Hello again! It’s been a minute…

Jasan, now age 9.
Photographer: Emily Sara

I think it’s time to write again. Life has changed; in the BEST way.

It’s time to share the journey as the dynamic changes.

It has been a few years since I have written. A lot has happened during that time. Man, Jasan has grown! His brain is a whole different story now. 
Instead of being just the two of us, it is now the three of us. (Marriage happened!) Actually, it is 4 of us. Otis, our dog, counts too. 😉

Christmas card 2018 photo shoot at Menards. I know; strange location for a Christmas card, but…Jasan is still obsessed with appliances! It fits our family.
Photographer: Emily Sara
Christmas card 2018 photo shoot in the old apartment.
Photographer: Emily Sara
Yes, we have a shopping cart at home. Jasan found it by the dumpster in the parking lot of our old apartment and HAD TO HAVE IT. lol..
Christmas card 2018 photo shoot.
Photographer: Emily Sara
New love.
Photographer: Emily Sara

I am looking forward to being inspired and sharing experiences again. Being a mom of a growing autistic kid has been so challenging, but also SO REWARDING.

I’ll be filling you in!

Welcome back…

Waves of grieving.

This may be difficult to write.

I have to admit; I have definitely had a rough day. I am quite blessed to say that tough days where I let my emotions go down the negative path are few and far between. Today has been the exception to my positive streak. I am sure parents of special needs kids are here, where I am today, more often than not. Hence my decision to just sit and write.

I love my son more than I can even explain. I think that is why it feels so incredibly horrific when I have days like today. Days when I just give in to complete mental exhaustion. Why can’t I just have a day where I don’t feel like I am walking on eggshells? The mood swings can come out of nowhere and I some days feel like I am done with it. I am done with patience. I am done with overthinking. I am done with staying calm and looking at the bright side.

I wonder what it would be like to have him come to the grocery store with me and just comply? Or go to a movie with me and sit through the whole thing? Or be able to play like other kids do and just go be free for awhile? Or be able to handle a simplistic no? Not even a NO to something big. A NO to the smallest thing and here we go.

Mama has to tiptoe so that there is no meltdown.

I. am. so. tired.

This feels like a different stage for me. The toddler days are over. Now he is a little boy. His mind is maturing and wow things are different. Interacting with kids are different. I see how other kids AVOID him sometimes.

OUCH that hurts. A lot.

I do realize these are MY feelings, not his. I need to always put that forefront in my mind, but man, is it hard. I have bawled my eyes out driving home from friends’ homes where I thought that he would never be pushed away by the kids. Well, I was wrong. Big time. I had a little guy say to me (a situation where a bunch of kids were present, and obviously the boy didn’t realize I was Jasan’s mom) “Oh, HE isn’t staying the night, is HE?” with that annoyed tone.

HEART. BROKEN.

I have to realize the situation as it is. Not everyone sees Jasan as I do. This is a new stage of grieving for me, the ideas of a little boy and the things we would do and how life would be without autism. This experience of having a child is my only one. Every stage is a learning experience, but now with autism involved. Completely different than what I imagined pregnant with a little munchkin in my womb.

But even as I sit here and write this, he is playing with water in the sink. He just said the cutest thing to me and it is words coming out of his growing up self. Adorable. Completely. I look at him and all of this bullshit washes away.

I have been practicing the mantra, “EVERYTHING ALWAYS WORKS OUT FOR ME.”

I guess I am going to add, “EVERYTHING ALWAYS WORKS OUT FOR JASAN, TOO…”

Tomorrow is a restart. No more negative. Positivity and LOVE always win and bring the best into my life experience.

Transitions.

This is can be a tough subject, but I am choosing to not look at it that way. This post is about the ever evolving lesson in how to chill out. 🙂

Old thoughts about transitioning through daily activities:

(Anxiety.)

We totally aren’t going to get there on time.

Seriously, I need to give myself an hour for a 15 minute store trip because of the million ways he is going to get sidetracked in this store. 

Crap. If I hand him this object of momentary obsession, is he going to throw it?

(Feeling rushed, but trying not to act that way.)

I would like to run into this store really quick, but we may not get out of there for quite a while and we just don’t have enough time. Ugh.

I know if he asks me for something and I say no, he is going to whip anything he gets his hands on across the room. Maybe we just won’t tackle this (place, activity, etc.) today. I don’t want to deal with what may happen.

Why can’t he just listen to me?

Why can’t we get through the day without having to set the timer a million times?

Wow. That woman’s kids just go with the flow and totally just listened to her when she said, “Let’s go!” How nice.

I can’t get anything done. He is going to have a melt down if he can’t play outside after school. When am I going to get to the grocery store?

The other kids in the neighborhood just roam. I need to be watching Jasan at all times. He is just so unaware! 

If he does not get enough sleep he is totally going to have a rough day. Actually, it will be a rough day for both of us. 

I wonder what a day of not having to over-think everything would feel like? 

Being a single mom sucks. I just need a break. Parents that get to take turns…I have NO idea what that feels like, and they have no idea what this feels like.

Should I keep going? I’m thinking not. You get the idea. Negative shmegative.

The more I expand and evolve as an individual, the more I know I need to just relax. Go with the flow. The thought patterns above are not even close to chill. Having the belief system that I do…your thoughts create your reality…the above thoughts are just going to bring me more of the same. More reasons to feel anxious. More meltdowns. More throwing.

So, I am ridding myself of being that mom. I have chosen to be the mom who is going to teach my son that it is possible to stay aligned no matter what is happening around you. The phrase, “think happy thoughts” is right on. If I focus on what I don’t like, I am shooting myself (and Jasan) in the foot. He feels everything I put out there. It’s funny how last year I was under the assumption that as long as I didn’t act “rushed” and kept those thoughts to myself, Jasan would go with the flow. Ha. He can feel me. He is highly sensitive and keenly aware of what I am feeling. He may not verbalize it to me, but he easily adjusts to my rhythm. If my rhythm is running tense or hectic, he will feed off of that. I know this about him, but I think my perception has changed in regards to myself.

I can control myself. I can control my thoughts. I can choose how I want to think about the ones I love. I can solely choose to see my son in all of his amazingness, even if he decides to throw my phone. (Otterbox!) The more I practice this, the stronger my love vibe will be, the anxiety vanishes, and what I put out there come back into my experience.

It’s a beautiful thing. No sloppy thoughts. Sloppy thoughts bring me what I have always gotten.

Time for change. Time for teaching through example and not empty words.

Autism sees right through that.

He keeps teaching me what unconditional love really means over and over. It hits me deeper every time. We were meant for each other and I love our reality! Our journey together is going to be the most enriching experience…now and for the years to come.

I am super excited about it.

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It isn’t hard for him to find his happy. He is teaching me this. <3

 

Love grows.

I know most mothers have thought this:

The minute your baby is born, you experience a love that you didn’t even know existed.

Crazy out of your mind unbelievable love. You expand beyond your wildest dreams. It’s really a moment that cannot be described unless you experience it for yourself.

What has been blowing my mind is how this AMAZING love GROWS. So much. When Jasan was a baby and when we would wake in the morning, I felt like a child on Christmas morning. Every day. I remember thinking what a fabulous feeling that was to experience. Now that he is older and growing into this big boy, it feels more like an adventure. An excitement that is so full of promise and FUN…an adventure that we are on together.

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What he teaches me is how life is just simply happy. It doesn’t need to be complicated. There is always something that we can learn and be in wonder of. As his language is really emerging and he is starting to be so much more “in the world” than when he was younger, the ability to start to have mini conversations is more satisfying than I ever imagined! To hear what is going on in his incredible mind is the best gift I could ever receive, and now I am living that daily.

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Life is so good.

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If something brings me down, all I have to do is think about my son and our adventure together in this life. That changes my mood immediately. I am beyond stoked for what lies ahead of us and the journey we will go on together.

He has taught me how to live in the moment. He could not be more perfect.

Car wash.

I look at him in his perfection almost all of the time now, which is a personal goal of mine. The more I look at him and revel in all of the wonderful aspects of him, the more my love grows at a pace that in immeasurable. Getting frustrated or aggravated doesn’t benefit either of us.

I’m not perfect, no one is. But we do have control over our thoughts. That is how my photography series about Jasan began…choosing to highlight the beauty of him and his journey in life with autism, through my images. Since the beginning of this project I have learned so much, and still soaking wonderful knowledge in. Life will forever be so much better than it ever has been and can only keep improving!

Doc office.

One of the things autism has taught me is what being open-minded REALLY means. I am still grasping the concept. Life is so much bigger than I originally imagined. I would have explained myself as open-minded prior to my life with Jasan, and now that kind of makes me laugh. Nothing had ever really tested my beliefs before having a child.

Yes. I have experienced a lot of tough times in my life, but when something happens that is beyond your control and forces you to change otherwise you will wither in depression from not learning how to look at things differently…

Ah. That is when beliefs are challenged. Growth happens.

Exit.

Other paths in my life have wildly turned corners as well and I am still changing. Loving Jasan to full capacity is easy. He is the BEST part of my life, NO DOUBT. Because he is in my life I am learning what loving ME really means. (Funny how that works!) I will always be a work in progress; there is existing negative self talk that has gone on in my mind for a very long time, but it is now easier to get to the root of my issues that I would like to change. There is a great power in being aware of why stuck points exist in life and how to overcome them.

Knowing that I can practice thinking positively about my son makes it easier to start changing old thought patterns and “feeling” my way into changing those. Old patterns need to see the new light. If it feels icky, it’s not my truth. Anything is possible now. It’s cool that I can teach him this as he grows through my example. This is a dream that I am seeing come to light in front of my eyes which is very cool to me. As I learn to be true to who I really am and become all that I wish, he will learn to follow his instinct as well. That’s what my heart desires for him.

Bike rider.

When I look at Jasan, I want to explode with love. He is so precious. I love our life. I love him. I am really starting to love me fully. It all feels really, really good.

What I have learned and now completely BELIEVE is that when you FEEL good, the right path appears underneath your feet. Follow your inspiration. LISTEN TO YOUR GUT. Love others. Throw negativity out the window and out of your mind. Live in the moment.

Love your kids no matter what. Even if they screw up big time. This is how they learn..

Loving them will always feel good and they will feel that from you! Isn’t that most important? <3

Wonder.

It’s a big learning experience. 🙂

Sleep…love.

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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.

Music. Touch. Unconditional love. Quality time. Mother-son bonding. Fun. Laughter. Adventure. Dancing. Listening. Togetherness. Safety. Trust. Admiration. Self confidence.

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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. 🙂

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A little about mama.

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Photographer: Amber Benson

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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

Thought I would share some with you!

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Oh how I love him! <3

 

Love & Bedtime.

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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.

<3

Happy Father’s Day to all the deserving fathers out there.

Conscious Parenting.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the impact of what I say. This applies all the time; when talking to anyone. As Jasan gets older, I realize how influential I am to him specifically. It feels like a huge responsibility. I don’t want to screw him up. At the same time, what an honor! There is a little human on this planet that lives and swears by mostly everything I say. I guess I am quite important. 🙂

This really came to mind on a morning when Jasan came to my bed after he woke up. (He is my alarm clock on non-alarm clock days!) We had a little family argument the night before, and he was very concerned about it. He shed a few tears and just really wanted everything to be ok. I told him, as I was putting him to bed that evening, “Everything will always be ok. Let’s just all sleep and we will feel better in the morning.”

The first thing he said to me as he climbed into my bed that morning was, “Mama, I don’t want to be mean. I want to be a good guy. I feel much better. Are you ok now?” Which I replied, “Yes. I am ok! And just so you know, you are NEVER a bad guy. We all can have bad moments, but you are not a bad person. EVER.”

We laid there in silence, all snuggly, and I thought about how sweet that was. He really absorbed what I said and verbalized it back to me. Umprompted and on his own. WOW! He is growing up. This type of interaction would not have happened last year.

I read this recently, “Give your child the benefit of the doubt when their behavior seems unwarranted. Their immaturity leads them to perceive and respond to the world around them much differently than you.”

THIS COULD NOT BE MORE TRUE; with all children, but especially with our autistic kids.

Some more goodies from  this article:

How we learn to respond or react to life is driven by our interactions with others. And the patterns which are set up in early childhood form the basis of our future relationships – including the one we have with ourselves.

As we mature, we collect, sort, and file away our emotional experiences as reference points. 

A foundation of self-regulation, resiliency, and attachment is built – memory after memory – shaping our perspective, beliefs, self-concept, and outlook.

Everything can be completely changed – mood, behaviors, emotional intelligence, the ability to give and receive empathy, cognitive processing, and even our immune function, by altering how we experience our primary relationships and close attachments.

Choose to give your child quality feedback about how to respond to the world. 

Conscious parenting deepens your child’s trust in the world and secures your influence as something to be regarded as safe and reliable. This cultivates the environment your child needs to develop and thrive – mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Fill the hearts and minds of your children with acceptance, understanding, and confidence. Try these three conscious parenting tips to start building a more influential relationship with your child.

CHECK YOUR LANGUAGE – is it harsh, sarcastic, cruel, degrading, impatient, insensitive, or otherwise disconnecting in tone or attitude – verbally or nonverbally, or is it kind, respectful, encouraging, and confident?

CHECK YOUR EXPECTATIONS – is your request developmentally appropriate? How can you help your child? Can you control the environment to meet your needs w/out your child’s help?

CHECK YOUR SELF-REGULATION – is your manner calm and confident? Are your limits set with kindness regardless of how your child reacts? Can you remain composed and non-argumentative even when your child is not?

Here are a few more points to consider:

13 PRINCIPLES OF CONSCIOUS PARENTING

(by Alfie Kohn)

  1. Be reflective.
  2. Reconsider your requests.
  3. Stay focused on your long-term goals.
  4. Put your relationship first.
  5. Change how you see, not just how you act.
  6. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
  7. Be authentic.
  8. Talk less, ask more.
  9. Be mindful of your child’s age.
  10. Attribute to children the best possible motive consistent with the facts.
  11. Don’t stick to no’s unnecessarily.
  12. Don’t be rigid.
  13. Don’t be in a hurry.

I have discovered many things about myself since becoming a mom, and I have to say, one of the most important for me is DON’T BE IN A HURRY. Jasan (and I assume most autistic children) do not handle transitions easily. He is learning as he grows how to cope, but it has been key for me to HAVE PATIENCE. If I rush the process, it makes the whole experience a million times worse.

I like to think of conscious parenting as really learning my child and responding appropriately to what he needs. It requires looking a little deeper and taking more time. It is also a process of going more within myself and changing my default habits. Default is not better.

Interpretation of the senses…

How often do you overthink things? Do you find it exhausting or empowering? I am not sure if “overthink” is even the right word to explain what I mean…

Having a relationship with someone who experiences the five senses much differently can be tricky, but also such a learning experience. The older Jasan gets, the more I can pinpoint where his focus is. When we spend time together, there is something to be observed in each interaction. I like to think of this process as diving deep into my connection with him and this foundation will benefit him greatly in his adult relationships.

Sound. He is a big fan of playing iPad games together. I have noticed that he pays so much attention to the audio of the game, almost more than following the rules. He repeats the sounds perfectly (it’s INCREDIBLE!) I have also noticed that his absorption of sound is stored in his CRAZY AMAZING memory. He remembers tones of specific things from so long ago; it’s mind-blowing!

Sometimes I tune him out (which I hate to admit.) It would be impossible to pay attention 100% (like with anything) because the majority of what he spends his time doing is scripting things he has memorized.

Definition: 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 YouTube videos or something someone else has said.

Because I spend so much time with him, I usually know what he is scripting. If I don’t recognize it, I sometimes ask so that I can get into his world and try to keep him somewhat in mine. I feel like this is another part of deepening the connection. I want him to realize that a fun part of life is interacting with others. I know he loves to be in his own head and he finds comfort in that, but he also needs to tune in to what’s happening around him.

Wash vibrations and sound

Another side to this is that he has shown to be afraid of loud sound. Sometimes he can handle it, sometimes he can’t. Is he expecting the sound or did the sound occur unexpected? How loud does the blender sound to him? If someone raises their voice, does he feel agitated because of what they are saying or how loud the words are being said? What is he focusing on when he listens to a movie or video? When walking into a large crowd of people, what stands out to him? Does he zone in on one sound or are all sounds too much and are overwhelming?

This is where the parental “overthinking” occurs for me. I like to consider all things when determining how to respond to a certain behavior. I don’t see this as a bad thing, I see this as a “mom strength.” I feel having an autistic son has forced me to explore as many possible perspectives because of his different way of seeing the world.

Touch. Don’t even get me started. 🙂 No jeans, no scratchy tags. Only ankle socks. No tie shoes, only shoes that can slip on and off, like crocs or sandals. He loves cuddling. People that he is very comfortable with he has his own way of being touchy feely. I know physical touch is very important to him. But, when he has had enough, he will let you know. ha. He loves water, swimming pools, sand and sunshine. He HATES getting his hair cut and going to the dentist. (Like H A T E S with a passion.) He sleeps completely underneath his blanket, all cozy like a snug bug in a rug.

 

Taste. Oh my. Well, as of now he has a palate for about four things and two drinks. Chicken nuggets, French fries, Home Run Inn cheese pizza with thin crust, and kettle potato chips. Water and unsweetened iced tea, NO LEMON. I have told him time and time again that he is missing out on so many amazing flavors! This subject is a big one for me because I want to feed my child healthy food!! As you can see, his diet is horrible. I am sure that certain textures have to do with the behavior that he has now concretely developed for not even being willing to try new foods. If it looks different, he knows the brand is not the same, pizza slices are cut the wrong way, it’s too well done or not done enough, the list goes on…he won’t eat it. I say a little prayer for the experimental food vibes to hit him at some point. 🙂

I buy them ALL! Always clearing them out. Pizza jackpot!

Sight. His eyes always zoom right to the objects he is interested in. I see in the photos he takes. It’s so interesting what he concentrates on! It is so different from me. This is another aspect of the senses that has surprised me with Jasan. He is so eclectic. I love it! He knows what he likes, ever since baby age. I remember his crawling towards a computer versus a toy on the ground. Not. Even. Kidding. I have it on video!

Below are some of Jasan’s photographs. This is what he sees and thinks is picture worthy.

Smell. I haven’t noticed him to be super sensitive to smell, which surprises me. I mean, on occasion, yes, but on a regular basis he doesn’t mention any aversions or talk about scents he likes. Lately, he has been asking to smell what other family members are eating. I hope this helps him turn a corner with his eating habits! We’ll see.

It’s a complicated life, but hey. We are all complicated! I am having fun figuring him out.

 

I’ll leave you all with this. If you have an autistic child, you know this is true!

?

 

Claw Machine Madness

One of the things that I find fascinating about Jasan is what he ends up watching on YouTube. He has studied a million washing machines and agitators, hospital equipment, IV’s and medication, all about app ad revenue, vending machines, bill acceptors on vending machines, kids dumpster diving for electronics (oh my…) SO MANY ELEVATORS, elevator parts, elevator animations, getting stuck in elevators, keypad deadbolts, research on cell phones of ALL KINDS, computers (obviously,) how to program thermostats, cash registers, hotel tours, computer logos, LED signs, electronic fails, screensavers, Zach King magic, windows software videos, Microsoft blue screens of death, fire alarms and exit signs, golf cart racing, iPods, appliance unboxing videos, the science max guy, getting scammed on eBay, cell phone battery low alert tones, weather radios, tornado warnings, baby monitors, Lutron lighting switches, refrigerators, dishwashers… and all of this is just compiled from looking through the last 6 months of his YouTube history! Interestingly enough, arcade games made the list. He has been watching these two channels (Arcade Warrior and Arcade Matt) and they video themselves playing all the games and winning tickets at arcades near them. The claw machine is a big one.

The fascination with the claw machine surprised me for some reason. I guess I have never thought much about them and haven’t been a big arcade person myself. But let me tell you; you can find people in the world that are obsessed with anything and everything. Claw machines are major.

I love how he studies the claw from all angles, just like the guys in the videos. Because he is the master of memorization, scripting while playing is always a must.

(Scripting is a form of stimming. By definition: “Stimming is behavior consisting of repetitive actions or movements of a type that may be displayed by people with developmental disorders, most typically autistic spectrum disorders; self-stimulation. A coping mechanism.” I like to describe it as the INCREDIBLE ABILITY to sound EXACTLY like someone or something you have heard before. And, maybe it just makes him feel good!)

I wish he could meet these YouTube guys sometimes. They would be amazed at the knowledge he has of every little move they have made and words they have said in their videos. It’s absolutely mind-blowing.

If it makes my guy happy to take a five bucks to the quarter machine (another highlight) and get a handful of coins to practice his claw skills, I say, “Let’s find more arcades!”

WINNER!

 

 

 

Then there are the home versions…

A few videos for you… Jasan took the last one. Now that he is a bit older, he takes his own photos and videos ALL. THE. TIME. I love it. It’s cool seeing his perspective.

Thanks for reading! More obsessions soon!

 

New little family.

2020 is here! I have a great feeling that this is going to be the best year yet.

2019 was a pretty big deal, too. I got married in May. I honestly never thought I would get married. Being the age that I am (42) and living the amount of life that I have so far, I kinda just decided that I would be okay with just a long term relationship; a life partner without the need for a piece of paper. Or, even just stay single until Jasan aged. Years were extra rough when he was a little guy, and dating was near impossible.

Prior to becoming a mom, I was always in a romantic relationship. I didn’t REALLY know how it felt to be an adult and be alone. So, as you could imagine, once Jasan arrived and I realized life was not going to be what I “expected” once the diagnosis of autism appeared, I was forced to experience the single life. I now know that it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me, and extremely necessary.

It was time in life to focus on my son, which also forced me to look at myself. I knew nothing about autism then, but I do know that Jasan was meant to be my child. He is perfect for me. Jasan had to be number one. He has taught me what love really means. Being the parent of an autistic child in a neurotypical world takes some getting used to. Lots of lessons to learn. It feels like lots of battles to fight at the beginning, but I was able to move on from my negative way of looking at my day to day and see the good things. The older he gets, the more my passion grows for neurotypicals to try to understand people who are different from them. As much as I want the world to be perfect and accepting of Jasan, I know that will not always be the case.

When Jasan grew beyond toddler years, life began to change a little bit. I was never able to call a babysitter and go out to have time on my own, but Jasan would be able to stay with my mom (aka Grammie) for periods of time and even go through the bedtime routine with her. It gave me a little bit of flexibility to go do some “adulting,” occasionally. Funny enough, Evaristo (my husband) and I connected through Facebook. I would have never guessed I would meet my husband there, but hey. The times of social media!

We decided to meet for dinner and the minute he walked in the restaurant and started walking towards my table, I knew something was different. Number one, first impression, MAJOR attraction. He was just as hot as his picture. And his smile!!! O M G. Once we started a conversation, I was intrigued. There was a spark of a different nature. That was the beginning!

Of course it would need to be the right connection between the THREE of us. That was the tricky part. But to my surprise, Evaristo was able to understand Jasan’s complexity very quickly. He was quite intuitive about him, which was a huge comfort to me, and a VERY GOOD sign. I had been scared for so long if I would ever find someone who would be able to understand the dynamic between Jasan and me. It’s deep and different. The way I parent is different, and it needs to be. I don’t have a typical child.

Not to mention, would it really be possible for another man to love my child as much as I do? Evaristo just blended into our situation with ease. So, after awhile of dating and trying to spend as much time as we could together within our busy lives, he asked me. On Christmas Eve 2018, we got engaged! I just knew it would be right. I’ve never felt that before.

Fast forward to May 25, 2019, and we had a beautiful wedding at my parent’s home. Small, simple and elegant.

As you know, with any blended family situation there are road bumps. We have had them, and will continue to, but I always feel confident that no matter what, we’ll persevere. Every time.

I write this post as an introduction to year 2020, but also as a new start to this blog. I felt as if this project came to an end years ago, but I can’t help but want to share everything as it is now. Growing up, new family dynamic, new year, new ideas. Time to start again!
My reason for writing has always been to be relatable. I feel that if I had stumbled upon something of this nature when I first found out autism was going to be a part of my life, these kinds of stories would have opened my eyes to another perspective. And oh my goodness, did I NEED that then! I strive to get the word out that autism is beautiful. It does not have to be looked at as a burden or a “disorder.” It is just a different way of life that is complex and extremely interesting.

I will never claim to have all the answers, but I know I can share my experience as a mom living in a life surrounded by autism. It’s the best thing that could have ever happened in my life. It changed the trajectory completely and in the BEST way.

I am so excited about my new website…many thanks to Monty Winters for his artistic vision and time. I am so grateful.

The Power of LOVE.

My mind is reeling with thoughts. I am awestruck at a radio talk that I just listened to.   [http://www.radiolab.org/story/diy/ : Second half]

Stories, from parents of children with autism, who have seen the most amazing breakthroughs. You know why?

Because they LOVED so much that they figured out how to get into their child’s world. Like REALLY figured it out. I thought I had a lot of this autism thing worked out in my mind; in regard to my son anyway. I have a whole other level of understanding as of today.

We make sacrifices for our kids. We just do! Even if you only care about your kid a little bit. 😉 (Ha.) It is part of being a parent. Our lives turn into a different existence, not just an individual one, but a life that revolves around another human in the hugest way possible. Being a great parent creates ENORMOUS shoes to fill.

Throw a little one into your life, that you have indescribable love for, but…you can’t connect. You can’t reach inside their world. It is the most devastatingly horrible feeling ever. To hear that your child has any sort of “diagnosis” pretty much sucks. There are all the different stages that, as parents of special needs kids, we experience. Disbelief, denial, sadness, loss… and if you can make it to the other side, there can be so much HOPE.

Strings of hope that lead to FIREWORKS when words are spoken…eye contact is made…physical touch is expressed. When you finally, after years of waiting and giving everything you’ve got, see a glimmer of a personality that you overwhelmingly long to connect with. Even if for one minute. It makes every second of every sacrifice worth it. If you keep riding the wave of hope, more fireworks, even if it takes a while, even if it’s just a firecracker, can come along.

Jasan age 2

I think the reason I feel so amazing is that I feel validated after listening to the radio link above . I feel like a really good parent. I feel like I am COMPLETELY doing the right thing for what my son needs. I see him changing. I see him turning into an amazing little boy who is quite the charmer with a HUGE heart. He is like that because I have loved him so incredibly much and found him in his world. I have stayed in his world long enough (and still do) that he is blossoming.

One of the most common phrases you will hear about autism is that, “When you meet a person with autism, you have met one person with autism.” No one is the same. My story is not going be your story. My triumphs with my autistic child is not going to be the same as someone else’s.

The parents who have hope and dive inside find that sparkle. They know what color their fireworks are.

Jasan age 7

Interactions.

It’s been some time since I have sat here, at my computer, alone. It’s nice. Time to gather and get out many thoughts I have been having about a big subject; INTERACTION.

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Woodfield Parking Garage

IT’S TIME FOR ME TO SHUT UP. I didn’t realize how much I fill in the “empty” spaces in conversation or explain behavior when Jasan is communicating with other people. If he is having a meltdown of some sort in a store and someone that may be nearby makes eye contact with me, I whisper, “He has autism.” It makes ME feel better. Basically, I need the other person to understand that I am not a shitty parent and that’s WHY he is acting out. I blame it on the autism. I know, I know. I should’t care what anyone else thinks. But damn! That is really hard to do when it feels like you have a hundred judgmental people giving you the evil eye while your child is hitting or yelling at you; especially times when I have been on the floor trying to restrain him. That brings looks for sure.

As he is getting older, I have been more aware of my behavior when it comes to these situations. I make a point to keep this thought forefront in my mind:

“The people around me don’t matter. My son does. He needs ME and my CALM voice. He needs me to be 100% present for him in this moment.”

It’s been working very well for me. The awesome thing? It’s interesting when I keep my cool and focus how many parents walk up to me and say, “I get it. You are a great mom. Don’t worry; it will get better.” Wow. Talk about different energy attraction! When someone says kind words in a moment of stress, it takes that uncomfortable feeling away. It confirms that I am doing the right thing for my boy. What’s better than that?

Most recently, with Jasan’s elevator obsession, we have been frequenting many different buildings. I give him a time frame and let him do his thing to his heart’s content. The interaction that goes on between him and others in the elevators is fun, but also not so much at times. As happy as he is in an elevator, there is a level of anxiety that also occurs for him. He gets very wound up and on edge. It’s hard to explain. Almost as if he can’t control his excitement, but certain chime sounds or the impending “nudge mode buzz” (when the door has been open too long and an alarm sounds) scare him to death. He will cover his ears and push buttons with his elbows when he thinks nudge mode may happen. People stare at him strangely. (This type of moment is my usual cue to mouth to other people “he is autistic.”)

But guess what?

His mama is not going to be standing over his shoulder all of his life helping people understand his sometimes odd behavior. He is growing up and the “he’s a cute little guy and no one cares if something seems off” effect is slowly working it’s way out of situations. Now he may just be the strange kid.

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Ikea

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Woodfield Macy’s

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Springhill Macy’s

We have been a good team, I have to say. I am a really quick with comments to ease situations. I have surprised myself in that regard; I never thought I had that in me. He says something that makes no sense to anyone (but him and me,) and then I say something witty and people laugh. It all makes sense then. My embarrassment (which I hate to say even exists) goes away.

I don’t like saying that I am embarrassed of him (sometimes) because I totally, completely love who he is. Difference is, now I am getting used to being quiet. The buffer of opening my mouth so that other people understand the whole picture, is now gone. He doesn’t need a “team” anymore. He is 7 years old, and he must learn how to deal with people on his own. If they don’t understand and give him an off-putting look, then so be it. (He most likely won’t care in the slightest.) On the other hand, he can soak in the compliments from people who think he is the cutest “elevator man” ever. He is so polite and courteous; asking which floor that they are going to and letting them know he is pushing the door open button when they come in and go out.

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Ikea

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Ikea

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Ikea

One of the traits of autism is echolalia (repeating.) He used to copy my language before he was able to have conversations. Now he memorizes, down to every little detail and sound, the elevator videos he loves to watch on YouTube. He imitates what these guys say while we take rides. I know EXACTLY what he is talking about when he does this and I am amazed at the accuracy in which he mimics these guys! It’s crazy good.

An example…there are a lot of videos he watches off of one YouTube channel and the videographer is from Sweden (but speaks English.) In Swedish, the word “elevator” translates to “hiss.” “People” translates to “personer.” These two words are all over signs in elevators in Sweden (of course.) He will use these Swedish words when talking to people and they are very confused, obviously. Again, I am used to stepping in and explaining, but I have to stop. It is just going to be weird and that’s it. I am going to sit with it and change how I feel about it!

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Woodfield Macy’s

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Woodfield H&M

New perspective: It is going to be very interesting to see how he matures and learns how to respond/share his thoughts/information with people. As he gets older, more oddness will come forth in casual chat and he will learn to navigate. His mama is a pretty good conversationalist, so I can always give him tips on the side. 😉

I am very excited to have a growing Elevator Series of Following Jasan photography. I envision an elevator fan book down the road…

*Our favorite YouTube channel is the original, very first (of now thousands) elevator videographer. Andrew Reams, aka DieselDucy. He is a great guy that has Asperger’s syndrome (which is on the Autism Spectrum.)*

Diesel Ducy’s website YouTube channel Go give his channel a like! Why not. He has a huge following of dudes like Jasan.