Thursday, November 29, 2012

When the Milestones Don't Apply

In the beginning, when you learn your child has a delay, then a disability, you spend a lot of time worrying about the "will he evers".  Will he ever talk? Ride a bike?  Read a book?  Have a girlfriend?  Be able to go to the store without a meltdown?  The list goes on and on and on....

When the milestones don't apply to you, you feel adrift. No moorings to give a sense of where you are and where you are going.  It can be a frightening, disconcerting place to be.  It doesn't surprise me at all that when the messages you get are so vague and unclear, the trajectory uncertain, and the future presented so blatantly negative, so many people cry out for a "cure" and chase every miracle drug or therapy out there.

But what if we tossed those milestones out?  What if we accepted that some brains are going down a fundamentally different path, and their development cannot be tracked on growth charts?  What if we were, as parents, able to accept this different, unknown world for what it is, and accept the child for who they are?  And what if... through that acceptance... the child was able to become who they are meant to be?  The very best version of themselves.  And what if our definition of 'success' changed as well?  And our definition of what is a good life?  Is it possible that doing that could lead us to where we need to be, instead of just where we want to be?

I have been working hard at accepting Jman's development for what it is.  I try very hard to push when he is ready for it, and not push when he isn't.  I try to be sensitive to what his needs are and what his next step is.  It can be agonizing, because sometimes those steps seem insurmountable.

And then it happens.  Giant, huge, amazing things tumble out of him like floodgates opening up.  He goes from disorganized mess to got-it-going-on boy.  He does what I didn't know he could do, and does it with style.

Step-by-step, he teaches me to chill out.

He walked right in and sat in the dentist's chair.
She cleaned his teeth!
Hell, she TOUCHED his teeth!
"Don't worry, Mom.  I got this"
I will never, ever, ever, not believe again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thankfulness Fail

I made it five days on the blogging Thankful train.  Blogging FAIL.  

But in my defense, I have posted thankful posts on Facebook every day.  So that has to count for something.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

AMOT Day 5: I am an American

I Heart Bacon

Are you exhausted with the entire campaign season?

Yeah, me too.

It can be exhausting to go through the campaign gauntlet, assaulted with ads on TV, radio, Internet, your mail, driving through the neighborhood, and so on.  Signs, commercials, glad-handers, bumper stickers.  I feel like we... as a community... are so fractured during these times.  And it is tremendously difficult for me to drive by that house on the corner, which has covered their lawn with campaign signs and political statements that I wholeheartedly disagree with and not think "Damn, they must be a**holes".

I'm working on it.

But one thing that I am tremendously thankful for is that we do live in the United States.  Every four years we get a say on who leads us into the future.  We get a choice, and that choice is a precious thing in this wide world of ours.  It might not feel that way.  After all, what is my vote in the sea of all votes, in that mystery that is the electoral college?  A pebble in the ocean, perhaps.  But there are people in this world who do not even have the pebble.  There are women in this world who do not have any choices for their lives, any voice whatsoever.  It can be so easy to forget that, get absorbed in what we don't have and forget to really cherish what we do.

It's more than taxes.  It's more than domestic policy or foreign policy.  It is more than religion and religious differences.  Voting is about ownership of our home and of fellowship with each other as citizens.  We are a family after all, and when it comes down to it, we can bicker like siblings but we have to come together in the end and go forward for the greater good.  And when you make your choices at the polls tomorrow, I hope you keep in mind the fact that all citizens of this country are your brothers and sisters and you are making decisions not just for you, but for them.

I am Thankful to be an American.

Go Vote.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

AMOT (Day 2-4)

I meant to write about Thankfulness and Appreciation all month.  But Blogger broke, and I couldn't post like I wanted the last few days.  So here is a rundown of my intended posts, in abbreviated fashion:

Day 2:  I am thankful for Noosa yogurt.  Yes, yogurt.  Dan and I went on a low-carb diet and my one daily "sin" is Noosa yogurt.  It is heaven on a spoon.  Seriously, I would eat this stuff over cookies and ice cream every day.  And I do.  Simple pleasures, but Lord knows I need those!  And in case you are wondering, the low-carb diet thing totally works... especially for my husband.  Might work better for me without the Noosa, but I refuse.  I will go down with the Noosa clutched in my hand, baby!

Day 3:  I am thankful for our super fantastic babysitters.  They are a pair of sisters from down the street who have a brother on the spectrum, totally get Jman, and he loves them.  They made it possible for Big Daddy and I to have a date night.

Day 4:  I am truly thankful for the new friends we have made via the connections of autism.  We had a night with friends who have two awesome boys on the spectrum.  We watched football, watched the kids play-ish, and chatted chatted chatted.  It has been a very long time since we have done anything like that, and it was pretty awesome.  You know, we have lost a few friends (or potential friends) along this autism way, but the ones we have gained far outweigh the ones we have lost.

And that is it in a nutshell...  three days of thankfulness rolled into one post.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Month of Thanks (AMOT): Day 1

I have been notably absent.   I have a thousand excuses and none.  But I am vowing to make up for it this month.  This month, I will devote to expressing my thanks right here. Reflection can be very good for the soul.

Today I want to express my thankfulness to my wonderful Facebook posse.  And here is why...

About three weeks ago, Jman suddenly and inexplicably decided that he wanted to watch Elmo Happy Holidays.  Don't ask me where this came from, or why, or how....  just accept the reality that in early October we were watching Elmo Happy Holidays over and over and over again.

Not that you are overly interested in the finer plot points of Elmo Happy Holidays, but it is important at this juncture of the story that you know that Kelly Ripa plays 'Mail Carrier Kelly" and delivers many a holiday card to Elmo through the course of the video.  Jman discovered the wonders of... the mail.

So I tossed out this:

Do you want to make a little boy very happy? Send him a card in the mail.
Jman has just gotten the idea of mail and getting cards in the mail (thanks Elmo). So if you wanna make him a happy boy, send him a card. That is all
Like · 


I was flooded with responses from FB friends.   We are up to seven cards from four states from random friends from Facebook, some "real life" friends and some of the online variety.  When the first card arrived, this was his reaction:

To be specific, his response was, "Oh WOW.... Happy Kwanzaa!!!"

(Elmo encourages multiculturalism.  I'm good with that.  And this is an excellent example of echolalic scripting in practical action.)

With every card he has gotten, he has been more excited.  He loves it.  I have used it to teach him his first and last name, his address, and about writing cards and letters himself.  This is one of his first attempts:

How about THAT?

In a world in which there is so much anger and resentment and blame... where the social and political climate is so fractured and contentious (and Facebook definitely can highlight the hell out of that)... it is really wonderful when people can still do these simple little things to show friendship and caring with each other.  It means the world to Jman and the world to me.

Thank you.


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