Sunday, October 27, 2013

Spooky Insights

G, pointing up excitedly, "Look what the spiders left us for Halloween!"

You just keep right on believing that, kiddo. 
I'll dust after Halloween. :)

G: Mom, my pumpkin looks like Van Gogh!

I'm a bit horrified that they learn about this mad act in 2nd grade. Is that knowledge really necessary to appreciate Van Gogh's work through the eyes of a 7 year old?
Then again, he remembered. ;)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sensory Green Zone

"This really makes everything look great!"
I found G taking a sensory break, watching tv in a hamper. Green's his favorite color, what could be better? He scooted around the house for an hour like this.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Bring it!

Mama's Autism-Ready...

Big $4 off sale today.

These will make thoughtful gifts for all my autism parent friends. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Meet Mrs. Google Face

411. Information please. Do other parents find themselves researching acronyms at every possible moment? The library was my second home as an only child growing up. I've always been curious. But now I fear I may have an addiction problem.

Hello. My name is Perky and I'm addicted to Google. I have no intention of quitting, but I thought I should announce it. Call it my public service action towards Google Addiction Awareness.

My friends and family suspect that I have an addiction to Facebook. Ha! That doesn't even scratch the surface. Oh, the autism facts my hard drive history could tell...

I take breaks from researching my latest alphabet soup issue (ASD, ADHD, OCD, SPD, etc.) to scour Facebook for breaking news on my key topics. Laws, therapies, meds, op-eds, technology breakthroughs, visual aids, strategy, coping, opportunities, forums, groups. I mark my calendar and set alarms for local parent and family events, podcasts, blogcasts, online discussions, conferences, support groups. I sit down to search one item and find my head whirling hours later with no clear solution. I'm faced with multiple possibilities and little time to put them in cohesive order, let alone an action plan.
Do we have too much information at our fingertips? Today's searches by the numbers:

Autism: 45,300,000 results
ADHD: 36,700,000  results
OCD: 19,800,000  results
Asperger's: 4,360,000 results
Sensory Processing: 8,980,000 results
Anxiety: 137,000,000 results
Autism Symptoms: 22,000,000 results
Autism Treatment: 55,300,000 results
Autism Diet: 35,500,000 results
IEP: 11,100,000 results

So many results, so little results.
I used to stay awake at night, struggling to put the information to work. Debunk, sort, prioritize, fit into my complex family life. Now that G's sleep is more regulated and his bedtime earlier, my body and brain collapse each night as if rejoicing after the years of brief interrupted sleep. I may be more rested, but I don't have the balance time of sifting through my daily research that I used to. Before, I'd be so worked up from G's late night energy surges and meltdowns that I'd research myself into exhaustion, then toss and fret myself to sleep for a couple hours. These days, I just crumble and pass out at midnight.
I justify my addiction. As autism parents, we're isolated in our oddity. Our disordered kids don't have neatly stacked symptoms and phases. Our kids often carry multiple acronyms in their diagnosis file, each adding complexity to their struggle. We don't have the luxury of calling a friend to compare notes and share parenting strategies. Our kids are individually wrapped with unique challenges and gifts. Rarely do we find a friend offline who's working on the same solution. We're left to seek out our lone epiphanies. When we do call another autism parent, their child may be in major meltdown or manic state, interrupting an enlightening conversation. We have other children to tend to, jobs, household and personal endeavors, sleep to catch up on if we're lucky.

Support groups are wonderful. Even if we don't get a chance to voice our concerns, we can offer hope and tips to other struggling parents. It gives us a lift to be able to guide or comfort another in our Lonely Hearts Club. But then at times our own issues pale by comparison. How can I bring up my frustration of my son's nose picking problem when the last bruised mom sobbed about her child's violent outbursts? This can work both ways: we may feel relieved that we're not currently in that horrific phase, yet still frustrated that we didn't share our own troubles.
The answer: we return home to google the quirks out of our own daily acronym-ism. We search for answers from fleeting e-relationships with peeps the world over who are dealing or have dealt with the same concern. We give virtual hugs. We friend them on Facebook if we've encountered each other in the same rocking boat multiple times. We invite them to like our pages or blogs as if we're inviting them to coffee. Come over to my blog, read awhile. Would you like cream and sugar? We seek community. We seek acceptance. We seek validation.

I seek, you seek.
We all seek for nice speak.
We take a break to see what our typical friends are up to. We wistfully sigh. We die a little inside. We throw up a little in our mouth. We share their joy, humor, triumph, love. We wish for them to never ever personally know the challenges we conquer. We wish for them the maturity, beauty, delights, warmth and human perspective that autism/special needs can bring to a home. We share happy photos, searching for the one in 238 pics where our kid has eye contact, no drool, no nose-wiped sleeves, no stains, possibly a natural smile. We celebrate our other kids a little too often. We post jokes and memes a bit too intensely, attempting to cheer ourselves as well our friends. Sally forth!

Then we return to our dear research. There's no expert on your child...except you.

Dear Google.
I love you a google and a peck. Indefinitely. Not gonna stop. Gotta get my fix. Must get my Google on.

Love Always,
Mrs. Google Face

((((((((virtual hugs))))))))


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It Don't Mean a Thing if You Ain't Got that Swing

G's favorite pastime: swinging. Last year I'd hear reports that G didn't socialize at recess. I was heartbroken whenever I volunteered at the school and stayed for recess. I'd watch him play alone. I tried to facilitate play with his classmates, but most often G lost interest to his own obsessive play habits or just led me around. Clearly, playing with mom wasn't cool for his peers to see, even in 1st grade. I began to simply try to forge connections for him within the classroom and left before recess.

A dear friend gathered a few moms to set up a "G playday program" with their sons from his classroom. Each day, a different boy was assigned to ask G to join in their fun and games at recess. I'd ask G daily who he played with. He often couldn't remember their names or got them wrong, though he'd known most of them for 2 years. He'd just as often say he'd played for awhile and then gone on the swings by himself.  
"Sometimes I just want to swing the whole recess, Mom!" he explained.
"Don't you want to play along with the others and run and laugh and play games?"  
 "Some of the other kids get mad at me because I play their games wrong."
"Ask your "buddies" to teach you the rules. Or find another group that's doing something you enjoy and play with them." 
"Really Mom, I don't care about playing with anybody. Swinging makes me feel all better."

One day I asked him who he played with and what they'd done at recess. He told me Boy A, when I knew that he'd played with Boy A the day prior and played with Boy B this day.

"Really G, I know you played with Boy B today, I talked to his mom." 
"Nope. It was Boy A. It was wearing the same coat as yesterday."

IT! .....Coat!
This truly brought home the realization of how deeply I overestimated his social awareness. No facial recognition, because G never looked at the boy's face. No personification, because IT was merely a plaything, not a person. I cried for days. Then I moved on. As we must.

Hope. I'm not holding my breath, but this year G may be getting more socially active. I gave up pressuring him and badgering him about being social after the grand lesson from last year about It Boy. But now he offers up his recess adventures more freely. He tells me that he plays with this group, or this boy. Always with a variation of, "My bestest friend EVER in the whole wide world", which changes daily. He still may not know exactly who he's playing with at times, though I've been impressed that he's naming different boys in his class and from last year too. But what matters most is that he's getting joy from social interaction. I dream of him having a best friend someday, but maybe I'm selfishly projecting my wishes on him. He may not need a best friend. For now, at least he's moving towards social. Plus, he's supremely happy. Who can argue with that?

Sensory Rocks! And swings, apparently. This photo says it all: I love that G is casually crossing his legs while swinging high. He's most definitely "got that swing"!
Since he was a baby, G reacted the opposite of others. While I used to take my colicky infant daughter in the car to calm her and put her to sleep, G conversely revved up and cooed. When we go to family outings and drive home late, my teens fall asleep within minutes in the car. G hypes up and chatters us home. No worries about falling asleep at the wheel with G on board. The faster the highway, the more intellectual he gets. "Did you know that...," "What does it mean when..." "How does...", etc. He gets very loud, talks very loud, and sings like a bird. His siblings get quite annoyed in the confined space. Their carpool friends have grown accustomed to it. I love it, and get a large charge out of it. Of course, I have my days when I dream of silence and a Motrin. But we have some of our best discussions and silliest moments on the move.

The most telling moment of the sensory-seeking movement phenomenon was at Cedar Point Amusement Park this summer. G asked, "Mom, can I ride Top Thrill Dragster again? You know, when I go really fast it calms me down." I was floored at his self-awareness! We don't talk about his sensory needs or behaviors, so this was all him, as were his self-soothing swinging stims at recess last year. If only I could drive 120 mph and go straight up and straight down each hour to calm him. I wonder if there are zoning laws in my neighborhood for such a Thrill ride? I'd bet we'd have a line of bestest friends ever in the whole wide world lined up to share in his sensory play.

Monday, October 14, 2013

De script or...not

G wearing what he dubs his "Blonde" pants.

Squinty night owl in Blonde pants eating breakfast on the way to school 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Star Struck

G was Star of the Week in his 2nd grade class the 1st full week of school. Each day we were assigned a different fun project to introduce him to his classmates. I was thrilled that he was chosen so early in the schoolyear. It gave us the opportunity to get him talking about himself to his peers and sharing items that are important to him. You know, like real social stuff!
I was tickled to read his "About Me" poster that he'd filled in at school.
I quizzed his siblings to guess what his answer was for the question, "I'm a star because...". Like me, they both predicted it would be something about his Minecraft skills (obsession).
What a delightful surprise! I'm gratified that our consistent stream of hugs, cuddles, laughs and chatter is breaking through. His family IS actually more important to him than Minecraft. Imagine that. He never ceases to amaze us. You're absolutely right Super Star, we DO love you most.

Get Your Quirks On!

You're cordially invited to:

Invite all your friends! Please share.

Families and caregivers touched by special needs/autism need a perky party! Find your happy place. Share your priceless stories, photos, videos, drawings, parody, someecards, sound bytes, creations... of quirky FUN!
Facebook special needs pages and groups are full of info, news, questions, trauma, heartbreak, fear, help, sharing, caring and love. I love all of it. I couldn't cope without my precious Facebook support in my isolated world.

But, what's missing? Laughs! A sweet spot to share our playful, adorable, gleeful, zany treasured stories.

Special needs parenting often brings zany ridiculous moments to the mix. All parents have stories about the amusing things their kids say or do. We all have memories of hysterical times with teachers, therapists, friends, strangers. A twist of the mundane can turn silly. Let's shine some light on our lives. Spread humor to celebrate our random moments of comic relief.

Please submit your merriment to:

Or post it to Facebook page:
All in a Day's Quirks

Necessary Warnings:

Safety First: Remember that I can't control the audience. Feel free to change names if you like, and consider omitting any identifying info. The web is a creepy place at times.

Poking fun at special needs will not be tolerated. Content of poor taste will be removed promptly. No flames whatsoever. Bully Free Zone.

Grins and giggles are warmly welcomed. Spread a bit of love, support, cheer, whimsy, MAGIC! Support spoken here. Feel. The. Love.

Life's a laugh riot. Get your quirks on!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Quotable Quirks #1

We've all heard the famous quote:
Life's not about avoiding the storm,
but learning to dance in the rain  

I've adapted it to reflect autism parenting: