Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Boy

I am writing this post in response to one of my favorite bloggers over at Reinventing Mommy. She has a wonderful blog about her journey with her son as the navigate the world of autism. She wrote a beautiful post   at Hopeful Parents in response to the unspeakable tragedy that happened last week and the way that some media outlets are linking to violence to autism. You can read it here. She has called for us to share with the world the stories of our children and to show what wonderful little beings our children with autism are. So, here's my story :)


Here is my boy giving his "cheese" face :) He is barely 2 years old and was diagnosed with autism at 19 months of age. However, his autism does NOT define him.

He is one of the happiest little boys you will ever meet, and he has an infectious smile that lights up the room. He enjoys puzzles, cars, blocks, and he loves playing with his animal toys. My boy is a whiz on his iPad. Each day I am surprised and amazed at the way he navigates it and is mastering the various educational apps. And he LOVES playing the educational games :)

J loves the Bubble Guppies, Little Einsteins, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. His favorite parts are the music sequences. He loves to dance along to the songs and does the motions with the characters. Recently he has been enjoying music videos from the Mother Goose Club on youtube. He's also been known to watch some of his cartoons in foreign languages on there as well - maybe he wants to be bilingual?? :)

We have random dance parties throughout the day. He loves getting down to some Old Macdonald and often requests to put on some Moose A Moose videos so that we can dance to the songs. If he hears a few beats of the Fresh Beat Band on the television he runs over for me to pick him up and dance with him. He enjoys when I sing songs to him and he will follow along with the motions to songs such as Wheels on the Bus and If You're Happy and you Know it.

Speaking of which, when he's happy you WILL know it! He emits happiness and excitement from head to toe. He will do a little bounce with a subtle flap of his hands and hop around the room with a huge grin on his face. Sometimes he will lay on his stomach and do a little belly bounce, while his hand and feet circle with excitement. It is hard not to smile yourself when you see how happy he is.

mid bounce

He has never raised a hand in anger or frustration. If something upsets him he may give a sound of disapproval, but is quick to recover. He has been pushed or hit at play dates and had other children take toys from him, but he has never struck back. He may seek me out or simply walk away, looking a bit confused as to why someone might want to hurt him.

He is currently nonverbal, so we are waiting to hear his voice. That doesn't mean he can't communicate with us though. He may not be able to say "I love you", but he shows it with his actions. He is quick to give hugs and squeezes, and will sometimes give little "love pat" on my shoulder when hugging me. If I am making dinner or otherwise occupied while he is playing, he will only go a few minutes before finding me to check in. He will give my leg a quick squeeze and go back about his business, only return a few minutes later.

He also communicates with us using pictures. He has a little book filled with pictures of some of his favorite food and toy items. If he wants or needs something he brings the picture to us. I love hearing the rip of the velcro as he tears out a picture, followed by his little footsteps padding over to find me. He will also grab our hand to guide us where he wants to go, and has picked up some basic signs and will use them as well.

He loves watching his reflection. I will often find him practicing his signs or doing the motions for different songs in the mirror. But really, can you blame him - look at this face

J LOVES fruit. Apples, grapes, strawberries, nectarines, plums, you name it. Especially bananas. He will usually sign for a banana as soon as we put him in his chair for a meal. He is a great eater. I am often surprised by just how much he will eat!

He has begun to find enjoyment in art. He will paint, color, glue, and loves to play with play dough.

J has taught me to truly appreciate the small things. Every new skill he learns or accomplishment he makes is cause for celebration. I don't take anything for granted with this beautiful boy. I know how hard he as worked for each and every milestone he has reached. He is such a trooper. He receives a total of 22 hours a week of therapy and has teachers coming in and out of the house all day. And he never complains. He meets each of them at the door with a smile, takes their hand, and leads them to his "classroom". I am in awe of him. He truly inspires me. 

These words can only begin to describe the wonder that is my son. Yes, he has autism. He is also loving, caring, happy, brilliant, innocent, joyous, funny, adorable, hard working, and the list goes on. This is what you should think of when you think of a person with autism. A little boy fill with joy and wonder who will melt your heart with his smile.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Finding a balance

When autism was first brought up in relation to J I made it my mission to learn all I could about it. I bought several books and started researching various therapies. I subscribed to many blogs by parents of children with autism, and started reading them from the beginning. Essentially I lived and breathed autism. As my husband and I wound down watching a TV show at night, I wasn't paying attention - I was too busy scouring the web for any information that I thought would be useful. While it is definitely essential to become educated and explore therapy options, I believe that I could have gone about it at a slower pace.
Around October I hit a wall. I would sit down to try and read a book and found myself rereading the same paragraph over and over because I wasn't absorbing it. I began to resent some of the stories I was reading in different blogs - their child is doing X therapy and getting Y results, why isn't J? I stopped visiting some online forums as frequently and avoided talking as much about ASD. I ignored my own blog. I was burnt out. Not by my son, but by my crazed quest to learn all I could in the shortest amount of time possible. I took a step back and let myself regroup. I still want to learn all I can about autism and do everything in my power to help J reach his potential. I just need to go about it in a more reasonable manner. I am ready to read and write blogs again, and I have a book that I am actually looking forward to reading. (yes, about yet another therapy lol) I just need to keep a healthy balance of seeking out information and giving myself some down time. And, of course, spending time with this awesome little guy.
J and his new Handy Manny doll. He doesn't watch the show, but hasn't wanted to put this guy down :)