photography

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.

fullsizerender-3

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.

fullsizerender-7

Ikea

fullsizerender-6

Woodfield Macy’s

fullsizerender-2

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.

fullsizerender-9

Ikea

fullsizerender-8

Ikea

fullsizerender

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!

fullsizerender-5

Woodfield Macy’s

fullsizerender-4

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.

 

 

Advertisements

Numbers & Letters…

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Jasan loves numbers.

And letters.

He has been sounding out words and reading since he was 2 1/2. He loves watching shows like Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, and plays Bingo with me because of the numbers and words attraction.

I decided that I would start an on going numbers and letters photo series for him…

photo 3

Processed with VSCOcam with b4 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s4 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with e5 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with b1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with se3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with b4 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

I am having fun with it… these are just a few. Someday I will do something cool with them all and gift it to him.

Maybe on Valentine’s Day. ❤

 

Autism Series Exhibit.

IMG_2189

 

WHAT? “Following Jasan” Autism Series Photo Exhibit

WHEN? Friday, October 24, 2014… 6-10 pm

WHERE? 4th Fridays at the Starline Gallery 2014 Finale Show

http://www.nancymerkling.com/4th-fridays-at-the-starline/

Hope to see some of  you there!

The Airport, Part 1.

Ok… I have to admit. I have stressed about taking Jasan on a major airline flight for a LONG time. My only sibling, Todd, moved to Arizona right before Jasan’s first birthday and we have never been there to visit him. Jasan will be 5 this year! So, this airport thing was a big deal.

There are many factors that I was worried about. He was one of those babies that had ear infection after ear infection and two ear tube placement surgeries. Would his ears adjust alright? The length of time that we would have to stay seated once in the air was another concern. Waiting in lines at the airport… security, getting distracted by machines and having a meltdown if he couldn’t examine them…new sounds, lots of people, and on and on and on.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

This gift of a trip to Florida for Mother’s Day from my stepdad, Matt (aka “Grampie”) was the perfect occasion to give this all a try. Now that Jasan is a bit older, my level of concern had lessened, but they were all in the back of my mind nonetheless.

We prepared the week ahead of time by reading social stories multiple times a day written specifically about our upcoming trip and the airport routine. This was a tremendous help. A couple of days prior to leaving, we found this video which was fantastic! Jasan watched this over and over. All of these tools combined helped him know what to expect.

Here are a couple of pages from his airport story so you can get an idea of what a social story looks like.

Processed with VSCOcam with s2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with s2 preset

The other component to this was how prepared my Mom and I were with our mindset. We knew we had prepared Jasan very well for this experience by talking it through with Jasan ahead of time. We gave ourselves MORE than enough time to get to the airport and go through security so that we could feel completely relaxed, and our mental pictures and attitudes towards our adventure were POSITIVE. That was KEY. We knew that we would be able to deal with whatever may happen and that we would be a team together.

He needed to be able to take the time to explore and check things out if he wanted to. If we had been planning on rushing through the airport, we would have been destined to fail. He needed to be able to just be himself. His mind would be absorbing tons of new information. I think that to make sure that he would be storing these memories as a positive experience, it was vital to make sure he would be able to soak it all in the way HE wanted to.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Jasan did beyond fantastic! What a fun experience! He handled transitions and all of the newness like a champ! He was fascinated by all of the computers and the metal detectors. The huge O’Hare terminal was pretty awesome in all of it’s vastness. He was such a great helper by pushing our small carry-on suitcase. It had wheels, so he wouldn’t have had it any other way.  (I was too busy making sure he wasn’t going to crash into anyone to capture a shot. Lol!) When it was time for a bit of relaxation, the carry-on suitcase then doubled as fun seat to ride on. (And an arm workout for Mama. haha.)

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Then… time to board. So exciting! Another important piece to this experience was informing the airline that Jasan was a special needs kid. We boarded first, so this way their wasn’t tons of confusion with the large masses of people getting on with us. We were able to get nice and comfy in our seats while things were still quiet. We had recently purchased a weighted blanket for Jasan; being the sensory seeker kid that he is. In times of possible stress, this could act as a calming tool for his system. Since that little sucker weighs 7 lbs, I had put it into the roller carry-on suitcase and we just grabbed it out after we found out seats. It worked out perfectly. He was all cozy and content with his special blankie, iPad, mini pillow, snacks, Mama & Grammie. Life at that moment was GREAT.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Then of course, because I’m me, we had to do the obligatory selfie or two. (ha!)

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

I crack up when we do photos together now. He is soooooo my son. My friends know my habit of the open mouth, “Ah!” whenever a photo is shot of me… Check Jasan. Totally adorable. We both “Ah!” together. ❤

It was take off time! As the plane started to speed up, he requested my hand right before the plane’s wheels left the ground. Prior to that he had his speedometers going OF COURSE.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I had just enough “stuff” to keep Jasan occupied. Our flight was at 12:30, so time of day was also on our side. He did just fine sitting in his seat and only getting up twice to go to the neat little bathroom. He was quite interested in how everything worked in there. Swallowing water through a straw as we were descending helped his ears normalize with no problems. And the super cool awesome surprise once we landed…

GETTING TO VISIT THE PILOT IN THE FLIGHT DECK!

Can you even imagine how cool this was for him? All of the gauges and switches!!! COOLNESS OVERLOAD. Along with being a photo fanatic, I took a video so Jasan could watch it over and over after the experience. We lucked out by getting a pilot who was TOTALLY into showing Jasan what was up in there. He was FANTASTIC. What a gift… more than he will ever know!

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset

He was talking about this all day.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

After grabbing our luggage from the baggage claim, which was also a point of interest for the little dude, we headed on over to the shuttle area and hopped in a van to take us to Redington Beach. After all the excitement, he passed on into snooze land.

I didn’t do the best of capturing it, but he fell asleep with my phone in his hand, GPS talking to us all the way. The shuttle also had a computer and Garmin GPS in clear view, so he was quite content with our ride…

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

More to come!

 

 

Florida baby…

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

 

We are having such a blast. Jasan’s first vacation! Tons of firsts on this trip… much to share, but I am trying to soak up every moment instead of being aware of where the camera is. 🙂 Actually haven’t been photographing him nearly as much as I thought. I need time to go through all of my shots (and thoughts!) which I will do when we return to the cold in Chicago. ❤

Much love!

Heidi & Jasan

It’s a big world out there…

sears tower lookout

When I look at my son now, I look at him differently than ever before. I am now aware of his autism, and when I look back on his 4 1/2 years of life, it makes sense.

My take away from this?

He has always been Jasan. Precious Jasan taking in the big world around him, in HIS way.

Me? Hmmm. It’s been quite the journey so far. I didn’t even think for a second that I would have a child with special needs. My expectation of what I thought he was going to be like is NOT who he is. I cannot fit him into the neurotypical child’s box like I was trying to before. But, you see, I didn’t realize I was doing that. I was living my life with Jasan expecting him to just get it, as much as a toddler can. Meaning… transition without problems. Eat a variety of foods. Talk to me in sentences. Have a conversation with me in a 4 year old way. Tell me, “I love you Mama.” Not obsess over things. Sit and do crafts at playdates with the other kids. Play with toys. Play with other kids! Pretend. Enjoy opening presents on Christmas and birthdays. Get excited about Santa and the Easter Bunny. The list goes on…

I wallowed and cried and focused on what he “wasn’t.”

But then, I CHANGED. That wasn’t the mom I wanted to be. I love my son beyond comprehension.

Our journey together will create his life. I want it to be full of positivity and creativeness. I want to focus on all of his amazing strengths and grow those within him. He was meant to be my son and I was meant to be his mother. I am willing to be vulnerable and share our journey with you.

My goal for writing this blog is to change the tone. Change the perspective. Reach out to parents who are struggling with their autistic kids and hopefully help others see the light in their beautiful children.

Proverbs 22:6… Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.