Fish Killer -When an ASD curiosity ends in upset.

“FISH KILLER! You Son are a bone fide Fish murderer.”

I admit now, the words were harsh. Look at them. Killer. Murderer.

On paper, it looks even worse.

I am not a mean person by nature, not for enjoyment and I’m pretty sensitive to how people might feel when you speak to them and I definitely do care that my kids don’t gain complexes that will cripple them for adulthood and curve off the life they “COULD” have had if they just believed in themselves.

BUT, I am also obligated to raise my children to be kind and caring.

To value life, any life. No matter how small or insignificant.

Afterall, how do we tell them apart? Who has the power to dictate which life is unimportant? certainly not me. certainly not a 9 yr old boy in the middle of suburbia.

“Lincoln killed Gray’s FISH! OH MY GOD, he killed it!”

That was my cue to get up off the couch I had just settled in after my 12 hr day and making dinner to see what was amok in the livingroom.

I found my son red-handed. Holding the bag, or shall I say bowl. In it? As promised, one very dead fish. Belly up. Assume the position. Good fish.

“I only meant to hold it!” he explained.

“Lincoln! you cannot hold a fish. You hurt it.” I tell him calmly. I bend down and take a desperate once over, hoping for a gill wag or tail flip. Something.

The bowl is deadly calm.

“hum. Well, it does indeed appear to be dead”

“So what?! It is JUST a fish!” Lincoln says.

I turn to him and take his hand, a little less than poised I turn him to me.

“Lincoln! It matters a great deal. This was your brothers fish! He had to work hard to earn the right to have a pet fish! He will be sad that he is dead.”

“Yeah, yeah! so what!”

I stood staring at my child. Autism or not I was appalled that any of my kids would be so nonchalant about a death.

“Fish killer” I said to him.

His eyes grew wide.

“That is right, son, you are a bone fide fish murderer! I hope you are proud of yourself!”

He then looked down, and looked sad. Score one for Mom.

“Lincoln, I know it was not your intention to hurt the fish, it was an accident, but Son, you have to be gentle and you need to listen when people tell you NOT to do something…it is for a good reason”

“Ok MOM. Grayson I am sorry”

And with that, we said our apologies. we hugged in grief and we flushed good-bye to Bob 2. He was a good fish.

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The next night I went to a basketball game with one of the kids and did not see Lincoln all day. The next night we had a birthday party at The Rat. Chuck E Cheese.

At the end of the party I asked Lincoln if he wanted to drive home with me (sometimes it is nice to have a little one-on-one with him he is a great car conversationalist if given the spot light) He accepted my offer.

I offered to grab him a burger and me a coffee and as we exited the drive through this perfect little voice broke the silence.

“Mom, are you stlll disappointed with me?”

My heart squeezed tight. So tight I know I couldn’t muster a breath.

“Oh honey! why would think that?”

“Because, I am a fish killer. I killed Graysons fish because I didn’t listen to you”

“Oh Lincoln, I am sorry, I didn’t mean to make you worry about this. I just wanted you to know that it is not ok to kill anything. I love you honey. I’m not mad, just sad it happened.”

“I won’t ever kill a fish again Mom”

I have to admit, I cried.

But when he said that I know that I did not regret my words.

He got the lesson, and he understood that regardless of your intentions you sometimes have to take heed and trust others advice. That life IS precious. Even a Beta fish names BOB 2.

I do regret not being considerate enough to think that perhaps my words would trouble him. I had been unavailable for almost 36 hrs and my poor boy had been troubled about my opinion of him for that time. Maybe he didn’t know how to ask others if I was mad and I didn’t give him the chance to ask me himself, which, BTW I applaud him for being brave enough to be forthright and ask me if I was disappointed.1503902_10152104369576276_637521262_n

A lot of adults still can’t do that. A pretty big accomplishment for a child with autism that is supposed to have problems recognizing emotions and voicing them.

I never thought myself to be perfect. I do try to do the best for my kids and every experience I draw strength from and learn from. He shall teach me how to be a better Mom as I try to teach him to be a good boy and great man.

 

 

 

Do unto others….

“Hey big ears! Those are a real good ears you got there! So BIG!!!”

OMG.

I think I just died. And then, I look over my shoulder at my 9 year old son tormenting an elderly man because his ears are a tad on the large size in a very crowded milk fridge of the Superstore on a busy Saturday afternoon with his three brothers in tow and I just wonder why I was silly enough to venture out feeling brave and optimistic that I can do it all alone!

I quickly snatch my ASD kid by the jacket sleeve and pull him close.

“That is not very nice! How do you feel when some makes fun of you? That man has no control over the size of his ears, which are perfectly fine by the way, but you do have control over how you treat others!”

Lincoln looks at me and says “but they are HUGE!”

I stare helpless at the man, and hope he really isn’t listening. He seems to be caught up in the milk and not listening to me.

“Lincoln! It is not nice to point out things about people like that. It can make them feel sad. DO you like to feel sad?”

“I’m sad when you won’t let me use technology!”

“That is different. Be nice to people. Remember to make them feel happy, because you like to be happy…they do too. No one wants to feel sad because you are making fun of them not for who they are but how they look.”

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All my children are at this point standing around listening, and I see across their faces they are thinking.

I straighten up, close my eyes and take a deep breath and regroup silently.

Lincoln turns and looks again at the man but this time says nothing.

I smile to myself and herd my group to the frozen foods and pray that they learn to do unto others. One of the best things you can be is open and accepting in life. I want all my children to know that we are people, with feeling hearts and thought-filled minds. We all want to be accepted, we want to be appreciated, we want to be allowed to be us without labels and stereotypes or to be judged or ridiculed.

For as much as I worry that my son will be teased and bullied it hurts me more to think he could be a bully himself. It would break my heart for my kids to be piteous and cruel.

“Treat others as you wish to be treated” I repeat as I buckle my little one into his seats and kiss his nose softly.

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“yeah, cause no one likes to be sad” Lincoln chimes in.

I smile to myself as I shut the van door and walk to my door.

Autism lives here

12Here is my son Lincoln on a lazy morning during March break with his new puppy Buttercup.

He’s petting her gently while he watched some old loony Toon cartoons and has taken to calling the pup “jr” likely from one of these old cartoons. He tells us she is so cute and little and he likes her flops ears.

When we had to put our 12-year-old dog Roscoe down unexpectantly due to heart issues Lincoln threw himself on my bawling when I told him the bad news that Roscoe was not going to be coming home.It was heartbreaking. He told me Roscoe was a good old dog and who would now sleep under their bed and guard them?

Even though I myself was raked with grief it was not lost on me that out of the four children I have the Autistic one was the most emotional over this loss.

Autistics are stereotyped as being unfeeling and detached from emotional responses but my boy is really quite the opposite. While books tell you to expect inappropriate responses to emotional situations never did I read that to mean that my little one would be so in tune with his feelings that he is often moved to tears by music and seems to have a ‘sixth sense’ when a situation is intense.

Autism lives here.

This is what it looks like to have a child with Autism.

Often times by appearance everything is just a regular day….and lots of times it is. He is the same as you or I, enjoying the puppy breath and wiggly tail, the curiosity and goofy little run when she prances across the floor chasing the kids.

Autism does not steal away the moments of ones life that seem so small but are monumental in a childs life.

I might be a little more emotional than others, I’d admit that. I am glad though that my son is too.

As a parent my worst fears were that he would never get to feel those highs and lows the same as you or I, being in love, that grand feeling of a big belly laugh, the ache of missing someone, the exhilarating feeling of ‘acing’ something and just the feeling of AWESOME!

I’m a glad for days that my child is just like everyone else and that although Autism lives here, it does not rule here. Our home is just that. Everyone is embraced and we all share in the small moments that make life full and beautiful.

 

Friends in the most unlikely of places

When you have a big family you limit yourself to outings and events as it proves challenging to take everyone places. When you have all boys, you add to the “limitation equation” but when you have a child with extra needs you also find that the invitations taper off.

I have never taken offense to this occurence and as a parent of 4 boys ages 4-9 and one with Autism I know that my family does not fit in everywhere I may have enjoyed being pre-kids.

I can tell you though that it gets very solitary being this type of family and for a social person, such as I am, there is a toll that is taken as the years pass. When before I might have always had a companion to do things with on the weekend or weekend night I often find that I am alone. It is the norm for me and the boys to spend a weekend alone without company and visitors are a special bonus when they come to our home, or out to events with us. They are a gift and not a given.

After 7 summers of hanging close to home and being protective of my boys I decided it was time for me and my Husband to find a hobby to get out and mingle.My oldest son had progressed very well and was now able to be left with a knowledgable sitter or family member who was big hearted enough to take all 4 kids for the day! (a lot to ask of anyone really)

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After a conversation with a kind and happy older gentleman about his Motorcycle Club I decided to go out on a limb and see if maybe “bike life” might be a good but strange fit for us!

My husband had rode a bike PK (pre kids) and despite the fact he never really enjoyed it as much as he would have like to in the T dot, I felt I could get him to agree to give it a try out in his new home of Durham Region.

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I come off as a little bad ass and tough girl so I thought that I might just enjoy the bike life and in the back of my head I craved the freedom of the open road since I had been tightly leashed by the restraints of motherhood for 8 years.

Despite how great those years have been and how much I wanted these years I have to admit there are times that giving 24 hrs or everyday to 4 boys and a Husband is JUST a little much, regardless of how giving in nature one is. Throw in a full-time job with as 2 hr commute each day, some pets and any extracurricular activities and you have a woman just dying to let loose and relax, even just for an hour or two each week.

I knew though that I had very little free time AND ideally it would be prudent to have my family enjoy the time with me so A) Everyone had the opportunity to be happy and enjoy themselves B) I would not have to choose between my family or my hobby and C) I would give my family a sense of acceptance and that is very important to forge ahead and grow confidently and proudly together as people. No body should ever feel they cannot be themselves completely, especially with family and friends. The 050 has quickly become both of those things to all 6 of us.

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I signed up and went home and told my Husband I had joined a bike club.

I am pretty sure he thought I had lost my marbles.

After going out to meet the gang we quickly agreed we needed this more than we thought.

As summer came we found that our merrier gang of butter tart lovers also loved to make people welcome and would bend over backward to make us feel at home. Whether it was special draw prizes that strangely all four boys won or the patience in waiting for the boys to grab a snack and washroom break at Tims when really everyone was ready to KSU and get on to the adventure or taking the time to swim and play with my rough and tumble boys These big hearts naturally made us feel as we belonged.

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Through out the summer it became routine to meet up for a ride and saunter over to the “mammamobile” and say hello to the boys. On most rides the bright Caravan trailed behind the troops protectively tailgunning to keep outsides away from the pack while watching over the flock, like a Mom instinctively does.

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My boys knew that Saturday meant CMC outings and they looked forward to seeing their ‘bike friends” Wednesdays are bike club night and they waited patiently at home for me and Jack to arrive home so they could go out to see the ‘club’

I know that there were likely many family members and friends that internally cringed when I said I joined a Motorcycle club but I am confident all of them changed that perception quickly once they saw how easily we flourished under their kindness.

My friends and family have come out to some CMC events and everyone that has cannot say more complimentary things about our CMC family.

I can’t promise that everyone that joins gets as much as my family out of the experience but I can tell you that the CMC truly is unique and I have never met a nicer bunch of bikers.

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The Mammamobile at Old Forge

The Mammamobile at Old Forge

I can’t wait to get out this year on my own bike and enjoy the beauty of the pack and the freedom of the open road while The “Daddymobile” trails behind and I hope to be around to see my own boys ride along with the 050!

The Conversation. A picture says a million words.

As we all know conversation is hard with a kid on the Spectrum. Eye contact is limited and interest sometimes focused solely on the childs likes and not the world going on around him. This is a heartwarming pic of my ASD cutie talking to his Aunt about his new baby cousin.

As we all know conversation is hard with a kid on the Spectrum. Eye contact is limited and interest sometimes focused solely on the childs likes and not the world going on around him. This is a heartwarming pic of my ASD cutie talking to his Aunt about his new baby cousin.

Conversation to me is a lifeline.

Being able to talk, share, delve, learn, grow, explore within another persons psyche to me, makes life so very interesting and the people I hold dear are those with whom I get to talk to daily and always am able to speak frankly and openly about everything and anything.

When you have a child with Autism you don’t always get to share with them in this fashion. Autistics have difficulty sharing,socializing and verbalizing.

That is just a fact and it isn’t worth trying to fighting, instead, you need to work with it, encourage sharing (even if it is only about your childs very structured set of likes and/ or dislikes) sharing is sharing after all.

There will be many conversations that you will find yourself feigning interest in – a hognosed snake or star-nosed mole simply because your child is SO passionate about it that you can’t help but smile and feel your heart burst in your chest with pride and the comfort that they are sharing and they wish to share with you.

This picture to me symbolizes  the years I have spent worrying about my son and his ability to function in the world beyond my door. It shows me there is great progress being made and that he is going to be able to do it.

For those who do not have experience with Autism you might be thinking that seems harsh as a Mother to feel your child can’t function out of their childhood home and I agree.

But it is the truth. No matter how ugly it is.

Some children will not be able to stand alone in the world and be ok. Some will not be able to simply walk into the store and go grocery shopping, hold down a job, drive a car or meet someone and fall in love. Be a parent. Worry about their own child.

This is the reality of it.

Autism is not natural for me. I am not autistic.

As a Mother of a child on the spectrum I try to watch my son and react as best as I can to help him. I offer him space to be himself and to grow. I do not smother his ways, I try to understand them, I do not invalidate them nor try to change them. I try not to be judgemental. It is hard.

Society has set out ‘expectations of normal’ and even being very open and accepting there are times I look and wonder why he just can’t act ‘normal’. I hate myself for these times, but I would be lying if I said they never happened.

I hate that the world can be harsh on people that are different because I wouldn’t care at all about being different if I didn’t know that it is a fact that he will one day be ridiculed for it or made to feel bad for it.

I think different is beautiful.I think my son is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Sometimes I look at him and I wish more people were just like him. Straightforward, earnest and free of restrictions on thoughts.

He enjoys things for the basic reason they make he smile or laugh or make him think. He thinks we should all be more like hippopotamuses because he finds them captivating and being a cow is a great thing in his opinion. Snakes and frogs are interesting because of the way they hunt and survive.

Last night when he stroked his baby cousins face (as he often does when he likes someone…he “touches their skin” to feel close to them) and he looked up into his Aunts eyes and spoke to her about his cousin, an easy back and forth conversation, a little voice inside me told me it was ok. Things would be ok. Give more time, let him stretch his wings and fly when he is ready.

It is a game of patience and I am not always the most patient person but I have learned that amazing things will happen if you give it space to happen.

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WOW! 2013 was a blur…

Sometimes no news is good news.

As the year draws quickly to a close I am happy to report my ASD kid is doing well, thriving and coming into his own.

Mom and Lincoln Christmas 2013

Mom and Lincoln Christmas 2013

So is his Mom.

2013 for me was a transitional one in mind and heart. I needed to do a little quiet soul-searching and I think I have done so. I looked past being a MOM of a kid on the spectrum and found out who ‘grown up Amanda” might like to me.

Instead of being serious and studious trying to help my children I found time to be funny and fun, embrace my own style and joie to vie again. It had been sometime since I really was free in my own mind to take time for me and I needed it. Really needed it.

Reflections "who am I?"

Reflections
“who am I?”

2013 lead me down new paths and although I wasn’t looking for life changes, I did find some.

The song “Ways to go” by Group love will be my theme song for this year as it draws to an end.

I didn’t ask for that
You give me heart attack
I didn’t want to care
And then I saw you there
Been working like a dog
I turned all my dreams off
I didn’t know my name
I didn’t know my name

 

These words, however actually intended, make me think of my journey as a mother of a child with Autism. IT is a struggle and we lose ourselves at times, and for stretched, but we can get back on track. We can  over-come.

 

 

 

We will.

We must.

 

I was fortunate enough this year to luck upon a great group of friends in the most unlikeliest of places. I decided to sign up for a Motorcycle Club in the early months of 2013 and my Husband chose to do so as well.

We have gained a wonderful group of comrades through the 9 months and they in turn have embraced my ASD family at face value, without prejudice and with much warmth and kindness. My family had the opportunity to get out, be social and enjoy many new adventures with the CMC 050 and I have to say we are so much richer for it.

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This year the Canadian Motorcycle Cruisers chapter 050 Durham Region also decided to embrace Nova’s Ark as their charity of choice to donate time, heart and money to.

Nova’s Ark is a amazing place that my son Lincoln has visited for summer camp two years running. ITs founder Mary Ann Nova is an awesome woman with a heart bigger than the Earth itself. She gives so much and I am very pleased to know I can help give back and that the club I belong to also would like to be part of her magic.

http://www.novasark.ca/

Sometimes, all we need is to feel wanted and that we belong.

Sometimes as people who are parents, we forget who ‘we’ are and become just a parent. Just an advocate. Just a body.

Don’t forget to be. You are an energy that was put on this Earth to be many things, to many people. There are many people out there that will touch your heart too, if only you let them. Friendships can move mountains and love has many faces, many levels and many reasons. Don’t box yourself in to one set of beliefs or one way of thinking.

The world can be black and white or it can be a spectrum of colours that please the eye and heart. Never settle for plain and ordinary :)

Welcome 2014.

May you bring me places I have not yet walked, may my family grow and prosper, may my friends smile and share with me and may I learn to be a better person.

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May I always continue to learn and grow. May I accept life lessons and become robust from the experience. Afterall, life is an adventure and I want my book of life to be full of dazzling colour, moments and people.

Happy New Year!

 

 

The simple words -Life with my ASD boy

We take for granted all the very simple and innocent transactions that transpire between two people, the comfortable banter of siblings or friends that create a bond of friendship and love. Sometimes with Autism these simple words don’t get shared.

This morning I was sitting doing a little admin work with my first cup of coffee and my ASD son sat down beside me in a tub chair that has a very ample seat, allowing his baby brother to climb in and cuddle in with him.

“hey kid, shove over” LIncoln says warmly

“Give me room” His little brother demands and wiggles in to give himself room.

“boy you sure are bossy”

“Give me room!”

“ok, ok don’t freak out” Lincoln giggles

I look over, expecting a fight and see a beautiful smile blossomed on Lincolns face. His arm is draped very casually over his little brothers shoulders and I notice the little hand has taken his borthers bigger one and is also sharing a smile as the two of them sit watching tv all cute and zombie like.

THESE are the moments that matter.

THESE are the times I was so afriad I would be robbed of. I look at my children being children and I am thankful for all that I am blessed with and I can only hope your children are able to share in the same.

Autism makes it more difficult to express these feelings but it doesn’t always steal the opportunity away.

Best Saturday morning EVER!

Enjoy your children and have a wonderful weekend with your ASD kids.

A