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Friday, February 26, 2010

Surprise Surprise

Apparently, Aidan  can do math.  Go figure.  We know he's a smart cookie, there's no doubt about that, but I don't think I was even doing math (okay I still don't do math), let's say my brother instead, I don't think he was doing math that quickly when he was 6.

So this morning while Aidan's getting ready for school, I asked him if he was spending time in the regular kindergarten class and what he's learning in there.  He says he learns about toys, of course, because nothing else is as exciting as new and strange toys.  I asked him if he was doing any math and he said yes.  Well as you can imagine we started asking him math problems.  At first they were simple. "If you have two bakugans and Miss Annie gives you another one, how many do you have?" "Three." No hesitation.  "If you have three bakugans and one of them breaks how many do you have?" "One." Again, not a pause.  "Alright... if you have five bakugan and you buy two more, how many do you have?" "Seven!" o.0

It was such a surprise.  He got bored after that, so of course no more math problems today.  But really? After all of this, he's a math whiz too?  Gee, I got a kid genius on my hands guys!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

You'll Never Walk Alone

  Every time I hear this song, I just want to grab Aidan and hold him and sing it to him.  This song is on a commercial during the olympics at least once or twice an hour.  And every time it brings tears to my eyes.  If you haven't heard it, go find the Judy Garland version and listen.  An autistic child should never walk alone (no child should), and I will always always always support Aidan's dreams. (This week the dream is ice skating)

When you walk through a storm
hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark.
At the end of a storm is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Tho' your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone,
You'll never, ever walk alone.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone,
You'll never, ever walk alone.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Seriously folks?

I have talked before about how much of a blessing Aidan is.  Today I wanted to scream, and this was before he even got home.  It wasn't anything he did though, rather something someone else said.  If you hadn't heard: Bob Marshall, R-VA: disabled kids are God's punishment for abortions?!  

Seriously Bob?  Wow, "conservative Christians" can really put their foot in their mouth sometimes.  Did you even bother to think before you spoke Bob?  Honestly, I'm not sure what he was thinking.  According to Bob, "The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children," said Marshall, a Republican."In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There's a special punishment Christians would suggest."  Okay... so what about all those mothers who never had an abortion but our children were born with a disability?  And what about all the women who had an abortion and their subsequent child wasn't disabled?  The logic in that statement is SO far off it's beyond sad. 

The biggest problem I have with Bob's statement is that he considers disabled children a punishment at all.  This is such a prejudiced and hateful statement!  Anyone who has a child with a disability knows that their child is not a punishment but a gift!  No, it's not easy, but how lucky are we that we were good enough and strong enough to receive such a wonderful challenge? 

Bob, do us a favor.  Duct tape your mouth shut so you can't make any other stupid hateful comments.  You make everyone look bad.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The glass half full

A diagnosis of autism often feels like a death sentence when it's first given.  Your mind goes immediately to the fact that your life will never be the same, and there are so many things your child may never do.  It becomes overwhelming to try to determine what services will help your child and when and how soon you can get them, not to mention how the heck you're supposed to pay for all of this since it's usually not covered by insurance.  It would be so easy to be angry, to grieve and mourn what your child could have been, to be depressed over it all.

But take a different look at it.

You are blessed to have a child with such a unique way of seeing the world.  He or she can teach you about things you never even knew you needed to learn.  Only a child with a disorder such as autism can show you how differently the world appears to them.  Only a parent with a child who may or may not ever speak can appreciate so strongly the importance and joy of hearing their little one say "Mommy" or "I love you".  We learn patience, stubbornness, selflessness, hope, perseverance, and unconditional love.

If you can't look at those things as a blessing, then take this and chew on it for a while:  your child has autism, which is pretty much never life threatening (unless your child has comorbid symptoms which prevent them from taking nutrition or something like that).  Imagine that diagnosis of autism and how scared you were when you got it.  Now imagine if that diagnosis were one of leukemia or some other deadly childhood illness.  The likelihood of your child "coping" with or overcoming such a terrible disease is often slim.  You must watch them suffer as they go through painful treatments, and are in and out of hospitals.  Some parents even have to watch their child die.  I can't imagine the helplessness I would feel if Aidan had been diagnosed with a childhood cancer.  It's my job to protect him.  I yell at principals and teachers who I don't feel are doing their best to help him.  But what if the doctors ARE doing their best and it's still not enough?  Who do you yell at then?  At least with a diagnosis of autism, I know my child is healthy, and for now happy.  I can help him to be happy by making sure he learns to overcome his diagnosis, learns to live above and around it rather than just live with it.  I can teach him to not let it control his life and keep him from doing things he wants to do.  I never have to be afraid of dreaming and hoping with him.

Take stock of your blessings... often times they are more significant than you realize.  You were chosen to be part of an amazing miracle, and to be worthy of raising such a special child.

If you aren't the parent of a child with autism, I still encourage you to count your blessings.  It's so easy to be cynical and to think about how crappy life is, especially now when the economy is bad and times are tough.  But look at all you do have!  Did you wake up this morning?  Did you have a roof over your head?  Did you have food to eat and clothes to get dressed?  What else do you have that you take for granted?  A loving and supportive relationship with your family?  Great friends who would come get you if your car broke down at 4am?  A job that may not be your favorite but at least pays your bills?  Life changes drastically when you look at what you have instead of what you don't.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Different Perspective

It is not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding.
- Erma Bombeck

As the mother of a child who has autism, I have learned this better than I thought I could.  I'm not saying that I don't sometimes still judge people, I'm not perfect.  But one group that I've learned not to judge is my fellow parents.  Most people, even some parents, when they see a parent whose child is misbehaving or being obnoxious or loud or throwing a tantrum, they glare at the parent as if they are the worst parent in the world.  We're guilty of having done it at least once, even if we don't admit it.  We see the child throwing a tantrum, or talking too loudly in the restaurant, or wearing a diaper even though they should be much too old to do so.  And we automatically think, "oh, if I were that child's parent, what I would do is....".  But you know absolutely nothing about that child or his parent in most cases.  And sometimes, even if you do, your lack of perspective gives you a skewed judgment of what is really happening and how it should be handled.

Aidan has a hard time using the correct volume at the right time and place.  Aidan is very sensitive to sound, light, and smell (and maybe other things he can't tell us).  Aidan has a difficult time with transitions and needs extra warning that something is about to change, and what to expect.  Aidan isn't always able to put into words what he wants or needs and it frustrates both of us.  Aidan loves watching the same thing over and over and over and over.  Aidan loves to sing, and will do so as often as he's permitted to do so, and sometimes when he isn't.  Aidan can't always make eye contact, but he tries to.

But let's assume you didn't know any of those things about Aidan and you came across the two of us at the grocery store.  He starts out talking or singing loudly, and you may not know it but I've given up trying to quiet him down because it isn't a library or the movie theater.  Then, without much warning he puts his hands over his ears and starts acting rather brattishly - you don't pay attention but to him the combination of sounds has become overwhelming, perhaps the loudspeaker came on or more people were talking than before.  He's also hungry and the lights are bothering his eyes, but you don't know this when he starts having his melt down, screaming and throwing a fit because he can't tell me what is making him so uncomfortable.  I have to finish my grocery shopping and I don't have anyone who could have watched him because I'm a single mom and don't always have an immediately available babysitter, or a chance to do it while he's at school.  I know that you're watching me and rolling your eyes and talking behind your hand to your friend about how terrible of a person and irresponsible of a mother I am because I can't control my child, and don't have the common courtesy to take him out of the store so people can shop in peace.

I've learned the hard way never to judge parents for the way their children act, because it requires me to make an assumption that everything else about their life is perfect and they are just choosing to let their child behave poorly.  I can't stand the look I get when Aidan is having a bad day.  I thank God that those days are fewer now than they used to be, but there was a time when I dreaded taking him anywhere in public.  It made me want to carry around business cards so people would stop looking at me like I was a bad person, and looking at my child like he's the devil.

So, next time you're out at a restaurant or shopping, or wherever you may be, and you see a child who's acting like a handful and it annoys you, before you make a snarky comment about how you would handle it... stop.  Think.  Reserve judgment.  Be compassionate.  Smile at the mom who's struggling with her child that is screaming for apparently little reason (don't assume it's just because he didn't get his way), offer to carry something for the dad who needs to pick his little girl up because things are too loud for her and she's in a panic, laugh and join in when someone's child is singing along with the music.  We're so quick to judge people, and it's a hard habit to break.  I was blessed to be given a little boy who could force me to break that habit.

Honestly I think someone secretly prayed I would be given patience.

Thanks, whoever you are.  My test has been awesome!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Oh noes! No circus this year.

We had planned on taking Aidan to the circus today.  Sadly it seems the tickets are sold out.  I honestly dreaded telling Aidan that we couldn't go, because we'd talked about it for a couple of days and he seemed to be really really excited.  I was so proud of him though, when we told him we couldn't go he was upset for a few moments, but was willing to come up with an alternative to keep himself entertained.  I asked him if there was something else he would rather do (I figured he'd ask to go to Sci-Quest or the toy store or something), and he decided he wanted to play with his tornado machine. That was seriously surprising to me.  There was no melt-down, no whining, no begging to go somewhere else or anything.  He was happy to play with his toy (THANKS MAWMAW!) instead of going to the circus.  I feel horrible that he didn't get to go, and that I didn't keep my promise to him, but I didn't realize the circus would sell out!

It's great to see him make progress and learn to take control of his behaviour and his attitude.  I'm so proud of him (even when he has bad days, which are fewer and further between)!