Drawn to water

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I remember it like it was yesterday.
Just thinking about it makes my heart pound in my chest.

We were living in Pennsylvania at the time.
Down the hill from my Nana.
She has an above ground pool that we would walk to in the afternoons and swim in.
The boys loved it.
They’re like little fish. They would swim for hours and hours.

But the boys can find water without even knowing it’s there.
Baths, sinks, toilets, cups, creeks, puddles… we moved to Texas and Justin started wandering. So instead of stopping him, I followed him to see where he’d take me. He found the beach. He didn’t know how to get there from where we were. We hadn’t ever gone that way. But he found it!
If there’s water, they’ll find it.

When Tyler was about 1 ½, we lived in a trailer and didn’t have central air… so after it had gotten REALLY hot and Tyler couldn’t sleep, I put an AC unit in his window.
His window was about 6 feet from the ground.
So their Dad put it in from the outside while I was inside hooking it up.

I’m sitting there… looking at it.
My kids are little houdinis. They can get out of just about anything.
So I’m looking at it, trying to see if there’s a way he could get out of the house while it’s in the window.
I shook it.
Pushed on it.
Pulled on it…
It was a little rickety… but it seemed like it would hold.
It’s getting close to bedtime.
Still not totally convinced that it was Tyler proof… I figured I’d find a way to make it more sturdy tomorrow.
At least tonight he’ll be able to sleep.

Once his room cooled off, I laid him down and it was the first time in a long time he actually slept through the night.
So good, that he slept in.
I woke up to Justin giggling in his room.
I got up.
Got Justin up and taken care of and put him his highchair with a drink then headed to Tyler’s room.

The AC was on the floor and out of the window.
Kicking myself I thought -Ugh… lovely. You should have tried harder to fix it.

I looked around the room, “Tyler? Ohhhhh Tyyyylerrrr?”
I opened his closet door. “I found y—”
He wasn’t there.
I looked around the room.
“Tyler?”
My heart started beating faster.
“Tyler??” My voice growing louder. Picking up anything he could fit under.

I looked out of the window. There were toys on the ground. But I didn’t see him any where.
I ran out of his room.
“Tyler!”
Running through the house.
“TYLER!!”
I ran outside…. Looking around…  
We’re surrounded by woods…. And because we’re in the middle of nowhere, people drive really fast on our back country road.
All I kept imagining was him dead on the road.

“TYLER!!!!!!!” I screamed.
Nothing. I don’t see him.
I ran inside.

“TOM! Get up! Watch Justin. I can’t find Tyler!”
Without waiting for him to even respond, I ran back outside.
Down our hill and on the road.
“TYLER!!!!!!!”
Nothing.
I don’t see him.
I ran back up our driveway and started running to my Nana’s house.
My heart in my throat.
I’m biting back from crying.
I can’t see if I start crying.
Just as I get to the top of the hill, I see Tyler.
Smiling and running towards me.

Relief flooded over me.
I fell to my knees when I reached him and hugged him so tight.
He thought it was funny and started giggling.
I cried.
Hard.
I carried him back down to our place.
Put him in the highchair and made the boys breakfast.

Kicking myself. Over and over and over in my head.

It wasn’t until later that day that I took the boys swimming that I saw his favorite (never let it out of his sight) blanket at the bottom of the pool.

That’s when I realized he was on the pool deck that morning.
That he threw his blanket in… and by some miracle, he didn’t jump in after it, and decided to turn around and run to me calling him instead.
He couldn’t be away from that blanket long enough for it to be in the washer and dryer….
But he came to me.
He could have died.
Because although I was teaching him how to swim… at 1 ½, he still couldn’t swim without floaties.

Before I even knew he was Autistic… I knew we had to be careful with them around water.
I fixed his window.

Often, kids on the spectrum don’t understand the concept of danger.
They’ll walk into traffic or bolt from a caregiver.
Wander far from home.
Or get into water too deep… without knowing how to swim.
If you see a kid doing something you’d expect them to know not to do, always check, especially if there’s not an adult around. No matter how old you think they are (people think Justin -7-looks 12)… make sure they understand what they’re doing and that they’re not going to get themselves hurt.

I’ve had a couple people see one of my kids running away from me.
Some saw me chasing them, some didn’t… but they were closer to them than I was, so they cautiously got in front of them to slow them down. Most of them didn’t touch the boys, they just helped me catch up. (I thanked them profusely). You never know… you might help save a life. Or at least a heart attack. ❤

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We Don’t Do Socially Acceptable

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We went to the park today.
After we had been there for about 20 minutes, a guy walks over pushing his daughter in a stroller.

“Good Morning” I said.
I hate it when people don’t say anything and you’re supposed to just pretend their not there.
“Good Morning.” he said.
“She’s too cute!”
“Thank you. We’re trying to get rid of her morning naps, so I’m trying to keep her busy.”
“I get that” I laughed.
“How old is he?” He asked.
The way he asked sounded a little funny… I could place it. It wasn’t completely curiosity… it wasn’t the “sweet” awww how adorable is he – kind of question….

I smiled and said, “He turned 2 in May.”
He smiled… but his smile was different.
“How old is she?”
“16 months.”

They walked over to the swing to play.
I normally get the “Wow… he’s really big for his age”… and he didn’t say anything. And that smile… what was that? It wasn’t like mine – it wasn’t a completely mean sneering smile…

It took me a bit to really think about what his facial expressions were trying to say. It’s harder for me to read people when they’re wearing sunglasses.

Then I realized Jax was drinking out of his bottle.
And that drinking out of a bottle after 1 is generally not “socially acceptable”.

It’s funny how you forget or just don’t care about social norms when you’re in your little Autism Bubble house. I never get to leave, let alone interact with other parents and their kids. So I forget sometimes how mean people can be. Or how mean they can be without really being mean.

When Justin and Tyler were this age, I would have noticed that the guy was coming and hid that bottle before he saw it. And if he did see it, I would have explained myself. Telling him about his sensory issues and how making sure he was hydrated was more important than the vessel the liquid comes in.

I would have felt like a bad Mom.
I would have kicked myself. And then tried getting them to use sippy cups AGAIN… frustrating them and myself. Making myself feel even worse.

Because a person who doesn’t know us, or our story judged what we were doing… judged my parenting.

And I realized… I still cared a little… but not like before. Not enough to do ANYTHING about it.
I stood there with my kids, offered him some snacks for his daughter, and watched my kids, they’re happy and playing and not caring about whether or not they were doing anything wrong in front of others.

And I realized just how far I’ve grown in this journey of ours and tilted my chin up a little higher.

Don’t Pity Me

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Eye contact is not really a requirement in our house. At least not constantly, or even while I’m talking to them.
 
I do request it at times… usually I ask for it as a sign of acknowledgement or a show of love.
 
Usually the way I request it (or teach it to the boys), is the way I show it. If I tell the boys I love them or give them a kiss, I pick up their face to look at me first, smile and then give kisses or say “I love you”.
 
Or if the boys want something from me, if I’m busy I don’t look at them… (and I try not to make them wait for more than 30 seconds to a minute because then they just think I’m ignoring them and start pulling on me lol) then look at them in acknowledgement that I see their needs and that I’ll help them or get them what they’re asking for (Jax isn’t quite there yet, he just starts pulling lol)
 
It’s cute because Jax, who is my least eye contact giver will turn my face to look at him. Like “mom! pay attention to me!”
 
So with Jax, if we’re playing a finger song or an activity, I make sure that I stop singing or playing until he’s looking at me again.
 
If the older boys want something, they have to ask for it with PECs or with the AAC, then they look at me, it’s like them saying “please” or if I give it to them, they look at me after as a “thank you”.
 
I love this “language” we’ve created with each other… out of mutual respect and understanding (that and a LOT of process of elimination). Don’t get me wrong, I’m only human and don’t handle every situation well, and they’re still kids and don’t always listen to me.
 
But Justin was busy running around, doing his own thing… very serious… I stopped him, put his face in my hands and had him look at me. He’s got his serious face on… I smile huge and he can’t help but give me a huge smile too. Then I give him a kiss and he knows he’s done, so he can go off running again, but thsi time giggling and smiling.
 
I don’t know what my life would be like if I had “typical” kids… and as hard as our lives are sometimes with the lack of verbal communication or understanding… the GI issues, the aggression, regression, learning delays, whatever… as hard as it is for all of us some days… I have admit, sometimes I wonder if I would have this type of relationship, this closeness, this bond with them, if they didn’t rely on me so much. If they didn’t look to me as their interpreter (to help them understand others and for others to understand them)… Because we really do speak a different language than the rest of the world. One really, only we truly understand (most of the time lol).
 
I think about how many times people have given me the “pity” eyes because I have three non-verbal, Autistic boys… but sometimes, I think I’m the lucky one. My boys are loving, kind, friends with everyone, silly, goofy… don’t have a malicious bone in their body… they’re not prideful… they’re not greedy or envious… they don’t hurt others (intentionally) or make fun of others…
 
They’re generally happy and content.
They’re a little crazy, and a lot of work sometimes… life can be frustrating and difficult… but I mean, considering… I have been insanely blessed to have the children that I have. 🙂
 
#Grateful
#Autism
#ProudAutismMom
#DontPityMe

You’d Cry Too

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I like to try to explain things with bodily functions.
Because often with people/kids on the spectrum… some of the things that they do seem less important to others, when for them it’s a need, not a want.

So!
Imagine you REALLY had to go to the bathroom… you finally get to go, and mid-stream, someone MAKES you stop. Hold it… pull up your pants and come with them to the grocery store. Or come eat lunch. Or it’s time to do dishes.

That would seem like a form of punishment or torture right?
Not only would it make you upset, it would make you feel incredibly uncomfortable.
The whole time you’re supposed to be doing this other activity, in the back of your head, ALL you’re going to be able to think about is going back to the bathroom and finishing your business.
You might even plead with the person who made you stop!

“Please!? I’m almost done. Just a few more minutes. I’ll be quick. I’ll come right back and go with you…”

Now imagine a little kid… one who hasn’t had as much practice with social cues or “appropriateness” or who needs a little more help in areas you seem to do quite well in (after all… adults have had more practice).
Imagine that he’s watching cartoons (Or playing legos, or whatever)… and you need to leave to run an errand or it’s time for dinner, etc.

You tell them that it’s time to go. To stop what they’re doing and come with you.
To some on the spectrum, that can be a REALLY hard thing to do.
Their brain and their body are telling them it’s not time yet. They’re in the middle of something.
They can’t leave yet, they’re not finished.

So you get a little more stern…
“I said let’s go!”

It registers that they’re going to have to leave before they’re finished. So they get angry or upset or start crying…
Maybe they plead with you…
“PLEASE! Just a little bit longer! It’s not over yet! I’m not done!!!”

To you, this may seem like defiance (and hey… I don’t know your kid – maybe it is…), but more than likely it’s because they didn’t have enough time to prepare for what was going to happen. They didn’t have time to finish what they started.

Which is why transitions are a big thing within the Autism community.
Transition songs, transition actions or “warnings”….
I know some people who use timers… some who sing the clean up song while they’re cleaning, then they’re able to use it as a warning. They can start singing it in the background while they’re playing… to let them know what’s to come.  

It’s also one of the reasons routine can be such a big deal.
With routine, they know what’s coming. They know that they have enough time to finish their show, because every time it ends, that’s when we do… whatever.

So, the point I’m trying to make with this is, remember to try to be patient.
Nine times out of Ten, they’re probably not TRYING to give you a hard time… THEY are the ones having a hard time and communicating and expressing that stress or frustration in the only way they know how.

Instead of getting upset, try to find ways to help them through it.
Bedtime, we do the EXACT same thing… every night.
We never leave the house after that bedtime routine should be started.
We never stay out longer than we should… Company isn’t allowed over when we should start that routine (unless I know it’s not going to affect them specifically). Because their calm, and happiness, and understanding is important to me. And I don’t want to cause more stress and strain on them or me.

Sure, it means we might not get to really do a lot of fun things… but until they understand better and can cope better… they might have had fun “after hours”… but the chaos that would happen afterwards from rushing through or NOT having a bedtime routine… it wouldn’t be worth it in the end. (But that’s my kids! It’s just an explain… Not judging those who allow their kids to stay up late to do something fun. lol Maybe they can deal and don’t need that routine like my kids do.)

So really pay attention.
Are there areas with your kids (or grandkids or students) that they’re having excessive behaviors?
Do you think it could be helped by making sure they understand what’s coming next and better preparing them for it? So that their head and bodies aren’t shouting “What are you doing?!?!?! We’re not done!! Don’t leave!!!”

Maybe wait until the credits are rolling to leave… or ask to help them finish their lego masterpiece so that they’ll come do the dishes.

As always, I can’t tell you how to raise your kids… all I can do is notice what’s happening with mine and offer advice. 🙂

Each kid is unique and may need something completely different than the next in order to succeed in life. And that’s totally okay, we just need to figure out what it is, so we can help.

We’ve come a long way

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Tyler started walking around 10 months old. Scratch that. Tyler started running around 10 months old. He never really walked. He would lean forward and run for as long and as fast as he could before he would stumble over his own feet and fall. Get back up, and do it all over again. Eventually he learned balance and learned to WALK rather than just run everywhere.

He was quick too. Much quicker than is stroll along big brother Justin. Justin doesn’t rush to do anything (except whatever he’s being “made to do”, so he can get back to playing outside). Justin strolls along, taking in the view and although he’ll jump up and down with excitement, he prefers a slower pace.

The first time I took them for a walk… I opened the door, got Tyler down the steps and then Justin. By the time I got Justin down the steps, Tyler was half way down our, pretty lengthy driveway! I had to run ahead, grab him, then go back for Justin. Justin just stood there like “What’s going on? Are you coming back? Should I follow you?” lol They are so completely different from each other.

So from the VERY beginning, Tyler was a bolter.
Combine that with his complete lack of understanding of danger, it made for a few close calls. He would run, as fast as he could, down our driveway… there were more times than I care to admit that I could see or hear a car coming. I ran as fast and as hard as I could to get to him in time… but I had that pit in my stomach that one day I wouldn’t make it in time.

It’s not like I didn’t hold his hands… or try to hold onto him. But when we take 2-3 walks a day (not much to do out in the middle of nowhere), there were times he’d pull his hand away from me and BOOK IT. Then having Justin, I couldn’t just leave him… I had to make sure he was safe and not going to fall and get hurt the second I chased off after Tyler.

When we were at the store, I’d think we were getting better and not put him in the cart… and halfway from the parking lot to the store he’d be fine… then that split second, tear his hand out of mine and take off towards traffic. I’ve more than once kicked off sandals to run after him, because I ran faster without them. I stopped wearing sandals when I left the house with him.

Eventually we got him a backpack/leash/harness… I still held his hand… but it was more of a back up. In case he slipped from my grip.
I also aquired cat like reflexes… lol The second I felt him pull away from me I squeezed his hand and picked him up.
Thankfully all those walks really paid off.
Eventually he learned to stick close by. Or if I did allow him to run a bit ahead of us, he learned if I yelled CAR, STOP or COME HERE to either move off the side of the road, stop or he’d come running back to me when he’d get too far ahead.

Even now I can see him running full speed ahead towards a mud puddle and can yell STOP, and he’ll stop dead in his tracks. Because that instinct kicks in from doing it over and over and over and over again. I notice it works more outside than when we’re inside. I think because he doesn’t get away with not listening to me AT ALL outside. lol Inside Mommy get’s lazy sometimes and doesn’t follow through because my sanity is more important that him eating oreos before dinner. 😉 😛

But when I’m not around to advise him what to do, and steer him away from danger… he’d still bolt.

A year and a half ago I found out he opened a window at my brother-in-law’s house and took off. I found him five minutes later down the road wandering around people’s yards. It made me sick to my stomach imagining what could have happened to him if I hadn’t noticed he was quiet… or hadn’t found the window open and took off after him… or went down the wrong street and didn’t find him as quickly as I did.

Well today I was in the kitchen, and their Dad left the garage door open, and the door that leads to the garage open. Apparently Tyler snuck out when no one was looking. But instead of taking off down the street, he knew he had to stay around the house/yard area. I noticed the door and went out to get him. I know it couldn’t have been more than a minute or two… and I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t noticed longer than that. I don’t know if he would have taken off down the street or if he would have came and got me to “ask” to go for a walk. Thankfully we haven’t had to find out. But today… he didn’t. Today, all that practice of staying close to the house when Mommy isn’t around or staying close to Mom… or if we want to go somewhere, Mom has to be right there… has paid off. Because today, Tyler didn’t bolt.

#Progress
#NeverStopTrying
#NeverGiveUp

How do you really feel about Autism?

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“I would love to hear how you really feel about the boys possibly all being affected by ASD. And if you think you would have another baby.”

So, I was going to try to make a video about this, but when I did… it ended up being about 20+ minutes long. lol Sooooo I think I’ll make this one a blog. I’m sorry if you guys would have preferred this one to be a video.

I know that I am going to get bashed no matter what I say.

There seems to be a huge divide over Autism being something that should be celebrated or something that makes life harder.

I think it really depends on who you’re talking to, the severity of the “symptoms” and how they were taught to look at it, or how they choose to look at it.

Please remember that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and just because ours might be different, doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings. I’m a very sensitive person and do NOT have thick skin. I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, but I do mind when you’re rude about it. So, please be considerate.

I diagnosed myself as Autistic with ADHD about a year ago after doing research, talking to others and taking tests for about 6 months. I do some day plan to try to get an official diagnosis. So I feel that I can speak both as an Autistic and as a Mother of Autistics.

Because I didn’t know I have Autism, there are many aspects of my life that were difficult. However, some of the things that are seen as “Autistic” that would normally be hard for some, I’m pretty good at, or I’ve learned to be pretty good at. I can socialize and make small talk in conversations… although I’m not a HUGE fan of it depending and it can be draining. I’m pretty decent at public speaking (at times). I had to practice a lot. Eye contact isn’t too bad for me most of the time. I can hide my stimming (depending on how long I’ve been made to sit still). And every day I’m getting better at dealing with being overwhelmed.

But despite my Autism and despite NOT knowing it, I really think that I would have had a different life (better relationships) had I known (or got a diagnosis as a kid)… I am still functioning. I am still growing and thriving. Heck I’ve got three pretty awesome kids, I got my cosmetology license, and plan on going back to school to become a Speech Therapist. Is my life what I wanted it to be? Not exactly. Could it have been what I really wanted if I wasn’t Autistic. No clue. Lol

Are my kids’ lives what I wanted for them? No. I wanted my kids to be little football players… who would stand up for the kids being picked on, who would go to college, do amazing and great things, get married to the love of their lives, have kids and all live happily ever after. (short version) Could they still do all those things? Absolutely!! I’m not going to allow anything to get in their way. Including Autism.

My job as a parent is to help my children thrive no matter the obstacles. And no matter how you look at Autism. It IS an obstacle. Sure, there are many reasons Autism could be an asset. Heck, how many inventions and advancements in the world were because of Autistics?

But how many of them were isolated? How many of them struggled through life because they couldn’t talk, couldn’t explain how or what they were feeling? Treated poorly or put into mental hospitals because they didn’t know what was “wrong” with them? To say that there is no downside to being Autistic would be a lie (at least in my personal opinion). But there are ups and downs with all aspects of life.

I really think that it’s all in how you look at things. That being said… has my life been harder because of the boys Autism in compared to what it could have been like had they been born Neurotypical? YES. Absolutely yes. Especially the time frame when we didn’t know Justin and Tyler had regressed. I felt like the worst parent on the face of the Earth. We would have meltdowns just going to the grocery store. It’s still hard. Did you read my post about the strawberry syrup?! Do you know just how sticky that stuff it?! lol

They can’t tell me their wants or needs. I don’t care who you are or what your stance of Autism is… but if you were picked up, dropped off and left with no help in a place where you didn’t speak the language, you were HORRIBLE with charades and couldn’t get anyone to understand you… and you couldn’t understand them… both you and the others you’re trying to talk to would get incredibly frustrated.

My kids can’t talk. After YEARS of practice we’ve developed our own way of communicating, but I still don’t always understand them and they don’t always understand me. And if I were to talk to them as I’m talking to you, they wouldn’t understand any of it. Struggles are part of everyone’s life. But not being able to understand someone, for them to not understand you and not being able to really communicate to each other… I find that to be our biggest battle.

It’s taken us years to be able to go to the store without a meltdown.

They all still have problems with eating.

They have no real understanding of danger (like drowning or getting hit by a car).

None of them are potty trained… they can’t really get dressed on their own. We had to buy GPS watches for them because them bolting or wandering and getting lost is a real concern.

They will strip down out of their clothes anywhere with anyone watching.

Justin doesn’t know his numbers, letters, shapes, colors…

Jaxson is 20 months old and doesn’t know his own name. He doesn’t point to objects. He has one word and he doesn’t use it appropriately. He has issues eating.

At 17 months, 6 years and 7 years old… I still have never been told “I love you Mommy”. Jax is the only one who even says Mama and it’s just a sound he can make.

If I died… no one would REALLY understand them and couldn’t take care of them the way I could because I’ve been with them ALMOST every single day of their lives and I’ve made it my mission in life to truly understand them the BEST that I can so that I can advocate for them and help them to be who they were meant to be.

But these are things I generally don’t talk about. Because I choose to focus on the things that they CAN do.  The things we’re working on… the things that they’re getting better at. Sometimes it’s purely because if I stop to dwell too much, I could end up crying for hours of just being soooo overwhelmed. But just like if they weren’t Autistic… I wouldn’t go around talking about all the things my kids couldn’t do unless someone asked me specifically.

Do I want my kids to have to struggle every day to do things that their neurotypical counterparts mastered years ago? No. I don’t. Not at all. But I also don’t want my kids to ever get hurt. Does that mean I’m going to keep them from everything that could possibly hurt them ever? No. They’ll fall down and I taught them that they get up, brush it off and keep going. If they’re really truly hurt, they know they can come to me, I’ll help them clean up and offer support, but I’m teaching them to be fighters. Because in this world mostly dominated by neurotypicals, they’ll need to be fighters. To get what they deserve and what they want in life.

Would I have another kid? NO! lol I actually wanted to adopt all of my kids… don’t get me wrong. I love my kids, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world and I don’t regret having them for even a second. But no… I wouldn’t have any more. Their Dad and I actually talked about not having any more kids and possibly adopting a little girl after a few more years (maybe once the boys progressed more) just a few months before we found out we were pregnant with Jax. (ohhh the irony lol)

We believe that Autism is Genetic and we obviously are making Autistic kids, and didn’t want to chance it that we would have another baby who was Autistic. Not because we are against Autism… or that we don’t like Autistics… but 1: we really wanted a girl (kind of glad I had a boy though lol) 2: we weren’t prepared to have another kid (especially right away)… because the older two still needed a lot of our time and attention, and finances are tough. 3: despite the fact that we love our kids no matter what, we didn’t want to knowingly have another child who may struggle the way the older two are struggling. It’s not fun to see your child hurting… but it’s even harder when your child is hurting and they don’t understand why and you can’t explain it to them.

But we did have another baby… and it’s been obvious to me for almost a year now that he was also Autistic. (We’re going to be starting the process of getting him diagnosed within the next week or so). I don’t believe in abortion, but even if I did, and I had known beforehand that Jax was going to be Autistic too… we still would have kept him. There was actually a very small possibility that because of the meds I was on when I became pregnant, that Jax could have been born with shorter arms and legs. His body would grown normally, but his arms and legs could be stunted. And I told the doctor then, that he could be born with two heads, it didn’t matter… we’re keeping the baby no matter what.

One thing I do want to say… is that all Autism is different. There are no two Autistics that are the same. If you would have seen the boys four or more years ago, around the time they regressed and compared them to what they are like now… you’d be amazed. Just like with Jaxson now. In 4 years he’s going to be doing so much better. Autism is not a death sentence. And no matter what age you or they are, there’s always time and room for improvement.

So don’t give up and make sure to get them the therapies that they need and deserve. Everyone needs something a little different in order to grow to be who they were meant to be, and it’s okay if they need the extra help.

And you know what, if I wasn’t or my kids weren’t Autistic… I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. I have no clue what God has in store for any of us… and maybe His plan for me is to raise my kids and talk to you guys. But who knows what these kids are going to do. Just because the future I wanted for them might not happen… doesn’t mean they don’t have a future at all. Let alone an amazing one full of potential. 

Do we still have bad days? Yes. Are we still going to continue to have bad days? Yes. But everyone does. It’s how we choose to deal with those bad days that matter. Granted, writing this… we’re having a bad day… and it sucks. And it’s hard. But we still TRY to look on the bright side and push through. Praying that things will calm down and tomorrow will be a better day.

I hope this answered the questions…. I talked long enough that you’d think that I would have had to by now… but I ramble so much and go off on tangents… lol Maybe I did… maybe I didn’t. I hope I did though.

If you have any other questions, or topics you’d like me to talk about, leave them in the comments. 🙂
Love you guys!!! And talk to you later!

Hypervigilance

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not blood in the picture

I’ve wanted to write about this for a while now… but every time I wrote something, I didn’t like it and deleted it.


Although it’s an important topic, I just couldn’t say what I really wanted to say. Words are often lost on me. Until I have a personal experience to help me find the right words, and even then, I’ll have a friend write about the same topic and think YES! Why couldn’t I say it like that!

We often hear those sayings “You can’t pour from an empty cup”, “You need to help yourself before you can help others”, etc… And generally, I agree with those. You don’t really get burned out when you’re taking care of yourself in addition to taking care of others. And working with kids… that would be a good thing!

There have been so many years where I’ve just not been able to take care of myself but still needing to take care of my kids. They come first… and it’s not like I have a choice. I don’t have help, so there is no other option.

But I started using these oils and my overall state of wellbeing has changed. I’m not as stressed out, I’m not as depressed/anxious… sure I still have my moments… but despite our situation not changing, my outlook on it has.

Which makes me WANT to take better care of myself… despite not having help or not being able to get out of the house and away from the kids.

One of those things is eating better. I prefer not to cook when the kids are awake… which means I tend to eat more junk or things I can put together quickly. Like cereal. Which sucks, but it is what it is.

So today, I decided I’d make spaghetti for lunch! It’s pretty quick and better than ANOTHER bowl of cereal.

All the kids were being relatively good.
They were being loud, but that’s nothing new.

So I started making food… Tyler kept coming over to me, asking me to take screen shots of his characters he paused his show on. Justin would be running in the house and then back outside. Jax was making his “I’m yelling because I’m happy” noises. It was a little chaotic, but nothing too bad.

I set up the kids and their lunch while I was finishing mine. We all more or less ate at the same time (which NEVER happens)… And then came the, let’s chill out time after lunch. Usually we turn off the lights and just hang out (usually because my migraines are worse around this time with the kids… they can be REALLY loud… weekends are hard for me and my head). So we were all just hanging out, I was sitting down to go through all of your replies on my posts when Justin started screaming and crying.

Ugh… now what?

“Justin. Come here.”

Crying and crying. Not crying because he’s hurt, but crying because he’s upset over something.

“Juuuuustiiiiin! Come here.”

Crying.

“JUSTIN!!!!”

I know it’s the iPad. It probably needs restarted and I’ll admit, I was being lazy. I was tired and just wanted to sit down for 10 minutes.

He comes out of his room. Rubbing his eyes. He hands me his iPad and it’s sticky!
What in the world???

The screen was sticky and he couldn’t slide his finger across the screen to turn the volume back up. I cleaned it off and handed it back to him. Which is when I realized he was kind of pink. I touched his hands and they were REALLY sticky… so were his legs, arms… what in the world?!?!

I took him outside, rinsed him off with the hose, got him dressed and sent him to the living room. Then headed for his bedroom…

That’s when I found the reason he was sticky.

My jaw dropped.  

It looked like a horror movie.

Only instead of fake blood… it was strawberry syrup.

I’m STILL trying to get it all cleaned up.

What does this have to do with hypervigilance?
If I hadn’t been cooking… I would have been watching the kids closer. I would have noticed one of them taking and carrying the syrup in the room and would have stopped them before they squirted it ALL OVER their bed.

I can never let my guard down.

Never.

Because someone is always getting into something. Someone is always climbing something, trying to open something, crying or screaming about something or wanting something. The second I let my guard down… something breaks, gets destroyed or someone gets hurt. And that’s in a house that I have specifically altered FOR my kids. There really aren’t TOO many things for my kids to get into that they really shouldn’t. As long as I’m staying focused.

We don’t have pictures hanging on the wall, we don’t have nicknacks. We don’t have anything glass in our house except lightbulbs and we can’t keep spares around the house. Tyler likes to drop them on the ground to hear them crash. We don’t even have cups any more. We drink out of soda/water bottles because our kids love water/liquid so much that they will take cups off the counter and pour them on the floor to play in them. I have to hide the knives because Tyler likes metal things and Justin likes to line them up. Chemicals and cleaners have to be up high and out of reach, because just out of sight out of mind doesn’t work here… and if it’s a liquid it’s meant to be played with. Which is why the bathrooms are locked. They’ll turn on and play in the sink, toilet and bathtub.

We used to have to have locks on the pantry doors, fridge, oven, microwave and some of the cabinets. Because no matter how on guard I am constantly… I couldn’t keep them out of everything. And you can only say “We don’t stand on the oven door, because it’ll break. Close the oven, and let’s play with Lego’s” so many times before you might snap.

Sure, eventually things got easier. They even know that they bathroom doors are supposed to be shut, so if someone forgets to close a door, they’ll go over and close it for us. We don’t have to worry about the kids playing in the fridge much anymore either. Because they know they’re not supposed to. Tyler will still occasionally get the eggs out and throw them on the floor… sliding around in the slime when I’m in the bathroom. Or lining up the sliced cheese. Justin will try to stack enough toys, boxes, shoes and trash cans high enough to climb on the counters and get into the gummy bears while I’m giving Jaxson a bath because he managed to get his diaper off… again… and is now covered in fecal matter.

And as insane as these days are… they are getting a little less frequent… or at least they’re smaller messes. Mostly because I’m constantly watching them, constantly on guard to make sure things like that don’t happen. My house is constantly trashed… and that’s with me being able to catch most of the messes in action or prevent them because I can see where they’re going with their ideas.

I’m always tired.
During the week when the older two have school it isn’t so bad.
But weekends, holidays and breaks definitely remind me why I’ve been in “survival mode” for SO long. And I don’t realize that I’m not really in survival mode any more, until I’m reminded what it really looks like… on weekends… holidays and breaks.

Because although things HAVE gotten a little better… I’m still a long way from being able to sit down and not have to worry about what my kids are getting into.

Hypervigilance. An Autism parents state of being. And it’s exhausting.