Well friends, we gloriously ended the year with the first lost tooth (happened on Christmas evening!) and an obsession with USBs…
and even Pictionary!
This is “Google” by the way…
I love how he has changed even in just the last few weeks! Language is exploding and that is so very exciting to me. He is definitely GROWING UP. 🙂
We have had LOTS of snuggle time. I think that is always secretly my favorite part, and always will be.
Uncle Todd (my younger brother who lives in AZ with his amazing and lovely girlfriend Jodi) were here! It was so fun to watch him watch Jasan. I realized how much I miss my brother and how I wish he could be around Jasan more often…
I appreciate where Jasan and I are in life right now. It feels good. Amazing things are in the pipeline for this next year, and that is REALLY exciting. The amount of personal growth that I have experienced in 2014 is out of this world. I still feel so blessed to wake up next to the best gift every morning. He is such a huge reason for my smile. I love my little dude.
I want to increase the momentum of “Following Jasan” in this coming year. That is one of my goals. Life got unexpectedly busy in September of this year, in a good way, and my photography and writing had to slow down. I am aware of the fact that I miss it and need to make the time to focus on this part of our journey again.
I do have a few photos I wanted to share that I haven’t gotten a chance to blog about…
So many cool electronics…
Super wiggly tooth!
Very serious about his new coffeemaker…
I love that little hand. He is in shred mode here…
Jumping on the bed is always fun.
Especially at Mr. Rob’s house!
So much paper. I never thought we would run out of things to shred! But, we did. Oh man.
The two extra old TV’s are hilarious in this photo. He was loving on and off and STATIC.
Bye bye old magazines.
He has tried every combination of what to plug into what. So funny. I love how his brain works…
Thank you for taking time to share in our journey. I am looking forward to writing and photographing our stories of growth (and sometimes of struggle) with you to share my perspective on this journey of beautiful life and autism.
I am really getting used to just doing our own thing wherever we are. Sometimes being self-conscious will still creep up on me, but mostly, I OWN IT. As Jasan gets older, I appreciate who he is becoming even more. I keep reminding myself to step back and look at the big picture. I may not totally understand everything now. But, I picture myself looking back at his life when he is in his twenties and it all making sense. Why does he have an obsession with appliances? What is it about fahrenheit and barometric pressure that makes him smile so much? Why does my son prefer Best Buy over Toys R Us? I don’t know, but I’m his biggest cheerleader.
We hung out at good old Best Buy for quite awhile today.
Refrigerators were a hit.
There will always be the beloved washing machine.
And now, the most recent addition to fun spots to go in Best Buy? The printer aisle. We had a lot of fun with sound effects and powering multiple different models on and off.
On a BUSY Saturday afternoon was I spotted taking pictures of my son LOVING on appliances from many WEIRD angles?
Did I care?
Did a million Best Buy employees come ask us if we needed help?
Did they look at me weird when I said my son likes to hang out by the washing machines and we are just pushing buttons and listening to sounds?
I feel like my “Following Jasan” project has been so neglected. I’ve missed writing and taking photos, but sometimes life happens and you just need to try to stay positive and get by. That’s been our situation lately. First year of full day school + a new job for mama + new routine + early as heck bedtime for Jasan = overwhelm and not enough hours in the day.
I don’t want this to sound like complaining; it’s not meant to. It’s a realization of a lot going on and how I have handled it. Umm…I haven’t handled it as smoothly as I assumed I would.
Due to the nature of how my son is wired, he really needs me. I LOVE that, but on occasion I feel like I need a minute to breathe. We went from spending the majority of every day together to (during the school week) about 3 1/2 hours (awake.) Now that we are a few weeks into this new schedule, I know he just needs MAMA and LOVE during that time period. Errands and life have a hard time fitting into that time slot.
Transition for him has been difficult…as much as I am a sleep nazi with his schedule now, he still remains tired. His diet is beyond horrible at school so I am sure his energy gets low. (I don’t think chips provide the protein he needs. haha.) He isn’t used to NOT having a choice when it comes to the activity in his schedule. That is rough. Throwing and spitting then ensues, and behavior gets out of control. Reading these handwritten notes from his teacher when he gets home from school that describe the destructive actions that occur break my heart. Jasan and I are so connected that it is hard to hear that most of his days now are rough. So many questions go through my mind. I know he needs to learn how to follow a schedule at school. He will never survive in life if he doesn’t, I just wish it didn’t have to be such a painful process.
These past few weeks of what has felt a bit like mayhem to me, I have learned this. I know my son is beyond sensitive to my energy. He knows when I am not my even keel happy self. He may not be able to ask me, “What’s wrong, Mama?” but he will manifest his sensitivities to my discord in different ways. Sickness, moodiness, behavior issues, etc. And then, of course that adversely effects me. The vicious cycle continues until I get my head out of overwhelm and center myself.
I think our children with autism have a special gift. With the way they interpret their environment around them, how could they not be extra sensitive to what their caregivers are feeling? All kids are, of course, but our autistic children…
I believe it’s on a whole other level.
Which poses this thought. When you are a parent or a caregiver to a child with special needs, it is more important that ever to keep life in balance. That may sound unrealistic. Shit happens that we don’t necessarily control. But do we have the ability to create what we want in our reality and keep drama at a low? Absolutely we do.
I think it’s one of those things that we need to really think through to help our children. For example, we know that going into certain environments will cause sensory overwhelm and upset. We know the tools that they need to be able to cope appropriately, or we don’t go. That’s a simple one.
But what about when it comes to our emotional health as the adult? What can we clean out of our day-to-day to reduce emotional upset within ourselves?
That will greatly benefit our children. When we give them a calm and emotionally stable environment, that clears the way for them to thrive. We are their examples. With the challenges that they already face, wouldn’t it be the perfect scenario for them to succeed? I realize that this is much easier said than done. It takes lots of practice. I am not an expert by any means, but I do know that my awareness level is on track. That is step number one…
A key to this is living in the moment. Are you?
When I feel like I am living in the moment, I feel more calm. I can embrace what is happening. I can be grateful for where I am at, no matter what the situation. At this stage in my life I don’t believe in coincidences anymore. Life is always teaching us something. We have to open our eyes and our minds and be free to see it.
Sometimes you just need an eye shot of a cute butt to bring a smile to your face. This cute butt works for me!! 🙂
When I really feel off, I am going to bring my mind to this moment. Jasan. Beach. Waves. Running. That smile that melts me. Sunshine. Beautiful places on this earth that we can travel to see. The feeling of sand in-between toes. Watching him discover this beauty surrounding him. Sounds. Senses. Umbrella drinks. HAPPINESS.
It’s all about mindset. It’s worth it to me to keep a balance. For my own well-being, but ALSO FOR MY SON.
The crashing. His body needs it at certain parts of the day. His sensory system craves pressure to regulate. I realize this about him, and I get it. But I have to admit there are times when it drives me crazy. For example…
In stores or shopping areas.
When we are around people we don’t know.
When we are around people that don’t have any patience.
When we are at a restaurant.
When I am just NOT IN THE MOOD to be ran in to. 🙂
I could keep going, but you get the idea, I’m sure.
So, with that being said, I try my best to keep my thoughts on the positive and to work with him instead of against him. Instead of getting annoyed and telling him, “No!” (which just fuels the fire anyway,) I assimilate. If we are out and about, then I pick him up. Swing him around. Get goofy with him for a bit. Make a game out of it as much as I can. Go for a walk. Chase each other. Whatever I can do depending on the situation. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I know it’s the way he is wired. I want to love him and help him be who he is.
This summer, we did a lot of “crashing” in our gazebo.
Do you have ideas for your child(ren) when they need to sensory regulate and it’s inconvenient in the current momentary situation?
There are certain nights during bedtime routine that I just fall in love with Jasan so hard it’s beyond my comprehension. All of you parents out there know the kind of love that you feel after you have your own child. There are no words to describe what love feels like after you have had that experience. Of course I love him hardcore…ALL OF THE TIME. But certain nights, he just grabs me and pulls me in even more.
Tonight was one of those nights. Jasan and I have quite the lengthy bedtime routine; it’s not the quick: read a book, lay in bed, lights out, “see you when you wake up!” kind of scenario. He is very detail oriented and routine based. We do the same thing, all the little steps, EVERY NIGHT. I have to admit and be honest…sometimes I am just exhausted and I wish he WAS one of those kids that was super easy to put to bed. Evenings (few and far between) that I may want to go and have an adult evening out past 7:00 pm, I review my whole thought process of why I do things the way I do. Maybe I should just work on getting him to fall asleep alone and not be so dependent upon me. It would be awesome if he were the type of child that ANYONE could put to bed. Wow. If that were the case, I could just hire a babysitter like every other adult and go out for an evening!
But you know what? He’s not that kid. He never has been. What I LOVED about tonight was that I sang him to sleep. As I had him cuddled up next to me with his head nestled on my chest, I was reminiscing about the baby days. During that time period of life, we were alone most of the time. I would put play lists together of slower songs that I loved to sing to. I was a very hands on and physical touch kind of mom, so he basically never slept in his crib. (I know there are many different opinions out there on sleep and what the right way is, but this is my belief. DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOUR FAMILY. That is all that matters.) So, with that said, Jasan was basically my snuggle bunny. The thought of him sleeping in his crib away from me and his dad was just not happening. Jasan’s father is of Mexican descent, so in his culture is was natural and normal for your babies and kids to sleep with you. When his dad and I were still in relationship, that was what we did.
So, blissfully for me, I was able to be a stay at home mama and he would fall asleep in my arms to his heart’s content. I would play music ALL THE TIME. Music is a huge part of my existence, so I wanted it to be a core part of him. When he was a little baby, I would dance around the room with him every day. I wanted his body to feel the rhythm through my body and movement. I would gently tap the beat of the music on his back. I would sing to him… and that became a staple for bedtime.
As he has gotten older our routine has changed ever so slightly into what it is now. He is much more adamant about me being quiet and it being a “Jasan Do” kind of situation which OF COURSE, I welcome! When I find myself completely in the moment, like I did tonight, I feel so happy. It is so easy to second guess the past and the choices that I made in certain situations. There are also a lot of things that I did during his first couple years of life, even as naive and inexperienced as I was, that I am so proud of. Those things are what forms a huge part of who he is now. I am so excited to see how his personality forms as he grows. I know that as uniformed as I was when he was first-born, there were special parts of being human that I wanted to be drilled into his existence.
Physical touch. Huge. Being a past massage therapist, I know the benefits of it. But, I also understand the healthy emotional benefits of it. It comes natural to me, and I really wanted him to be a child that was accustomed to lots and lots of snuggles, hugs and kisses. God knew I would be perfect as his mama because he is such a sensory seeker. He craves touch. There isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t need to “crash” at some point. With the amount of communication skills he has lacked and still lacks to this day, God balanced out with physical touch for me. Knowing my personality, I would have had an extremely hard time with an autistic child that lacked speech and did not like to be touched.
Tonight hit me because he was very calm. He was extra snuggly, and being able to sing quietly and then hum to him as he fell asleep brought back so many precious little teeny guy memories. It made me feel good because I did a lot of things right for him. Knowing him and all about his autism now, makes me think back with a different set of lenses about those early months and years. I love how sometimes things are just meant to be.
Without a doubt he was meant to be my son. Just the way he is. Autism and all. I was meant to be his mama. We have a bond that is indescribable. He knows me more than I think he does. He feels EVERYTHING that is going on. I know I understand him, but I wonder if he is SO MANY LEVELS beyond where I think he is… That is what my intuition says.
My gut is never wrong. He is something special. His life is going to be spectacular.
This I KNOW.
Every now and then I need a bedtime like tonight to wash away any doubts about why I do things the way I do.
Our routines are in place because this is what FEELS right between my son and me. I know what he needs. He is still so young and I am willing to sacrifice what I may want from time to time to build the emotional foundation of safety, confidence, and self-worth for him. If that means he needs his mama to lay with him as he falls asleep, that is what I will do. Gladly.
The photos above were taken some time ago…
The photo below I love. Jasan is having a loving moment with his Grampie. As he was running around the house half-naked (as he loves…who needs clothes, really?) he is giving the best hug EVER. (And when you are 4, who cares if you are naked at home anyway?) Heehee. 🙂
“If you want autistic kids to be interested in interesting stuff, then show them interesting stuff.”
Temple Grandin said that when I saw her speak this summer at Northwestern University. It sounds so redundant, but that is what makes it perfect and simple. Go out and do cool things! Whenever I get the chance to add to Jasan’s internet (brain) to fill more web pages (experiences) I do my best to go for it! He remembers everything, and he is constantly connecting things together. A friend of mine knew that he would love to check out this CAT skid loader that he was utilizing on a job site. He invited us over for Jasan to check it out and to take a little ride with him.
Once inside for a few minutes, he started to feel at ease and realized how cool this piece of equipment really was…
It has been way too long since my last blog post. When this happens, I realize that I have become slightly derailed emotionally. When I am on a good path of staying focused on the positive and doing what is best for Jasan and me, these posts flow right out of me. Ideas come and immediately I want to write. I love that feeling, and it is proof that this project is supposed to be happening.
A lot of good has come from sharing my series on Jasan. Before making the decision to even call these photographs a series, I prayed about it. I was also quiet and let myself be open to feel a yes or a no. I discussed it with a couple of very close friends to get their opinions, and the overwhelming “yes!” was seeming apparent from all directions. The more I started to share little bits and pieces of our life together as mother & son, the more personal the words became.
Photographer: George Allen
What I am most loving about this blog is that it really all revolves around my emotional awareness and health. It’s all a part of my journey of going inward, becoming more emotionally aware and realizing how it’s forming a new version of me. Of course this directly affects my parenting. I could not be more thankful for this process and how it is really strengthening my relationship with my son and everyone around me.
My mother (who is a huge inspirational influence on me) gave me a little notecard to read about a week ago. When I started thinking about this post, I realized how well this fits together. This is what it says:
The child is thinking on the day it enters your environment.
And so beliefs are easily transmitted from adults to children…
The child is vibrationally receiving your fears and your beliefs even without your spoken word.
So give thought only to that which you want, and your child will receive from you only the vibration of those wanted thoughts.
Read that a few times and think about how PROFOUND that is.
Now, it is not always easy to have positive thoughts 24-7. We aren’t perfect humans, and life happens. Focusing on the positive takes practice. Lots of practice. And AWARENESS. Being aware of your thoughts is huge. We all have a power that many of us don’t utilize. We all have the CHOICE to pick and choose our thoughts which will then in turn determine what vibrational energy we create.
Because Jasan and I are a little twosome, our relationship is EXTREMELY close. I do not have a partner yet in my life journey, and I do not have any other children that I need to pour energy into. Just Jasan. Therefore, we are almost like one at times. <3 On the flip side, he feels EVERYTHING that’s going on with me. If my head isn’t right, he knows. Even in his 4 year old world.
Because Jasan is autistic, I think his level of awareness is heightened. He is so in tune with me it’s kinda crazy awesome. When I let my mind soak this in, I feel an ever greater need to continue my journey to emotional health for his sake, as well as mine. The stronger I become, the better it is for both of us. I think being able to look inside of me has quieted my thoughts enough to become more grateful of what is around me. All of these photos that I take of Jasan reflect just that. Being in the moment. Instead of being busy in my mind with all of the junk that I used to choose to focus on, I CAN be in the moment. After learning more about who I am and why I used to make the unhealthy choices that I did, thought patterns can be made new. Old behaviors can melt away (with a little practice of course…) but it’s all in my mind. It’s MY CHOICE and MY WORK. It doesn’t just happen.
We can all make it happen. For us as individuals, and AS PARENTS for OUR CHILDREN. They deserve it. Our healthy attitude. Our positive vibration. They feel all of it.
Just for fun, I went through some pre-autism series photos. (a.k.a. Mama & Jasan selfies…mostly. ha)
Now that it’s summer, outside is the place to be. There is a small group of kids that all live on our street. The girl in the group named them the “Cherry Street kids.” LOVE THAT.
In this photo are all of the boys. On occasion, most likely when they need a bike break, they ask to play with Jasan’s iPad. To my surprise, Jasan was completely unaffected. He didn’t want to play with the iPad at all. He was totally vibing to pacing behind them as they played, with his straw (of course,) and would react to all of the sounds in the different games they were playing.
What I loved about witnessing this is that first of all, he literally has every sound memorized. He knows exactly what is happening in each game without even needing to look. And secondly, he is unaware and unfazed by anyone’s reaction to the fact that he isn’t being “typical.” I think this is completely fantastic. I just said to my mom yesterday that one mantra that I want us to place into his mind is that, “What I choose to do is what makes me feel good. What I choose is wonderful. It is okay and I am glad it’s my choice.”
Jasan is definitely a scripter. He repeats a lot. Here is a definition of Scripting that I pulled off of the Autism Speaks website:
Echolalia, sometimes referred to as “scripting”, is the repetition of words, phrases, intonation, or sounds of the speech of others, sometimes taken from movies, but also sometimes taken from other sources such as favorite books or something someone else has said. Children with ASD often display “scripting” in the process of learning to talk.
As Jasan gets older, his scripting becomes less about “movie lines” and more useful speak. For example, at one point while I was instructing him how to ride his bike, I said, “You can do it! You can do it! Use your leg muscles!” Yesterday, when he felt stuck on his bike, he said that very phrase. It REALLY hit me how important my words are, and how I can use this to COMPLETELY BENEFIT my son. Wouldn’t it be great if our kids had positive beliefs about themselves and had a plethora of uplifting mantras floating through their minds? This is so useful for all children, but I feel that because of Jasan’s autism I can use this to my advantage.
Script away my love! <3 I vow to fill his mind full of positive affirmations, self-confidence, and beautiful beliefs about WHO HE IS. I am so proud to be his mama…
I shot the photo above a few nights ago while Jasan was in bed with his flashlight. It’s part of our lengthy bedtime routine, but as long as we follow it, he goes to sleep without a problem. Usually, he falls asleep to music every night, but tonight he switched it up on me.
A couple of days ago he was perusing through the music on our iPad and came across this song. He has been stuck on it since he heard it. This was his request for sleeping music…this one song, on repeat. Because it is mellow and something he could most definitely fall asleep to, I obliged. Up until tonight, part of his sleeping routine included dancing to one song before we turn off the small lamp in his room. Tonight was different though: he wanted me to hold him. I picked him up and cradled him in my arms. We danced around the room just like we used to when he was teeny tiny. (I used to dance with him to all different kinds of music when he was a baby. I would hold him, dance to the music and gently tap his body so he could feel the beats of the music through my hands and my body movements. Now that I know he is autistic, I am even happier that I made a point to do that daily. I am sure that is a lovely body memory for him.) Tears started streaming down my face while I started listening to the lyrics of this song. (He loved the dancing so much that he requested it three times in a row. I couldn’t say no!) Each time I connected to something different. I know that this is a love song intended for a romantic relationship, but I’m changing it around tonight.
I have realized, on many different occasions now, how extremely connected my son and I are. He knows what is going on within me just as much as I know what is going on within him. There is something undeniable about our situation and our existence together. I have been in a bit of a funk all day, and so has he. But at the end of the day, when it is all said and done, here we are. Together. In our comfort zone, doing what we always do. God works through Jasan so much to speak to me.
The whisper I heard was to listen to these lyrics as if it’s my relationship with my autistic son. It’s beautiful, and it’s a journey. Having a child has shown me how deep love runs. Jasan has shown me how MIND BLOWING love IS. Real LOVE enhances our existence here on Earth. Having my son and embarking on this journey of self-discovery has brought me to a place of happiness that is hard to describe.
I Won’t Give Up
When I look into your eyes It’s like watching the night sky Or a beautiful sunrise Well there’s so much they hold And just like them old stars I see that you’ve come so far To be right where you are How old is your soul?
I won’t give up on us Even if the skies get rough I’m giving you all my love I’m still looking up
And when you’re needing your space To do some navigating I’ll be here patiently waiting To see what you find
‘Cause even the stars they burn Some even fall to the earth We’ve got a lot to learn God knows we’re worth it No, I won’t give up I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use the tools and gifts We got yeah we got a lot at stake And in the end, you’re still my friend at least we didn’t tend For us to work we didn’t break, we didn’t burn We had to learn, how to bend without the world caving in I had to learn what I got, and what I’m not And who I am
I won’t give up on us Even if the skies get rough I’m giving you all my love I’m still looking up I’m still looking up
I won’t give up on us God knows I’m tough, he knows We got a lot to learn God knows we’re worth it
I won’t give up on us Even if the skies get rough I’m giving you all my love I’m still looking up
I won’t give up when times get hard as a parent. I won’t give up trying to figure this autism thing out. When I get sidetracked in life sometimes, all I need to do is look into Jasan’s eyes. He is my focus. Continuing to unravel my layers and become more self aware in my own personal journey enhances how I relate to my son. There is no other way than to stay positive. I have made that choice for us.
I could have gone down another path and been frustrated with my “single mom with autistic kid” status, but no way. God did intend for Jasan and me NOT TO BREAK. We are learning to understand each other’s different realities, and the world is not going to bring us down. Jasan’s energy is addictive to others. He is going to BE SOMETHING GREAT. We are going to be a great team together. That’s my attitude. That’s my intention for him and how I will guide him.
If I don’t keep learning about who I am, we won’t grow together. As I learn and change, I become better for BOTH of us. When he ages and needs to go and navigate, I WILL be waiting for him. I WILL be here to guide him when he needs me to. I will always be his Mama rock. I will be his safe haven…his consistency. Unconditional love.
I needed that attitude adjustment tonight and our bedtime routine led me right to it.
Thank you son. Thank you for enriching my life more than you will ever know.
Happy Father’s Day to all the deserving fathers out there.
The kids that live in our little neighborhood circle always end up at the end of our driveway. We usually have music playing and Jasan and I will be hanging out doing whatever his heart’s content may be.
It’s a perfect weather day out today, and we had those water hose going for awhile… making squiggles in the air, giving his bike a “bike wash”…you know. That kind of stuff. And then… ALL OF THE COOL STUFF in the garage took over.
Currently the electronics have won over it all. I asked him, “Would you like to play with the kids?” And in his cute voice he answers me, “No.” He is in his world of contentment.