Tag Archives: autism

Change & Transition = Discombobulated & Emotional

I have been thrown into a state of confusion all week. This week was the beginning of many changes in my personal schedule, David’s schedule, and back to school for the kids. Before winter break the school made several changes to Daniel’s therapy sessions with added OT therapy for Joshua I was starting to get very overwhelmed. I missed times and sessions because I simply forgot. They had changed therapists and times on me so many times that my brain got frazzled. It was too much for me to try to get the kids to focus on their end of semester schoolwork and keep up with the sudden change of a new Speech therapist and new days/times for Daniel, trying to set up days/times for Joshua’s OT, and meet with teachers for fall reading sessions etc…  In addition, David was leaving for meetings in the middle of the day or at night upsetting my scheduled workout sessions.

AND there were snow storms that caused my workout sessions to be cancelled.

I was struggling with my chaotic mind when winter break started unleashing the holiday season festivities. While all of that went well, we were not on any sort of schedule as I had hoped. We had one of the best holidays we have ever had with our quaint Christmas week with each other, but David was on vacation. Though he works from home when he is on vacation it is a different dynamic. He is downstairs more. He talks to me more. He does things with the kids, gets them all wild then, goes back to upstairs not thinking of the consequences. He was in and out meeting with people in town as well. It was a lot of disruptions that I am not accustomed to. I get bent out of shape, not in a negative way, but I have to remind him of what those things do to the kids and the “ecosystem” I have going on down here sometimes. :-)

Two weeks of no schedule!

The Y takes a winter break too for certain sessions, so most of my scheduled sessions were not in progress. I tried to do different sessions which, was more change and meeting new people. The week of New Year’s many of my family members came in and we visited with them. That was another set of emotional chaos and processing that my mind was trying to make sense of – it did not catch up with me until yesterday. I have been out of sorts for days. I have been an emotional roller coaster and I did not understand why. I would think I would get it by now, but I do not. One of the reasons is that when my mind goes into this intense set of changes it combs over and processes my past unlocking fears, pains, and things that I have not dealt with and/or understood.

I thought I was going to be alright with school starting back up.

I was looking forward to it in order to get back on track. I was getting my mind wrapped around our new schedules. I had written all of them down in a calendar to help me. I put the schedule in the online school calendar. I put my new schedule and the school schedule into my Google calendar. I was set! Then, over the weekend I received an email from Daniel’s OT. She had to stop being his OT and he was now going to be with Joshua’s OT on a new day and time. After a few rounds of email confusion, she was apologetic in telling me that she was not going to be able to have a “good-bye” session with Daniel and he would start Monday morning at 8 am with his new OT. (I have not included how the kids are having their own challenges with change and transitions, but I will say they seem to be doing better than I have been.) Sunday we had an ice storm – my Monday morning cycle session was cancelled.

The ice stayed and the temperature dropped – my Tuesday morning boot camp session was cancelled.

For some people this may not be a big deal, just go with the flow Angel! Well, it took a lot for me to work myself up to decide to go to morning sessions. It changes the time that I get up and the whole flow of the day. Not only that there is a social element that I have to prepare myself for, I am walking into new faces and new personalities. I have been going to night sessions for over a year and I am familiar with the faces. I have people that I know that I can talk to it took a long time for me to be able to do that. Now I have to go through that process again. I had mentally prepared to be ready for my new sessions, but that stirs anxious thoughts. I have to prepare socially and emotionally even if I do not talk to one single person.

To gear up for that and then, have it cancelled makes me emotional.

The unexpected request from teachers and trying to get Daniel to finish school tests for fall evaluations was stressful. An unexpected request by Daniel’s teacher to read with her yesterday caused me to blank out and completely forget his Speech session – that made me feel awful. When I miss appointments it makes me feel so badly and for some reason “failure” automatically pops in my head. Even before that happened I found myself for days feeling depressive thoughts. I had negative words bombarding my mind. Little things that family said or did NOT say replayed like a broken record. I started to pick apart things about myself. I began to feel purposeless. I started to think that I was not a worthy contributor to anything. I felt like I had nothing to share with the Autism community.

I started to question if I should take my blog down and give up writing.

I began to feel that there was no need to share my poems or reach out. I will be honest these thoughts are still roaming in my head. I am not sure why they come in such attack, but I have discovered a pattern. They come on full force when I am not in a routine. They come when I feel like my life is in chaos. They come when I am changing many things in my life. When I am in transition, if one things goes wrong I start to waver. However, when many things unravel and my plans do not work the way that I intended the words failure, hopeless, and lacking purpose infiltrate my mind. They become worse when I feel that my accomplishments are ignored and invalided by people (family) who, by societal rules, are supposed to be my biggest supporters. It hurts and it is confusing.

I wrestled for several days with depression and negative thinking.

I still am, but now my thoughts are clearer. Yesterday, when I found myself sobbing on the floor feeling like my heart had been ripped out of my chest I was so frustrated. I do not want to feel these things. I do not want to go through such turmoil. I do not want to be confused as to why I am crying or feeling deep emotional angst. However, I cannot stop it. The positive from all of it was that the tears were a release from all of the changes and unexpectedness that had occurred over these couple of weeks. I was able to process after the tears came and in that I realized that much of this had to with many of these changes I shared in this post. There is another aspect as well. I have been struggling with the feeling that I am floating in limbo. I feel that I have lost some part of my identity and I am not sure why.

I do not know where I belong.

I do not have a network of friends in real life and I cannot seem to keep up with online relationships either. In order to be active with the community you have to be out there, but I simply cannot give the time and effort because my time needs to be focused at home with my kids. I have also, been transitioning with my relationship with David and it takes a lot out of me. I am still working on a post to try to explain our transition, but it is emotional and I feel vulnerable so it makes it harder to get out. For several months, I have been wondering what to do next. I have thought long and hard about this blog and my poetry blog. The last few days, I felt that they were of no importance to anyone so why should I put myself out there. Those thoughts come from a lifetime of being invalidated.

Why does my mind go to such extremes?

I do feel that I have changed and my writing has changed as well. I find it scary. I am ready to move forward and see what lies ahead, BUT what am I going to do? How am I going to transition if I have no idea what to do? What kind of changes do I want to make? When I shared some of this with David he went into his rapid fire “idea mode.” I felt my mind turn into a word and image tornado swelling in my head making me feel worse. He forgets that it does not help me; it is his way of processing. I told him that he had to stop and I was able to express what I truly felt without shutting down. It was a surprise to me, but these words came out, “I need to accomplish something. I have got to do something more. I need to feel like I am contributing and have a purpose.” Through that I was able refocus and come up with some plans that I want to achieve.

If I do not feel like I am achieving anything I feel negative about myself.

Any attempt at achievement that does not work derails me into a tailspin of depressive thoughts and negative thinking patterns. I did not realize how derailed and negative I can get when things do not go as planned. Most of my life I have internalized this even though I have written about some of this on prior posts , it was still only my voice filtering. I was unaware of how damaging it was until I was able to communicate more of these things out loud. I was actually hearing what I was saying about myself and it was a little shocking because I do not really feel these things. I have created a negative loop coping mechanism when I do not know how to cope with changes in my life or the unknown transitions that I am facing. I feel a bit lost because I am in a transition within myself that has no name or clear direction, but I hope to work through it with a positive mindset. One of my goals is to work on how to process change, transitions, and the feeling of being discombobulated in a healthier way.

A few reads.  

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Intermission Post!

My brain is all a clutter!! After sharing the last three posts, I am feeling vulnerable and anxious. I will continue my series when I am not so rambly and jumbled. I am sure it has much to do with Thanksgiving next week and the many social encounters I have had the past two weeks – along with delayed reactions to moving. My brain always takes longer to catch up and process everything. In light of that, I thought it may be a good idea for me to share about some things that have been happening. Daniel has surprised me in several ways this week. He and Joshua blew me away the other day! However, great progress can manifest great meltdowns. I share that because I think many people forget, including me.

Whenever there are major connections being made in the brain it takes a lot to process.

It affects the entire body and all the systems going on in there, for Autistics it can cause overwhelming emotions and unexpected reactions. For me, I have also seen this with my kids, when it comes to socializing or trying new things the excitement can take over and we do not realize how much we are affected by what we are doing the next thing we know we are crying feeling very sad, or we become irritable, sometimes angry and have no idea why. Trying something new takes much thought for me many times the attempt seems to come out of nowhere as if it is spontaneous when in actuality; it has been a long time brewing in my mind – I just have not voiced it.

I have seen this pattern with my kids as well.

This week the boys created artwork all on their own. I have given up on my attempts to motivate them into doing any sort of drawing or crafty type of things lately, because it has been the source of unpleasantness for all of us. All three kids and I have dysgraphia and find it challenging to write and cut with scissors, glue can cause sensory meltdowns with me I have gone into hyperventilation episodes when I could not get glue off me – my kids have had similar reactions. :-/ Ariel has a gift with drawing and being creative with painting, creating image stories, but she has difficulty putting those stories into words and sentence structures.

The boys have difficulty with imagining a story and creating a drawing along with words and sentence structures – it takes a lot of breaks and effort for school.

However, they do come up with great imaginative play; Joshua is always playing out some sort of story line with his Lego’s or whatever toy he is playing with at the time. Daniel has stories, but very rarely do I get to hear them. On occasion he will share something like, “Mr. Turtle is going to a school meeting like me. He needs to do his lessons then, he can play.”  He has not shown much interest in wanting to participate with Joshua and Ariel when they are creating stories with toys. He has gotten his toys before and sat next to them, but he did not interact much. He has, but not much and not for very long.

This week he did a lot of interacting and participating.

He added his own ideas and bits to the stories they were making up. He felt comfortable to engage and participate. He is feeling more confident and enjoying himself. I love that! I kind of went off my focus, sorry. The other nugget of awesomeness here is that Joshua, who normally shuts down into a mass on the floor when I ask him to write anything or attempt a drawing for art, came up with an idea to create drawings and sell them for money. He spent two days drawing, writing, and creating stories. I had to explain to him that being an artist does not normally pay that well then; I had to burst his bubble that people most likely were not going to buy his drawings. I felt awful. :-(

Some of them are priced rather high at about $10 so…

Daniel participated as well putting his prices on his art – he decided that he wanted to make enough money to buy us a house so he jacked up his spaceship price to $30,000. Any takers? Lol! They took the news fairly well, after I explained it in more detail. Joshua shared with me that he wanted to make a lot of money so that he could buy the Lego Death Star and the New Mario Brothers game. :-)  They did not realize all the hard work they were doing. They were spelling, thinking of prices and writing the dollar amounts. They were drawing some great drawings, cutting and pasting all kind of things. It was incredible – I did not tell them that they were doing many things that resembled school work. Daniel watched Joshua for a while and then, jumped right in and copied what Joshua had done. He has never done that before.

They spent all day together creating their artwork.

Throughout the day Daniel would say with excitement, “Mom! Look, I cut this out all by myself. I have never done that before.” Those words rang through the day with every new thing he did, “Mom! Look, I made a sun; I have never done that before!” On and on magical words and creations filled the house. Ariel was not into it for some reason, she was caught up in her comic books and they trump all things, but she draws all the time and makes things throughout the day on a daily basis – it is hard to keep up with all of her stuff. It is how she processes everything. (Focus, focus, focus! Talking to myself.) Not only did they do all of that they also, completed school work for me. Daniel came up with a journal entry for his school assignment writing out his graphic organizer all by himself!

I typed out the words that he came up with and he copied them all on his own. 

I normally, have to prompt him or guide him with the whole thing. His hand writing looked awesome too! Last week, it was not that good while working with his OT. He was so proud. Big smiles from this momma. Joshua came up with an “advice for a friend” paragraph. He came up with a problem and the sentences for his paragraph on his own. Another round of big smiles from this momma! I do believe some art therapy was going on around here. They did a lot of hard work, but enjoyed themselves. They did amazing and I am so proud of how they pushed themselves to try new things, with such positive outcomes, and that they put forth even more hard work for their school work. Today we are taking it easy and recovering. I am most excited that the boys found their way to be creative and had so much fun with tasks that normally cause them much turmoil and pain.

Winning! 😉 Picture time!


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I’m Tired? Who Knew?

I have been going for weeks; my energy levels were at high peaks and I felt as though I would be able to maintain that level forever (except those times when my body shut down on me and I was fatigued, yeah … I always forget those times when my energies are high.) – until, last night. I felt very tired on Wednesday, but assumed that it was the weather and quickly concluded that there was simply too much to do so no time for tired. No time! Yesterday, I seemed to gain some burst of energy and managed to complete the entire garage mess, mounds of boxes and mish mash all organized and arranged tightly to fit our minivan in a snug little niche of the garage. I became fixated on ensuring that the car would go into the garage yesterday – it HAD to be done that day no exceptions!

I do not know why, my mind just grabbed hold of it and would not let it go. 

I did that while, doing school with the kids, unpacking random boxes inside, and feeding everyone. I thought no doubt I had enough energy to do an hour long boot camp session at the Y. David has been asking me for days if I need to take a break – me? No, NEVER!! There is so much to be done and I have to workout or else my mind may rage into anxiety or meltdown in the midst of all of this change. My instructor got onto me several times about my form. I did not realize how wobbly I was and my sprained ankle is still recovering so I am not at my best. She almost made me sit out several times, the last time she said, “If you are going to hold that bar like that get off my floor! You are tired!”

I looked at her defiantly and held my weight bar correctly while maintaining proper form.

How could she know if I was tired or not? Geez! However, the words pounded in my head, “You are tired!” I scoffed to myself. I am not tired. What is she talking about? After my workout, I was off to Walmart for food shopping – an hour or so in Walmart. I came hope and Daniel was especially, clinging feeling his anxiety rising I sat with him, soothed him, and got him to bed after a long while of soothing and comforting. :-) Still in my sweaty clothes, starving, and getting very cranky since, I had not eaten since lunchtime I finally sat to eat my dinner much later than usual.

As I sat there, it hit me – I was tired. 

BUT tired, is not allowed around here. There is too much to do. Too many things to take care of too many people to feed, too many things to clean! Too many stuffs!! I took my shower, went to bed, and thought I will feel better in the morning. I had a dream that left me feeling disappointed and sad, but I was quite happy and jolly this morning. I have been all day. However, when I took Ariel to her classes today I was once again struck with tired. I walked up the stairs with her and Daniel thinking, it’s tired in here. I spent two hours trying to keep Daniel entertained because his Elmo got boring after a while. We walked, I tried to talk with him and tell silly stories. He told me that he only wants to do silly stories with daddy. Then, he told me, “I like sitting with you.”

It was sweet and somewhat sad at the same time, I was all, “Hey! I am way sillier than dad!” 

I want to have fun being silly too. It was good insight, and we quietly walked together around the building discussing all of the details and why it was build the way it was … as we do every week. I ended up plopping down on the walkway letting Daniel run in the grass. It was then, that my tiredness really came to fruition. I tried to write. I have had a dozen poems and posts swarming through my head for weeks that I cannot get out. At first, I thought O-M-G! I will never be able to write again! My brain will deflate and my body will retaliate, I will cease to exist! (I do overact sometimes. :-))

When I started to type out the poem that was flooding my brain the words that were in my head would not come out of my fingers. 

They were getting all jumbled and mixed up. The poem did not say what I wanted it to say. It came out with different words, why was I typing different words than what my brain was thinking? The words were coming out before they should or after – it was so frustrating. I closed the iPad and played with Daniel. As I ran around with him I could feel how exhausted my physical body was for the first time, when I came home I felt just how mentally exhausted I was too. I was sharing with David how tired I felt and that I could not understand why I was so tired.

He shook his head. 

He said, “You do this all the time. You have no gauge of much you have pushed yourself. You need to rest.” to be honest with you, I do not know how to rest. Even in my exhausted state, my mind is going a mile a minute. I am thinking of what needs to be done or how to get it done. I am making plans and preparing for the next thing. If I am not focused on that, my mind starts, to wander into philosophical musings that can get me going down multiple paths of anything and I mean anything. Mediation does not work for me – I find nothing to truly relax my body or my mind I just find ways to calm the static.

I am calm and peaceful, but ever going. 

Even in my most relax state I have a billion things going on in my head. Ideas, thoughts, music, images, people, questions – oh heavens, the questions! I get overwhelmed at times with Daniel’s constant question asking it is a lot to answer in a day and half the time the questions he asks do not have concrete answers or they have complex answers. I love his constant questions do not get me wrong, I waited too long to hear them and will never take them for granted! However, his questions mingled with my gazillion questions in my own head can lead to mania. What is worse is when he asks questions that I have wanted the answers to forever AND I still do not know. Egads!! Awww, the agony!

So yeah, here is my exhausted tired brain and body frantically writing about my tiredness. 

I think I need to think about how I can relax. I have tried so many of the “normal” ways of relaxing and they do not work for me. There is no way I will get a massage ever again! I have the urge to sit and watch the TV. Maybe I will try that tonight. I will find something that is entertaining hopefully, it will let my brain soak in a story and let it go. I am not sure if that will work, but my brain is too frazzled to read, but too wired not to get fixated on something and go into research mode. I am going to go now, I think I may be tiredly rambling and not realizing it. Any tips on how to know when you are tired? How do you help yourself gauge? Any tell tale signs that you can share with me that may be beneficial?

What do you do to relax? 

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Woolly Bear Happy! (Pyrrharctia isabella)

Hello!! I will upfront here, I am almost in a panic attack. My chest is heavy, I am having a hard time breathing, and my head is spinning … Panic, panic, panic! Is soaring through my head. I was doing fine only moments ago, so I thought. I was able to pull out of my irritable mood from yesterday, but today anxiety is all-consuming. There is so much to do and I cannot get my mind to focus on anything. I am freaking out because it looks like we will only have help moving on Friday for a few hours. It is these times that it can suck only having virtual friends – I LOVE my virtual friends, but I really wish some of you lived closer so we could help each other out in the physical world.

It would be nice to have a person here who could just “understand.”

You know what I mean? Not necessarily help move, but have understanding eyes – someone who could relate to why I am almost on the verge of tears feeling utterly OUT-OF-CONTROL! I know I will be fine – I am riding (writing) out the anxiety at the moment. As I write, my breathing is getting in sync with my typing. Only seconds ago, the typing was rapid and furious, I can feel myself typing slower and calmer … with huge deep breaths I am finding my calm. However, the tears are coming and I cannot stop them. I suppose, I should just let them go.  As my body and mind go through its course of release, I see this as an opportunity to change some negative thinking.

I hear the many questions of “Why?” bombard my mind.

I feel shame in a way that I am crying and that I feel out-of-control. I hear old scripts pounding in my head, “Why are you crying? Everyone moves. Why aren’t you happy? What is wrong with you? You are overreacting! You should be thankful for all of this.” And on and on of all sorts of questions and statements. I AM happy! I AM thankful! Just because I am feeling panic and overwhelmed does not meant that I am not. Why do people say such things when others are emotional?  Why do people feel this need to tell others at that point, that “their” situation could be much worse? Why do they feel the need to invalidate, fix, or even take those opportunities to condemn a person for having emotions that they do not feel are appropriate for the circumstance?

Those things haunt me when my anxiety starts to tinge.

Words of those in my past, who found my anxiety or emotional responses too ridiculous or inappropriate fill my brain and attack me – causing even more anxiety and stress. WHY can’t I just stop? I cannot, my brain needs to process and work through everything that it is processing and there is nothing wrong with how it so chooses. Since, I am unable to know many times what I need my body and mind take over to help me. It shuts down, it meltdowns, it cries, it calls out for stimuli, it begs for quiet, it picks at my face, it twirls and twists my hair, it claps, it sings, it jumps, it bakes, it cleans, or it becomes obsessed with a Woolly Bear caterpillar that was hiding in the garage. :-)

wooly_bear_pictureYesterday, I found great peace and happiness in holding that fuzzy caterpillar.

I brought it to the kids; we let it walk all over our hands and giggled. I needed him. I went in search of how to create a home for him because I knew that he needed to hibernate and I want to keep him. I love him. I instantly and madly fell in love with him. I looked up all the information I could about him and shared it with the kids. We built a little home for him and I found calm.

Every time I start to feel the anxiety tickle in my mind, I look at our Woolly Bear.

It has helped the kids too. We have something to focus on – he(or she) is fuzzy cute comfort. I plan to make him a better home in hopes of keeping him through the winter. When I read about the Woolly Bear to the kids, I told them about the folklore that people believe. Some people believe that depending upon the length of the reddish brown band in the middle of their body it can determine the severity of the winter to come.

Ariel was so excited and said that she wanted to test that out.

We shall see what transpires. Now I feel my calm back, my mind is getting refocused and the spiral I felt a few minutes ago has stopped. I am not sure how I am going to do today. I truly hope that getting this out will help me stay focused, but there are no guarantees. All three kids are back in bed, they are still sick. I am not sure Halloween is in the plans for us tonight. It is rainy, icky, and snowing fall leaves here. The good news, David is at the new house at this very moment doing the walk-thru and we will have the keys. I cannot wait to go into that house and walk around. I think that will ease some of my anxiety.

The rest of my day should bring me some solace.

After I finish this, I will write out a list to do. I do plan to make the kids’ birthday cakes today and that should bring me some peace. School is not an option, we are behind, and I have to accept that. We have little help moving, we usually do I should be used to it by now – I have to accept that. I cannot do everything and it will ALL get done – it always does – I have to accept that it may or may not go the way I expect or want it to. The hardest part about anxiety is realizing that the best way for me to deal with it is to accept so many things that I have such a hard time accepting. I can only do so much and my “so much” is enough. One moment at a time, say “Hi” to Woolly Bear throughout the day, and breathe.

Pictures! They make me calm. :-) (Good-bye trees, you are lovely and all, but I will not miss all of your falling leaves.)

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Things That I Tuck Away

I tuck many things away in the back of my mind. They hide, lurk, and appear suddenly from triggers or anxiety. I have some great days when I feel strong, mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy. Then, there are other days. Those days the things I have tucked away can well up at times through tears and I find myself shocked as to why I am feeling so down or crying. I touch my eyes and say, “Oh, my what are these salty secretions and why do I have them?” There are times when I can systematically go through and figure out how I ended feeling this great sadness.

Some days I am confused and I have no idea why I am feeling this way or even other emotions that may not be sadness, but anger. 

I am not confused today. I know exactly why I am extremely fatigued, mentally exhausted, and physically just want to sleep. I know that there are multiple factors at play. However, even with understanding I still need to process the emotions otherwise, I become fixated and ruminate on different thoughts or past experiences trying to make it stop. It does not stop – I loop. It feeds my anxiety, it stirs cognitive distortions, it fuels negative thinking, and trips me into depressive thoughts. I have a lot spinning through my head and at the beginning of this month, I started to have those things that I manage to tuck away on a daily basis, start to creep into my daily thoughts. I did a fabulous job at stomping on them, covering them up with other thoughts, filling my mind in order to redirect, but that only helps for a while.

When there is too much to process my mind and body retaliate against all of my efforts. 

The excitement with getting the new house to rent, seeing family I was overcome with an array of emotions, yesterday my sister had her baby, Yay! I am an aunt again. :-)  This morning was Daniel’s IEP review, which went fantastic. I will need to process that too. Here I have all of this awesome wonderful news yet, I have a foreboding sadness and tears wanting to pour out of my tear ducts. Two things sent me over – the owners texting me telling me that their sister was coming tonight to look at the property and fix some things. Then, one of the biggest things that I tried to keep my mind from thinking about – that it is Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Just typing that has me in full-blown tears.

I had no intentions of writing anything this year, I know how fragile I am. I was surprised to be taken over by emotions of what I wrote about in August on my friend Zoe’s blog behind the mask of abuse as a guest post. It ended up being three posts long. I had not intended for it to be that long, but when I started typing, I could not stop. My life has been filled with domestic violence. I was raised in some horrible situations. I witnessed some horrible things as a child and I too became victim to being abused and manipulated. In a way, my upbringing made it seem like the “norm” for men to be womanizers, abusers, and that women had very little value.

I have very strong, independent, brave, and intelligent woman in my family.

Many people would never guess that we were victims. Many people did not believe that we were victims.The issue was we found men who would wear us down until we thought we were nothing and completely useless unless we had them. Wait, let me rephrase the first part of that sentence – these men gravitated toward us because another issue was that we were vulnerable and naive when it came to relationships. Relationships just happened, if you listen to the many women in my family share their story of how they met their partners past and even present (though not all are bad now) we did not seek out the relationship.

We “suddenly” were in one and the next thing we knew we were in long-term relationships with abusers.

Many factors play into that as well. I share several of them in the three-part post I wrote. Eventually, we found our strength and courage and got out of the relationships. Though our bodies were intact our self-esteem, identity, and true comprehension were not. My mom is Autistic too and she had no true awareness of what abuse was, her father abused her – she did not know the difference. She did not know the comfort and protection of a father. She had mixed signals of beatings and “I love you’s.” This led her into deeper relationship confusion and caused her to doubt her instincts, which, trickled to me as well.

Not knowing your own self-worth and growing up to feel as though you have little value sets you up to be easily preyed upon.

It makes life even more confusing when the ones you love and who claim to love you are your predators. When you add social confusion, social naivety, and anxiety into the mix there is a whole other aspect of being manipulated and abused. We did not realize that we were abused. We would reach a point and would no longer put up with it and at times, it almost meant our very lives, but somewhere deep inside we said, “We are not going to take this any longer!” For my mom, it is a contributing factor to her living a life alone. It is not the only factor she does like being single and independent, but after discovering that she was being lied to, manipulated, and emotionally abused in her last relationship over 12 years ago she had enough.

My mom was physically abused as a child into several of her adult relationships.

When she was an adult, she did not put up with it for long and many times, she fought back. So did I – I fought back and my meltdowns were out of control whenever something was done to me. However, it took me a long time to get out or to see the patterns in other relationships. If someone did not hit me, I thought that was a good sign for a relationship. No! Any sort of abuse is wrong even if you are not getting the crap beat out you! It has taken me a long time to understand this. I suffer from C-PTSD and PTSD. Because of family triggers and other abuse triggers when I saw the words “domestic violence” today I felt as if I was being beaten, emotionally attacked, degraded, and devalued all in a second of reading them.

This is a hard month for me anyway, which causes my triggers and emotions to be heightened.

The good news is that I am here. I am alive and well. I know how far I have come even since last October, and though the emotions of writing some of my story several months ago have just now caught up with me, I am being gentle, accepting, and understanding toward myself. I am not confused and I am not thinking things like, “You should be over all of this already.” Healing is a process, it takes time, and that is OK! I wrote this Striving For My Healing back in February it was the start of some huge progress in my healing journey. It is loaded with a ton of resources.

Every day is part of my healing journey some days are great other days not so much.

We all heal at our own pace and we all process in different ways. I am glad that I am finally on a healing journey though instead of the journey of confusion or at times denial. If you would like to read my story I will post links below – a large chuck of it is about three years of my life when I was a teenager there was much more prior to that and after. I have to take each trauma with small steps and work though them at my own pace. If you or someone you know are in an abusive relationship, I would suggest reading as much as you can about abuse and learn the best ways to get support. There are plenty of sites and I have linked to many in this post and my other posts I linked to.

It is not as easy as “just leaving” or “getting out” of the relationship.

Be supportive, listen, accept them, do not judge them, and most of all believe them if they are telling you that they are being abused. Educate yourself on what abuse is Domestic Violence and Abuse. And please, do not assume that the person knows that they are being abused – I didn’t. Before doing, anything read about it or seek professional counseling for insight and understanding. 5 WAYS TO HELP SOMEONE BEING ABUSED If anyone is reading this that has been through this or may be going through some sort of abuse now, know that you are not alone and you can get help.

I needed to write some of this to help myself, but I also share to help others here is part of my story.

*These posts are no longer active and Zoe has since taken her blog down. I have posted all of them in one post on my site here I Did Not Learn to Date. 

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“What is Autism?” Good Question!

Daniel asked me “What is Autism?” about two weeks ago. Ariel and Joshua have asked me several times on multiple occasions which is why I went in search of age appropriate books on the subject hoping that it would help – they did for about two seconds, but then after those seconds came floodgates of questions from each child. I wrote this post “Am I Autism?” back in June with the many resources that I gathered then trying to help my kids accept themselves and understand themselves. All three of them have a sense of not being like other children, while at the same time being completely unaware of their differences – it is our “normal.”

I tend to fall into this too even with all of my years of being acutely aware of how different I am I still have a certain unawareness.

I am not sure if others have this same experience or not. I did not really have an understanding of this until the last two weeks with all my observing, thought wrestling, pondering, researching, reading, and connecting other thoughts/self-awareness. I have a challenging time with explaining Autism to myself. My research is to help my kids and myself try to understand our world better. It takes time to shift from thinking “there is something wrong with me” to discovering “There is nothing wrong with me at all.” However, it is a continual challenge for me when I read other blogs, books, and various types of resources where there is frustration, sadness, annoyance, or even anger at what their Autistic children/adults in their life are doing …

I do it too! (and so do my kids) 

It is a shock to my self-esteem every time I read something from a parent that is a negative or even when they joke about their children’s behaviors. I no longer take it personally; I have had to separate my emotions to some extent. I really like reading different perspectives and I respect their unique point of view – I respect people and their differences period. I appreciate (understand (a situation) fully; recognize the full implications of.) their challenges and the pain that they go through. If I were offended I would simply stop reading them, but I am not for the most part. It still stings a little and causes me to feel badly about myself at times.

I have learned to quickly work through that, shake it off, and remind myself of who I am.

(I have stopped reading some in the past, but it was because they became hateful and rather aggressive – I cannot handle that type of writing.) I do empathize with some – I can place myself into their position and see how challenging it can be for them and understand that they need to release some of their frustrations. I get that. I do that in my own way with family and relationships. Even though I can understand, it still leaves me with lingering thoughts that something is wrong with me and my kids. I think that it hurts me the most in regards to my kids. I work so hard at trying to instill in them the self-esteem that was not built into me as child.

Then, I think about when they are old enough to surf the web and when they stumble upon one of those posts …

I wonder if they will feel what I feel – there is nothing wrong with me, BUT there is. I have the same feeling when reading many of the  books that I have about Autism. I had not been able to pinpoint what was bothering me when I read the books or watched the videos. Some of them I have turned off or stopped reading all together – the reason? The language was negativity sugarcoated with a sweet shell of oxymoronism. Things were written in the context of “Those who are Autistic need to learn how to be like the rest of us, but their brains are wired differently.” For some reason, while reading those books my head would flash of Ayn Rand.


Ha, I am kidding. However, those thoughts have flashed through my mind at times. I am not an Ayn Rand enthusiast; I am an open-minded individual that likes to read A LOT! I do not even agree with her all of her philosophy, but she makes some pretty valid arguments at times. (I know she is dead – her books are still alive.) Her books have a common theme and as I read those other books I felt like someone was standing there demanding that I stop being me while, cloaked with a smile trying to convince me that this was right and everyone agrees that it is the right thing to do – to stop being me and stop my children from being them. My mind can go into extremes so I am not sure if my intensity is accurate. :-) Though, my gut kept getting “wrong type” of feelings as I read certain words.

I found myself editing the words to my children or explaining what they were “trying” to say.

What if that was NOT what they were trying to say at all? It does not matter, what does matter is what I teach my children. I have been able to use some of these resources to help the kids and myself gain insight or understanding. I can pretty much pull knowledge or learn from anything. I know that they are pondering it as much as I am. I really have no good way of explaining Autism. Autism is in our DNA – it is who we are and (granted Daniel and I are the only ones “officially” diagnosed as of yet.) they need to feel good about themselves. I admit, there are challenges that I have that I wish my children did not have such as anxiety.

I know their struggle and I want so badly to make it go away, but I cannot.

I wish I could have the answers to help them with handwriting so that they are not in pain every time they have to write or give them exactly what they need when they get overwhelmed with frustration that their hand will not do what their mind is telling it to. I wish I could help with many of their other struggles that I too have had in my life. Yes, I wish they did not have to struggle with many things, but other children have their challenges too. My job is to give them better ways of coping, find tools and resources to help them learn ways to use their talents and challenges in ways that are more creative – help them find their own way to succeed. We can make up songs about anxiety! Dance to those anxiety song! Paint their spelling words, make a sentence out of pretzels – how cool are you if you can make a sentence out of pretzels?? (It can be done.) That’s what I am talking about.

Alright, back to the question “What is Autism?”

The truth is I still cannot give a clear simple answer. I find it completely full of wonder and intrigue every time I read something from another Autistic or a parent who has shared some great insight with helping their child succeed and help them to be proud of who they are. As I read from their perspectives, I find myself full of excitement and joy because of our similarities and differences. You know what else? I do the same thing when I read or meet someone who is not Autistic. I find humanity as a whole complicatedly delightful. I just downloaded all that to tell you this! I believe I have actually found a book that I feel good about. It seems to be written in a positive way that explains ASD in terms that are accepting and age appropriate for my children.

The book is The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (And Their Parents).

I have not read all of it, but I have found it to be a great resource to pick up and gain some insight or be able to share with others when I cannot find my words. I like that the authors share quotes and stories about and from other Autistics at various ages and stages of their life. I know, I know the title may rub some people the wrong way, along with the puzzle piece book cover, but what I have read I have yet to find it to steer in a negative direction. The language feels positive and its motivation seems to be that of helping ASD kids learn to appreciate and accept themselves. I cannot say that the language in the other books specifically for my kids age range gave such positivity. However, many of the books that are available are geared toward those who do not understand ASD not the actual person or children who are Autistic. MORE positive books to help others understand Autism is a whole other topic.

The book talks to parents in the introduction to explain the book and its purpose.

I found that interesting and I really thought it was great how they encouraged parents. They seemed to motivate into the direction of focusing on creating an atmosphere of building into  ASD kids and using the book as a guide to help on their journey in life. Sigh … I sometimes I wish I would have had all of this stuff growing up. Alas, I did not, however, I do get the privilege of helping my kids. I am pleased to have found a useful resource like this one. Our Autism conversation will continue for the rest of our lives. It is casual and I only talk about it when they want to talk about it. Autism is “normal” to us – we are Autism every day so we really do not need to “talk” about it all the time. I find it interesting that all of this has come up in our household because recently, quite a few parents have been writing on the topic of talking to your kids about their diagnosis. I love it when that happens it kind of feels like we are all in sync or something. 😉

I will share some related things that I have read or watched.


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A More Positive Environment?? Still Hoping …

This is another processing post and maybe a bit venty. I think I may have a few processing posts because a lot has happened this week. I have a whole lot to process from visiting with my family last night. It actually went REALLY well, but I can feel the conversations soaring through my head and the questions like, what did they mean by that? Did I say something wrong? Why did they look at me like that? Normally, I run with those thoughts – not today. That is also, another reason why I am not writing about it yet. I do not want to feed those thoughts. I know that I missed a lot of underlined social stuff, but I enjoyed myself and so did the kids so I want to focus on that and not feed my negative thinking patterns.

Yesterday, by far was one of the best days of this year.

First, we found out that we were approved for the house that became available last week, which is a little smaller than this, but not by much, the floor plan will suit us well. Then we found out that we are supposed to be receiving the funds next week in order to make the move. Two major obstacles have been overcome a house (that is cheaper rent and utilities) and the funds. Any sort of decrease in our spending is a huge help for us. Also, getting into a home that is much more positive for us in the sense of sensory, (Major issue with this house is acoustics it is very loud because of the floors.) that includes sounds on the inside and outside, as well as many other sensory issues. Anxiety and stress from the maintenance of the house and landscaping.

David described the yard as a park that needs to be maintained to the property manager.

He agreed that is was like maintaining a park. We do not have the time or resources for that – I get stressed because I have responsibility issues and feel the sense that I should take care of it, but neither one of us have the time to maintain it. We are technically not responsible the owners are as per the lease, but they still have not done anything. To give some insight they told the property manager that they did not want to pay for landscaping and said that he needed to “go downtown pick up a load of Mexicans and have them do the work. That is what we always did.”

Yes, he had to explain to him that he runs a business and that it was illegal!

Because of that I start to feel “trapped” in my home and some days just looking at the yard can fill me with anxiety. Environment is a huge thing for any person, but for those of us who are Autistic it is crucial to our peace of mind. It affects all areas of our life and in the wrong environments; we can be in a constant state of flight or flight feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or frightened. It is exceptionally challenging when your home does not provide a safe place or feel calming. I do not have a safe place here and neither does Daniel.

It is not a good thing.

I try to create as much of a safe place for him in his room, but it is too open. The stress of finances and things breaking in the home causes me constant anxiety. There are hovering thoughts of what else is going to break and when will the next money issue pop up? It feels so unpredictable. I can maintain control until everything starts to pile up, then the constant buzzing of the anxiety that I manage to drown out most days becomes BOOMING and triggers me into all sorts of emotions. Growing up without much money and living a lifetime i in financial stress can trigger all kinds of memories and fears.

Things are tight to say the least, but when I am in a home that feels “safe” I can better handle financial stress.

I am not sure if that makes sense to anyone else or not. The other house has four bedrooms so Daniel and I will get a room. AND I will finally have a closet! For those who do not know, Daniel is still unable to sleep alone and the room that we share is a family room in the middle of the house so everyone has to go through it in order to get to one end of the house to the other. The other house has two tubs! In our current home, we only have a shower the 2nd bathroom has a tub, but we cannot use it. We have to be careful with the toilet too otherwise the pipes will fill up in the bathtub and the toilet they overflow our entire bathroom, kitchen, and possibly living room with a flood with feces. Not fun. The kids have wanted a bathtub for so long.

The bathtub was a sensory saver whenever Daniel was too overwhelmed or needed some calming down time.

By not having one, it has made it challenging to find other ways of soothing him. That and the fact that I really have no “safe place” for him to go when he needs quiet or to calm down has been challenging as well. This other house would provide several different options in helping Daniel and/or Ariel and Joshua. (Me too!) It has a big flat backyard with a patio area currently our yard is like a forest on hills and surrounded by many trees. It is gorgeous and lovely – I adore watching all the critters and being surrounded by it, however, it is not good for children and when it is not maintained it is like a jungle. They have no place to run around and play. We are on an extremely busy road right at the corner of a four way stop and it is terrifying!

When we first moved in, I was in a panic because Daniel had no sense of danger whatsoever.

He has learned some caution, but there are still days when he is unaware and he will run out into the driveway with no comprehension of how close he is to the road. I have yelled his name in blood curdling screams while running after him several times. The cars just zoom by with no awareness of us at all. It is a major road for emergency vehicles as well – at any moment and any hour there can be loud fire trucks, ambulances, or police cars blaring by.

That has been a source of anxiety and stress for Daniel.

In the neighborhood where the other house is, there are sidewalks and quiet streets. I used “taking walks” or playing in the backyard as ways of helping Daniel too before we moved here. I am thankful for this house and that we were able to find this house while living hundreds of miles away. However, had we been in town and actually saw the location and the landscaping we would have never rented this home. We have made it work and I am amazed at how well Daniel has done with living in such a stressful environment.

He has been amazing considering all of the conditions and lack of options to bring him comfort.

I do hope everything goes as planned with this other house. I know that it will come with its own set of renting issues, but it has more options and more outlets for creating a positive environment. I really do not want to get my hopes up though because after all of the house ordeals that we have gone through in the last year or so I am rather cautious with my hope especially, after having so many “almosts” during the summer only to have it fall through. I cannot help, but have happy fantasies of David in an upstairs office again so I no longer have the stress of trying to keep the kids quiet while he is working or in his meetings.

Yes, those are my types of fantasies – less stress and options!

I cannot stop smiling thinking of when Daniel is full of anxiety, stress, or becomes overwhelmed leading into a meltdown to be able to provide a place for him that can help him calm down or be able to shift his focus to taking a bath for comfort. Oh, my gosh that sounds like heaven! It will help him so much even to have those two options. I loved the fact that the house still has its 1990 fixtures and ugly wallpaper in the bathroom. When I saw it, I squealed and rubbed it with my fingers saying, “Oh, I love you ugly wallpaper. You are the best!”

When I saw the carpet that was not dirty, but fancied some stains I said, “Oh, carpet you will do just fine!”

In addition, when I saw the gold fixtures in the bathroom I said, “I do not like gold at all, but I will like you guys!” I know I may sound strange, but the stress of trying to keep up a house with “nice” modern tiles, fixtures, and huge windows everywhere becomes overwhelming to me. I get in a panic mode when the grout is dirty. I want to dump bleach all over the house, but cannot. I am so tired of thinking about this house and all of the issues here. The owners had promised that several things would be done back in June they have not done any of them.

We have been more than accommodating and they still leave us hanging.

It is such needless stress and there is a constant looming that they could show up at any time. They do not fulfill anything on the promised dates and when they are ready they text me saying things like, “Oh, by the way someone is coming today.” or they do not tell us at all and someone appears at our door or yard. This has happened so many times I cannot count and it is disruptive to my schedule and the kids. It completely throws our school days off and causes Daniel anxiety. (And me) It would be nice not to have to deal with that any longer. I am venting now I suppose. The environment has been so unpredictable and stressful that we all find it taxing.

I wrote about some of this over the summer when we were trying to find a house, I know.

But I had to get in a state of acceptance that we were not going to move in order to get along with my days.  Now that we have this possible light at the end of the tunnel I cannot help, but be excited and ready to go. However, I still have that foreboding that something may go wrong… So I keep saying to God, the Universe, the crickets, whoever will listen, “Please let this be true!!” :-) I truly hope everything falls into place – it would be nice to be in an environment that was less stress for all of us. I know that it will make for a challenging month, but I think it will be worth it to have more peace of mind for the long term.

This link Environment and surroundings has some helpful information with understanding environments and Autistics.

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Preparing For Fall (Winter) Time Blues

Around October, I always start to feel down. The depressive thoughts creep in before I even know what hit me. I love fall, but for some reason I am saddened by it as well. When the rush of the cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin spice smells fill my nostrils the gloom begins to cloud into my brain. The sight of pumpkins and gourds trigger emotions from my past. However, at the same time the beginning of fall is a great joy to me too. I enjoy Halloween’ish type of things. All the magnificent colors and the breezes that cascade over my flesh feel so wonderful. I like the things that lurk in the shadows, LOVE black cats, (used to have two) full moons, bats, and all the other sorts of things that pop into one’s mind when thinking of “Americanized” Halloween celebrations. :-)

My happy-sad state stays throughout the winter.

Then, around March I start to feel a little bit of my chipperness come back. When fall ripples through I begin to see the world differently – literally my eyesight has like a nostalgic haze that covers everything. There seems to be a slight buzz as though the colors all have come alive in some new way. Their sounds become crisper and louder. They move in slow motion type of tracers (no doubt my synesthesia plays a role in this.) and my days feel like I am in a movie all the time. The state of feeling like nothing is real, but it is utterly real simultaneously. I find it difficult to describe. I have tried on several occasions on here, but I still have not found the most accurate of ways to explain it. I do know that part of this could be from the MANY triggers I have from the holidays.

They assault me in all directions sensory, emotionally, and physically!

This month has already started with family triggers. This coming weekend family is coming in for the big half marathon. My dad and one of my sisters, along with a couple of other family members are running. This side of the family is so competitive – competition makes me uncomfortable and fills me with anxiety. Unfortunately, the sister that is coming is one that I have many triggers with – I find her incredibly confusing and abrasive. I have not seen her is several years which, gives me additional anxiety. However, I am determined to not allow her behaviors or snide comments affect my responses or my mood.

I really have no desire to engage with her.

Every time I think of possible scenarios, I respond in the same way – with no response. Before when my mind would rush with possible situations, actions, or words being spoken to me I would think of all the possible things, I could say to counter her or protect myself. I have not done that and my mind keeps thinking who cares! Why do I care what she says, she does not know me. She thinks I am a freak. I am virtually nonexistent to her unless my dad pays attention to me or other family member’s acknowledge me then; she “remembers” that I exist. So I really do not need to waste time on thinking of the “what if’s.” It is only a few hours on one day out of my life.

I will expect any possible thing to come from her and not worry about what she may or may not do.

Who knows, maybe she will surprise me and it will all be pleasant. Though, she is consistent so it is certain that she will behave in the way she has her entire life. I no longer need to try to figure her out or protect myself from things that have no bearing on who I am or what I do. I did not realize how much of my depressive thought could be stemmed from the multitude of anxious thoughts I have in regards to family dynamics. The holidays are bittersweet for me. I enjoy being with many of my family members. Despite the fact that no one really acknowledges autism. :-/ Baby steps?? However, they are very loud, huggy, competitive, sometimes very crass, opinionated, and can be quite self-focused.      

They are also, very generous, caring, funny, talented, and quite entertaining to be around.

This year, I have decided to make changes in preparation for the weather and time change, along with my mood change. I have added several more workouts to my week to help me transition into the fall. It has helped me a great deal. I added more intense physical workouts instead of only cardio – I have seen a big difference in my transitioning from an anxious state to finding my “calm” again. I have quicker recovery time. I was doing one spin class (stationary bike) and piloxing, but now I have added a boot camp on Wednesdays, TRX which is “Suspension Training bodyweight exercise develops strength, balance, flexibility and core stability simultaneously.”

TRX has helped me with my “clumsiness”, vertigo, falling, and running into things.

It has helped my core muscles build up to help my balance and lower back pain. I had no idea that it would help me so much, but it does. I have a hard time staying in the suspensions, but I am getting better each time I do it. My new favorite workout is called Kravfit. The best way to describe it is to say that it is a mixture of martial arts, kickboxing, bootcamp (circuit trainer), and self-defense. Oh, yeah! I love it! I am not going to be able to do all of this during the winter months so my plan is to continue three out of the week Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. As well as rotate TRX and piloxing for a while.

I have finally found a diet that is working for me so I eat the same things everyday for the most part.

I have many difficulties with proteins, dairy; many processed foods make me feel drained and tired. I stick with plain veggies, salads, chicken and egg whites. However, this does not bode well when you are burning a ton of calories so I am trying to pump up my caloric intake. I made changes several months ago with my diet and noticed a change in my anxiety and my fatigue. I started taking vitamins and some supplements too that have made a difference for me. I have never been able to take vitamins without stomach problems or other physical reactions.

I was excited to find some that did not cause me such problems.

They are gummies the Vitafusion™ brand MultiVites™, B-Complex, Vitamin D, and Omega 3. I get the Target brand and they work well too. (I do not get any kickbacks for sharing I thought others might have similar issues as I do with taking vitamins and supplements – if they do not make me sick that is awesome! I am highly sensitive to those types of things.)  I still have anxiety (A LOT) and get fatigued, but the change is the length of time that I am suffering from some of the symptoms. The changes in my thinking (practicing mindfulness) have helped in this area too, but that leads me back to my first thought – October brings about depressive thoughts. I am happier during the summer because I love to be outside and I spend most of my time outside.

When the cold comes, it is like daggers attacking my flesh all the time.

The dreary sky for days and days can eat away at my jolly mood and I can feel myself sink into negative stimming patterns. They are connected to family, triggers, and other traumatic events that have happened to me during the holidays. Holidays do not represent fun, festive, happy times they represent pain, tears, isolation, and feelings of awkwardness, feeling wrong, unwanted, and utterly confused. I have managed to work through each year to gather many happy memories since my kids have been born. We are creating our ways of celebrating, but the pain is still there. The trauma is still there and when I know I have to face those who traumatized me with a “happy” face I become overwhelmed with anxiety and sometimes downright fear.

This year, I am going to try new strategies.

I have better coping mechanisms – I know some of my “main” triggers. I know how to handle my anxiety in ways that are more positive. I have learned not to take other people’s “issues” or “insecurities” personal. I will have an emotional reaction and may be hurt, but I can see it for what it is and it has nothing to do with me. I will not feel bad or guilty if I am unable to stay the whole time at family events – my kids come first and if they are overwhelmed or the environment is too much for them we will not stay or even go.

If I am feeling overwhelmed or overly anxious I will not go.

AND I will not feel bad about myself for making that decision. I am also, looking into a SAD (seasonal affective disorder) lamp or lighting, or some other possibilities to get me through this winter. I think being mindful and aware of how the seasons affect me will make a huge difference this year. In the past, I felt helpless and unable to have any control over these things. I felt like I was in a constant state of “unexpected attack!” Now I feel that I have a better understanding of myself. I also, feel that I have legitimate reasons as to why I go through this each year.

I had spent many years, feeling like a failure and as though I “should” be able to stop these emotions.

I felt that I “should” not feel confused, awkward, or sad being around family. I felt like something was wrong with me because I did not enjoy the holidays as others seemed to. However, the truth is that I do feel that way and there is nothing wrong with that. I have mixed feelings of enjoying parts of it and despising other parts of it, but this year I am determined to have a better attitude of acceptance for myself and doing what I need to do in order to keep a healthy mental and physical balance. The holidays, egads! :-)

Here are a few related reads!

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“Daniel, You Are An Awesome Cat!”

This may be a little ranty I am not sure, but I need to process some things. Yesterday, while Ariel and Joshua were doing gymnastics Daniel and I came in for the last 15 minutes to watch them. This takes a lot for Daniel because he is in a gym with big huge mats, uneven bars, a bouncy trampoline, and large foamy blocks to jump and pounce upon. He wants so much to go running onto them or make echo sounds off the mats with his hands. He does not want to do gymnastics he just wants to play with the equipment. I try to entertain him and watch Ariel and Joshua at the same time.

It does not always work. :-)

He finds ways to entertain himself by finding spiders, running his fingers along the lines on the floor, clapping, and/or asking me questions. Yesterday, he was making me laugh because he was being so hilarious AND having fun. Backtrack a little, much like me Daniel has certain loops that come and go. They are areas of interest that can consume many of our thoughts and time. Daniel’s current love interest is one that he has had since he was a baby, Winnie the Pooh and all of the characters with that silly ole’ bear. Tigger and Heffalump are his two favorites at this time. He REALLY wants to have a tail like Tigger and wants to do the whoopty-doopty pounce. About two weeks ago, he created a ginormous tail out of strands of string and shoelaces that he collected from around the house.

The final tail length was about twenty feet.

He clicked two Lego pieces together with the string in between them so he could place the Lego into his pocket or the elastic in the back of his pants. It was quite amusing to see him walk around with his gigantic tail. However, it started to be tangled, wrapped around furniture, we were tripping over it, and the cat was chasing it. I went in search of a tail that would be better for everyone. I found a perfect clip-on tail from a cat costume at Target. (Best $5.00 spent) He has not taken it off since I gave it to him. I let him wear it wherever he wants. I do not care if he wants to wear a tail. I think it is awesome! (I would walk around with a tail too, but I know that I would end up losing it.) :-)

He cannot wait until Halloween so he can dress up like Tigger and wear a tail like Tigger.

While Daniel is walking around the house and we are out in public, he joyfully adorns a fabulous tail. He is all smiles and giggles – he talks and plays the way that he wants to play. Yesterday, at the Y playground he went up to a boy who was playing in the fire truck, sat down next to him, and started to play the same way the boy was with the steering wheel and making sounds. Daniel has never done this before, he looked at the boy smiling, and engaging though, he did not say a word. The boy looked at him for a moment, but went along with Daniel and they both pretended to drive while smiling at each other with the only communication being sounds and smiles.

After a few minutes, Daniel jumped out and ran off with his tail flapping and his hands clapping full of glee.

The boy did not mind that Daniel had a tail. He did not mind that Daniel did not talk to him either. He even looked sad when his dad told him it was time to leave. (Heads up I am leaping back to Friday for a moment, this is one train of thought for me I hope it translates ok with you.) On Friday, Daniel wore his tail to Ariel’s co-op school. I honestly, did not think anything of it. A tail is “normal” in this house. As a matter-of-fact, Daniel has wanted a tail for a long time and one of the first things he ever communicated was that he wanted a tail.

One of his first questions was, “Why can’t I have a tail?”

So once again, he was happily wearing his tail and not too many people took notice. Some made comments about Halloween, but he informed them that his tail was from a “cat costume and I am going to be Tigger for Halloween with a real Tigger tail.” The day was beautiful and I took the boys outside. (I promise I will get to the point of the title in my post in a minute – my brain in processing mode.) We spent almost the whole time outside because Daniel requested that we leave the social room, but would not tell me why. I was hoping that we could sit in there because the ASD mom and her boy were in there. I wanted to try to talk to her or let Daniel be around the boy for a little bit.

Daniel did not want to stay so I gathered Joshua and off we went.

After Ariel’s second class, we went back outside and the ASD mom was outside with her kids. We were coming from our car because I gave the boys a snack and Daniel stopped in his tracks. He started playing with a post and refused to move any closer. I asked him what was the matter and he said, “I don’t know”, but he looked over to where they were sitting. I asked him if he wanted to go see the boy and he said, “No. Why do we have to be here?” He would not look in that direction, but his body language and behaviors were very different than, the happy tail flopping boy I had just moments before. I asked him, “Does that mommy make you uncomfortable?” because he seemed to look in her direction and when he saw her in the social room he no longer went to that side of the room. I was trying to piece things together.

He said, “Yes.”

I tried to ask more questions without probing too much, but he did not want to talk about it. There was plenty of space for us to frolic and pounce about so I played chase with the boys, we walked on beams, ran back and forth counting rectangles and squares on the buildings, we explored the trees, rubbed their trunks, looked at bugs, and had a jolly time. The whole time I could feel the mom’s eyes on me. I felt a sense of judgment, but I wanted to be wrong. I shook it off because I am THAT kind of mom who plays and acts like a kid herself and I am ok with that. After their lunch was done, her kids came over to me. The youngest is around three years old and he asked me “chase?” I played with him and her daughter for a little while with my boys.

I watched her ASD son observing the whole thing.

He watches Daniel and me whenever we are around. The little guy does not smile much. I sat down next to the woman to rest while our kids ran around. She did start a conversation and I shared that Joshua was starting his rounds of evaluations next week. She looked at my boys, Daniel was running, and flapping, Joshua was rolling down the hill getting covered in grass and then, leaping and falling. She made a comment about the tail and I shared all about our tail adventures. I am not sure how to explain the feeling of our conversation other than; something did not feel “good.” There were no words that seemed off, but the feeling was off. Daniel would not come near us while she was there.

After they went back inside, he came right up to me.

I think Daniel was getting a “negative vibe” from her. He will not go near a person if he “feels” anything that makes him feel uncomfortable. I left there feeling at peace with my parenting style and with the happiness that my children have being themselves, despite having the foreboding feeling that somehow I was doing something wrong. Hopefully, it was just an “off” day we will try again next week. I had all of that stuff brewing in the back of mind when another parent gave me the “stink” eye. Back to Saturday at the Y, Ariel and Joshua were doing their awesome gymnastics moves and Daniel was going back and forth on the gym floor acting like our cat with amazing precision. I was laughing and enjoying my child.

He was laughing too.

The more that I found him amusing the more detail he added to his character of Nathaniel our cat. I saw the people looking at him. I saw the people the feeling uncomfortable, but he was not harming anyone and he was not in anyone’s space. When one of the men gave Daniel a dirty look, then, looked at me I shrugged my shoulder at him as if to brush him off, and I said, “Daniel, you are an awesome cat!” He grinned from ear to ear and giggled while, crawling back to me. I was rushed with all sorts of thoughts. My head filled with images, questions, and social confusion. Thoughts wondering why so many adults demand that children behave a certain way. Why must we take the childness out of being a child?

I thought about me and how I still do things like that.

I may not act like a cat, (out in public lol!) but I most certainly get on the jungle gym with my kids. I run around being silly and loud. I sing in the store and dance with carts. I have not lost my inner child and she still does cartwheels, whoops, and hoots all around. When she feels like it – I am silly, but I am intensely serious too. I know that many people have an expectation of a boy Daniel’s size. He is a big 8 year-old he is very tall and looks older. I understand that, but even still let him be a kid. Why must he be judged and why must I be judged for letting him be himself?

There was so much for me to process the last two days that I needed to write this stuff out.

It all really bothered me on many levels. All of these things as well as thinking how society seems to want to strip the freedom and creativity of being a child then, morphing them into some sort of cookie cutter “ideal” that is impossible and ridiculous to achieve. I thought to myself, I should go up to that guy and say, “Hey, my kid and I are the new “NORMAL” deal with it!” It was a funny thought, but it would not change anything and technically we are not the new normal. There is no normal we are all unique individuals. Perspectives on raising children are so vast. Perspectives on what is defined as being a boy and a girl are so contorted. Perspectives on being an adult are vast as well.

I can only do what I feel is right for my kids and if Daniel wants to be a cat bi-golly I will let him and be proud of his feliness! 

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Insight From Daniel’s Dream

The talk of the house has been about reading. A personal goal that Daniel chose himself for this year was to work on language arts. He chose that for his “About Me” project that he did for his virtual social group. He did not talk much about it other than say, “I want to get better with my language arts.” I know better than, to push him for answers or reasons why – many times he is not sure how to explain it to me. He just “wants” to do things or try things. Reading aloud is an incredible challenge for him.

He and Joshua both struggle in this area.

I have had frustrations with the school doing DIBELS assessments with them because I do not feel that they are accurate at all for my kids. Even with Ariel, she reads silently at amazing speed, just last night she read three of “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books in an hour and half. She does score high with her reading aloud (fluency) though. I have read several things recently that have stirred my initial gut feelings about Daniel and how much he can read, understand, and comprehend. I have known all along that, he understood much more than what he could communicate and the more verbal he is getting the more I am discovering. I am not sure if Daniel will ever be comfortable using the spoken language as his main source of communication.

Mine is not, mine is in written form.

The things that I write out on here would never come out of my mouth fluently. I would get stumped, lost, hands moving, sweat beading, anxiety flaring, desperately trying to grab hold of the words that are flying through my head so articulately, but getting to my mouth as dismantled jigsaw pieces and blurting nonsense most of the time. I watch Daniel try so hard to get the words out of his mouth – I see his struggle.  I continue to reassure him that it is ok to take his time, to stop and gather his thoughts, and let him know that he does not HAVE to hurry to get the words out.

I spoke to his special ed teacher today and she agrees with me about the DIBELS assessments.

She and Daniel’s other teacher are on board to help him and to make accommodations needed to make him feel comfortable and feel successful with his lessons. One thing she mentioned was getting him a word processor to help with his testing’s. I think this is wonderful, but Daniel is not quite tackling the keyboarding with ease. It depends on the day. Some days he can type much better than other days. Some days I have to type for him otherwise, it will take all day to get an assignment complete. This causes him much frustration and I will not force him. He has ideas, thoughts, answers, but his fingers cannot move as fast as they come.

I had my concerns about whether Daniel knew as much as it seemed.

I did not doubt his competence; I was concerned as to whether he understood his grade level material. (I have never doubted Daniel’s intelligence or ability to understand/comprehend you can read my reaction to when he was first evaluated through the school here.) I thought he did understand his grade level material, but I have no true way of gauging it. The tests that he took at the beginning of the year were stressful for him and me. They took a looooong time and he was so frazzled by the end of them.

I watched him read and answer questions quickly and wondered if he was only guessing.

I waited for the results to see what happened. Both his reading/language arts and math came back “above average.” Again, I thought so, but I was still a little hesitant so I had him take another assessment through an online tutoring site that I am using to help him with reading, he scored “above average” again with his vocabulary being at “low level 4th grade.” My gut feeling has been that Daniel is very intelligent I just have not found the “it” thing to help him. I used to think that there was an “it” thing, but there is not. There are multiple “it’s” that will change, morph, progress, fall away, enhance, and transition into all sorts of things that work together to help his learning.

This morning I received a HUGE chunk of helpful insight from Daniel himself.

Daniel loves dreams, he loves to dream, and when he does dream a good dream he is very excited about it. The kids and I all have some intense, lively, and colorful dreams. Ariel shared hers, which ended with the animals outside throwing me up in the air to the moon, and I discovered that a cow actually lived on the moon and the moon had arms. Yes, that sounds about right! 😀 Daniel chimed in and said, “Mom, I had a dream. I had a dream that I read pictures and I was reading like you mommy.” I asked him a few questions about his dream and discovered that Daniel does see words to pictures.

He described it in a similar way to how Temple Grandin explains that she sees in pictures.

However, I understood more of how Daniel sees words. He sees them like me! I had not thought about it before because I have learned to cope and navigate through my world to survive – I did not give this much thought. If I find myself too close to something, I tend to have “blind spots” in my ability to see certain things. When I see words they are attached to images, I now have a ton of different images in the database of my mind, but that has taken a lot of time. When I see the images, I also see the words spelled out. For instance, when I look at a tree I see the tree in its natural setting as a realistic tree, but the letters flow and kind of dance t-r-e-e around in my mind.

They are separated, but whole and connected to the image.

I see an image pop into my brain when I hear a word – I do not hear the word. I see the word coming together along with the image. David shared with me that when he hears a word he hears the sounds (phonics) that the word makes with the letters and an image comes later. I have no sounds to letters unless they are connected to some other sensory experience for me. The more I spoke with Daniel the clearer it was to me how he processes reading words AND how I do. Now I have some ideas on how to help him a little more with reading to make it less frustrating. I feel that this also confirms why using Pecs images did not work for Daniel. The images made no sense to him.

These types of images confused him very much. 

I used the idea of the Pecs images, but printed out our everyday items that he used in our house. I used realistic images of day and night, pictures of our toilet, our bathtub, his food that he actually ate and his clothes, etc… The cartoon illustrations confused him and did not work. He would become frustrated, upset or walk away from me. When I started using “real” items labeling them with words he started to communicate with hand motions, pulling me to the items that he wanted, or attempting to say the words. I now can use his dream insight to help me use a similar method with the stories or the words that he is learning.

It may help him read aloud better it may not, but I think that it can help him.

Interestingly, Daniel can look at a word on a page and struggle with it, but if I spell it aloud, he can connect the word and say it almost immediately. I still struggle with reading aloud, so I am not sure if Daniel will ever become fluent in reading out loud. I really do not care it is not a skill that is going to make his life better or contribute to his ultimate well-being. However, reading will and if I can help him find joy in reading in some way then, I think that will make his life a bit easier and it opens up another world for him that he has not discovered. Reading has been my world away from this world. It has been my comfort and solace when I could find no other.

I had challenges with reading, my words move, dance, have colors, and images.

While growing up I found it difficult, but one thing I did do was spend hours reading, I would read aloud to my stuff animals to try to help my anxiety for reading during class. I would read along with record books for hours and hours nonstop. These are the things that I did on my own to help myself. Daniel does not like these types of methods nor does he enjoy books in the same way that I did (do). I am going to brainstorm on this and do some research, but for now I am excited about several things here. Daniel is communicating his thoughts and SHARED in detail about his dream. He has expressed things that he want to work on.

Daniel has been sharing his thoughts and feelings in ways that he has not before and I find that exciting! 

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