Sunday, October 28, 2012

A "Breakthrough" Day

Today was a day I refer to as a "breakthrough" day. It's one of those days when things that you've been working on just click, and for a moment in time you see all fruits of all the labor you've put into being a parent of a child with special needs. With kids on the spectrum, you can work for months on a goal, and sometimes lose faith that it will ever be accomplished (take potty training for example). But one thing I've learned as a mom with a kid on the spectrum, they'll surprise you when you least expect it! Now - I will say, for parents reading this whose children don't have special needs - these accomplishments may sound quite boring. But trust me when I saw today was a "breakthrough" day!

We woke up this morning to head to church and it was the normal chaos. I was a little nervous because I bought JD some new pants last night since we had a cold front come through, and I wasn't sure how he'd transition from shorts to new pants, but luckily no problem. Then right before we left, I asked the kids if I could take a picture of them all together and by a miracle, I got the shot above. This is the BEST picture I've ever taken of all three kids together. Normally JD is staring off into space or yelling because he doesn't want to say cheese. But in this moment in time, he was so happy to hug his big sis and grin ear to ear... I knew right then this was a special day.

Then after church we went to lunch. We normally go to a place called Joe's Crab Shack because they have an outside playground and I with the cool weather finally rolling in I figured the kids would like it. Normally it's complete and utter chaos when we go out to lunch. Not only do my kids run around like crazy children, but we spend a good $50 on food that no one eats. Mostly chicken fingers and go untouched and let's just say mommy doesn't go home a happy camper. But today we went and it was peaceful. With only one minor spill of a drink (which was even cute because JD said, "My mommy, I'm so sorry") we went on without a hitch. Everyone ate, no one fought. We didn't have to leave early. Awesome moment #2!

Then it came down to really the highlight of the day. In our neighborhood, we celebrated Halloween early with a big party. For the past two years, I have bought costumes for JD and not ONCE has he let me put them on him. He cried and says they're "too dangerous" lol. But this year was different. He knew exactly what he wanted to be - Batman - and LOVED putting on his costume. I sat there completely shocked as he let Jason put his mask and cape on him. It was like having a different child from last year. I figured it would only last a few minutes so I snapped (another!) good picture... (this is too good to be true!) but he kept it on for almost two hours, walking all through the neighborhood trick-or-treating with the other kids! It was amazing to watch him run up to our neighbors and say "trick or treat" and get the candy. It was like his first real halloween where he actually got it. I was so excited! 

Then to top things off - as if the day couldn't get any better - he asked TWICE today "mommy/daddy, I have to go pee-pee." All by himself!!!!!!!! That is a huge deal for us! What a big boy! I'm soooo proud. 

I can't say that our days are easy - just read my last post - but I can say that there's something about having a child with special needs that just changes you and makes you a better person. Seeing him become more and more independent makes me realize that all the work we do, day-in and day-out, is working will make his life a better one. We're just really blessed to have the family, friends, church, neighbors and coworkers who have stood by us during this journey. We love you guys!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I'm just gonna say it... sometimes I HATE autism.

If you know me, then you know I'm a pretty upbeat person most of the time. But lately (and by lately I mean the last few months), I feel like I'm so far down that I can't get up. I feel like each day I go to battle against something I can never defeat. Some days I win the fight, but in my head I feel like I'll never win the war. I'll take two steps forward, and ten steps back. And then I wonder to God, why?? Why did this happen?

I start thinking about how our lives will never be normal. How much I wish we could just experience one day without an autism meltdown. The dreams of fun-filled family vacations no longer seem realistic, because I know that the "fun-filled" part will end two minutes after we try to transition into the room. That Jason and I will become agitated and mad and start regretting that we ever left home. But home can be like a prison cell. It's the only "safe" place... far away from the stares, the humiliation, the anxiety. But when you feel like you can never leave your house you start dreaming of a life that's different.

Because not only do we experience the normal wear and tear other families do... the two full-time demanding jobs, the never ending laundry and house upkeep, the bills, the homework, lunches, and so on and so forth, but we have to add in the struggles that every autism family deals with. We have to stay on the same routine DAILY. Any alterations can mean a meltdown. JD asks me the same question hundreds of times within a week span, and by Friday I no longer take the time to answer, I just cover my ears and want to scream. We watch the same TV shows each day, he eats the same food each day. He screams if I don't sing him to sleep at night and they have to be the same songs in the exact same order. I'm still singing Christmas songs from last year and it's October.

What scares me is that I'm only two and a half years into this and sometimes I feel like I'm ready to hang up the white flag and declare defeat. But what does that do for him? Absolutely nothing. I can throw in the towel, or keep waking up day after day and try again. I have to keep it in perspective. It could be worse - a LOT worse. So I keep thinking to myself... maybe tomorrow I won't end up in the bathtub crying after everyone in the house is asleep. Maybe this will get easier.