Friday, July 31, 2009

We are Family

I honestly don't know how single parents do it. If you are a single parent of a child with autism, and you are reading this, give yourself a big round of applause. (Actually, if you're a single parent PERIOD, give yourself a round of applause.) Francis (my husband) is on holidays this past couple of weeks, and it is just soooo great to have that help. And, he's a good daddy. He's hands on, out in the yard with the kids all day kind of dad. Had you driven by my house last evening, he was the guy giving the kids figure 4 leg locks, pile drivers and suplexes on the front lawn. He's like the quintessential uncle, turned daddy.

What I like best, is that he is the only other person in the world who is in on this. I have family and friends I can talk to, but no one but him lives Asperger's Syndrome like I do. Nobody knows Aiden like he and I. Nobody. When other people are around, I always feel like I'm interpret ting behaviours, or always telling people what to do or not do around him. With Francis, he's already had the inservice.

When he gets home from work, Margaret will come running for hugs and kisses. Aiden will come running with tidbit of information from his day. He knows that Aiden wants the hugs and kisses too, I don't have to interpret.

Most importantly, he loves him. Loves him, loves him, loves him. He spends time with him. He accepts him. He has dreams for him. With all the struggles that Aiden may face, and undoubtedly will face, it comforts me to know that he has the priceless benefit of being loved and adored. No matter what kind of experiences he may have with bullying, rejection, loneliness (ouch, that is hard to write) he'll always have love here. Between the two of us, I hope we can give him the solid foundation of love and self-worth at home before setting him free in the world.
So, here's to a great dad. And a great guy. And here's to family!

But don't get me wrong...he still gets on my nerves sometimes....

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back to School

It's everywhere now. School supplies. Normally, the sight of school supplies sends my heart skipping a beat. I truly believe that one of the perks of being a teacher, is that you will always have the thrill of stocking up afresh for September. However, a recent trip to Walmart, watching a mom help her little girl complete her shopping list, left me feeling kind of sad.
School terrifies me. It really does. I just cannot imagine a scenario where my little guy can pass happily through its structured ways. Well, I can't imagine a way that he can fit the mold without fundamentally changing who, and how he is. I've been worrying about school since he was 2. Who will ever have the time to deal with his activity level in their classroom? Who will ever have time to learn all of the dos and don'ts of teaching children with AS? Who will have the time to link his learning to his interests, which is a vital step in maintaining his focus? Who will have the patience required? I do. I know that, but our goal is to head into grade one after this year of homeschooling. Unless he fundamentally changes in the next year, sending him to school will be paramount to putting my heart on a chopping block.
Part of my problem, I don't trust people. I tried to trust people with him in the past, and it did nothing but do more harm but good. I don't want to spend 13 years apologizing for him being who he is. I want to spend all of his years celebrating who he is, and working with it. But...
...and it's a big but...I want him to have the advantage of a regular childhood. I would love to see him hop on a bus and ride to school. To casually talk about kids from his class. All of those things that most parents completely take for granted.
So, I'm avoiding school for a year. I'm going to put all of my anxieties on hold for a year. I'm going to go it alone for a year. I'm going to hope for a lot to change in a year. I am quite possibly going to go crazy this year (the thing about going to work...there are other adults there!!!. For those of you who can't remember what other adults are..they're fully grown humans, who hold similar interests to your own. And, I'm going to make a fair attempt at enjoying this year.
And, I'm going to chronicle this year. So, if you're interested, stay tuned.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Autism is...

Autism is not being able to rest your arm on your child while cuddling him.
Autism is having to ask your boy to tell you that he loves you.
Autism is anxiety ridden.
Autism is life altering.
Autism is beautiful.
Autism is brutally honest. Brutally.
Autism is so very, very creative.
Autism is so in touch with the world.
Autism is spreading fast.
Autism is changing the way people interact.
Autism is affecting my family's life.
Autism is a community.
Autism is really, really interesting.
Autism is what makes me want to use my life.
Autism is inspiring.
Autism is what makes me proudest.
Autism is what scares me the most.
Autism is pretty funny, sometimes.
Autism is changing schools and work places.
Autism is very, very real.
Autism is making very tough decisions.
Autism is brothers, sisters, sons daughters.
Autism is only part of a person.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Up! in Smoke

Well, you can't blame a girl for trying. It was a rainy day here in St. John's (oh, I'll allow you a moment to reel in from the shock of that) so Aiden's morning soccer program was cancelled for the day. So I thought it to be the perfect day for us to try going to a movie. It's been on my "to do list" now for a while, and I've had it in my head to take him to UP! since May. Not that easy to arrange apparently. So, it being a weekday morning, i thought that now was probably a good time to go. The movie has been out for a while, so I expected the theatre to be quite empty. Which it was.
So, I packed up little Margaret, and sent her with my mom, and packed my purse to unforgiving fullness in prep for the movie. Any autism parent who reads this will's all in the prep, and in preparing for any manner of situation or request which might arise in a new situation. I had favourite snacks, apple juice (oh so important), a comfort item, the Z-Vibe, headphones for noise name it, I probably had it. Well, it was all for nought. My first clue that this might not work out was by Aiden's lack of chatter on the way to the theatre....all parents know that quiet is never good. This was the tell tale sign of fear mounting. But the little trooper stayed with me through purchasing tickets (at airport style prices BTW), lining up for popcorn, and handing in our tickets, he played the game until the second we walked into the dark, LOUD theatre. "Actually, I want to go home now." he chimed in. I quietly beseech ed him to give it a try, the little guy begrudgingly sat up in his seat, and about 20 seconds later, with headphones of no help here, again pleaded his case.
So, I gave in, knowing that this bad experience means it may be years before I'll ever get him as close again.
But, tonight before going to bed, he earned a sticker on his behaviour chart for trying a new thing. Truthfully, I probably deserved a sticker too!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pick Your Battles

Okay, this appears to be the true mantra of autism parents, and maybe all parents. You have to pick your battles. Because honestly, if you didn't, life would be a constant battle. And there are some days where you face a multitude of battles, none of which can be avoided, due to safety reasons, etc. But I got to tell you, it can be hard to know which to fight, and which to turn a blind eye too. (Luckily for me, I actually have a blind eye. Seriously!)

My yellow apple can find opportunity for creativity, and hence mischief if left in a vacant room with nothing but a gum wrapper. I swear that his creativity, smarts and boundless energy would ASTOUND you. Am I proud of this? Sure! I've learned to celebrate all strengths, and to try to focus on the positive. However, this kind of ability to use everyday objects in new and peculiar ways is not just amazingly creative, and distracting, but a little difficult to take on the road!

For example, once while in a hospital waiting room, Aiden took a pile of pamphlets off a table, and proceeded to shingle the roof of a plastic playhouse. Once that job was done, and mercilessly, we were still waiting, he took it upon himself to begin to install a new floor!

God knows I adore him, like ADORE him...but some days I am just plain exhausted. Seriously, wiped out.

So, now that my little babies are in bed...I think I'll enjoy a little me time. Roughly translated: time to do housework!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New to Blogging, and lots more

I fell kind of nervous. I know there's a good chance no one will ever read this, it may just be my own personal journal on the adventure I'm about to embark on. But, I promised myself I'd keep a running record, and here it is.
I have made the decision to homeschool Kindergarten for my little man, who's 4 and has a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome, which is on the Autism Spectrum.
At the end of his last Kinderstart session (a program where preschoolers attend school sessions prior to starting school in September) my husband and I had already come to the conclusion that our little guy was not ready for the high structure of school. The K. teacher assigned the Kinderstarters a label of red apple, or green apple, indicating which class they would be in. She looked at Aiden and said, "and you'll be a yellow apple". And so he is! Hence the name of this blog. Funny where we draw inspritation!
So, it is now July, and I am gathering resources and looking ahead to September, with lots of fear, and admittedly a little excitement too. I have decided not to work next year ( I am a special educator) which was a big decision, and to use my skills for my own little family. My boy also has a precious baby sister, 17 mos. I'm not quite sure how easy or hard she'll make homeschooling!

I guess I'll find out!