Monday, November 10, 2014

The Space Where Our Minds Meet

As a writer, I find it quite interesting that my son has a communication disorder. You see, my mind works in words - I can hear them flowing in my brain, I can even see me typing them in my mind as I speak. It's hard to shut them off and some days I feel like my head will burst if I don't put pen to paper. This week has been one of those weeks. I've just had this intense need to write, this urge that won't be fulfilled until I sit down and do just this - type. It's hard to organize my thoughts as they ebb and flow in all directions, swirling and racing. But these words that I love so much, I know they come so hard for JD. His autism makes it difficult for him to express himself.

Much of the time JD lives in his own world - seeming to be deep in thought. Sucking his thumb, staring into space as his rubs the edge of his monkey blanket back and forth; he leaves me to wonder what he's thinking about. But luckily there are moments when JD lets me into his world.

Like tonight...I was putting JD to bed and he wanted to tell me a story. Something about a Lego Ninjago warrior that he's worried will lose his power and be destroyed. After trying to explain to him that the ninja wasn't real, he went into great detail to dispute my claims and explained this warrior and what had happened to him. He was truly worried about this warrior and didn't want to go to sleep until we discussed it. It was at that moment that I realized - although JD has a difficult time communicating with his words, his mind races just like mine. He thinks of stories and lives in this universe where it's hard to concentrate on reality. His mind is also like a dam that's about to break but unlike me, he doesn't have a way to get it out.

I can't imagine how frustrating that must be. Now thinking back I realize I've heard it many, many times in his speech. He stumbles and hesitates, gets excited looking for the right words to explain what he's trying to say. But when left uninterrupted, unrushed, he can tell long stories with extreme detail and precision - it's like once he begins, it all flows.

That's the place I love. It's the space where our minds meet. I understand the need he has to tell his story, whether or not it makes any sense to anyone else. It's in those stories that he makes sense of the world, tries to connect to other people and makes room in his brain for new information. His rambling stories are like my ramblings blog posts - they clear the mind and give our bodies a sense of ease that can't be found anywhere else.

I'm thankful for those stories, those words, because I know so many kids like him don't have them. It's easy to get frustrated by the repetition, the rambling and the crazy sound effects that accompany his stories (and if you know JD you know what I'm talking about), but it's moments like tonight that remind me that it's his way of sharing his world with me. :)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Happy 6th birthday JD! It was SUPERHERO-tastic!

What a great week! JD turned 6 years old on Thursday, March 20th. I can't believe how big he is... and what I REALLY can't believe is that I started this blog FOUR years ago! It was right after his 2nd birthday! WOW how time goes by fast! JD has changed so much, and come SO far. Each birthday really gives me the opportunity to look back and thank God for all that he's learned and accomplished and for all of the people in our lives that have been there to help support and love him!

This was another year filled with amazing feats! JD's almost finished with his first year of Kindergarten at First Hope and I could not be happier with his progress! He's learning to read, he can do addition and subtraction facts, his comprehension skills are fantastic and he's made a lot of strides with social skills. First Hope has been such a blessing in our life and I'm very excited to say that he will be moving up for first grade there in the fall!

Another big event for this year was having JD's first true birthday party with friends. In the past, we've done birthday parties, but it's been family or friends of the family, not really JD's friends. Mainly because he didn't really have any. One of the big benefits of being at First Hope is that he's surrounded by REAL friends! Both in his special needs classroom and his inclusion classroom. He was extremely excited about his birthday this year and really understood that we were having a party for HIM! We invited all of the boys in the class to a superhero-themed party at a place called Hukoo's. There were trampolines, bumper cars and games. It was loud and crazy and fun! It turned out really well and JD had a great time. I was so thankful that so many of his friends came; and even with a group of boys just like him (on the autism spectrum), they all were amazing!

I have to share a bunch of pictures from today because I'm such a proud mama bear! Enjoy!

JD with mommy and daddy, my favorite picture of the day!
A vist from Iron Man!!
Group picture!
JD playing dodgeball on the trampolines
Superhero cake and cupcakes!

All of the friends! :)

Blowing out the candles
Pirate ship air shooting game - JD wasn't up for it, but Kyle LOVED it!

Kyle and Griffith

Kyle and his best friend Jordon on the motorcycles
Family Party Time!

 Cousin Love!

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Bond of Brothers

If you know me, you know I'm the first one to admit that I was absolutely certain my third child was going to be a girl. From the moment I found out we were expecting I could just feel it... her name was going to be Savannah Kaitlyn Graham and I even bought her the perfect yellow and blue toile bedding just weeks into my pregnancy. The only problem was Savannah wasn't a quite the girl my heart was set on... At my 20-week sonogram the doctor told me (and many members of my family who were in the room) that we were having another BOY. I hate to admit it, but after I told him to "check again", I sat there and cried.

Of course we were blessed with my beautiful baby, Kyle Logan Graham, more than 4 years ago. He's quite the crazy little man and has the funniest little facial expressions. I can't imagine my life without him. But every now and then, Savannah creeps into my mind... I often think - I wonder why God gave me a second boy when I felt so strongly that I was having another girl? It's an easy answer though, one that I've known for a long time.

See I've come to determine that boys need brothers, especially my boys. Ashley on the other hand is perfectly content being the only "princess" in the house. But JD and Kyle, they were meant to be together. Together they are wild, crazy, messy boys. They drive me absolutely MAD, but they love every moment of being together. You can't have one without the other.

But God knew what he was doing when he gave me Kyle because he knew more than I yearned for another girl, JD would need a brother in his life. Kyle never judges JD. He only admires him as the perfect big brother. JD can do no wrong in Kyle's eyes. I know one day Kyle will realize that JD has special needs, but what I also know is that the moment he does, he will stand fearlessly against anyone who may treat him any less than normal. That's exactly why Kyle has the personality that he does. He's not only the amazing little baby in our family, but one day, he'll actually play the big brother role for JD since there's a good chance that his developmental age will be older than JD in just a few years.

Having boys is not for the weary, and I don't know how many time I want to pull out my hair and scream from the shenanigans, but I love them. And most of all, I love that they have a bond that can never be taken away. Brothers for life... oh I'm in for it!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Autism is like living Groundhogs Day the movie

I never actually saw the movie Groundhogs Days, but from what I've heard of it, it's a lot like having a child with autism. If it were up to JD, every single day of his life would be exactly the same. Same food, same tv shows, same clothes, you hear me. And most of the time I'm ok with that, but tonight when I was asked (aka yelled at) for "popcorn and popsicle" after his bath I just had to scream "I'M COMING!.... ERRRRR!" Trust me JD, I know the routine, you don't have to remind me. Those reminders just wear me out.

I know that you have to have three cut up cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and for lunch you have five slices of Boarshead oven gold turkey with strawberries (also cut up), a bag of goldfish, two RED bags of fruits snacks and of course the juice box which you MUST drink before you can eat anything else. Then for dinner you have chicken tenders (again cut up), more strawberries, goldfish and fruit snacks. And finally, once you're done with your bath you immediately require an ORANGE popsicle and popcorn. I don't know how you eat the same thing every single day. Not only do you have to eat the same thing, but in the same order. Well at least we made three different foods onto one plate - that was a huge accomplishment since you used to freak out if they were next to each other.

Maybe it's because I've been sick this week, or because it's just dawning on me that there's a possibility that I could be feeding my child "popcorn and a popsicle" every night after bath for the rest of his life, but I'm just worn out. Autism can do that to you. It's not easy, even on the good days. The only thing I know for sure is that tomorrow will be just the same...