Thursday, June 30, 2011

He Didn't Strip in Applebees: Progress!

Wednesdays are my long day at work.  I work between 9 1/2 to 10 hours.  The last thing I want to do when I get home is make dinner.

So last night I took the boys out to Applebees.

Everything was going fairly well.  When all of a sudden Brian stands up in the booth and says quietly, "Ohno, ohno, ohno, ohno. Imma imma imma wet!"  I look down and there is a tiny spot of liquid on his shorts.  He didn't spill anything, just the condensation on the outside of his cup had rubbed against the fabric.

Trying to use my calmest voice I reassure him, "Oh it is a little wet.  It's fine though Brian."  Inside my head I'm thinking, "Once again I didn't pack extra clothes.  The kid is going to strip and I'm going to have to take off my cardigan and figure out how to make shorts with it." (True story, actually it's happened quite a few times.)

Brian's voice becomes a bit louder, "Imma Wet!!"

A couple of minutes pass and he yells it really loud, "IMMA WET!!"

People are starting to look over at us as I'm trying to blot the nonexistent-wet spot and my seven-year-old child is jumping on the seat and flapping his hands and repeating, "IMMA WET! IMMA WET!"

I place my hands on his cheeks, pull his face to mine, and say, "I know you're wet but we're inside and you need to use an inside voice.  It's all dry now.  You need to sit down."

He smiles at me, like a laughing smile, and whispers, "Imma wet", and then sits back down.  He sits down and just starts giggling.

I think he got a kick out of his little show he put on.

I want to celebrate that he didn't strip in public.  However, I'm a tad fearful that he is starting to find his public outbursts humorous.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Never-Empty Nest.

Tuesdays Corbin has speech therapy.  Brian and I go and we stay in the waiting room (though now we get to hang out in the office since I'm an employee there).  He packs his iPad and is giddy with excitement that he gets to watch a movie on it for an hour.  I cherish the time to just read a magazine.  Just relax and fill my head with nonsense.

Usually I make mental lists of things I want to buy, but then never buy.  Or make notes of an easy exercise routine that I also never do.  Today was another story.

I picked up a copy of a happy looking Good Housekeeping and ended up being sucked into a story about a family with two adult children with Fragile-X syndrome.  My hour a week that I cherish to not think about anything too important turned into a sob-fest.  For real, I had tears in my eyes.  I was very thankful I was tucked away in the office away from the prying eyes of other parents.

The Never-Empty Nest.  That's what the title of the story was.  That should give you an idea right there of why I was crying.  Yes, the story was beautiful in a way.  The love the mother has for her children is so touching and so real, especially the part of the story where she says that she'll listen to the same verse in a song 87 times back-to-back because she wants to give them happiness while she knows she can.  She doesn't know if their future will be happy, when she is gone or unable to care for them, so she wants to make sure their present is as great as it can be.  I warned you- tearjerker!

It's nice to see stories like this popping up, even if it makes me face my own demons and fears.  I really am frightened about the future of our children (not just mine) as the numbers continue to climb for those who have disabilities, not just autism.  For parents like the mother in this story, and for myself, there are no acceptable placements for our children.  It's immensely scary.

But for now I will take advice from the mother in the story and steal her mantra- "I never think past dinner time."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Our New Babysitter

Today marked another first for our family.

It was the first day with our new babysitter.

We've never used an outside babysitter.  I've always just had family or close friends do the job for me.

I found a wonderful girl who has just finished up her teaching degree in three years.  She's the oldest of six children who were all home-schooled.  She is a volunteer with the adult literacy program at the library.  And she's going back to school in the fall to get her Masters in Special Education.

Could she be any more perfect?

Today was only half-a-day of work and when I came home she was building a train track with Brian.  She told me that he gave her a hug during the day and even did some foot-tapping to her.  (Foot-tapping: one of Brian's OCD behaviors where he needs to tap both of your feet with his own feet.)  I think that's a good sign.

Then she tells me, "Corbin discovered one of my little quirks."

I stand there, waiting, thinking to myself: I knew she couldn't be perfect.

"He found out how much I like picking up rooms and finding homes for all the toys."

Sweet.  Jackpot.  She can clean any room in the house if she really wants to.

Seriously, I really like this girl.  She gives off such a great vibe.  She is certainly making this transition easier for the person who was having the hardest time with this change....ME.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Don't Always Think Things Through.

Who was the genius that told her sister she should buy Brian balls that we could put inside of his BodySox for some sensory-type activities?

Yup, that was me.


Saturday, June 25, 2011


They say absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Not that I was ever at any loss for love for my two boys.

But seeing them yesterday after seven days of them being gone was surreal.

A grin spread from ear to ear that I couldn't lose no matter how I tried.

I hugged them so hard that I heard Brian gasp for air.

I didn't want to let them go.

Corbin kept repeating, "I've missed you so much Mom.  I've missed you so much Mom.", while snuggling into the familiar crook of my arm.

Brian kept doing his OCD routine of touching both arms, both cheeks, both feet.  Then starting all over again.  Checking to see if it was really me.

My babies are back home and everything seems right in the world again.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How Good is Your A-dar?

Would you know he has autism?

If you are not familiar with autism, I don't think you would.

I think if you are a parent of a child with autism, you might.

Just look at the position of those hands.

Really that's the only thing that gives it away.

But to me, that is a real telltale sign.

What do you think?

I mean, besides the fact that you think he is the most adorable little boy on the planet.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Strange Places.

For a boy who demands comfort in so many things...

Comfort in clothing....

Comfort in routines....

Comfort with thumb-sucking.....

You sure do pick the STRANGEST places to lie down and relax.

Our new kitchen table has become a favorite resting spot.

Hanging out inside the van during one of Corbin's rainy baseball games...
Brian decided to lie across the top of the seat for a lengthy period of time.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Post-It Game

One of Brian's new games.

Remove each single piece of paper from a pad of post-its.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

End of School Year Chaos

Just when you think the going is good, take away all forms of routine and see how your child cooperates.

The end of the school year is suppose to be a time of fun and excitement for most kids.  For a child with autism, it's hell.  All of the routines that made them feel safe and successful are taken away for fun things like field day, concerts, BBQs, parties, and award assemblies.

Yesterday I went to Brian's classroom's party.  He was not having it.  He did participate in making his own snack- cutting up strawberries and well that was it since he didn't want any bananas or blueberries and he couldn't have the yogurt.

Then you were suppose to move around the stations with your parents and make fun crafts.  Brian instantly tried to isolate himself at the sand table.

Watching the wheels turn as the sand sifted down was so much more calming and soothing than the twenty extra bodies in the room and all the noise.

His wonderful one-on-one got him to participate in two of the crafts, but it's evident by the thumb that he's still in major need of self-soothing.

Finally, I told him we could go for a walk.  Finally, meaning I think we lasted seven minutes in to the party.  As soon as we were out of that atmosphere he was smiling and not crying.  Things like that are still really hard for him.  Generally I don't try to let him get out of things...but I didn't feel it was an academic thing- it was suppose to be a fun thing.  And if he wasn't having fun, what was the point?  

Luckily we ran into our special ed teacher as well as some other kids having a movement break in the multi-purpose room.  He jumped right was much more conducive to his idea of a party.

Him not wanting to have a real part of parties and things that aren't a normal part of his routine doesn't bother me.  There are some things that I feel we need to adapt to him and there are other things that he needs to adapt to.  It's not something I'm gonna push at this point.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Attention Hog

My boys are only 18 months apart.

Everyone use to ask, "How do you do it?" when they were little.  I, honestly, thought it was easy.  Both of my boys were such good babies and toddlers.  Never fussy unless there was a reason to be fussy.  Slept alright.  Smiled and cooed at everyone.  Hit all their milestones early.  Really, it was good.

Ask me that question today though and I'd look at you with a crazy look in my eye.

You know what is the hardest?  Corbin needs attention, all the time.  It's who he is.  He's an extrovert.  He wants to talk to you every second.  And when Brian is having a meltdown Corbin doesn't put it down a notch, in fact he ups it.  I swear.

This morning it was time to leave for school.  For some reason this upset Brian.  He started crying.  He wouldn't tell me why he was upset (not that he ever does) and Corbin decided it was a great time to take pictures.  Here I am sitting on the stairs with a crying Brian on my lap, trying to calm him down, so we can get out the door and not be late for school and Corbin keeps yelling, "Show me your face Mom!  Show me your face Brian!  One of you show me your face- I need to take a picture!".  The last thing Brian needs when he's trying to come down from a tantrum/crying fit is increased noise.  Corbin hasn't seemed to figure that out yet, no matter how many reminders I give him.


This afternoon we're leaving the grocery store where Brian decides he's just going to bolt out of the store to our van without holding my hand.  I'm chasing him with the bag of groceries in one hand and Corbin yelling, "Mom, Mom, Mom, want a Naruto massage? Mom, Mom, Mom!  I'm talking to you Mom!!".  I'm trying to talk to Brian to reprimand him and be firm about the hand-rule in parking lots. "Mom! I'm asking you a question Mom!!"

I whip my head around, "NO! I do not want a massage right now Corbin!! Can't you see I'm busy?"

Plus how do you give a massage while we're walking in a parking lot?  And what the hell is a Naruto massage?  He's just making up something to get the attention back on him.

I feel bad that sometimes I need to block out Corbin so I can deal with the tantrum or behavior of the moment but it has to happen.  But honestly, when he does it, it really irks me!  Probably because Brian's moment is already putting me over the edge and then add on the constant nagging....really, can you blame me?

Monday, June 13, 2011

He Wasn't So Lucky.

As I was walking by with a pile of towels I heard Corbin's friend asking Brian which costume he wanted to wear.  I heard Brian respond, "Cossum".  Corbin's friend repeated the question and Brian echoed it back to him again.

It was then that I heard Corbin pipe up, "He doesn't speak English."

I quickly grabbed a nearby notebook (Big Daddy style) to jot down what I was going to hear.  I wanted to remember where this was going to go and I just knew it would be a bloggable moment.

Friend: "Why?"
Corbin: "I don't know. (pause) Because he has autism."
Friend: "What?  What is autism?"
Corbin: "Peoples just have it sometimes."
Friend: "How did he get it?"
Corbin: "Sometimes you just grow up with it.  We're lucky we did not grow up with autism.  Brian wasn't so lucky."

Several thoughts have been running through my head since this conversation.

  • How abruptly it ended.  They started talking about English and what other languages they knew.  Then five seconds later they were back on the costume subject.
  • That our friend had never questioned this before.  He has been to our house a dozen times and he goes to the same school as the boys, but he's never realized Brian was "different" before today.  I like that.
  • Corbin's blase attitude about autism.  Yup he's got it.  Not a big deal.
  • That last line.  Honestly I didn't think it was going to take that turn when I grabbed the notebook.  I thought Corbin would do the routine of "Our brains just work a little differently" that I have been feeding him for years now.  I have NEVER referred to having autism as being "unlucky".  But that's how he sees it, and I completely get it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Superman, Education, and Statistics

Have you watched Waiting For Superman yet?

I know, I'm way behind the ball on this but just got it on my Netflix a few weeks ago.

Sad stuff.  And it doesn't even look into the special education part of these schools.  Scary.

Honestly, I knew it would be a thought-provoking and anger-inducing movie.  I did not, however, know it was going to make me cry (okay I might be a bit of a sap).

Even sadder because my school district is looking more and more like the ones portrayed.  Exactly TWO days after I watched the documentary a newspaper article was released that said our high school's graduating class has lost 40% of it's members since their freshman year.  Sure maybe a few students have moved away but really we're looking at our school district failing dozens of kids.

I know I talk a lot about the people that are responsible for my children's education and I usually have very warm feelings for them.  I think they are great people, great educators, and great compromisers (with crazy parents like myself).  Yet, you can only do so much with what you are given.  Our school is overrun with disabilities and poverty.  Our school budget is suffering.  Things get cut when things need to be added.

Even before the boys started school I wanted to look into our neighboring district.  Amazing what one town over can offer.  When I ended up doing my second internship in that district I really started itching to move there.  They have an OT room!  Actually they have TWO!  They consult with our favorite ABA professional!  They have a different math curriculum they can offer when their regular math becomes overrun with language!  They have enrichment programs up the wazoo!  They have a dedicated autism program!

I'm still not sure if and when we'll move (of course housing is much more expensive and limited on the other side of the tracks) but it's our goal.

That being said.....on Friday as I picked up my boys after school the principal came rushing out of the school in a direct line towards me.  He wanted to tell me that finally, FINALLY, our school district will have a dedicated autism program in the fall.  Up until now they have had one teacher, one poor soul, to work both the autism program and the behavioral program out of ONE room.  It was too much for anyone and probably part of the turn-around rate that I spoke of.  One dedicated program for five children with autism out of it's own room and with iPads for the students (okay iPads weren't promised but he said he was putting in the proposal).

Sounds promising, right?  Sounds exciting.  And it does make me feel a bit more positive if my goal of moving this summer doesn't happen.  But not promising enough for me to completely ditch my idea of moving.  It will be a first-year program.  Do I really want to waste another year letting my child be a guinea pig and perhaps lose a valuable year?  And it's not just Brian I'm worried about- Corbin has his own academic needs that are becoming increasingly more pronounced and it's really him that I worry about falling into that 40%.

The school doesn't know that we've been trying to finagle our way into another school district (They do now!  Hi guys!) and it's silly because I feel like I'm going against their loyalty a little.  It's like I'm in a relationship and I think it's time to move on but I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  However, you wouldn't bring your car to a mechanic that only fixes it 60% of the time and fails the other 40% would you?   I don't want either of my children to become a statistic.

Unfortunately we can't wait around for Superman to fix everything, I like the direction the school is going in, but I'm going to keep sending out those rental applications.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Another Reason We'll Miss Her

This afternoon I watched Brian exit his school while holding a plastic bag in his hands.

Right then I knew something was up.  Brian doesn't carry things.  Brian is above that....okay, I don't think he thinks that, but he hates to use his hands for anything other than flapping.  If you see Brian carrying his backpack or a bag of groceries that I force onto him, his face will usually be in a grimace and he'll be dragging it around as if it is half of his body weight.

Today was different because he was grinning from ear-to-ear and had this little happy skip going on.

Inside the bag was a game called Color Train.  Oh yes, it's a train game.  That explains the smile.

I thought it was something we got to play with for the night, like some of the projects/kits that had been handed out during the year.  Then his ed tech explained to me that Brian's teacher gave it to him.  To keep.  Have I mentioned how much I'm going to miss her next year?

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's Too Quiet Around Here...

I just got off the phone with my sister bragging about how much I had accomplished.

I had completely cleaned and reorganized the laundry/storage room.  I had also done the same to our outside "shed" and had moved the furniture around in the livingroom.

All the while Brian was hanging out in my room watching a movie he had picked out.

Or so I thought.

I had hung up the phone and decided to go check on my little angel.

As I climbed the stairs I heard the fan in the bathroom and assumed he was going to the bathroom (if the light is on the fan needs to be on according to Brian).

I open the bathroom door and instantly inhale a thick cloud of something....

Brian is trying to stand up on the floor but is slipping and sliding everywhere.

There is a white film hanging in the air and on the floor, toilet, sink, mirror, radio, toiletries, EVERYTHING.

That's a red hair dryer- it's not meant to have white speckles.
And lying on the shelf is the culprit- a bottle of spray-on sunscreen.

I keep my ancient CD player in the bathroom- it's still working
even after this sunscreen bath.  It's a keeper.
The very same sunscreen I had tried to find in the morning and couldn't.  The little bugger was probably hiding it for the opportune moment.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Marching to His Own always

When school musical time comes around I always have the same goal for Brian: "Please just stay on the stage.  Stay on the stage and don't cry."

I've given up on hoping he'll sing with his class or do any of the movements- even though he'll burst into song at home all the time- he hasn't generalized it to school yet.

So he met his goal.  And even though he's doing his own thing I still think he was the cutest one up there.  Of course I'm kinda partial to his cuteness.