After. Still smiling. Sort of.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
After. Still smiling. Sort of.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Cooper says goodbye to Uncle Matt, Aunt Heather and Cousin Will. We had a blast with our overnight guests.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
My brother and sister in law came for an overnight stay. The four of us went out to dinner, and had so much fun. Wish they lived closer!
It's always one of my more stressful evenings: school plays. I'm never quite sure what a son will do when placed upon a stage, in front of a large crowd, and with a microphone. I've always had visions of having to yank an insubordinate child off the platform while a slew of parents stared wide-eyed and open mouthed at it all.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
Cooper and Connor contemplated their next hiding spot.
The three younger boys counting their goodies.
The boys were in heaven today because:
1) I unearthed our Easter Egg box. They treated it like Christmas!
2) Our next door neighbor started a patio construction project. The construction tools and machinery captivated the boys for hours.
My mom mentioned I should write a blog about Connor. It's true. Although equally loved, Connor has probably been the subject of the least amount of blogs. I suppose the children I've written about the most have been the most "spirited" ones . Connor, my adorable six year old, doesn't tend to rock the boat (hallelujah!).
This year my schedule has been nutty, but I've had several hours each week just with Connor. We use some of those hours for a weekly lunch date, and I let Connor pick the locale (McDonalds has been the popular choice). We sit and talk, or rather I listen as Connor talks about those subjects that interest him: Pokemon, superheroes, or animated characters. We both savor moments where the attention is solely on him.
What I've learned about Connor is:
1) He makes friends easily because he is a good friend to others.
2) He generally treats his brothers kindly, and is the most apt to serve as a sibling peacemaker.
3) He's funny.
As the school year comes to a close, I'm grieving the fact that our lunch dates are coming to an end. I'm hoping Connor and I can carve out future moments together where I can continue to build relationships with my very special son.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
When I inquired about their plans, Caleb responded, "It's Operation Rub Down." He then told me I was lucky, because their car washing services were free. I was a little skeptical about my luck.
I let it gone on for a while, until one of them emerged from the garage clutching a snow shovel. I'm still not sure how the snow shovel fit in with the car wash, but I wasn't about to find out.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Today, I was tired. I decided to sit a spell in an unoccupied seat. A few minutes later, I noticed a crowd of boys had circled me and were openly gasping.
Monday, April 11, 2011
In the winter of 2002, I delivered my first son, Caleb. I took one look at my precious baby, and was smitten. I’d snuggle him and imagine the next 18 + years rolling by beautifully. I envisioned us playing ball in the backyard, cuddling on the couch while watching a movie, and camping out in the backyard with his friends. To say I entered motherhood in ignorant bliss would be an understatement.
From the beginning, Caleb was different. As an infant, he lacked eye contact and seemed exceedingly alert. By the time he entered toddlerhood, he threw mammoth fits, became easily fixated on objects, and seemed extra sensitive to aromas and textures. In the midst of all these challenges, he wowed us with his advanced vocabulary, early reading, vast memory, and mature interests (think National Geographic). He adored lizards, and would spend hours poured over reptile guides. We shrugged off his differences by telling ourselves, he was merely an active, quirky, smart little boy. Then, we enrolled him in preschool and life began to change.
By the time Caleb entered school, his differences were apparent. He could barely get through a school day without incident. Transitions seemed to be his biggest hurdle. He wasn’t making friends. Home life was tough. We desperately needed help.
At the age of six, Caleb underwent extensive testing. We needed answers and a plan. During the process, a swim teacher (a seasoned school teacher by occupation) referred to him as a “high functioning autistic child.” It was the first time anyone had uttered the “A” word, and I was in shock. A few weeks later her words would prove true. Caleb’s test results placed him on the autism spectrum. Later, he would be specifically diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Asperger’s Syndrome conjures up images of Rainmanesque individuals who ramble off facts and memorize phone books. Caleb’s no Rainman, but he does exhibit characteristics indicative of an Aspie: delayed motor skills, inability to pick up social cues, narrow interests, lack of empathy, and many more.
My husband and I greeted Caleb’s diagnosis with mixed emotions: happy to finally have answers, sad that he’ll have a life full of challenges. The first two years after his diagnosis, we spent merely accepting the fact that our son was different. I really think we went through the stages of grief; we were grieving the life we envisioned and accepting the challenges that were to come.
Two years later, I can write this article without shedding a tear. I can tell a stranger my son has Asperger’s Syndrome and maintain composure. Getting to this place, has been a process and here’s what helped us make it through:
Falling on our Knees
Prayer has been my lifeboat. I read this quote from Charles Stanley, “Often times God demonstrates His faithfulness in adversity by providing for us what we need to survive. He does not change our painful circumstances. He sustains us through them.” I’ve never prayed for God to take away Caleb’s challenges, but I’ve prayed fervently that God would not give me more than I can handle, and equip me for what He’d given us. I can honestly say He’s answered my prayers and sustained me during periods where my strength was lacking.
Relishing in the Support of Friends and Family
We’ve been extremely blessed to have friends and family members that did everything in their power to support us. My mother has been my listening ear and sounding board for so many challenges I’ve faced. I also have a wonderful friend who’s a whiz at research; she’s sent me a wealth of information on the subject. From the beginning, she’d say, “I’m on Team Caleb.” I felt blessed to have someone like her on the team. These two individuals are not alone; we’re blessed by the “village” that’s surrounded us with love and support.
Finding Mothers in Similar Situations
Alone and misunderstood. There are two words I definitely used a lot during those first two years. As much as people tried to help, Caleb was a mystery. By word of mouth, I began to connect with other Aspie moms. Pretty soon, we started a support group. Our monthly meetings have been invaluable to me. We give advice and provide support like only mothers in the same situation can.
Finding an Outlet for my Emotions
The last couple of years have been a challenge. I was wrestling with my emotions on the diagnosis, while dealing with the daily challenges of raising an Aspie child. Many a nights, I would end the evening with raging emotions. So, I started a blog. It’s amazing, once the emotions came pouring onto the keys, my sanity revived. I needed an outlet, and my electronic confessional fit the bill.
Two years later, life is not without challenges but we’re in a place of acceptance and peace. God gave us the child that was perfectly made for us. We relish our time, and pray every day that we’ll be the parents he needs. We’re blessed to have a child that’s changed us for the better, and taught us that although life is different than expected it can still be good.