I use to do it too ….

I was 18 yrs old and very pregnant with my oldest son.  I had all these dreams and expectations of motherhood, and was excited about the journey I was getting ready to embark on.  I was standing in the checkout line at Wal-Mart and the family in front of me had a beautiful little boy.  He looked to be about 1 or 2 and he had blond wispy curls.  When he turned his head in my direction I realized he had a great big shiner on his left eye.  I then realized he had tiny little bruises all over him and I immediately judged his parents.  Why kind of people do that to a baby? 

I remember going out to eat with our son and how well behaved he was.  I remember starring at other children who were loud and running about and thinking my kids will never do that.  What kind of parents let their kids act like that?

I remember passing a mother in the grocery store whose young boy was flailing on the floor and thinking why don’t you just pick him up and go home?  What kind of parent let’s her kid act like that?

I remember watching a friend of mine cook separate meals for her son because he would eat what everyone else ate. It was to this or to that.  I remember telling her that she spoiled him and that he should be made to eat it. What kind of parent let’s their kid act like that?

There are more examples of my judgmental self righteous attitude towards children and their parents, but I’ll stop here for now.

Even after I had my oldest son (who was way too easy of kid) I sat in judgment of these parents, who obviously didn’t know how to parent.  After all parenting was something I came at naturally, just look at my quiet well mannered little boy. He never threw tantrums, never turned his nose up at food, and always did exactly what I expected him to do.  I was a pro!

It wasn’t until my Roo came along and turned my world upside down that I realized just how judgmental and self righteous I had been.  

I got to be a stay at home mom with Roo.  We had started a mommy and me class when he was four months old.  He was huge for his age and at 4 months wore a 12 month outfits. He couldn’t sit up on his own and the other mothers asked me “what’s wrong with him?” I was so mad!  What’s wrong with him, what’s wrong with you he’s four months old!!! At 9 months old he still wasn’t sitting up, his head was so big he couldn’t balance it, and again “What’s wrong with him??” 

At 18 month’s he started pulling up on furniture and trying to walk.  One day my boy fell face first into the coffee table. He received his own shiner too boast his accomplishment.  That year we had to have his picture taken in long sleeves and long pants to hide the marks of his new found skill.

We tried several time to take him out to eat at restaurants and he would throw tantrums and cups, and run wildly away.  Nothing helped, nothing worked!  And the stares and comments from on lookers.  We stopped going out to eat. I couldn’t take him shopping. 

What kind of parents let their kid act like that? 

I’ll tell you that your (my) initial assumption is (was) a parent who is lazy and doesn’t give a crap!  And, just for the record sometimes that’s true.  But sometimes, sometimes it’s not.  Sometimes that child is facing a challenge that is not seen outwardly.  Sometimes what people need are compassion and help, not judgment and condemnation.

To any parent that I have thought badly of and judged over the years I truly am sorry, I didn’t get, but I get it now.  I am sorry I was rude and judgmental.  I’m sorry if I stared or sneered at you or child.

To those of you that are in the place I was in 8 years ago. Stop it! Have some compassion.  Don’t assume incompetence. Try to see the big picture, be helpful.

I use to do it too … now that I am living the flip side of the coin I get to see a new perspective.  I will do you the courtesy of not judging you back, but I will ask of you to try.  Try to understand the otherside of the coin and treat people with dignity and respect.

 

I dont know what to title this … lol

 So very often when I write it is an overflow and outpouring of the negative thoughts and feelings that are poisoning my mind.  What ifs and Oh No’s that flood your brain every day, I write to remove them.  It’s my therapy.  I find it hard to write anything when I feel in control, when I’m in good spirits.  Unfortunately I think that has the tendency to magnify the negative aspects of Autism.  I think it magnifies how it negatively affects our world.  Every time I get in this mode of being more positive, I find that I have nothing to write. 

I sit here trying think of something positive to write and I come up with nothing.  Not that positive things don’t happen, not that my son isn’t ROCKIN’ his Autism this school year.  Why?  Why is it so difficult? 

I think it boils down to this, for me. When I joined the Autism community three years ago I was so lost.

I had this kid, who was wonderful and loving, who I loved with all of my being, who I couldn’t understand, who did and said things that I couldn’t wrap my mind around, who had then been diagnosed with this Autism thing. 

I was a failure as a parent (because good parents don’t have kids who do these things), I didn’t know what “Autism” meant and I thought it was a prison sentence.  Here I have this kid and he is what he is, and my life is what it is and this is all it will ever be for him and me. 

I felt isolated and alone. I felt like I was the only mom whose kid smeared his crap, yelled, screamed, kicked, punched, broke my house, threatened his classmates, and got stuck in modes.  It seemed like nothing helped, nothing worked.  I was scared, ashamed, and alone. 

I googled Autism – don’t do that!  It was awful and made my anxiety and depression even worse. 

I typed Autism into the FB search bar and the first page that popped up was Home style Mama (with a side of Autism).  I looked at the pictures of her kids and I read her whole page; every post, every comment.  I then searched Asperger’s and I found Confessions of an Asperger’s Mom.  Her boys were older than mine, and again I looked at the pictures of her kids and I read her whole page; every post, every comment.   I then found other pages like Autism with a side of Fries, Because they Chose Us, Find my eyes, Autism Daddy, Deciphering Morgan, Autism Diaries, and so many more. What I found was something I never thought I would find after our DX. I found hope and community.  I am not a terrible parent, my beautiful boy is not the only kid who does these things, I was not alone, and AUTISM IS NOT A DEATH SENTENCE. I found acceptance, resources, how to help my son be who he is! 

Through reading other families journeys with Autism, their ups and down’s I found my voice and most importantly I helped my son find his! 

So maybe my blog is not magnifying the negative after all.  Maybe someone is out there who is lost, and maybe they will stumble upon this blog and they will say hey I’m not alone, my kids does that too, there is hope.  I will still strive to write about the positive steps we have taken and the great strides Roo has made in the last three years, but it’s OK to write about the not so great things too – because someone out there needs to know that they are not alone, that they are not a bad parent, and that there is hope.

Football….

Oftentimes, I am running after Roo, trying to help him, guide, de-escalate him – so when the opportunity arises to just be there for one of my other kids I move heaven and earth to be there.  I am at a football game; my oldest boy is on the team.  I am there to support him, to cheer him on, to just be there.  On this night I have the two little’s with me, my daughter is completely enthralled by the cheerleaders and they are occupying all of her senses.  Roo on the other hand not so much. 

Football stadiums are loud and crowded; tonight even more so than normal.  Our team has won two back to back state championships, and we are playing the one team we have never beaten. The crowd isn’t even trying to contain itself.  I knew it would be this way and so I waited till half time to go in.  I know Roo can’t stay in the stands, it all too much for him.  I start to scan my surroundings; I need a spot where I can see J, Sissy can see the cheerleaders and Roo can just be.  There on the north end zone, the perfect spot!

We get over there, get comfortable, and relax – sort of!  Let’s face it, parents never truly relax.  Sissy is copying all the cheers, giving it her all, Roo is trying to compact himself as much as possible.  At some point some other kids, younger kids are horsing around, running up and down, that sort of stuff.  Roo wants to join in.  I say no, let’s see if we can find bubby on the field.  At some point, he gets up and starts to reenact the tackles on the field.  He is not hurting anyone and he’s not freaking out so I let him be. 

I spend much of the 2nd half of the game corralling Roo, keeping him occupied, listening to his stories, keeping his gangly arms and legs out of the reach of anyone else, and I do get the rare opportunity to clap for my oldest.  I am there and that is enough.  At the end of the game the team, coaches and parents all like to huddle on the field and pray.  It’s nice and we avoid it at all costs, because there are way too many people.  Unfortunately, they are huddling in our end zone tonight.  I am trying to keep a handle on Roo all while looking for J and maintaining a level of awareness for Sissy. And, my nightmare begins.  There are too many people, too much noise, and he’s gone. 

I am frantically searching through a sea of red shirts, trying desperately to find my boy.  He’s gone, he’s nowhere.  Oh, Lord! Please, Please help me!  I have to find him.  I can’t find him and I have now lost sight of Sissy too.  She’s smart; she goes to the goal post and stays.   I come out of the mob and there he is.  

It’s the most amazing sight!  He’s playing football!  I mean really playing football!There are about 6 boys including him, all around the ages of 7 or 8 and they have an empty mountain dew bottle and they are playing football.  Roo is playing with other kids and he’s actually playing and he’s really kind of good at it!!!  I stand there in awe for awhile watching my clumsy, awkward middle child, run like the wind, laughing, playing, included.  I tell him it’s time to go, and he doesn’t throw a fit.  He runs over, grinning from ear to ear; as one of the other boys says see you at school Monday!  Amazing! 

I have forgotten that he was lost; I am so overwhelmed at the sight of him being included and putting himself out there, that the fact that he was lost is not even a distant memory.