do you think J’s anti-anxiety medication is still helping his anxiety.” The question totally took my off guard. Every discussion we’ve had for years is, “how is…

  • autism,  high school,  teen years

    I need an ambulance!

    J’s first spontaneous phone call came Friday while Whitney and I were getting our hair cut. J was at home by himself and I texted him halfway through the hair appointment to see how things were going. Less than a minute later I get a spontaneous call from J, telling me things were fine at home in a perfect, little three sentence conversation. I’m telling you IT WAS A PERFECT PHONE CALL. (Hi mom, this is Josh. Things at home are going well. When are you coming home?) I didn’t text him to call me. He just called me in response to my “how are things?” text. The second phone…

  • anxiety,  autism,  post high school,  post secondary autism,  reading,  reading comprehension,  teen years

    2020

    I’m not into numbers like J, but 2020 is going to be an interesting year for our Beck family. And I’m trying to keep my 2020 outlook on my family because the year’s barely started and between the Australian fires and the Iran stuff happening (my sister lives in Saudi Arabia, so I’m always nervous when stuff happens out there) there’s some really disheartening things happening in the world right now and we’re only six days into the new year. So… We’re heading into that stretch of the “end of childhood and into adulthood” with J, which is equal parts terrifying and exiting. In May, he’ll be finishing grade 11.…

  • autism,  family,  mental health,  motherhood

    Looking Back, Looking Forward

    No matter how hard I try and how much I promise myself that I’m going to cut back and “just enjoy the holiday season,” it never happens. I’ve been an adult now (a parent now) for how many years, and I have yet to make that balance happen (and it seems to get more frenetic every year). In the last few weeks of December, I always feel like my life is completely out of control. I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who gets like this. I think everyone gets a little like this, especially women. And I’m not trying to be a martyr or disparage men by…

  • autism,  motherhood

    Butterfly Endings

    This essay was originally published in the Spring 2019 issue of Chaleur Magazine. Butterfly Endings She stood over the crib, looking down at the baby—wrinkles and rolls, chubby thighs, round toes—resisting the urge to touch him.  His chest rose and fell steadily, his lips pursed in a pout.  He was sweaty in the summer night.  His blond, fluffy hair now lay wet and matted around his ears and the nape of his neck.  He sucked in a few short breaths, and then blew out a slow, even exhale, his chest rising and falling in rhythm again. “This is not my baby,” she smiled to herself.  “He’s perfection.” He’ll be a…

  • 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…