Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What's acceptable?

I'm gonna get right to the point here. There are meltdowns and there are tantrums and they are NOT, this bares repeating, NOT the same thing.

I think a good chunk of parents who have autistic children would agree with me on that statement. They understand that a meltdown is actually behavior communication in motion. Sometimes that motion is your kid deciding to test the aerodynamic strength of the iPad when the wifi goes out or screaming and covering their ears when they hear the vacuum turn on.

To those quick to say those reactions are bratty, naughty, selfish, rude, bad tantrums, I say Back the truck up. Aw Hell to the No! In fact I feel so passionate about this I decided to make a meme about it.

Did you all catch the bat was named "Hot Sauce"? All Hail Queen Bey! 

Of course, the majority of you got what I was saying here but because I put something on the Internet, someone(s) had to get offended by it. I mean, I expect that. In fact it's needed to help maintain balance in the universe or some kooky new aged mumbo jumbo like that.  Here's some comments that stick out.

"Are you going to be "Beyonce with the Bat" when they are grown and can't get or keep a job??? Need to be prepared for the real world and the real world won't tolerate meltdowns."

"Oh yeah. Flip out. Model parent there."

Cue the flurry of replies by folks who were on Team "Are you serious?" I appreciate you all having my back. I both live in awe and fear of you. (I really hope I never piss you all off.) One of you even replied with a single picture that said it all. This:

Dorothy Zbornak is my spirit animal.  How did you know? ;-) 

But really? First off, slow your roll if you think I'm advocating taking an actual bat to someone. Please, I'd break my nails and this Jersey girl doesn't do that. However, I will take a figurative one to knock out the idea I'm advocating my kiddo gets to do whatever he wants.  No way. Not even close.

Did you all miss the blurb I added where I stressed "BEHAVIOR IS COMMUNICATION!!" Let me say it again. BEHAVIOR IS COMMUNICATION!!!" One more time for those in the back in the cheap seats, "BEHAVIOR IS COMMUNICATION!!!!!!!!"

Let's get down to the "WHY" your child is doing something. That's the part we as autism parents can work on so we can figure out what triggers our children. What I am asking the rest of the non autism world is the space and the time to do that. That means, you are all gonna see some meltdowns.  Of course I know the behavior isn't the acceptable norm for society. I am trying my best to teach my son the skills he needs to handle what life throws at him.  Seeing as he is a child with communication issues, this is going to take some time. Help me to help you understand that you all need some patience and understanding or I am going to lose my ever loving mind. You make it hard to teach my Kiddo empathy and compassion when you won't even show it to us.

What kills me is those comments might have been left by folks who have kids with autism. I'm going to have to think that maybe they are so busy with the autism in their house that they have forgotten what autism is like in other homes. Yeah, that's what I'll have to tell myself here. See? That's me using some empathy and compassion on my part. Works both ways. ;-)

"You should be more serious about autism!"

Honey, you are following a blog called "Autism with a side of fries". Not a scientific journal. Did you think you were signing up the "Doom and Gloom Daily". That's not how I roll. So I'll keep cracking wise and posting pics of the thoughts in my head that I turn into memes. Cause clearly some other folks need a laugh or two themselves.

This idea of meltdowns being "acceptable" or not is a dangerous one. It's like asking someone with epilepsy "Try not to fall down and have a seizure here.". We do our best to keep them from happening in the first place. We also try our best to manage them if they do. Do me a solid though and understand that they happen. Judgment doesn't help here.

Fries do. Want some? (You won't be offered fries by serious medical journals. That's the perk of following this one.)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Past Me meet Now Me.

"At what age did your son start to talk?" 

"When did your son toilet train?" 

"How old was your son when he first slept through the night?" 

If I didn't know any better, I would think those emails were from me. Well, Past Me. Which would be kind of Sci Fi movie like that Past Me was writing to Now Me. It would be handy if Now Me could write back to Past Me something really useful like "Don't forget to take the chicken out to defrost for dinner." But I digress...

To answer these top three questions:

1) At five with repeating "Hey, hey, hey!" like Dwayne from "What's Happening?"

2) At seven, eight, nine, and still at eleven on the odd night or morning after now and then. Dry sheets this week, so YAY!  My washer and dryer sure appreciate a little less work.

3) The other night around 1:30AM the Kiddo decided it was a great time to discuss his desire to go to the local diner for french fries. In his defense, they do make really good fries. It was pretty cool that he called out for his Dad, not me, to discuss this plan. Well, I'm not sure my husband would share that opinion but Hey, he called for you dude! So that whole "Sleeping through the night thing.". We don't have that perfected yet. Let's call that a work in progress.

 "I just need something to hold onto for hope."

Now this I get. Girl, you are preaching to the choir here. I am holding onto hope and my sanity with a white knuckled grip. The Kiddo is only growing older and it seems to be at a faster rate than I ever knew that time could go.  Now Me really wishes she could sit down Past Me and tell her to Buckle Up. I'm not sure Past Me would have fully understood what that meant though. Past Me was too busy in "Fix It Jesus!" mode.

So, I don't know how much I'm about to say will make sense to those who are really intent on finding out the magical age as to when things will happen. I've said it time and again. These kids create their own milestones.  They just do. There is no set timeline as to when anything will happen or won't. I know you feel like you are racing against the clock here, but there really is no end to all of this. Autism is along for the ride.

Know it. Live it. Embrace it.

Some things will happen and some things might never happen. That can be good and bad depending on what you are talking about. Now Me really wants you to know that. I know that's a pretty abstract concept. Past Me would hate Now Me for saying that.  "Like stop trying to be deep about this." but I have no other way to explain it.

Now Me wants you to think of it this way.  You now know the ages my Kiddo did something you were asking about. What if that age comes and goes and your child still can't do something?  Can you see how holding on to that number is like setting yourself up to be sad if it doesn't happen by that point?

Now You is coming. I swear this much is true. Now You will be ever changing and looking at Past You with some serious side eye and a knowing sympathetic head nod. Now You will want to take Past You into their arms to both hug them and shake them by the shoulders.  I know this because I'm pretty sure Now Me would probably slap Past Me and tell her to calm the eff down.

Now Me or Now You. Not perfect. Not by a mile. But they are also a tiny bit happier living in the Now.

Future Me however, Man, that chick is a worrier.  Somebody order than gal another side of fries.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Running away from home.

Daddy Fry does not like to shop. We quickly became the couple where when a holiday or birthday happened, gifts were often something for the house. (We sealed our union a month before our marriage with a new hot water heater.) Or we did the "Hey, I'm going to get this thing that I want. (Book, purse, power tool etc...) Let's just call that my gift."

But we still go through the "What would you like for...?" motions. I'm not sure why. We've been together for fifteen years now. What can I say? The Kiddo isn't the only one around here who likes his routines. On the night of the fourth sick day in a row with the Kiddo and looking ahead to another week off for Spring Break on top of that, Daddy Fry made the mistake of noting it would be my birthday soon and what would I like for it.

All I could think of in that moment was SILENCE. I wanted gobs and gobs of silence. I wanted no responsibilities. No one asking me for a thing. No one touching me. I wanted 24 hours to myself. I wanted to run away from home. However, I didn't want to say it.

Correction, I didn't want to admit it. I wanted to be a pillar of strength because I'm Eileen "Mama Fry" Shaklee and I'm supper autism mama and Aw feck it, I'm so freaking tired. I need a break. Mama Fry would be calling out another mom for pulling this medaling for martyrdom crap.  I needed to advocate for myself.  SO I DID!

I asked for a night alone in a hotel BY MYSELF!  (You hear that?  That's the sound of multiple moms saying "OH HELLS YEAH!")

And seeing as I was smart enough to marry a guy like Daddy Fry, that's exactly what happened.  He replied "Well Hell, I've been wanting to do that myself."  So we quickly agreed he would do the same next. Autism dads need breaks too. I whipped out my laptop and started searching for deals.  Found one pretty cheap and booked it before Daddy Fry could change his mind. :-)

And it was everything I needed it to be.

A week later I found myself checking in BY MYSELF without an autism mom bag in tow.  I packed just for me!  I KNOW!

Front desk staff:"What brings you here today?"

Me:"I'm an exhausted autism mom and I'm running away from home."

Front desk staff:"Guuuurl, I hide from my kid in the bathroom all the time. I got you!" and she upgraded my room.  It's safe to say that woman became my new BFF as she performed her own personal brand of giving to the autism community.

You see that king size bed?  I slept in the middle of it. Splayed out like a starfish.  

Look at the nice children playing. Get the sand all over kids. I don't have to clean any of you up!

I took myself to dinner to a place that I didn't have to consult prior to make sure there was acceptable sensory friendly food.  I took my time eating. I didn't have to play court jester to keep a Kiddo entertained.

This was immediately hung on my door by 7PM. I was tempted to take it home with me. 

Pajamas, ridiculous facial mask, and magazines. Once, twice, three times a happy lady. 

Did I forget about all things autism and my family? No, but it's amazing what some time to yourself can do for your mental well being. I actually thought about my son a lot while I was on my little getaway but not in the obsessing over stupid little dopey shit way. I found myself thinking of the things I was grateful about.  I even thought about the not so good stuff but instead of dwelling on the "It all sucks!" vibe, I tried to think of some new ways to approach things.  

I know this is not a thing that every mother can do for herself. Maybe running away from home can only be just running away for a cup of coffee by yourself.  Fries, if we crack the whole foundation goes down with it. We MUST take care of ourselves. No one wins an award for most stoic. 

I had grand plans for sleeping in but course, my Kiddo trained body clock had me up at 6:30AM. I found myself kind of eager to get on the road and go home anyway. I was missing my guys. I had gotten what I so desperately wanted but what I needed more was my family.  So I packed up and headed back. After a ridiculously long hot shower and two cups of coffee from the in room coffee machine of course. (I mean, I missed them but they weren't going anywhere.) 

Silence and sleep.  Best beauty/mental health treatment around!  

I know this won't be a thing I can do all the time but at least now it's something in my memory bank. So when it's a craptastic day I can close my eyes and remember it. A mental vacation I can pull out as needed when I'm ready to pull the hair out of my head. 

Daddy Fry, it's your turn. Go book it.  :-)