teen years

  • autism,  high school,  learning strategies,  milestones,  modifications,  motherhood,  teen years

    “Here at the end of all things”

    Two weeks ago, J graduated high school. It still feels pretty surreal–amplified by a pretty surreal year and a half. I’m so grateful that you’ve been here with us on this journey as we find ourselves “here at the end of all things.” I can still remember sitting Dr. Hoffman’s office in Overland Park, Kansas thirteen years ago. We were just two months from moving to Fargo. J had already undergone 2 rigorous assessments (one at the Child and Family services clinic at KU in Lawrence Kansas, one at the KU med center in Kansas City), and although we knew and agreed with J’s autism diagnosis from the two prior…

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

    How it started…how it’s going

    I keep reminding myself that J’s running career hasn’t ended, it’s just his high school XC and track career that have ended. J may have ran his last high school race a few weeks ago, but he’s still got a lifetime’s worth of races to run. As I look back on J’s last six years, I would have to say that XC and track have been some of the most impactful experiences in J’s social, emotional, and physical growth. I truly believe that everyone is born to run. But for some people the running journey is harder than others. J really had to work at his running journey. J struggles…

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  • autism,  COVID life,  high school,  milestones,  teen years

    The Good-byes Are Starting

    I’m trying not to think about it too much, but the fact of the matter is, we’re getting closer to the end of high school. I’m packing up all of the feelings I’m having about it in little boxes in my brain. Not the healthiest choice, I know, but for now, it’s working for me. I’ve talked about autism and milestones before, and how that’s a tricky business for moms and dads of children with autism. I’ll touch on that again in a few weeks, I’m sure. But for now, I’m just trying to be present with what we’re experiencing right now. Our first good-bye was J’s final choir concert…

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  • autism,  COVID life,  high school,  milestones,  teen years


    I know the world looks very different for all of us right now–city to city, state to state, country to country–we are all going through our different COVID-19 pandemic experiences. In North Dakota, we’ve had our share of pandemic ups and downs. We’ve had really scary numbers (back in the late fall). We’ve had cancellations of important high school events (Prom 2020, Homecoming 2021). But we’ve also had some good things too. My kids go to a school where the student body and staff cooperate with mask-wearing. Since March we’ve been very lucky to have a smooth vaccine rollout with plenty of stock available for anyone who wants it. Somehow…

  • autism,  COVID life,  teen years

    Life Skills

    We’ve been out of a washing machine since November 19. To say that a broken washing machine is an inconvenience for 12 days is a slight understatement. Remember, this is 2020, and we’re still living in a pandemic. I don’t know about the rest of you out there, but the Beck household goes through about 3-4 loads of laundry a day. We are an active family. Everyone in our house runs, which means we go through a lot of workout clothes. Because of all of those workouts, we also shower a lot, so there’s also quite a few towel loads to go through. J also has tactile sensory issues, which…

  • autism,  COVID life,  cross-country,  high school,  middle school,  teen years

    J won XC

    J ran his last XC race of his life on Friday, and I’m feeling all the feelings. I started this blog a few months before J started his XC career. It’s not a blog about J and XC, but running has become an enormous part of J’s life since he started XC back in 2015, and so there’s a lot of XC in this blog. Over the last hour or so, I’ve been scrolling through all of the XC posts, getting teary-eyed while at the the same time astounded at what has happened in the last six years. I feel like this brief summary doesn’t come even close to the…

  • 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


    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.…

  • 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…

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