Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bad Blogger.

I've been a bad blogger.  I'd like to say that my absence has been due to some really awesome vacations or that I suddenly had a social life, but it's just not so.

Instead, I've been busy with:

  • digging wood chips out of the humidifier
  • throwing away Easter candy
  • being amazed at the growth in Corbin's baseball skills (another baseball season is upon us)
  • paying an arm & leg for rush shipping on walk t-shirts (because I'm a procrastinator)
  • laughing at Brian coming up with things like "Go away! Don't want none!"
  • scheduling end-of-the-year IEPs
  • fieldwork, fieldwork, fieldwork
  • unclogging toilets
Really, my life is fairly glamorous.  Okay, honestly I've just kind of had writer's block.  

Until next time!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sugar Rush

Anyone that wants to argue that certain types of food doesn't play a part in behaviors are more than welcome to come spend the night at our home after Brian sneaks into the Easter candy bowl and devours 20 pieces of bubblegum, one box of nerds, and two lollipops.

Brian was up from about 11:30 pm until about 3:30 am.  Loud, silly, and as crazy as can be.

We haven't had that type of sleeping problems in FOREVER.  In fact, I have been bragging about how well sleep has been.

The rest of the candy was thrown away.  I cherish my sleep much more than giving my "deprived" children their holiday candy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Karma Baby

I think I deserve a whole heaping helping of karma (good karma,that is).  I think most parents deserve it, honestly.

I finally got mine this past week.

Remember when I was whining last week?  I promised to counteract it with a positive post.  Then Brian went and said "I yuv you" to me so that post immediately took away the negative I had previously posted.

Still, I'm so happy with how my life has been turning around lately that I just need to shout it from the rooftops.

  • I won two giveaways this week!  One from Amanda- the Loving Lampposts documentary!  I can not wait to watch this!!  The other was from Soft! and SPDBN- a huge box full of goodies including Soft! clothing, a vestibular wedge for Brian's seat, a body sock, a book on tactile defensiveness, a bubble machine, and more!  I need to go buy a freaking lottery ticket with this sort of luck!
  • I received two invitations to two separate events- one to be honored for my leadership in school and another to be honored for my academic achievements at school.
  • I got my dream job as an OTA.  Yup, before I even graduate.  It's THE job that pushed me to go back to school and now having it offered to me is like a dream come true.  Not only is it the population I want to work with, but I love the ladies who own the clinic.  I love the flexibility they are going to give me and I absolutely am crazy about the amount of continuing education they are offering to me.  
  • During those god-awful parent-teacher conferences that inspired the above-mentioned pity party, I also got really great reviews on my youngest.  His teachers are all amazed at how different this year is compared to last.  I even got to see adorable pictures of him "reading" a book to a peer.  Amazing to think that out of the two conferences it would be Brian's that left me feeling happy.
  • I finally found Daiya cheese right here- instead of traveling an hour and a half away to get it!!  I can't believe how excited I was to see pea-based cheese substitute in our local food co-op!
  • I graduate ONE MONTH from today!  Hallelujah!  
Holy exclamation point overload.  Sorry about that.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Little Buddha

Have you ever tried to meditate?

It's effin' hard.  No doubt about it.

I can't get my brain to shut off.  It goes on and on and on just like that annoying Energizer bunny.

But I have been successful a few times....and it's amazing.  It's this natural high and every particle inside of you just swells with this happy feeling.  It's a brief moment of enlightenment.  It's really out of this world.

I'm not trying to get all new age on you.  However, this morning I experienced that feeling.  I wasn't meditating (or trying)...I was just standing in the kitchen marveling over how much language my son has.  And this overwhelming feeling just washed over me like a wave.

Brian probably would still test at about a two-year level, maybe even a bit lower, with language skills...but to compare my child now to my child 8 months ago is just so unbelievable it blows my mind.

It wasn't even a huge sentence.  It was just our morning routine and him being able to tell me how many slices of bread he wanted.  Him being able to tell me he wanted jelly and when I told him where it was he was able to get it himself.  Him laughing and smiling with me.  Me sitting next to him at breakfast and feeling like I could communicate with him.

Some people may not get it.  They may not get why a six (almost seven) year old being able to say "Jelly" when I ask him what he wants on his toast is a big deal.  It's too bad for them that they will never experience this level of gratitude for the simple things in life.

I'm serious.  It's a feeling that rivals that enlightenment feeling that so many people strive and work hard for.

Maybe I should start referring to Brian as my "little Buddha".

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pirates Don't Have Tactile Defensiveness!

Me:"Brian, are you a pirate?"  
Brian: "Imma pie!!"

Brian has been wearing this pirate patch for three hours and still going strong.  No joke.  

From the kid who goes at his clothes with scissors (instead of asking for help and then giving his mother an anxiety attack when she sees him reaching behind his back to cut out a tag), has probably fifteen fights a day with his socks, and has been wearing the same Thomas pajamas for about a week now (okay he does put on appropriate clothes to go out but as soon as we step in the door he's changing back to the pjs).  

I would think that elastic band around his head would be way more irritating than any of those other things.

However, anytime I think I have something figured out with him he just proves me wrong.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A New Way to Play.

One area I see lots of growth in and that I thoroughly enjoy is Brian's play skills.

I'm not saying that Brian still doesn't love to just go in his room for hours to "play trains": line up trains and push them back and forth, back and forth.  Because he will do that at least once a day still.  However, he is adding new play to his repertoire.

Take for example this:
We were at Corbin's first baseball practice when Brian pulled the hat over his eyes and then would "accidentally" walk into us (though it was apparent he could still see) and say "Oh sorry hahahahahaha".  

At the same practice he stopped his incessant running around in circles to kick a ball around and stayed with it for at least fifteen minutes.  When a toddler came over to join Brian gave him the ball and said "ball baby" and then squeezed his cheeks.  Yes, he likes to squeeze cheeks.

Then there was this afternoon when he walked into Corbin's room and saw that Corbin had some sort of immense battle scene set up in his room with pirates, knights, robots, dinosaurs, and zoo animals.  Brian picked up two dinosaurs, made them run around in the air, and said "Rawr, rawr, rawr."  I acted scared and he chased me around the house making his dinosaur sounds and giggling.

Then I have this cute picture:
The astounding thing about this picture is that my niece Alyssa sat down first.  Brian doesn't generally try to join people in anything, without being prompted to.  Alyssa didn't ask him, he just joined her and they happily played dominoes together.

They became such good friends on this particular day that he allowed her to put an apron on him.

It makes he happy to see him playing with his cousins, whom he all too often, just ignores.  Even if it involves him wearing a pink cupcake apron.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I yuv you.

I couldn't wait for Brian to call me "Mama".  I complained about it all the time.  It was the one milestone I could not wait for.  I didn't hear it until he was four years old.  It was worth the wait.

Even though I was so ecstatic for that milestone I immediately attached my heart to another one.  I could not wait for the day for him to say "I love you".  Sure once he started mimicking things he would say it back to me, but he would never just say it independently.

Tonight, as I tucked him into bed and leaned in to give him a kiss he turned his beautiful eyes towards mine.  He grabbed my cheeks and said, "I yuv you".

"I yuv you."

Can you believe it???  The first time he has ever said it independently.  I cried.  I hugged him and kissed him and hugged him some more.  I ran downstairs and shouted it to Josh and Corbin.  I cried a little more.

"I yuv you."

Seriously, nothing can beat that.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pity Party

I'm cranky.

Bad mood because we've been a one-car family while Josh's car has been getting some much-needed repairs.  It stresses me out, makes me snippy, and overall it just sucks figuring out everyone's schedules with only one car.

I'm cranky because I forgot to send eggs with Brian to school today so he could dye them.  Just pass over that "Mother of the Year" award over to me.

I'm crabby because I thought for sure I had the boys for Easter this year and then when I checked our court order I realized it is their fathers year to have them.  Now I have to reschedule the whole April vacation the day before it starts and hope he goes along with it.

I'm in a horrible mood because yesterday I had a parent-teacher conference and I was told again that Corbin can't spell words because he "doesn't want to try" when we've had FOUR different evaluations by FOUR different professionals that all say he has phonological awareness and auditory processing deficits.  Couldn't that possibly be why he can't sound out and spell words?

I'm really frustrated because though Corbin's making great progress in math and slow but steady progress in reading, he actually went DOWN in writing/spelling since the fall.

I've been giving myself a guilt-trip since Corbin's OT evaluation last week that told me he basically doesn't have a single integrated reflex (okay I might be exaggerating a little, but not a lot).  Why??  Could I have done something different when he was a baby?

I'm throwing myself a pity party because I just want to have one, just one, "typical" kid.  Then I'm kicking myself in the ass for even thinking along that line.

I'll try to counteract this with a post of the positive things (because there really were a lot in the same time period) within the next couple of days.  But for now I'll wallow in my bad mood with a glass of wine.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Okay so Brian isn't anywhere near phonetic reading, but he's getting good with his sight words.  He also realizes to look at the pictures for help with words like "R is for bunnies" or "R is for chicken".  Almost buddy.  No matter what I'm extremely proud of him and he's proud of himself.  Enjoy!

Also notice how he is starting to get the letter names and the sounds the letters make mixed up.  Any one have any insight on how to help him differentiate the two?

And yes, he's lying on our kitchen table.  We acquired a new table a few weeks ago and he for some reason has adopted it as his new favorite hang-out place.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Blog Gems: Parenting

It's Blog Gems time again!  The time seems to be flying by.  This "fortnight" prompt is "parenting".  My whole blog is about parenting in some way or another but I found this one I wrote when I was furious over what someone had said to me.  I wanted to point out how hard (and how rewarding) parenting a special needs child was.  Sometimes I don't think I don't get the credit I deserve and on this particular day I was putting it all out there.

After you read my spectacular Blog Gem that I chose for you, make sure to check out the King and Eye and see all the others who have linked up this week!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Team Brian Presents...

There's nothing better than seeing a huge group of people in one spot supporting a cause that is so dear to my heart.

On Friday night Team Brian held our annual fundraiser for the Autism Society of Maine.  Last year's rummage sale brought us a lot of money but it was a lot of time and headaches.  This year I opted for a quicker, easier event and hired a magician to put on a show.  When there were fifteen people standing in the lobby 35 minutes before the event was to start I knew we were in for a good night.

I thought we had been optimistic putting out the amount of chairs we did, but ten minutes prior to the show we had to put out another thirty chairs (or more).  All the chairs were taken and there was a huge amount of kids sitting on the floor in front of the stage.    Our baked goods were gone before we knew it.

As I stood in front of the crowd to thank everyone for coming and to fill them in on just how prevalent autism was my eyes welled up with tears.  To see the room full with family, friends, and people I had never met made me feel so supported and surrounded with love.

I'd love to add photos of the packed room, but being as it was mostly kids I'm not really sure on the whole legalities of that.  However, I do have this very cute video of Corbin helping Rick perform the last trick of the night.

A little bummed- I used a program to rotate the video and when it rotated it it lost the quality and now the voices don't sync up with the picture- but you get the idea, hopefully!  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Asthma and Pirates

So I made a little promise to myself that I was going to blog every day in April for Autism Awareness Month but here it is, the seventh, and I've already missed a day.  I'm not good at commitment.

Why did I miss yesterday?

I was told Brian had asthma and we need to start him on inhaler treatments.  Great, just keep adding diagnoses to the list, like we don't have enough to handle everyday.  I should stop hogging all this great fun and spread it on to other families, anyone want some?

On top of that we went to a hockey game because they were holding an Autism Awareness Night.  I'm tired, so I'm not going into details but Brian did quite well, there was a quiet room provided which was a lifesaver, the players wore awesome jerseys and shin guards, and our families name was put on the big screen when they thanked certain people in the crowd (I guess because I bought a bunch of tickets at once?  Or because they knew we had a family member with autism?  I don't even really know- but it was cool).  Oh and I learned that Corbin is a natural-born heckler.

Corbin giving the Monarchs (the opposing team) the thumbs down

I really wasn't taking a picture of his butt- just trying to get a good shot of the puzzle pieces on his jersey.

Is he ever gonna grow an adult tooth in that spot?

Corbin really got into the game!

Brian being hypnotized by the lights.

Caught this in the ten minutes of the game that Brian actually watched, cheered, and pumped his fists.

Posing with the ASM race car in the lobby.

Making the quiet room not so quiet.

I don't know the mascots name, but we still got a picture.

Doesn't that look like a mean Pirate face?

FIGHT!!!  Be honest, it's the best part of the game.

Corbin showing his mad skills.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dissecting a Crazy Night

I can tell you what first triggered the hyperactivity tonight- Tron.  The sci-fi movie with all the loud noises and spinning lights.  Can you say "sensory overload"?  Josh is very well-meaning and thought Brian would love the fast motorcycles and crazy light shows, he's right, Brian does love that stuff, but don't expect him to sit and watch that stuff.  Expect him to escalate to running, jumping, flapping, and screaming (happy screaming).

So that started it.  However, he didn't come back down.  He only escalated.  Some people would say that is normal for sensory overload- which it is- but it's not normal for my little boy.  I have our bag of tricks that work to bring him back down and I can always bring him back down after I pull out a few tricks.  It wasn't happening tonight.

I brought him upstairs alone and he couldn't stop giggling.  Manic giggling.  He couldn't stop moving and rocking.  Then he would do his "Yee-ee-ee" ten decibels higher than usual.   He was big-time craving proprioceptive- pulling me on top of him and squeezing me, burrowing his head underneath me while I lay next to him.  His eyes were huge like he was high on something.  The hands were flapping a mile a minute. Yet, he had beautiful eye contact and words during this time. Then his cough started becoming worse because he was seriously working himself up that much.  Then the wheezing started.  Then a rash on his cheeks and his chest.  Bedtime was atrocious and that is actually one area that we never have problems with.  Generally  he's out 3 minutes after I turn off his light.  Not tonight, it took him at least half-an-hour to stop rolling back and forth and laughing to himself in bed.

In reality, though I want to blame Tron, he was off yesterday too.  His notes from the past two days from school included  "loud day today".  He was very obsessive about things at home and tantruming a bit more than usual too.

Then if I wanted to go further I could say it's been hard for him to get back into routine after being home sick last Wednesday and Thursday, then a snow day on Friday, then the weekend.  Five days- pretty much a vacation, which he always has a hard time transitioning from.

Then the very last thing I can attach it to is the B-12 shots we started recently.  That's the thing I'm avoiding attaching it to.  Why?  Because we've seen this growth in speech almost overnight during those five days he was home.  I mean really a bunch of new stuff he hasn't done before.  I hate to think those same shots that I'm attributing better speech and better reciprocal interactions can be also attributed to out-of-control mood swings.

Then I spend all this time trying to figure out what caused it and I send myself right into an anxiety spell.  Am I the only crazy mother out there doing this?  Sometimes I want to say to myself, "Heather, he's finally asleep.  Just drop it.  Relax and enjoy your quiet time until you go to bed.  Tomorrow is another day."

Tomorrow is another day.

Just hopefully not another day of manic behavior.

Start Your Day With A Song

Start your day off on the right foot.  Sing a song, whistle a tune, or take 30 seconds and let Brian do it for you!  Each video below is less than a minute and I promise it'll brighten your day!

Brian reciting his ABCs:

A little bit of "Under the Sea" for your listening pleasure:

And because Corbin never wants to be left out of the fun (and who can blame him) let him put on a little show for you (this will REALLY put a smile on your face).  He's a  little shy, can't you tell? (dripping with sarcasm)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Me Cow.

Brian: "Cow cow cow."
Me: "Cow? Where's the cow?"
Brian: "Me cow."
Me: "You're a cow?"
Brian: "Moooo" giggle giggle giggle

He was seriously laughing his butt off with a gleam
 in his eye after saying this.

Brian's first joke?

Or even more astounding:
A new pretend play skill?
He has NEVER pretended to be anyone (or anything) before.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Contests & GiveAways

Being as it is Autism Awareness Month I am finding a ton of giveaways and contests regarding Autism.

I'm going to update this post as the month goes along, but consider this your one-stop shop for contest information.

Visual Schedules is having a contest for a free (what else) visual schedule.  They have classroom and family varieties.  All you have to do is go their site, send them an email, and like their facebook page.

SPD Blogger Network is having an awesome Spring giveaway.  Easter baskets filled with a ton of great sensory-friendly items.  I kind of want to win this one, so don't tell me if you win.  I'll be extremely jealous.

Lisa Romeo Writes is having a giveaway of Kim Stagliano's "kimoir" of raising three daughters on the spectrum, "All I Can Handle, I'm No Mother Teresa".

Amanda Broadfoot has two contests right now on her blog.  One is for these really great Scentsy warmers and the other is for the new movie, Loving Lampposts.

The Autism Classroom is planning on giving away 100 books (not all to one person, mind you) to teachers, families, and other people involved in the lives of people on the spectrum.

Positively Autism is linking up to a giveaway from Autism Speaks- a free copy of Carol Gray's New Social Story Book.

Brookes Publishing is giving away several mini-libraries, including author Paula Kluth and books on the scary transition that we all dread so much.

Living Life, With A Side of Autism is giving away a three-book Away We Go social-stories series.

And that's what I've got so far.  Keep coming back to see what I've added and please feel free to send along any contests you've seen or are doing yourself.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I Want More.

Last week was Josh's birthday.  To celebrate the boys and I blew up thirty balloons and set up a trap over the door so when Josh came home from work they would all fall down on him.  It was a genius idea.

Yesterday I decided to start finding those balloons, which were still inflated but all over the house, and pop them one by one.  I tried to do it in secret thinking Brian would hate me for doing it.

Of course you can't do anything in this house secretly.  Just like this afternoon when I whispered to Corbin asking him if he wanted a lollipop and Brian ran down from upstairs saying "lollipop?".

Brian usually has a great affinity for balloons.
As evidenced in an older post, Sheer Bliss.
Brian came to investigate after about the third balloon.  I paused, caught red-handed with my kitchen scissors in one hand and the remains of a blue balloon in the other.  I waited for the scream of "Noooooooo".  Instead, he climbed under the kitchen table where he found two more balloons and handed them to me.  He then proceeded to gasp with surprise at each pop accompanied with a silly laugh after.

I thought we had rounded up all of the balloons and I went back to the never-ending pile of dishes when Brian bounded in the room with three more balloons.  He looked at me with a smile and said, "I.  Wah.  Mo.  Sizza." ("I want more scissors.")  Each word it's own sentence as he struggles so hard to retrieve the words he needs to say.

Of course I obliged.  It's hard to say "No" to him when he uses his words.

Though this morning at 9:45 he tried the line "I. Wah. Mo. Sosa." ("I want more soda.")  Sorry buddy, I guess I do have the ability to say "No" to you.

Why So Blue?

"Why blue, Mom?  Isn't autism all colors?"

A great question asked by a very inquisitive child.  Corbin and I were shopping for a blue light bulb for our front door and I was trying to explain to him what a blue light bulb had to do with autism.

I remember when I first heard about the whole wearing blue, lighting it up blue campaign.  I wasn't sold.  To me that was raising awareness for one particular resource (Autism Speaks) and not for the entire population of individuals with ASD.  I had this internal argument with whether or not I would participate.

Then I decided to go with it.

My decision isn't because I particularly do or do not support certain organizations.  My decision is solely based on the decision that wearing blue and lighting it up blue is getting attention.  It's a HUGE movement that the media sees.  Yes the interviews or mentions may be aimed towards Autism Speaks- but don't all those starlets always say "Any publicity is good publicity"?  I think if a campaign gets places like the Sydney Opera House and Empire State Building participating then we are heading in the right direction.

My decision is based on that I do support my son.  And I support all of the other individuals with ASD.  I support all of their families.  I will wear blue and I have been lighting it up blue because I want my support to be public.  If my blue light on my front door gets one person to ask me what it is for and I can educate that one person on autism, then I feel like that is one person closer to the goal of awareness and acceptance.

Plus, as I told Corbin, "I don't think they make rainbow light bulbs."

Friday, April 1, 2011

Abracadabra: Autism Awareness Month

"I wouldn't change a thing about my child with autism."

Have you heard that before?

Maybe I've even said something along those lines.

But it's not true.

I love Brian so much.  I can't even try to put that love into words.  My heart honestly expands against my chest when I think about how much this little boy and his brother mean to me.  They are my world.  They are my sunshine.  They are my heart and soul.  They are my everything.

But I'd be lying through my teeth if I said I wouldn't change a thing.  If I got my hands on a magic wand you better believe the first thing I'd wave it at would be autism.  It wouldn't even take a moment of thought.  No hesitation at all.  

I'd do it for selfish reasons- more sleep, no more cleaning up poop, my finances would be in a better order, more time to myself, less anxiety for myself.

I'd do it for Corbin.  He wouldn't have to have those feelings that he is second-best behind some diagnosis he still can't pronounce correctly.  He wouldn't have to worry about his little brother and be braver than his years to stick up for him.  He would have a real playmate.

Mostly I'd do it for Brian.  I'd do it for his past, his present, and his future.  I would want to take away all the pain- the physical affliction, the mental anguish, and the emotional pain.  I'd do it so he could talk and tell me where it hurts, what he wants, and what his dreams are.  I'd do it so he could make connections and wouldn't feel so alone in this world.  I'd do it so people would accept him and understand him and start looking at who he really is, not just what his diagnosis is.

I've noticed there is a big divide in the autism community between those who say we need to raise awareness and those who say we need to raise acceptance.  I don't see why we can't have both?  I don't see why I can't say I would wave that magic wand to rid my son of autism and still be a mom that accepts her son, autism and all.  Because I do, I accept him and cherish him and love him to pieces.

Today marks the beginning of Autism Awareness Month.  I don't have that magic wand, but I do have the power to advocate so his, and thousands more, future will be brighter.  No matter what camp you are in- biomedical, ABA, vaccinate, don't vaccinate, etc., etc.,- we all need to unite and realize we are all working on the same thing- a brighter future for our children with autism.  A united voice will be so much louder than a bunch of different, fragmented ones.

Happy (?) Autism Awareness Month!!