Summer R&R- My ASD kid just being a kid!

“2 months of rest and no homework!”

I smile to myself as I listen to Lincoln tell me why he loves summer vacation.
He has come up to sneak under the covers with him Mom who uses her first day of vacation to sleep in past the regular 5:15am wake up.
He has actually already been up watching videos on the computer for an hour or so before anyone else started stirring and now that everyone else but his Mother and the puppy are up, he will slink up the stairs undetected and steal a moment one-on-one with his Mom.

He snuggled in, face to face with me, and I open my eyes to look into his beautiful hazel ones.
He has an adorable sprinkle of chocolate freckles across his sun-kissed cheeks and nose. He is already wearing his signature “blue” glasses (his favorite colour and a common favorite for Autistics) He pulls the furry blanket up to his chin and smiles sweetly.
“What will we do today?” he asks
“What ever you want Son. It is going to be an awesome day!”

I enjoy a few more leisurely minutes in the comfy coziness of my cocoon bed and then pull back the covers and turn to look at my 9 yr old boy who is smiling and rolling himself into the covers.
“I need some coffee, then the beach! Go get dressed.”

He runs off, and finds some clothes. He is finally getting himself dressed all by himself. He has grown into a big boy in the last 365 days. I am proud to watch my sturdy kid walk down the hall with a purpose.

We decide to pack a picnic lunch and head out to the Lake.
On the way, I am asked if we would see an American Porcupine again in a tree.
I smile to myself and shake my head.
“probably not dude. That was a year ago, I’m not sure that the porcupine will still inhabit the same tree. Maybe though, who knows”
Last year, we saw a porcupine in a tree. I had no idea that they could climb but I was quickly advised that the American variety of porcupine lives in trees. The African ones only live on the ground. I felt stupid for not knowing, I guess that might be due to the way the info was delivered from my ASD 8 yrs old. He figures I should know these things!!

The kids quickly slip into the water and gleefully frolic in the crowd. Lincoln slips out into a quiet spot and finds a relaxing moment of textile fun!

9 P1360435 (2)

 

Just as he did last year, he scoops up the cool, slick sand at the bottom of the lake and lets it run through his fingers, over his hand. He shuts one eye to focus on the muddy treasure, the feel so appealing and enjoyable. He spends half the afternoon playing on his own. He will share with a brother if they sidled over…normally either plastering them with the soothing mud or splattering it over there sodden hair.

I suppose if anyone was watching they might think he was being odd, and maybe he was. That is just the nature of Autism.

Sometimes, the things that a child on the spectrum enjoys MAY be considered odd, weird, strange of a little unorthodox. I guess to the general public it is. But if you really think about it there is nothing strange, odd or different but maybe we are just so restricted in our behavior that we worry far too much about what others may think to simply enjoy the word for what it is.

He looked at the lake and decided just to enjoy it as his senses reacted. The warm sandy under his toes felt good.

IT FELT GOOD.

Lifting the sand and enjoying it by running it through his hands repeatedly might seem odd but it does not hurt anyone, it only gives pleasure. Simple pleasure.

Sitting on the beach, watching him over the edge of my magazine full of current day horrors, The Ukraine, the obesity rate in America, the truth about sugar…I wondered who really had their priorities in check.

I folded the McLean’s magazine and instead closed my eyes and enjoyed the sunshine.

lincI cannot deny my child thinks differently.

I won’t pretend he does not act different or react different.

But sometimes I just wonder who has it right. Me, or him? Society or the small percent of Autistics in the world?

With an encyclopedia tucked down the side of the chair, pen in hand, he sits and watches you tube videos about his favorite animals.

Just look at his face.He is learning, thinking, cataloging information.

He is happy and free.

43 more blissful days of summer vacation…..

24

 

 

“Go get ‘em boy!!” Boyhood crushes and chasing girls -An ASD kid in action

I remember chasing Barry and Robbie home hitting them with my Miss Piggy tote and telling them if they try to kiss me again they were toast!! I was 7.

I can still remember the feeling of the hot August sun on our naked shoulders and freckles sprouting on our flawless kid skin when me and Darren Cox used to knock on the front window of his parents house to rouse his Mum off the couch to watch us kiss for her in the big bay window. I was 5.

It is as natural as a big belly laugh or being awed the first time you catch a frog in the pond. Love.

That first awkward, silly sweet innocent infatuation.

 

So, on a sunny, leisurely, Saturday afternoon I was not surprised to watch my 9 year old son become smitten with a cute little girl who kept tossing her curly brown locks over her shoulder and climbing the monkey bars with her willowy limbs right in front of his prepubescent eyes.

kiss

Autism has been know to hinder socialization but I was tickled pink that it did not hinder my son’s desire to vie for this sassy young things attention.

“Hi! I’m Lincoln Jude Skorochod! Who are you?”

The sweet little vixen sashayed past him, her hair bouncing on her thin shoulder. “I’m Kaylee. She’s Kristen”

“No I’m not….!” The friend chimed.

A big smirk and the girl turned and giggled off to the slide to pow wow with her friend.

Lincoln and Grayson stood speechless, watching the girls with wonderment. Their little brother, only 4 was immune to the girls power of mesmerizing and continued to crawl on all fours, barking and panting as he played “dog”.

After a few seconds ticked by Lincoln looked wistfully over his shoulder on last time then it appeared an idea had hatched in his mind. He strode over to Bishop.

097

“Hey boy! Atta boy! Go get the girls! I like THAT one! (he pointed) Go get ‘em boy! That a boy!”

I nearly spit out my Chai latte.

The girls pretended they didn’t hear but a big smile snuck across their pretty faces.

BIshop barked happily and crawled off towards them.

Ah! First love.

boy-and-girls-love-picture-girl-kiss-black-white-3588253

So glad Autism did not interfere with this fantastic experience!! And thank god for baby brothers!!

 

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.

1653314_10152188290446276_1796962290_n

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.”

12

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.

linckiss

“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)

P1220940 (2)

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.

b (2)

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.

11

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.

boys mine2

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.

gg

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.

ttg (2)

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.

P1280351 (2)