Monday, October 30, 2017

Just a Couple of Tricks to Help You Treat

Halloween. It happens to be my favorite holiday. For years my Mom and I spent hours decorating the porch and yard. One year my Mom actually hid in the bushes and jumped out after the kids got their candy, but that’s probably not a good idea these days. I feel like a personal injury attorney would show up about emotional distress, PTSD or something 🙄

Early October (usually September because  I get excited). I start looking for the sensory-friendly, Autism approved costume for this year. It’s not that difficult, there are just two main rules:

1. No costume with itchy fabric, tight collar, face makeup, necklace, etc.
2. No costume with a mask, crown, helmet, or anything that goes on the head.

Here are just a few costume ideas I have used in the past or thought of that may be a bit helpful. Note: I’m one of those gender-doesn’t-matter moms and I think kids should wear what they like. Seriously, we have enough stress with daily life. That’s why I have only one list for both boys and girls:

Costume Ideas
Star Wars (Jedi, etc.)
Knight, Queen, or any Royalty
Harry Potter or Sorcerer/Witch
Football player (or any sport)
Disney Prince/Princess

If your little trick or treater insists on a costume that includes a piece they will not wear, you can make up for the missing piece with a little creativity. I’ve found that parents of special needs children are strong when it comes to being creative. We can stop a meltdown with three toothpicks, a gum wrapper and some hand sanitizer. We’re basically MacGuyver.


Problem: Your son wants to dress up like Darth Vader but won’t wear a helmet and you’re not sure people will know what costume it is.

Solution: Take the helmet, turn it upside down, and hot glue on a handle. You can use some thick string or basically anything that will hold for a night. Now you have used the entire costume and everyone is happy 😉

Here are photos of some great costumes I found at the Halloween Costumes website that will hopefully give you some ideas:

The only limit here is your imagination. Have a Happy Halloween!!!
-Boog’s Mom that Refuses to Grow Up

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Explaining Autism - The Parents’ Version

I saw a video on Facebook this morning:

This is one of the most accurate examples of parents explaining Autism behaviors I have seen. I especially love the one about the child repeatedly spinning the toy helicopter propeller.

“What I realized is he’s not just repeating the same pattern. He’s observing everything. He’s observing this creates wind, and it moves the dust particles around”.

So many behaviors are written off as just “Autism” and believed to have no meaning, just a pointless response that comes across odd or exaggerated. 

Slowly the world is learning that everything has a reason and these children are given beautiful, amazing gifts. We just have to “catch up” and think outside of the box in order to recognize some of them.

Boog does things at home and all I can do is sit dumbfounded. A couple of days ago he wanted to make sure he spelled “curriculum” correctly. He’s seven years old. I have an MBA and yet I still worry I’m not moving fast enough to give him the answers he needs. 

This is the future and it can be very difficult, yet it is bright. 

Thank you, Spark for Autism for this eye-opening, positive video.

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

What’s in a Name?

I don’t completely know why, but when people state that someone is “autistic”. It mildly annoys me.

I feel that word immediately makes the listener think it’s all encompassing.

“She is deaf.” - You immediately think that only said person’s hearing is impacted and all other facilities remain “normal” for the person.

“He is blind.” - Again, you only think of the eyes.

“He is autistic.”
I believe the listener or reader may assume the person with Autism has below “normal” capabilities in every category and that Autism is a whole, encompassing problem.

I admit assuming this myself.

Years ago I walked in a charity fundraiser. It was required in my job that you have to do a certain amount of community service. The local “Walk for Autism Awareness” just happened to be nearby and on a weekend I was free. I didn't think much past that.

While at the walk I read the signs and t-shirts and it finally sunk in that this was raising money for children with Autism. I’ll never forget what I thought back then:

Those poor parents.
These kids are violent and out of control.
These are the kids that wear helmets because they self harm.
These kids’ future will be incredibly limited.
These kids are probably, or will end up in an institution.

Yep. That was my thought process. Hell, I was even a bit nervous. I knew nothing about Autism other than the stereotypical description. I was even mildly on edge that one of the kids at the walk may hurt me. It’s true.

Where did that one quote come from? “People fear what they don’t understand”. That explains me exactly at that time.

I don’t want people to hear “He’s autistic” and base their view of my child on that one word. I freely admit I have become quite a bit defensive, so when speaking to someone that doesn’t know us or anyone with Autism, I choose one of these routes:

Option A:
I tell person I have a son.
Immediately after I show a picture on phone of how beautiful and happy he is.
He looks “normal” to the other person.
Then I mention he has Autism.

It’s one thing, not everything.

Option B:
Yes, my son has Autism (then immediately said), “but he’s great and doing really well in school and really smart and has a huge vocabulary and he types words well above other kids his age!”.
It’s one quickly-spoken run on sentence meant to stop the stereotypical thought before it starts.

So there I am, too worried the A-Word will diminish a person’s perception of my child or that the person will then pity me. I’ve gotten a lot of that too. I say he has Autism and I get a sad look in return, or they assume I’m some sort of super-mom because I’m still standing, or they even reply with “I’m so sorry”.

Please don’t pity me. I know you mean well, but pity means something is terribly wrong or impossibly hard in my life. Instead, please have a bit of empathy and think that although my job may be harder, I am still just a Mom. I deal with most of the same things other moms do, it just may be a bit differently or later on.

Just be kind and do exactly what you would do to anyone else. Ask his age, where does he go to school, what books or shows does he like, any basic question is welcome and appreciated. Don’t be like the idiot a couple weeks ago who actually responded with “Is he high functioning?”. What if he wasn’t? Does that mean he’s not a real person? He’s doomed?

She’s lucky.
Very lucky I knew going to jail would be both expensive and problematic.

So, that long explanation above is why I choose to say:
“He has Autism” instead  of “He is Autistic”.

-Boog’s Mom
(that likely overthinks everything)

***** P.S. This opinion is mine only and my choice on how to describe Autism. It in no way is trying to paint any dialogue or descriptions in a negative way. This is merely a narrative of my personal thoughts.

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