Tag Archives: autism

And then there were two…

18 Jul

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the ICAN conference in Chicago, IL. ICAN stands for the International Children’s Anophthalmia/Microphthalmia Network. Every two years, children and families from all over the world, travel to learn about and meet other people with anophthalmia and microphthalmia.

It’s always great to learn about the new technology available for blind people. It’s always fantastic to learn about new advancements in the treatment of these conditions.

But nothing beats what it feels like to look at another child or another family that knows exactly what your life is like.

No one knows what it’s like to raise a blind baby, to deal with the trials and tribulations of conformer therapy, to deal with other people who stare at your child…

Than other parents with a child just like yours.

No one knows about the breakdowns in the car because someone said something hurtful about your beautiful daughter…

Except another family who has walked in your shoes.

No one knows what it’s like to hide your newborn baby underneath a pile of blankets in her car seat because you just can’t stand to have one more person comment on how your very wiggly, giggly, very AWAKE baby, is sleeping because she can’t open her eyes…

Than the other mom who has had it happen to her.

The families that I met this weekend? Know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.

It’s so refreshing to talk about all of these things and to look into another mom’s eyes and see that flash of recognition. That spark of “Yes! Yes! That’s happened to me! That’s how I feel!” I don’t have to explain everything. Half the time, I didn’t even have to finish my story. I would get half way through and then see her head start to bob up and down and a knowing smile, play on her lips. Ahhhh…yes. You get it.

There was still some explaining to be done though. There were still a lot of walking, talking, interactive blind children running around the halls that weekend.

There were many many children who were NOT like my Oli.

To be honest…it makes me feel a little bit weird and strange to be around them. I feel kind of awkward. I don’t know what to say to a talking blind kid. Give me a non-verbal, blind kiddo with multiple disabilities and I feel right at home. Otherwise, I’m out in deep water. Do I offer my hand to them? How do I introduce myself? What do I say?

I’m just not used to it. I don’t know that life. I only know my own.

It was still pretty cool though. I was sitting at dinner and was watching a new friend talk to her son at the table. She was telling him where his knife and fork were. That there was a little lip on the edge of the plate. And then she took his hand and guided it over the plate to show him. I could only stare and smile and think to myself, “Yes. I must be doing it right. I do all of those things with Oli even though she can’t tell me if that’s correct or not. It must be, otherwise this other little boy would tell his mom that it wasn’t.” I need to see those kinds of things. I need to know that I’m doing it right with Oli.

There was one little girl that I just can’t get out of my head. A 14 year old girl from Italy. She was just like my Oli. After seeing her, I don’t think I’ll doubt Oli’s autism diagnosis again.

Little Eliza from Italy was JUST like Oli and she also has the diagnosis of autism. She too, is totally blind and non verbal.

Her and her parents sat next to us at dinner on Saturday. I had spoken to her parents a little during the day. The geneticist wanted me to talk to them about some different forms of communication techniques and tactile symbols, to use with her.

I knew that when they described her, I had that look on my face. I know that as I listened to her mother speak about her, I had that spark in my eyes. “Yes. Yes! I know exactly what you’re talking about.”

Meeting Eliza, was a whole different experience. I have never met another child that was like Oli. I mean like her in EVERY SINGLE WAY!

I couldn’t take my eyes off of her during dinner. Her mannerisms, behaviors, the way she moved her hands, the way she ate her food, the way she relied on her mom…it was ALL like Oli.

It may have been a little strange for her parents. More than once they caught me with my mouth hanging open, looking like an a-hole, staring, smiling, and nodding in their daughter’s direction. More than once I had to excuse myself and say, “Oh my gosh!! She’s just so much like my daughter!! I’ve never seen that before! I’m sorry for staring.”

More than once I felt like bursting into tears because I was just so happy that I had found another mom who knew what it was like.

There are, of course, other children born blind and who have the autism diagnosis. I’ve met some of them.

They were not like Oli.

I later asked the genetic counselor at the convention what made Eliza and Oli so similar. They have the same eye condition, but different gene deletions. Oli is missing the OTX2 gene, while Eliza is missing the SOX2 gene.

She couldn’t really give me a definite answer, other than to say that there had to be some genetic correlation that caused the blindness and the autism. Somewhere in those genes lies the answer, or rather, the missing answer to the puzzle. Something about those missing genes that caused their eyes not to develop and then whatever caused the autism, is the same in Oli and Eliza.

It was fascinating.

The next day when it was time to leave, I said good bye to Eliza at breakfast. She took my hand in hers and ran her fingers over and over my palm. She found my ring and was twisting it around. She smiled and smiled… Her mom said, “Wow! She really likes you!” I told her “I know. It’s because I just totally understand her. It’s because we have this bond that ties us together. It’s because of Oli.”

And that is the story of the day that I finally met another child like Oli.

Mother Moments

14 Jun

In the darkest of my fears, I sat alone, watching my little girl sleep. She was three days old. I felt like I had aged 50 years in those three short days. My life as I knew it, was over.

Before me slept an enormous responsibility. Before me slept one of the most vulnerable babies I had ever known. Before me slept my fear, my betrayal, my heartache…my love, my new life…my daughter.

From the moment that I found out that she was blind, I began to have “moments”. Moments are hallmark to all new mothers, but mine became drastically different from theirs. I began to have special needs mother moments.

In order for me to describe to you what those are, I have to tell you about my moments when my first chid was born. When he was born I had lots of those mommy moments where my heart filled with fear and anticipation. My brain would race full speed ahead to the future and I would begin to worry about what would happen to my baby boy.

Will he sit up before he’s 6 months old? Will he crawl by 9 months? Will he walk before he turns 1? Will he be potty trained by the time he’s 3? Will he learn his colors, numbers, and letters before kindergarten? Will he learn to read without difficulty? Will he get good grades, make friends, join the soccer team or play basketball? Will he be a responsible driver at 16? Will he take a girl to the prom? Will he graduate high school with honors? Will he go to college out of state?

All of my worries with my son were not questions of “what if he doesn’t___”. They were questions of will he do this now or later? Will he do this or that? I never feared that he wouldn’t walk or talk, be potty trained, learn the alphabet, read, write, drive, play sports, have girlfriends, graduate or go to college. I knew that he would do all of those things.

I simply worried the biggest worry since the invention of motherhood. My uneasiness festered within the age old question that millions of moms before me have tortured themselves with.

“Was I doing it right?”

After the birth of Oliana my moments of “Was I doing this right?” became overwhelmed by the heavier contemplation and an inward reflection of myself. I began to worry “Can I do this at all?”

In the beginning I had no one to lead me down a previously cultivated path, pointing out all of the obstacles. I had no mother who had been there before me who could assure me that I was doing this thing correctly.

When my son was born I simply picked up the phone and called my mother if I had a question. If she didn’t answer I called a friend. Now when I asked my mom questions about what to do with Oli or what the next step should be, she shrugged her shoulders and responded “I just don’t know.” My friends didn’t know either. If I tried to describe how I felt they all got a look in their eyes of total compassion, but complete incomprehension. They just didn’t understand.

I had been thrown into a tumultuous sea with a flimsy life raft that had a slow leak in it.

No one knew what I was supposed to do. No one could tell me how I was supposed to feel.

I began to ask myself some of those same questions that I asked myself with my son, but with a completely different context. Instead of wondering when she would do things, I began to wonder if she would EVER do them.

Will she learn to read, write, or spell her name? Will she ever be able to tie her shoes? Will she learn to walk down the street by herself? Will she one day be able to say the alphabet, be potty trained, or learn to use a fork and spoon by herself?

I didn’t know.

I started to have moments where I just could not stop myself from reliving what my life had been like before and what it was going to be like in the future. I began to daydream and create alternate realities where I would live the best and worst case scenarios.

The best of the best case scenario was one where upon a trip to an eye specialist, he would look into her non-existent eyes and tell me that there had been some kind of terrible mistake. She wasn’t blind at all.

Best case scenario was that she was only blind and cognitively and developmentally appropriate.

Worst case scenario involved a wheel chair, hospital bed, ventilators, and round the clock nurses. Life would creep slowly by with every minute spent worrying about her health for the rest of my life.

I ended up somewhere in the middle.

These “moments” now take on a whole different perspective as she gets older. Most often it happens when I see another little girl that is her age doing something normal. Something completely average and typical. Running through the park, laughing and playing, tying her shoes, eating an ice cream cone, hugging her mother, saying I love you.

These moments creep up on me and slam that heartache fiercely into my chest and steal the breath from my lips.

Those are the things that my little girl should be doing. I close my eyes and superimpose my girl’s face onto the other child’s body and imagine her living her life without blindness or delays. I imagine her running and playing. I see her looking into my eyes and feel her breath against my cheek as she whispers “I love you mommy.”

But when I open my eyes, those dreams disappear and vanish quietly. Thin, transparent, wisps of smoke that drift effortlessly through my fingers.

This was simply not how it was meant to be. She has a disability. She will ALWAYS have a disability. I cherish who she is and what she can do. I celebrate her numerous victories and feel gratitude towards what we have.

Sometimes…I still get sad. I’m human. I’m a mom.

Those are some of my moments today.

If she was autistic…where did that leave me?

7 Jun

When Oli was two years old, a few drastic changes took place in her life. We moved 1500 miles away. We moved away from one of her grandmas, her aunties, her cousins, and the only house she ever knew. We moved away from her sister.

At the time that we moved, Oli was still taking. On the drive down she repeated the words “up” and “out” over and over and over. It was a looooong drive. I remember that we stopped for breakfast one morning on the second day. My mom asked her what she wanted for breakfast. Oli answered “eggs” and then clapped enthusiastically. My girl loves eggs. She also said “Mom. Dad. Grandma. Koa. Milk. Juice. Eat. Hi. Bye.” Those are just a few.

Six months after we got to Texas, I had another baby. By this point her speech had already started to decline. Ginger was born in March 2010 and by September, Oli had completely stopped speaking.

She did NOT do well when Ginger was born. None of us did. Ginger cried all the time, day and night for 4 months straight. I couldn’t put her down. Ever. She was either eating or crying. She rarely slept. Oli was stressed out and hated the baby. If she heard Ginger near her she would scrunch up her face and push her away. If I tried to get her to hold the baby she would cry. She didn’t understand what she was or why she was so loud.

Oli started stimming more and more. She stopped repeating simple words and didn’t use the words that had been frequent in her vocabulary six months prior.

By Christmas of that year I knew that something had happened. Something else was wrong that had caused her to stop talking. Was it the stress of the move and the birth of her sister? Or was it something else?

I knew that I couldn’t just take her to a regular doctor to evaluate her. Blindness complicated the diagnosis and I didn’t want them to misdiagnose her or misinterpret her behaviors (blindisms) as autistic behaviors because in blind kids they are not.
Most kids born blind have a lot of the same self-stimulatory behaviors that autistic kids have. They have a lot of the same sensory issues too.

Oli constantly shakes her head back and forth. Continually. All day long. (Think Stevie Wonder.) She has done this since she was a year old. She started flapping her hands around 2 years old. She loves to spin and swing and she’ll rock violently back and forth when she’s mad. She’s always seeking more and more input because she is missing the main way that human beings get their information. Through our sight. She puts everything in her mouth. Blind children typically go through a longer oral stage because of the reason I stated above. This is just one more way to get information if you can’t see it.

None of those things set off any alarm bells though. I knew that was just her blindness.

What DID set my heart racing and began to fill it with unspeakable dread and fear? What one thing lead me to question what was wrong with her?

Why did she stop speaking?

It felt like one day she was talking and the next day she just wasn’t.

What would cause this to happen?

One terrifying word came into my mind.

Autism.

I called the research center for anophthalmic and microphthalmic children. The Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. I made her an appointment for an evaluation. They had developed a specific clinic staffed with experts on blindness to determine if our kiddos really were autistic or if their behaviors and characteristics were simply the results of being born blind. Many of our kids were receiving the diagnosis of autism when they weren’t and many of them were not being given the label when they were. That team was supposed to be able to clarify and correct the appropriate clinical diagnosis.

So I flew her to Pennsylvania and asked them the million dollar question.

Was my baby girl autistic?

During the months leading up to that evaluation I began to question, pray, bargain, and plead with a God that I had started to lose faith in. I began to cry and scream at him “You made her blind! You made her physically and developmentally delayed! Don’t make her autistic too! Please! I will do anything! ANYTHNG! Don’t make my baby autistic too!”

I laid in bed at night questioning my very life and existence. I began asking questions that I would never receive answers to.

I wondered why He would do this to her? Why would He do this to me?
Why had my life been so easy before? Why had it become so hard?
When was my nightmare going to be over? When was I going to wake up?
The more I prayed and pleaded…the farther away I drifted.
The more questions I asked…the less answers I received.

I flew Oli to Philadelphia with a heavy heart, a stomach full of knots, and an empty soul.

Where was my God? Would He answer my prayers?

I feared that I already knew the answer to those questions.

Where did that leave me now?

I used to wonder if she would ever have friends.

29 May

As I waited at school with Oli after her therapy, a remarkable thing happened. I watched my daughter interact with two little girls in her kindergarten class. Oli isn’t in her kindergarten class regularly. She is in an FLC (functional learning class). She does attend music twice a week with them and has gone on a field trip with their class.

What I witnessed today at her school…will never be forgotten.

To the little girls I watched in the elementary school hallway, this letter is for you.

Dear little girls,

I watched you today as you walked past us. You were lined up with your class on the way to the library. You looked over towards the entrance and stared at Oli, walking in with me. She was holding my hand, shaking her head, flapping her other hand and humming loudly.

I don’t think you were staring at those things though.

You were staring at your friend as she returned to school.

You both ran excitedly up to her calling her name. “Oli! Oli! It’s Oli! Hi Oli! How are you?”

You touched her arm, leaned in close and said hi again. Then each of you took turns hugging my girl.

You talked to her, touched her and hugged her like you were her best friends. Like she belonged with you. Like you never even noticed that she was any different from you.

It seemed like you didn’t notice that she couldn’t share secrets with you, play like other kids or run and jump on the playground.

Those things didn’t matter to you.

You just treated her like she was your friend.

You didn’t see her face light up behind your back as your arms were wrapped tightly around her. You didn’t see the peace in her hands as she gently ran them down your braid. You didn’t see the light radiate from her smile as you talked to her.

I saw.

You didn’t see the tears well up in my eyes either.

You won’t know how I will forever treasure that moment.

You see girls, when you have a child that is born different from other children, you have certain fears. Certain things that absolutely terrify you. You pray with all of your heart and dream that it will be different and that your fears will not become her reality.

You fear that other kids will be mean to your child. You fear the bullies and the hateful words that can spew from heartless people. You fear that your child won’t have any friends.

You dream that people will understand her. You dream that kids will look past her differences and treat her with compassion and understanding. You dream that your child will never walk the halls, eat lunch or play at recess alone.

As I watched you with Oli today, I saw that everything that I have ever dreamt for her…was standing right before me. It was present in the quiet voices, the gentle touch and the shy smiles that took place between the three of you.

It was present in your friendship.

You’ll never understand what you have done for me today. I don’t even think you’ll understand what you have done for Oli.

I understand though. I know what it means to have children who love her for who she is.

If my daughter grows up around children like you…she will NEVER feel apart from. She will ALWAYS feel a part of.

In your single act of kindness, something that you didn’t even think twice of before acting on, you have erased some of my fears.

I will sleep well tonight, little girls.

I will sleep well knowing that my daughter is not alone and that she has people like you to walk beside her.

Thank you.

From the bottom of my heart…

Thank you.

*tears* Oli has friends.

I am a child.

20 May

Oli is 6 years old, blind and autistic. Her autism has left her non-verbal.

I know that I don’t really know what she thinks about, what she dreams about, or what she would want to say.

But because I am her mom, I get the honor of speaking for her until she finds her words.

Here is what I think Oli would want you to know about her.

“Hi! My name is Oli. I know that my mom gets this look from strangers when she tells them about me or when they meet me for the first time. She calls it “the look”. I don’t know what “the look” looks like because I can’t see it, but I know that it makes my mommy sad.

I know that it makes her sad because I can hear it in her voice when she talks about it. I can feel it in the way her shoulders sag when she thinks about it. And I can taste it in the tears that roll down her face when she cries about it when she thinks no one is looking. I’m looking. I’m always looking because I know my mommy better than she thinks I do.

I know that “the look” hurts my mommy’s feelings.

I also hear her talking about it with my daddy. I hear her tell him that this look means that people feel sorry for her. That they feel sorry for me.

Most importantly, I hear her tell daddy that people don’t need to feel sorry for her or for me. She also tells ME that I don’t need to feel sorry for MYSELF. That there is nothing wrong with me. I just do things differently than other children.

Despite our differences, I’m still a child.

I want you to know that the way I am… is not wrong. That the way your child is…is not right. It’s just different.

I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to feel sorry for me. You don’t need to pity my family. I am fine. I will do what I will do when the time is right. My parents will push me and advocate for me. They believe in me and I will do everything that I can in this life. My life is not sad. My life does not deserve your tears. It should be celebrated. Please don’t be sad for me.

I am only a child. A child with special needs yes, but still a child.

I know that I’m not the same as you. I know that there are things that I do that might seem strange. I don’t understand what they are, nor could I tell you why I do those things. All I can tell you is that I have to do them. That is just part of me.

I have a wonderful life. I live life to the fullest and I enjoy most of every day. I have good days and bad days just like every other 6 year old. I cry when I don’t get my way. I smile when I do. I throw tantrums when I don’t get what I want. I give kisses and hugs when I do. I don’t listen when I don’t want to do what you’re telling me to do. I listen when I do. I giggle. I test boundaries. I play. I am a child.

I am my parent’s child.

They are proud of me. They love me. They are not ashamed of me. They don’t feel sorry for me.

Neither should you.

Mommy and daddy bring new people into our house sometimes. New therapists, friends, and family I haven’t seen in a long time. I can feel their tension. Sometimes they don’t know what to do with me. How to touch me or talk to me. How to play with me.

I know that other people don’t understand my life, but you don’t need to feel uncomfortable around me. You don’t need to be frightened or nervous. Interacting with me cannot be done wrong.

Just remember…

I am a child.

I may be different than your child, but I am still a child.

I’m just Oli.”

Heartache written on a piece of paper

1 May

Before I move on with my story, I have to write about Oli’s mandatory 3 year evaluation for school. They evaluate her to determine her progress and also to determine whether or not she still meets the eligibility qualifications for services. She’ll be 6 years old on May 10th.

O&M was the first evaluation scheduled to be completed. O&M stands for orientation and mobility and focuses on body awareness, spacial concepts, walking and navigating around the environment as a blind or visually impaired child. As a totally blind kiddo, Oli always qualifies for O&M. Her O&M instructor is absolutely fabulous. She is a wonderful woman and teacher and I really like and respect her. She has been with Oli since we moved to Texas when she only was 2 ½ years old.

I have to tell you that, before I get into the results of her evaluation. Before I tell you how little progress Oli seems to have made in the last 3 years. This is NOT, in any way, a reflection on her teacher.

This is just Oli. This has always been Oli.

You see, progress is slow with her. She does do new things and accomplishes goals every once in a while. It just doesn’t happen very quickly or very often.

It’s hard.

It’s so hard to watch your child work so hard and struggle. To try and to fail. To improve and do something new, only to have it slip away. Some of her new skills have diminished and then disappeared completely. At the beginning of the school year Oli was standing up from the middle of the floor all by herself. She would just stand up and every once in a while she would start walking. Just like any other kid. Then it stopped. It stopped completely and she hasn’t done it at all in 8 months.

Is that skill gone forever? Did she have a seizure that wiped it away? Did she forget how to do it? Did something scare her? Why does she lose these skills so easily?

I don’t know.

That is my universal answer when teachers and therapists ask me “Why doesn’t she do that anymore?”

I don’t know. I don’t have any idea.

I wish I did. I wish I could take a peek inside her brain and figure it out for her. I wish I could just look at her and say “Remember when you did that? Or said that? Can you do it again please?” I wish I had an answer. Something better than, “I don’t know?”

That’s not how it works though. What is the problem for her? Why does she struggle through learning simple things? Why can’t she be potty trained or pull up her pants? Why can’t she remember where her nose is consistently or say hi? Why doesn’t she tell me that she wants eggs for breakfast or tell me she wants to play with the bells? She used to do all of these things.

Why can’t she tell me that she loves me?

So many questions and so very few answers.

Is it her autism, her blindness, her developmental delay, her intellectual disability? What is it?

No one can tell me because they all overlap.

No one has any answers, but everyone asks me. Because I’m her mom. I should know. At least, I feel like I should know.

I’ve never known the most profound sense of helplessness since meeting my baby girl. I’ve never felt so out of control on all things that feel like they need to be controlled.

I’m her mom. I should know what’s going on with her.

But, I don’t. I never have.

I’ve read a few other blog posts written by moms of kids with disabilities and they talk about looking at other moms and being jealous of them and their children. I understand that. I try not to compare my daughter to anybody else’s children, mainly because I did that WAY too much in the beginning, but sometimes…I still do. Not in the uuuggghhh…I hate you because you don’t know how good you’ve got it…way. But…uuuggghhh…Look how easy it is for your kids. I just wish life wasn’t so hard for her…way. I’m jealous of other special needs kids who learn things easier than her or kids that don’t have multiple disabilities. But then I HATE myself for thinking that way because it’s ridiculous. I don’t know that life is any easier for them or any harder for my daughter. There are a lot of kids out there in way more difficult situations. These are things that just should not be compared.

I think sometimes I just want her to get better.

I look at my other two kids and it just all comes so naturally for them. They just learn. No big deal. For Oli everything is such a bigger deal. She can’t see so right there, it’s a whole new ball game trying to teach her. And then her body just doesn’t work all that well. It seems like she wants it to do things and it just doesn’t. She has low tone and poor balance. Her arms are weak. She needs a very long time mentally and in terms of motor planning just to figure out where she’s going and how she’s supposed to get there.

It just isn’t easy.

Reading these evaluations…isn’t easy.

It’s always hard to read the same evaluation year after year.

It’s hard to read “She used to do this…She used to say this…but now she doesn’t.”

It’s hard because I know she’s in there. I know what she’s capable of. I just don’t know why it comes and goes. I don’t know how to make it any better for her.

She does therapy and therapy and more therapy. She gets PT, OT, speech, vision, and O&M at school. She gets PT, OT, speech, and hippotherapy at home. I just always feel like maybe there’s more. Maybe there is that one therapy out there that we’re not doing and that will be the key that unlocks the door.

In my brain I know that it probably doesn’t exist. In my brain I know that we are doing everything.

In my heart? I want to do more.

This card pisses me off!

3 Apr
This little boy is in a wheelchair, but the bottom part of the picture got cut off.

This little boy is in a wheelchair, but the bottom part of the picture got cut off.

This post has been brewing for a while. I had to write a little something about this card, or cartoon, or blasphemy, whatever you want to call it. Let me just tell you, this picture PISSES ME OFF!

Aaahhhh! (Imagine me yelling at my computer screen) <—This is my frustration with this gem every time I see it float past my news feed on Facebook. And I have seen several versions of this one. I can't take it anymore! I can't keep my mouth closed any longer or I will start banging my head against the computer screen, rendering myself completely incapable of complaining about random things that are annoying me.

Really?

Your ONLY special need is to be loved?

Ummmm… no.

NO!!

No it’s not!

I’ll tell you why it makes me so mad.

It completely and totally minimizes all that MY special needs child has to go through to live in this world. My blind daughter who has to navigate around in the dark in a sighted world. My non-verbal child who has to try to be understood silently in a world full of language, subtle communication, and written words. My daughter has to survive and thrive in a world that doesn’t always understand or like people who are different. People who don’t have time for, or an understanding of, or compassion, or empathy, or a sense of humor, or many more things that are needed to understand, love, and appreciate a person with autism and other SPECIAL NEEDS.

It completely and totally minimizes all that WE have to go through as special needs parents. Her only special need is NOT just to be loved. It’s a whole hell of a lot more. All children need love. That one’s easy as a parent. I always love my kids. I may not like them very much sometimes (that’s a whole different post), but I ALWAYS love them.

She has specific special needs.

That’s why we call them special needs kids. Otherwise we would call them regular needs kids right? Or normal? No. Not normal. That’s a setting on the dryer. Vanilla? Plain? Average? Non special needs? Neuro typical? What? Kids. I have my kids. 3 of them. Or 3 children and one of them has special needs.

She has many more special needs other than just to be loved.

She has seizures, she takes a bunch of medicine, she doesn’t walk very well, she needs a walker at school, a walking wand, my hand. She’s not potty trained yet, she doesn’t talk, she can’t see, she has epic meltdowns, she doesn’t sleep well, she has stomach issues, she has to eat special food, she needs special therapies, special equipment, special people in her life who appreciate all that she CAN do and all that she is CAPABLE of doing in the future. She has enough doctors, teachers, specialists, therapists…ect., to populate a small country. Sometimes I feel like I am running my own country. I am a dictator here in Oliland.

This minimizes all of the people in her life who work so hard for her. If we just said “Oh. Her only special need is to be loved? Great. Job accomplished. Pass me an award. We did that in our first 5 minutes with her.”

It’s so much more than that!

It’s okay to acknowledge that our kids are different. That they need different ways to help them learn and live and love and grow to be amazing people.

And it REALLY pisses me off that they use the word only in front of the word special needs. Don’t even get me started on that one.

Only? Only!!

NO. Wrong.

You are NEVER allowed to use the word only and special need in the same sentence.

Never.
Rottenecards_67544825_kjfnb2tb84

This is autism.

3 Apr
This is why we need autism action. Autism awareness is nothing without action.

This is why we need autism action. Autism awareness is nothing without action.

WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS DAY!

2 Apr

autism awareness 2

April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. Show your support by wearing blue. This is Kekoa and Ginger showing support for Oli.

A Chance To Go Back In Time

15 Feb

I wonder if they will ever invent a way to travel back in time? If they do, there are a few moments that I wish to revisit and appreciate a little more.

I would like to go back to my wedding day. Not so much to just relive that moment, although it was wonderful, but more to go back and see my grandmother again. I was such a bitch that weekend. It was all about me and I didn’t spend enough time with her. She flew all the way from Iowa to Hawaii to see her first granddaughter get married even though she was dying. I wish I could go back and realize how short her time here really was. I thought, Oh I’ll see her again in a few months. I don’t need to go check on her in her room or have dinner with her tonight….Selfishly I let these moments slip by.

She died a few weeks after my wedding.

I would like to go back to the days when Oli was a baby. I cannot believe I actually just said that! I used to say you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to return to those days. But here I am saying it.

I have come to realize that something happened or changed in Oli after she turned one. She seemed normal as a baby. No head shaking, no flapping, she babbled and was interested in other people. Other than her blindness, she was typical. I was so distraught and terrified that I didn’t appreciate that she was okay. She was okay back then. She’s okay now, but it’s different.

I just watched a video of her yesterday from when she was about 6 months old. She was playing in her bouncy seat. I almost couldn’t watch it. I had an inexplicable urge to reach through the TV and scoop her up and transport her to now. Avoiding whatever it may have been that caused her autism. Whatever connection that she lost or was broken between then and now.
My family will mention to me lots of times that they just don’t understand why she stopped talking and why she started shaking her head, flapping her arms, and having extreme meltdowns. They will say things like “Remember when Oli said _____?” And then look at me like I can somehow offer them a reasonable explanation for the change in my child.

I can only look back at them with my own expression of bewilderment and shake my head. I don’t know why, but I do remember those days. Some of those memories are starting to fade. Much like when my grandmother died. I have a harder and harder time recalling her face and voice as the years pass. Seeing a picture of her brings it flooding back. Watching that video of Oli yesterday did just that.

Yes, now I remember when she said mamma, milk, juice, out…. I remember when I used to do something to make her giggle and could snap a picture of her and it didn’t just show a blur of movement. I remember when she used to try and hold a spoon and feed herself, when I could keep her engaged and she showed interest in things outside her body….. I do remember all of those things. Even when sometimes I don’t want to because it’s just too painful.

I hope they invent a time machine some day because I would also love to go back and knock some sense into my head. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself and pay attention to all that your daughter can do. Because some of those things will fade away…”

thecrumbdiaries

Logan is challenged but not limited, and he is living his life like a boss. I am just lucky enough to be along for the ride.

Mommy Got Her Groove Back

How a new mom, and wife does parenting and daily life.

Lessons from my daughter

Although all doctors agreed she would do nothing.....

I'm fine, but my Mommy has issues!

Raising a daughter with special needs.

Living on the Spectrum: The Connor Chronicles

Our family's adventures in the world of ADHD and Autism.

Parenting And Stuff

Not a "how to be a great parent" blog

don of all trades

Master of none...

The Third Glance

A peek into my (Autistic) mind

One Stitch At A Time

Making my way back in time.

Disability Watchdog

Exposing Injustices for Vulnerable People

My thoughts on a page.

Living, Laughing, Loving, Loathing.

It is Well...with my Soul

Sure, my hands are full. So is my HEART!

Chopping Potatoes

And other metaphors for motherhood

This is the Corner We Pee In

Bulletins from the Parenting Trenches...

clotildajamcracker

The wacky stories of a crazy lady.

This is the place

visiting places where writers were born, lived, loved & are buried.

My Dance in the Rain

The journey of my life, my path to redefine myself and a special little girl with Cri du Chat Syndrome and Primary Ciliary Dyskenisia who changed it all.

Prego and the Loon

Pregnant and Dealing With Domestic Violence

%d bloggers like this: