As the wife and Mom of 5 wonderful friends on the high end of the ASD spectrum, this is the site that describes my life pretty thoroughly… browse the whole thing, it has tons of info for all sorts of places on the spectrum. http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/high-functioning-autism
Monthly Archives: November 2012
Anyone besides me end up saying “Whew- that’s as much celebration as I can stand”?
I’ve been trying to figure out how to start this post since Thursday afternoon. But this Saturday morning all is quiet in the house, no-one needs me yet, so I’ll see if my thoughts can get from my heart and onto this page.
Thanksgiving and the Holiday season can be a stressful time. Even for easy to feed, easy to talk to kids; the intensity of family and movement and unscheduled changes of pace can get a bit much. For kids (and Adults) on the Spectrum- well, the safe routine of life is utterly gone, to put it mildly. Even when they are old enough to know what is going on, and actually look forward to it, and when I know what to drop from my list of expectations, and actually only cook half of the parts of a traditional meal; the simple movements through the “special” day can feel like chaos to them.
This particular year was exceptional – in how little all my wonderful ASD family could handle the stress. Probably because it started way back with our emergency run to San Fransisco, then Halloween, (and 504 meetings, and Neurologists) and barely recovering house and schoolwork before flying up to Utah for my nieces wedding, that was last weekend, and I had to jump straight into holiday prep even before the laundry from the trip was done.
Now don’t get me wrong– every single one of these things was very good!!! They were totally awesome adventures in themselves (except getting 5, tired, Autistic people and the rest of us through an airport on a Sunday afternoon deserves a whole story to itself) but adding them together got to everyone, even me. I found that I have spent the last day and a half snappy, short with everyone, and even angry at times– and I hate that feeling– it’s not how my heart is meant to survive, and the kids don’t deserve it. So I have called upon the priesthood, spent a lot of time last night and this morning re-reading some of my journal and old blog posts, and prayed… and decided I needed to share some tiny moments of good–
(whoops- break for feeding family breakfast- 🙂 back now)
California was Awesome– a nearly empty beach is someplace every ASD person (and the Moms!) should get to spend time with.
Some of my favorite moments of Halloween– Watching my two girls wheel around our neighbor’s little disabled 5 yr old in her wheelchair to our street’s houses trick or treating, and being my younger son’s best friend while he took his turn in the neighborhood.
At my sister’s house, it made my heart very very happy to see the big boys (mine and hers) having a grand time playing “Magic” cards together for hours and hours. My boys need that friendship and connection – they needed to remember that no matter what their struggles, there are friends and family, who are there for them- always.
(Oh, and taking my little ones on a plane was totally fun– I even got a kick out of watching people look at my line of teen and pre-teen goslings following me around 🙂 )
Well- here is where I needed to read a lot of gratitude thoughts in my last few blogs, and I’m glad I wrote them down, the stress is messing with my memory badly– I highly suggest a “good-things” journal or at least a place to keep a list. All of these things are just what I needed to remember- but I think I will mention my littlest getting all the way to the last round of the whole-school spelling bee. She is my little mirror and soul-sister, and I am very grateful that the Lord sent me such a gift.
O.K. now we come to the Thanksgiving weekend.
Well- I woke up nicely at 4 and baked pies, then got the turkey in the oven and started bread dough. It was good. Then I had my men help me get set up outside for a picnic. We did this last year, and it was awesome! Eating our feast in the open air like the original Pilgrims brought us closer to them. This year started out just as well, tho I think the heat (81) eventually did us in on top of all the stress. But before it did, I had a moment of revelation…..
We sat down and I asked them what they knew of the Pilgrims, and reminded them that they did, in fact, have an ancestor from the pilgrims’ original company. But then I also reminded them that their first feast was not a celebration of a wonderful year. Not even a half-way good year. It had been a very hard, horrible year, with moments of greatness and courage; and they were celebrating the success of their endurance. And that we, today, remember them for planting the seeds of our country by keeping going thru the bad, and coming without quitting, out the other side of their trials to greatness …
And then I likened this to our family. I said that this has been a hard, hard year for us too… full of new doctors, a new school for everyone, and all the other things we have had on our plate– but I reminded them that through it all, I was so proud of them for staying friends with each other, for keeping going when I ask, and that by never giving up– we too will have our own victories.
This was the last moment of peace for a while– by the end of “enjoying” lots of food and each other’s company and silliness, I had several sweethearts curled into tight balls in various rooms, and the table and chairs are still outside. But as I sit and write this reflection, it is powerfully re-witnessed to me that I was on the right track. Ours is not the easy path… mine, and those like me, is the path of the furnace, the path to glory… and we will win by hanging on to the Lord’s hand with every fiber of our being, staying friends with each other no matter how often we have to forgive, and by never, ever, ever, giving up.
I’m grateful today for Memories, For sunshine and blue sky.
For rain, and oceans in their place, And a place for me to stay dry.
The thunder of a waterfall, And a rose that’s sparked with dew.
I’m grateful that when planning the majesty, He thought of the little things too.
I see His power in every storm, But no less than in each new spring.
The stars all move at his command, Yet He took time for butterfly’s wings.
I’m grateful for colors and rainbows, birds that teach us to fly free.
It staggers my mind that all of these things Were planned as just a place for our family tree.
I’m grateful for Christ and the love that he gave that with him, we may be.
And thanks for my family who went before…And the temples that keep us together.
For smiles, and tiny miracles, and cherished hugs that help us endure.
For the amazing world around us, Good friends to share our adventure,
And for the gift that this love and joy Is made to last forever.
-by Shareen Halliday, November 2011
Well- I thought about starting off this post by saying that this is the first moment I have had to write in days; but that is not completely true… I have had several bits here and there where I should have been busy doing something, only to find myself a half hour later, still sittling on the floor, staring at nothing, or worse yet at my to-do list. I guess I have been really tired this week. Maybe it has something to do with the hours of driving to specialist doctors on top of regular school, or maybe it’s because the kids have been not so High Functioning this week (can we blame the weather for that one?) or perhaps it’s just from not being able to sleep (nah) This morning is another one- pain pills wear off about 3 am, and arthritis drives me out of bed to get more.
But I know many people much worse off than I, many of them very close to my heart, so I try not to complain. So tonight I decided that while I wait for the meds to start working, I would look for some good things from this week…
1- the weather finally cooled off. That may not be a blessing in some parts of the world, but here in Arizona- I was mightily tired of the over 90 degrees for this late in the year.
2- safe driving. I have filled the gas tank more than twice this week, and many many days have been solid headache from exahstion, but I have been very watched over- and my rather constant prayers to help me drive alertly and well, have been answered continually.
3-My oldest was”present” and really “here” for 3 days in a row this week, including the day I had to take him to his neurologist, so he was able to tell the doctor a lot of details that I would have been unable to do on my “own”. This was a huge blessing, even tho it’s like a knife thrust when he uses these times to tell me of the leaders and teachers in who have not believed he has anything other than poor behavior issues, or who has flat out told him he is stupid, or isn’t proving he is really interested in a mission because he isn’t putting the effort into the mainstream education blah blah blah… And then it’s really hard on me every time he slips back from these on moments to migraine days. Still, I am very grateful for the Lord’s very real help in this detail of my life this week.
4- I have actually had some likes and comments on my facebook posts this week. I know, that sounds silly, but I have been really lonely lately, and feeling – well, I know most moms of Autistic kids struggle with this one, but I don’t feel quite so unable to keep going today, and I am very grateful for that.
5-I felt good enough to work on the housework several times this week… and I have to mention this, because I really felt the help of Heaven in those moments. I felt strong and normal for an hour or two, here and there… and I am utterly grateful.
6- I have seen butterfies and dragonflies every day this week, and a few migrating blue herons. These tiny little details are huge on a blue day- and I have had them every day all week.
These things may seem small- but they really say something to me. I have known for a long time that the Lord is not interested in a life of ease and no stress- because he is interested in raising up men and women of greatness and strength. He knows what comes out of the fiery furnace is wondrous and beautiful… but he also delights in helping us get thru it- cheering our hearts and strengthening our resolve to make it to the other side and back to him.
For His nearness to our daily moments, I am deeply grateful.
Yesterday was sureal- but not very much in a good way. Started out early, with a regular school day morning, then a quick grab of all my paperwork, and head out the door with my oldest, to a doctor appointment. The day had finally come for the long awaited-first time patient appointment for Ryan’s High-end Neurologist. (Down town Phoenix, of course) What a difference from the other headache doctors we’ve been seeing… one of those few times that I get to enjoy meeting someone smarter than me. everything we mentioned seemed to go into his mental stack and find a clue we hadn’t thought of before. ‘Course now I have a whole bunch of new words to learn. 😐
Then scout store pickup on the way home, and regular pick up kids after that, and then boys softball playoffs after that, and sneaking in homework around it all, I logged 75 miles on the van by the end of it all– and I have to admit that the elections were quite secondary for most of the day. I was very glad that I had decided to try mail-in voting last week.
Today, I found out that I had missed some items on the award pin list for the cub scouts… everyone is totally stressed out over that mistake (“those poor boys have been waiting for their badges and pins that theyv’e earned”– the world is coming to an end!”) (sorry 😦 ) and all my cousins are so sad over the election results that I find I need to stay off facebook today; I’m depressed enough already over my own ineptitudes. I think being smart is also a bit like a hidden disability… when you make a mistake, people act as if it is earth-shattering, and get sooooo angry. Sorry- if I was perfect, I wouldn’t still be here. The best I can say, is my family still loves me anyway, and the atonement is still real… so I guess I have a lot to be grateful for, and THAT is a very good way to overshadow the post-election blues. 🙂
Well- I started trying to do gratitude moments a while ago (on my facebook page), but I think I only manage 3 before the stress of just plain holding it together everyday made me forget my project. So now that it’s November, and a lot of friends are posting gratitude thoughts, it’s a perfect time to remember and start again.
So- what do you say to be all inspiring and profound, when it’s just a regular morning? I know- let’s just follow an ordinary day, and see what we get…..
*5:30 a.m. My body just can’t stay laying down any longer, and I stumble into the kitchen for some Ibuprophen… Gratitude #1 = I am really grateful for modern medicine. I realize that I’m also grateful for sleeping that long, usually it’s only 2 to 4 hour chunks, this time was a whole 6 hours- wow (#2.), and it’s not more than a moment before I realize (#3) that my oldest has been careful to keep his music quiet so I can sleep. Not a bad piece of caring-for-others for a HFAutistic teenager. Hmmm- 3 things to be grateful for, and it’s only 5:30 and I’m not even fully awake yet. 🙂
So- I sit on the edge of my bed, and start my usual morning prayer–” Please, please, please (please, please) help me to wake up and be able to keep going today, and Please help me remember what I need to do next as I move thru the day”
*My alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. and I realize I have falllen asleep there… so up I get, and start the kids’ morning routine. As I move thru the house, turning on lights and my music, a stray memory flits by of the recent comments by church leaders about getting your young sons ready for early missions– the part that said something like, “parents, if your boys are in high school, and you are still waking them up for school, you are in trouble.” I have to laugh a little sarcastically to myself as I stand up one child and walk them into the other room to wake up, and go back for another, and I think “Mister, if you have kids on the Autism Spectrum, you’re ALREADY in trouble.” Ah well, moving on…
*6:30 a.m.- and everyone is dressed and starting breakfast. Little one is curled up in big a brother’s lap getting warm, or maybe it’s getting him warm… 🙂 and I breath, As I try to apologize for not having any bread today–blaming 504, Migraine and Halloween all in one week- the kids stop me, and say it’s ok, no big deal. And I am grateful for their love (#4).
I do not believe the philsophy that Autistic kids do not know love. My kids have more love in their little finger than most people I know have in their whole bodies. They just don’t know how to show it, or see it in others, and need to be taught how the long, slow way. So (#5) I am grateful for being given the gift of patience to teach forgiveness, thinking about other people’s feelings, and how to show true kindness- over and over and over (and over, day in and day out) again. And (#6) the fortitude to nail their hides to the wall when they forget– as in sticking with the appropriate consequences no matter how much they tantrum when it is truly important. I mean, sure we have the odd, unexplained melt-down, with it’s accompanying domino effect to the other AS family members; and when they are stressed, the kids seem to forget everything you tried to teach. But much of the time, I have really good, kind kids. Today is one of those days, and I am very, very grateful for a good, peaceful morning (#7).
*6:40- and it’s time to get everyone packed up to go. My DK needs lunch money. So I get out my wallet for the small bills I have started to keep there. When he started Jr. high this year, we had a real unexpected problem with him zapping thru lunch funds at twice the rate of the others, and had to sit him down and find out why. Turns out, he had discovered that he could get a pile of cookies with his lunch card, and have a personal stash to munch on the rest of the day… I had a flash of insight, and I pulled the plug on the card, and handed him single bills every day, just enough for lunch and one cookie. It gave him the visual cue to see just where the money was going- and we have worked up to giving him enough cash for a week, and he even saves some of it to give back to me by not getting treats sometimes. He feels so grown-up, and trusted, and understands a whole lot more about money now. And (#8) I am really and truly grateful for the Holy Ghost and his bits of help right in the moment when we need it!!!
The Holy Ghost also helped me find a way to replace the stolen key-chain. My sweet TeaRose had used it as a tactile-visual reminder through the day, that she could be strong enough to make it thru high school that day and that my love is with her (that really gets her thru to know that- visually as well as spoken.) We have started braiding a small, hidden, lock of her gorgeous long blonde hair, that she can grab whenever she needs a mommy-hug. It’s amazing sometimes, how important the little things are- and it’s a real testimony that the Lord is really there watching; when we notice that the moments he sparks the tiny inspirations are as often, and maybe even more so than the big ones. (#9) Thanks for this one.
Well- How about that? 9 gratitudes before 7 a.m.! Now the kids are all in school… Hubby is at work, and I have really strengthened my heart with this gratitude reflection. I think I’m ready to even get a bit of house-work done. Who would have believed it?!
Have a great day!