Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Completely Helpless...

Last night I had dress rehearsal for my show. I was hoping for the best but ended up with one of those situations that I dread being caught in...

Since I couldn't take the kiddo with me and M was up he stayed home with him. We started new data so I talked him through what to do and and wished him luck with homework. I was out the door by 6:20pm. I didn't really anticipate anything major happening. As you know, M and A are two peas in a pod and have a lot of fun together. I figured the kiddo would protest his homework a bit as he always does with me but still do it. I knew M would be able to easily deal with any behaviors and fuss he put forth so I wasn't worried. The kiddo hates homework...

It all started with a text message at 7:06 from M:

We hadn't started yet as we were still waiting for the newspaper to show up to take pictures so I got the message pretty quick:

That didn't go over well.... I am stunned by the reaction...

Did you hear the crack? Pretty sure my heart just split in two... Of course there was no way for me to get to him either so I was left fretting and trying to figure out what to do from where I was. I kept telling myself M had everything in hand and tried to keep from entering freak-out mode...

What felt like an eternity later:

Crap... I have no idea where to go from here. It doesn't appear he's calming down at all and I'm still stuck. I'm afraid to let him off the homework hook (and in a sense giving him negative (avoidance) reinforcement to do this again tomorrow) but I don't want to drive him too far. The decision ultimately falls to me so...

That's right. Mommy gave up the fight. I knew we needed to get the kiddo calmed down asap. Everything is lost once things start flying. I then asked if anything was broken, since I'm an idiot and have antiques out... But in my defense, things rarely get broken and the cat broke the last antique that bit the dust...

Did you hear that? Yep. My heart cracked again.... Him hiding is usually indicative of worse behaviors to come (or a complete surrender, it's 50/50 but I wasn't home...) so I had to ask if there was any SIBs.... Then naturally freaked out in the process....

Then because I can be a jerk sometimes he added:

*corrected to him not home (Autocorrect got him, haha!)

During this time and the following hour I kept running to the dressing room between scenes to check my phone for the latest updates on what is going on. I felt like a crazy woman rushing around, concerned and distracted by what my son is going through and trying to focus on my lines. It was very difficult to do. As you can imagine, it is quite the distraction.

Around 8:13 pm I received this email:

You can see the picture of the homework page he wanted help with and his request for my help. Since the theater is in an old school and is also a nuclear fallout shelter (comforting, no?) I have no idea what time he actually sent it. Signal is really bad in that building....

After A had calmed down, order was restored and he settled to have a snack and snuggle in on the couch. When I came home M told me that the kiddo was so worn out that he fell asleep on the couch early (bedtime is 9) and he carried him up. I went up to check on him and he was sleeping away.

This morning when the kiddo woke up he came and snuggled in. There was no hint of the upset from last night. My only clue that something was ever amiss was that he was slightly clingy and actually snuggled in this morning. Usually he sits on the bed somewhere and asks for the iPad. There were lots of hugs too. He was quite happy when I dropped him off at school this morning.

We are a little baffled by what made him go over the edge like this. Unfortunately there is no way to really know. The only thing we can suspect is that he's been a little more anxious lately. Hopefully tonight will go a little more easily.

I can hope right? :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Guest Post - The Toughest I've Ever Written

I was asked to write a piece as a guest post on the fantastic blog Find My Eyes. It was a very tough piece to write but one we feel needed to be written. For those of you not on FaceBook I felt I needed to link it here so that you could also view it. I was honored to write this piece for him and am grateful for the opportunity to bring this voice out.

He has been doing a fantastic thing this month where he has 30 days of guest blogs from fans, family, and fellow bloggers. It is a wonderful project that has brought out many great voices. I recommend that you go read some of these posts (as well as his other fabulous stuff!) and see what great things have been written in honor of our Autistic kiddos. (You can find his blog at the link above.)

Without further ado, I present his Find My Eyes FaceBook teaser and the link:
Today's post in the continuing Autism Awareness Month project comes from a blogger, Autism Mom Diaries. She bravely tackles one of the most stigmatizing aspects of raising our children... aggression.

What happens when he gets bigger than me?

Thank you for taking the time to answer this question. Go check out her page and give her a "like", it's very entertaining and informative. Tell her Find My Eyes sent you.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly present my friend, Autism Mom Diaries...


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Theatre Baby!

Yesterday I got to confuse the bejeebies out of of the family based team. I told them and our BSC rather casually that he would be going to rehearsal with me that night. My BSC didn't flinch. The FB team did. They both stared at me like deer caught in headlights.

Skeptically, "How does that go?"

Me: Just fine.

"You mean he sits quietly?"

"Wait, he doesn't come looking for you when he needs something?"

"He just sits and does his own thing?"

"How does he know to do that?"

"He just knows when he can talk to you and when he can't (when onstage)?"

"You have never had an issue with him disrupting anything?"


No my kid isn't the out of control monster you seem to think he is. Nor am I this totally ineffective mother who can't do jack to teach her child appropriate mannerisms.

My response to their questioning was so simple, "He literally grew up in theater. He just knows."

Those of you who know my story know that I have  B.A. in Theater. I had my son during this time and took him back to college with me. There are many stories of the kiddo doing some thing or other in the theater spaces, backstage, shops, etc. I would set him down and he'd disappear as one of his adopted 150 aunts and uncles would whisk him away to play.

His greatest moment was when I was doing the Costume Design for Candide and he slipped away, toddled up on stage (in the middle of rehearsal), interrupted everyone, and started pointing his chubby little finger and gave his own stage directions. The director (my mentor) nearly fell out of his chair laughing.

He grew up in theater.

He knows when the lights are down, you are quiet.

He knows when the curtains 'fall', you clap.

He knows when Mommy is on stage, she is unavailable.

He also somehow intuitively knows when we take breaks, even if we are still on stage, and will come on up to ask his question then.

He knows to never leave the space. If he needs to, he will find an adult he knows and ask for help.

He is loved in my theater circles.

He even got to be the voice of the little boy when I did Death of a Salesman a couple years ago.

He'll get the autographs of all the ladies on the program.

He lives for it. He knows it. He loves it.

I recall another time when we were rehearsing and on a break when he did a little Charlie Chapman dance routine, complete with hat and cane.

And another time when he gave directions to a lovely friend of mine on some dance moves. She went along with him laughing all the while (I think there may be video evidence of this one...).

During shows, if he has to come with me, he sits quietly off-stage in the back corner, watches a movie and draws. If he needs to leave the green room for any reason, he knows which adult to ask for help (don't ask me how me hows stage appearance order, but he does) and they are more than happy to help.

Autistic or not, when you grow up with something, something with definite rules and boundaries, they become second nature to you. You just know. You just do.

So tonight when we go to rehearsal again, I know just where he will be. Sitting 3 rows back, left side (down stage right), 2nd seat in, playing on his iPad and munching on Cheetos.

He is my theater baby. :)

 Playing in the wood shop....

In the green room with Mommy...

In the dressing room while Mommy directed the Wardrobe crew. (He loved Brandon's spot the most!)

This mannequin in the Costume Shop brought him great joy.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

We adjust. We adapt. We overcome.

Often when we talk about our lives with Autism we keep it sunny. We try to show the lighter side. We are hesitant to share the dark moments, the negativity, the trials, the tribulations, the tears.

We are afraid.

We feel hopeless.

We don't want the "stigma."

The reality is, we face some pretty hard stuff with our kiddos.

We deal with self-injurious behaviors. We deal with aggression. We deal with meltdowns. We get hit, punched, bruised, and cry. Sometimes it's a rare occurrence. Sometimes, it can be daily.

It isn't often that anyone speaks about it. Often, when someone does they are criticized and called horrible parents. Those that judge are those who have no idea. They have no experience. They have no understanding. Or, if they have kiddos on the spectrum, they are in a deep state of denial that they cannot possibly admit that they sometimes feel like failures. That they too, do these things and feel what they feel. No one wants to admit that it can happen to them.

We try to know all the answers. We pretend. We fight. We put up a strong front.

I don't care who you are. Mom. Dad. Grandma. Grandpa. Aunt. Uncle. Sibling. Friend. You do it too.

This is the voice that is lost. This is what we are missing. This is the part of our journey through the adventure of life that can help others not feel like an island.

Don't get me wrong here, though. Are things often fantastic? Yes. Do we love our children unconditionally? Yes. Do we accept them and love them as they are for all their quirks and hardships? You betcha. Would we change them? In my case, absolutely not.

But surely the world cannot expect that our children do not misbehave. That they do not have meltdowns (not the same as tantrums!). That they do not have off moments.

That would be as lacking as the assumption that they are not loving, fun, enjoyable, creative, little human beings with a ton of love and happiness to share.

My son loves to be happy. He strives to please. He's very creative. He's even working on the 4th book in his little chapter book series. He is the most loving child I know. He wants to snuggle, play, dote on the cats, and create. He is a great inventor after all. :)

But even we have our off moments. Our not so sunny days. It would be wrong to deny us that admission. It would be wrong to judge us differently or more harshly as a result of it. We aren't any different. We just have different trials.

We adjust. We adapt. We overcome.