Tag Archive: parenting


As a parent we want nothing but the best for our children and to watch them succeed. That still rings true when you’re a parent to a child on the spectrum only it’s harder to see the big picture or feel major judgmental guilt from yourself / others while your child is going through their daily struggles. Preeti’s post came up in my feed and it was a good reminder that I needed to tell myself, perhaps it will be useful to you as well. It doesn’t matter if your child is on the spectrum, is “normal”, has ADD or whatever their story may be all their paths will be different and it’s important to remember that being judgemental of themselves or other will get them no where. Be proud of who you are and what you yourself have accomplished, because this is your path that you are taking in life.

 

Original writer:Preeti Dixit
Original post: https://themighty.com/2018/03/from-one-autism-parent-to-another/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Autism_Page

 

Being an autism parent can be hard. Not only do we have to deal with substantial challenges while raising our kids, but we have to do so while facing social isolation. Ours can be a lonely road, marred by self-doubt and plagued by lack of validation.

While other parents talk about their kids excelling at school and sports and extra-curricular activities, we are trying to help our kids manage their sensory issues — perhaps to brush their teeth without crying, wash their hair without screaming, cut their nails without panicking, and generally go through the day without having a meltdown. Only another autism parent can understand why my son getting a haircut at a salon makes me want to celebrate, and why my son playing at the park makes me want to cry.

Parents of neurotypical kids cannot understand what we are going through because they haven’t experienced what we experience daily. It is important to keep this in mind, and not judge them or be affected by their judgment. It is also important to accept that our paths diverged the moment we started our journey and stop comparing ourselves to them and our lives to their lives.

It is very much possible to live a happy and fulfilling life with autism once we let go of our idea of a “good” life and focus on the good (which you will find in abundance once you start looking) in our life instead.

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While reading a fellow bloggers newest post I felt the need to share it because it struck a cord. It made me stop and think about  how being a parent to a child on the autism spectrum (any parent in general can relate), we try to do everything to ensure that we are able to provide the best for our children however some times we often over look what they really need / would really benefit from. It was a good reminder to take an extra moment to really think about what my son and I are doing let alone looking at the bigger picture when it comes to helping my son grow.

The post was called Learning to Be More Open to What My Son on the Autism Spectrum Really Needs.”    and was written by Kim McCafferty.

“Twelve years ago this month, I walked into our pediatrician’s office with my then-17-month-old son in tow, hoping for a prescription for reflux. I walked out shaking, crushed by our doctor’s callousness, and clutching four mis-stapled and badly copied articles about autism in my trembling hands. Our pediatrician never uttered the word himself, just told me to call a developmental pediatrician, thrust some numbers on a stickie into my hand and left the room.

He wasn’t our pediatrician much longer.

I remember being in shock as I left the office, as we’d just been in four weeks prior and our insensitive doctor had not seemed that concerned with the delays our toddler was demonstrating. I also remember as I made my way to the pharmacy to fill that prescription, which would at least let me help him with his reflux. I called upon my experience with the few autistic children I’d had as a teacher in my homeroom and classroom, thinking those few encounters would give me a leg up on raising my own autistic child. Boy, was I wrong.

As they say on “Game of Thrones,” I knew nothing, Kim McCafferty.

The year was 2004, a time when Jenny McCarthy was talked about a lot in the autism community. While navigating doctors appointments and the murky and ultimately deeply disappointing world of what passed for Early Intervention in northern Virginia, I spent any time I wasn’t interacting with my son researching autism on the internet, and God was it confusing.

There were parents claiming the only positive outcome of this diagnosis could be a “cure.”

There were autistic advocates and parents of autistic children claiming an alternative neurology cannot and should not be “cured.”

There were professionals informing me that studies showed that sign language gave kids an edge over learning to talk and should always be employed.

There were professionals informing me that alternative methods should always be explored, matching the child’s strengths to the appropriate communication system.

There were parents telling me not to vaccinate.

There were physicians telling me I’d better vaccinate.

There were parents explaining to me that a public school program was the way to go for their opportunities for mainstreaming, which should be my ultimate goal.

There were teachers sharing with me that despite the push for it, mainstreaming might not be the most important goal regarding my son’s future education.

As I look over my list, I realize not all that much has changed in a dozen years.

I did my best by my son Justin in those early and isolated years, reading and attending workshops whenever possible. I often felt the two of us were drowning back then, combating my son’s insomnia, aggression, gastrointestinal disorders and his adherence to having things a certain way (he would eventually receive a dual diagnosis of OCD and autism). My husband worked, our families were three hours away, and all my friends either had careers or were busy raising babies of their own. I often felt adrift at sea, anchor-less.

Ultimately what I clung to to get through it all were my choices regarding Justin’s therapy, usually based on articles I’d read, clutching their information to me as tightly as I had clutched those initial articles which had in one instant completely altered my world.

I displayed my own rigid behavior regarding that information. According to studies I’d read, sign language more often gave way to words, in my opinion a must for my boy even though his fine and gross motor abilities were delayed.

I was told that he should absolutely attend a public school program both for the chance he’d mainstream, and so he’d make friends with neurotypical peers.

And if it weren’t for professionals who gently offered me alternatives to both of these choices and asked me to keep an open mind, despite my best intentions, I might have done my son more harm than good.

After we moved to New Jersey and actually received appropriate Early Intervention services (yay the Garden State!), I clearly recall one of the therapists from Rutgers gently pointing out to me that after more than a year of working with my son, he only had a handful of signs, and some of those were used sporadically at best. I remember initially feeling that using the PECS system meant giving up on words, instead of focusing on the fact that my then 22-month old might actually end up with a way to communicate his needs other than by mostly crying.

If I hadn’t listened, he might have spent many more months often frustrated by his mother’s inability to read his mind.

I had that same rigid mindset originally as from Virginia we attempted to find the most fantastical, amazing, perfect autism program in the perfect NJ town (oy!) because I wanted my son in the public schools for the mainstreaming opportunities, and I didn’t want him sent out of district. At the tender age of 3 I wanted him to have opportunities to engage with neurotypical peers. I wanted him to have friends, to interact with others. This was the most important goal in my life, more than losing that last seven “baby weight” pounds or consuming large amounts of chocolate every day.

OK, that last is still an important goal.

After four years in two different public school districts, it became apparent that the only one who cared about his interactions with neurotypical peers was me, and that his home school district really didn’t have an appropriate program for him anymore. I remember my mom, a special educator with three decades of experience, gently telling me to look at the big picture for Justin, that perhaps him having friends was not the most important issue now, that in fact Justin really didn’t seem to care about his peers. I recall making the mental shift to becoming open to sending him to a private autism school, where educators could help him focus on the academics he loved so much, where down the road he would have better access to job programs and adult programs, and hell, even a swimming pool he’d frequent daily during his eight-week summer program.

I’m still learning how to make the shift from wanting for Justin what I think he should need to what he really needs (it remains a learning curve for me), and by keeping an open mind, I know my choices for him have contributed to the thriving, happy teenager who loves school and loves his life. I still struggle to do this with both my boys (what parent doesn’t), often employing a “what would Zach/Justin do” mentality when considering my options.

And I still make mistakes. I am still sometimes slow to recognize a shift in need, still working on ridding myself of “what should be.

But as with many things in life, I’m still a work in progress, and keeping an open mind is one goal I plan to keep.

their opportunities for mainstreaming, which should be my ultimate goal.

Has something ever shown up in your social media feed and hit real close to home. Well that’s what happened to me last night. Like most people I was laying in bed, gwacking at my cell phone because I couldn’t fall asleep and after mindlessly scrolling down my feed I came across a blog post by another mommy whose words rang so very true. Here is what she wrote….

“More often than not, there are days when no coffee in the world can touch your exhaustion. And when you’re ready to tag in your partner, oh wait…that’s you. You’re it.

There are times when things just don’t seem fair, and you know what, it’s probably because they aren’t. But you rise above anyway.

There are moments, many moments, when you question whether or not one person is capable of all you are called to duty for, and whether a human body is equipped for it or not. But somehow you find a way.

There are evenings when all is quiet in the house, and you feel not only a sense of relief, but also pain from the deafening silence. It seems inconceivable that someone could feel both of these things simultaneously, but it is indeed possible.

There are mornings when you wish you could ask for just a few more minutes, but no, those little humans are waiting and ready and depending on you. When you’re called up to the plate, there is no substitute.

There are situations where you simply stop dead in your tracks and ask, “Why?” followed by a quick, “And how will I…?” Despite usually not getting your answer, you still put one foot in front of the other and off you go.

You’re one person for a job that requires more like four.

You’re one caretaker who yearns for the day when you, too, will be taken care of. But until then, you will push on.

You’re one provider living in an economy where the majority of the time it takes at least two incomes to even scrape by.

You’re one parent who is beating the odds, more often than not doing what seems unmanageable even when there are two.

But while you’re one, you’re doing it. Some days are harder than others, but here you are—one more day. Just when you say you can’t, seconds later you are living “I can.”

To all single parents: You were, you are, and you will. You’re incredible.

Here’s to one more day of being a gladiator.”

I don’t know if it was because of the lack of sleep, caffeine levels being very low or the fact that I just found out my washer decided to demolish itself from the inside out but what she wrote was something that I needed to hear. I’m a single parent and yes there are times where I wish someone would just tell me “You know you’re acting dumb, but I still love you” while giving me a kiss on the forehead and a much needed hug. However that’s just not in the cards  for me right now (by my own doing) and you know what that’s ok, it doesn’t change the fact that I will doing anything for my son or change how much I enjoy the time we spend together.  It also doesn’t change the fact that I’m doing the work of many on my own, which even though I’d enjoy a vacation I’m oddly ok with. All this being said I hope that her words make you feel better as well.

Here is the link to Regans’ original blog post:
http://www.scarymommy.chttp://www.scarymommy.com/single-parent-pushes-on/om/single-parent-pushes-on/

Being a parent is one of the greatest joys in life, but it also is one of the most challenging experiences one can possibly face. From the sweet moments of laughing and watching your little one discover new things to the difficult moments like an unexpected tantrum over the wrong color cup. No matter what you are always there for them… and sometimes, it can be really easy to get worn out.

I came across  Bethany Jacobs in my news feed and saw a letter she wrote where she describes some of those highs and lows. The lows can feel unbearable, but Bethany has three words for the moms (any parent really) who feel they’re failing: “You are enough”. I’ll share her letter below, it has already touched the hearts of so many moms– and dads- out there.

” To the mom hiding in her bathroom, needing peace for just one minute, as the tears roll down her cheeks..

To the mom who is so tired she feel likes she can’t function anymore and would do anything to lay down and get the rest she needs…

To the mom sitting in her car, alone, stuffing food in her face because she doesn’t want anyone else to see or know she eats that stuff…

To the mom crying on the couch after she yelled at her kids for something little and is now feeling guilty and like she is unworthy…

To the mom that is trying desperately to put those old jeans on because all she really wants is to look in the mirror and feel good about herself…

To the mom that doesn’t want to leave the house because life is just too much to handle right now…

To the mom that is calling out for pizza again because dinner just didn’t happen the way she wanted it to…

To the mom that feels alone, whether in a room by herself or standing in a crowd…

You are enough.
You are important.
You are worthy.

This is a phase of life for us. This is a really really hard, challenging, crazy phase of life.

In the end it will all be worth it. But for now it’s hard. And it’s hard for so many of us in many different ways. We don’t always talk about it, but it’s hard and it’s not just you.

You are enough.
You are doing your best.
Those little eyes that look up at you – they think you are perfect. They think you are more than enough.

Those little hands that reach out to hold you – they think you are the strongest. They think you can conquer the world.

Those little mouths eating the food you gave them – they think that you are the best because their bellies are full.

Those little hearts that reach out to touch yours – they don’t want anything more. They just want you.

Because you are enough. You are more than enough, mama.

You. Are. Amazing. ”

The original post can be found on her Facebook page (it’s also posted below), if you’re looking for a group that was originally founded out of a moms need for support and community in the early days and months of motherhood than I think her page is one you should check out.
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‘Twas the Night Before Summer Break, and all through the schools,
Good behavior was gone, the children were acting like fools.

There was screaming and rioting, and booze beneath the bleachers.
Streaking and looting, and that was the Teachers!

The kids were so anxious, for school to be done,
to turn their backs to the classroom, drop pencils and run.

They were tired of learning ‘til their heads filled with fog.
And feeding their homework to the proverbial dog.

But just like their teachers they say parents are mean.
As they’re shunning our bug spray, tick checks and sun screen.

They blow off their curfew, they won’t follow any rules.
‘Til you’re sorry they hatched from your family jewels.

Kids think that summer’s meant for raising a ruckus
‘Cause chores are for chumps. Summer reading’s for Suckas

So Mom with her vino, And I with my beer.
were researching camps that are real far from here.

Then what should I hear from the street right outside?

But a white-suited Man in a most musical ride.
He was a boisterous fellow like he was hopped up on uppers.
And he was selling kids ice cream, 20 Minutes before supper!

I lost it, ran out there to say how I felt,
as he handed my kids sundaes my anger might melt.

“What the hell are you doing??!?!!?” I heard myself wail.

He said, “Making a living…charging 5 times retail….”

“Now Push-ups, Now Bomb Pops, Now cones of fudge swirl!
It’s time to drink milkshakes and eat Chipwich ‘til you’re ready to hurl!

From the foot of your driveway to the lot at the mall.
Now lick away. Lick away! Lick away all!

At that I couldn’t help but run completely amok.
And began throwing rocks at the man in his truck.

Mom dashed out in a hurry in time to save my tail.
Or I’d be gone for the summer, unless I made bail.

He sprang to the driver’s seat, rang the bell, flashed the lights.
On his way, little doubt, to spoil more appetites.

So quickly he sped off, and I had me a hunch –
We’d not see him again. ‘Til tomorrow before lunch.

This first taste of summer, left a lot to be adored.
Then my son pulled my shirtsleeve, and said, “Daddy… I’m bored.”

And right then we knew it’d be a season to remember
And set our sights upon surviving all the way until September.

I got this online, the original author is a Mr. Eric Ruhalter.
While reading his poem I found myself laughing as well as agreeing with what was being said. It is surely worth the shout out and share, now that Summer Break is tomorrow.

Dear any parent reading this….

Don’t quit.

I know it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and that it really doesn’t matter if the dishes are done or that no one really cares that you stayed up till 2 am folding laundry or that you are just overlooked by what it seems is everyone in your life. Perhaps it hits when you’re sitting in the car and put your head on the steering wheel and out of no where the tears start to roll down your cheek. I know that sometimes you just want to throw in the towel and whisper (or scream) that you’ve had enough.

You’re not alone, trust me I’ve been there and often try to hide it with a fake smile plastered to my face. Or you’ll find me hiding my own issues by helping others with their own (not a wise idea, but that’s for another blog).

I remember standing in the shower one night, my head against one of the walls thinking that I couldn’t do this motherhood thing anymore and that I really didn’t matter or make a difference and that I would never ever catch up on the things that needed to be done. Which, by the way, I still think will never really caught up on. And because I’ve felt that way when I first became a single parent and even feel that way some times now, I’m writing this today to tell you that you, right now,that you matter more than you might ever realize.

You, and your life, your voice, your giving of self, and all of that matters. YOU MATTER!

I won’t lie there will be days that are hard and those days may turn into weeks that are hard or they may even snowball and turn into a month that just seems like your breaking point.

But here is a little secret, you can do this. I know you can.

As hard as it may sound you need to pick yourself up, brush off the metaphorical dust and be the parent you know you can be today.

It doesn’t mean you have to take a deep breath in and become SuperMom or Dad of the Year. Just by looking into your children’s eyes and tell them how much you love them – even though you are remembering how much they talked back to you this morning and drove you up the wall– and be sure you tell them how you love them unconditionally. You can make those sandwiches for lunch today, heck add in some sliced apples for good messure and can today you can actually get the straw in the juice pouch on the first time, or maybe the second. You can drive those kiddos to soccer, swimming lesson, dance, martial arts, school to where ever they need to be and you will tell yourself that you sitting in the car with them matters.

Just DO NOT give up

The internet has a lot of information but one thing it has taught me is we only fail when we quit.

Being a parent doesn’t look like those Pinterest boards full of birthday ideas with perfect fondant cakes and party favors that take three hours to make. Those moments can be made and are possible but seriously, listen to me, those things don’t make a parent. Those things, while they are beautiful, they don’t really matter. They will be forgotten down the road. Do you know what matters? You. Right now, reading these words, who no matter what is always there for their kiddo(s) and put them first and for most.

Don’t dread on the times you’ve messed up or thought you may of messed up. I’ve got them as well, that mom you see in the morning who looks like she just walked off a photo shoot, yep she has those moments too. Please remember all the times where you have done well, or the times when you’ve been there when it really mattered. Sitting up at one am rocking a toddler who had a bad dream. Making dinner out of a pantry that is bare and used up all of your creativity or just gave in and said “Yep, cereal for dinner it is“. Remember and be proud of the times you have found yourself giving up on something you need so that your child can get what they need. Remember the times you found yourself helping with their homework when you just wanted a nap. Reading a story for the eighth time. Folding those clothes that you know will end up on the floor come morning. Making lunches, listening to their stories, being silly and laughing until it hurt. Even remember gross times like holding the puke bucket, the sad times by wiping tears away from their faces. Remember the proud moments like putting art on the wall, watching them tie their shoes all by themselves or learning to ride a bike.

Those are the moments in life that will matter and be remembered by your child. Not what you spent on them, not how you said “No” and it made them mad, being there is what will stick in their heads when they are growing up.

So you may feel like you want to quit and that’s ok to feel, but DON’T GIVE UP. Pick up the towel right now and instead tell yourself you can’t, tell yourself can and just make it through today. You can do it. Don’t look at how anyone else is parenting, or what everyone’s Facebook status states, don’t read into the Pinterest picture of the perfect parent. You are the perfect parent for your children and you are the only parent they will have. There is no price tag large enough that would ever illustrate the true value of being a parent. You are an amazing gift to your family now remember that and be your amazing self.

I’ve said it once before and I’ll remind you again. You have a 100% success rate when it comes to bad days or hard times. YOU GOT THIS

To the parents I use to judge before I was a parent myself….I’m Sorry

I have come to realize many things since having my son six years ago. For example, I now know that I can listen to all things train related all day every day without going insane. No matter what people say, throw-up is throw-up and I don’t care if it is my kid who is throwing up but his throw-up makes me want to throw up. Also just as you think you’ve just smelt the smelliest of dirty diapers, there will be one so much worse. I’m sorry, it’s bound to happen.

But perhaps one of the biggest realizations I’ve made as a parent is how incredibly judgmental I was pre-child. Only thing in my defense is that I was young and very stupid when it came to parenting.

You, the parent at Walmart who pushed a cart with your screaming toddler draped on the rack underneath it, ignoring them as they scrape their feet on the floor because they couldn’t have the toy they wanted: I judged you.

Parent at the lake who did not pack an all-food-groups-represented, no-dessert lunch complete with sandwiches cut in cute little shapes, who instead fed your children chicken nuggets, cold French fries and (gasp) chocolate milk? I judged you.

Not out loud, of course. But internally, yet again I was stupid and thought how I would do it so much different. I thought things like “I would never have children who would behave in such a manner in public” or “Don’t they know that many Pediatricians recommend no TV until the age of 2?” or, “How can they possibly be feeding their children that crap?” And what’s worse, now that I’m a parent, I realize internal smugness isn’t so internal. As a parent, I know when I’m being judged. I can sense it, even when nothing is being said out loud. It’s in the look. The double-take. The whisper to the companion they’re with.

It’s hard not to care about what other people think. But still, that quiet judgment can sting, especially on days when my nerves are shot and my son is in the worst moods — a combination that often leads to a situation judge-worthy by many.

My day-to-day routine isn’t what I envisioned it to be many years ago. Some of the things I imagine I’m judged on now are minor, others, a little more major. For example my son being on the Autism Spectrum enjoys technology and life for him (me as well) can be much happier if he has his tablet longer then others would allow their children. I see the judgmental looks and a few times have heard the “He’s far to old to be riding in the shopping cart?” or “Seriously he needs to have her cell phone that close to his face” comments.  But mostly they are simple faults and I now know that they don’t make me a bad parent.

Sometimes I cave and let my kid have that second/third or fourth treat. I use technology as a way to take a breather most days. I utilize the free cookie for kids in the grocery store to get a moment of silence so I don’t forget getting the damn granola bars for a third time. I bribe. I’m sometimes too easy on my kiddo, but other times I’m sometimes too hard. I sometimes make the wrong decision, give the wrong punishment, ask too much, ask too little. But within all these minor and major faults is a singular truth: Most days, I’m doing the best I can. And I honestly believe that’s a truth that can be applied to most parents: Most days, we’re all doing the best we can with what we have.

Because here’s another realization I’ve made as a parent: Everyone’s situation is different. There is a story behind every action and inaction. Every parent has his or her own style. Every child has his or her own temperament. What might be a stellar day for my son and me may be a downright awful day for another — perhaps the parent’s job is in danger, their parent is sick or they just had an argument with their spouse. Perhaps the child is failing math or being bullied at school, or the toddler hasn’t slept for two weeks. This can explain the short-temper in the grocery store or the harsher-than-necessary punishment, or the lack of care when it comes to sweets or TV or a late bedtime. We don’t know, can’t know, someone’s entire story.

That said, I believe there are absolutes in parenting so yes, sometimes, I still judge (I realize that the irony of this piece is that in writing about not judging others, I’m now judging those who judge). I know that, for some, it’s next to impossible to provide their children with life’s basic necessities: food, clothing and shelter. But I believe we, as parents, must try. I believe we must do what we can to protect our children from harm. I believe we should always love our children, even when, especially when, we don’t like their actions, we disagree with their decisions or we’re just having a difficult day with them.

But everything else is minor. Everything else doesn’t matter. There are children who are abused, who go to bed hungry, who have never known love, and not so long ago I was judging the parent of a toddler who watched hours of “Sesame Street“.

I feel bad about my pre-children smugness. I feel bad about the sting I may have, unknowingly, made another feel. I feel bad — and laugh out loud at the thought — that I, at one time, before I had a child, believed I knew better. Parenting is difficult enough — there’s no reason we should judge one another, not for the things that don’t matter, anyway, and not for the things we see a snippet of rather than knowing the full story.

So to the parents I knew a little over six years ago, I’m sorry.