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The Shower Incident

I screwed up big time yesterday. I took my daughter to a Sibling Workshop for kids that have brothers or sisters that have Autism.  It’s a once a month support group for kids where she has time all to herself without her (in her words) “‘annoying” brother stealing the spotlight, yelling, making a mess, throwing a fit or taking mommy’s attention. It’s a place where she shares her thoughts and feelings with other kiddos in the same boat. And, much to my disappointment, she doesn’t have to share ANY of it with me. She’s told that she can tell me about the activities and discussions or not. It’s completely up to her how much she wants to share – she just can’t use any other kid’s names to protect their privacy.

First, let me say how thankful I am that we found this group for my daughter – as it seems to have helped her express her feelings so much better to me. Sometimes, she does so better than adults I know that have been through therapy. I learn from her all the time. On the other hand, I feel like if I knew some of the things they are discussing, I could support them in our every day life. So, it’s the curse of she’s getting the help she needs, but I can’t really add to it at all other than just being open to her when she decides to open up.

So, we were driving home after the group yesterday and she starts to tell me about an activity they did called “Have you ever”. It’s where the therapist calls out an activity and anyone that has done it runs to the middle of the room and high fives the other people there. (Funny – I remember playing something similar in college that involved drinking – hahaha) She’s all excited telling me that she has so much in common with a particular boy, so I ask her like what? She proceeds to tell me something that made me flip my lid.

The therapist calls out – “Have you ever GONE WITHOUT  SHOWERING FOR MORE THAN TWO WEEKS?”  She excitedly runs to the middle of the room to high five other presumably dirty little kids.

I say – “WHAT? What do you mean you haven’t showered for more than 2 weeks? That’s not true – you’ve never gone more than 2 DAYS without showering???”  She is passionate in her answer when she says – “MOM, YES I HAVE!!! I’VE GONE WAY MORE THAN 2 WEEKS WITHOUT SHOWERING!!”

I can actually feel my blood boiling at this point. My child PROUDLY proclaimed in front of a group of strangers and therapists that she didn’t shower for 2 weeks? Seriously??? I can just picture everyone whispering to each other and therapists taking notes.

I don’t know about you, but I have to continuously remind my children to shower, brush their teeth, clean up after themselves, change their clothes – you know, general PARENTING.  I do this relentlessly for health reasons but also to ensure they are not the target of bratty little kids at school who like to pick on others for such things.

So, you can imagine how embarrassed I got and protective I instantly became when my daughter started bragging about this common fact. We get into an arguing match about the fact that she’s never been out of my sight for even more than a week and the 2 times she was, she was with grandparents who would never allow this type of behavior, etc…. Of course she ends in tears as we are arguing back and forth – all the while, my son is flipping out because the two of us are yelling.

And then she says it – “This is why I don’t want to tell you anything that happens at group. We did an exercise on FEARS today, and mine was that I would tell you something we talked about and you’ll get mad and yell at me.”

It stopped me in my tracks. Talk about feeling like an asshole. She just gets out of this therapeutic group where I’m dying to know what they talk about so I can support and help her, and here I am yelling at her about a stupid game she played.

I took a deep breath, lowered my voice, and told her that I would never yell at her for sharing feelings about me or  Alex. This was about making up something that wasn’t true that made her look bad and had nothing to do with autism.

But, I realize it has everything to do with autism. She just wants to have attention. She wants to have commanalities with other kids. She wants to literally be in the center of attention. She achieved that by going into the middle of that room. Even if it was for something gross.

She told me other kids went too. I’m sure their parents never allowed them to go 2 weeks without showering either, and it was just their way to feel a part of the group.  My daughter later explained to me – get this – VIA TEXT – that she was just afraid that if she told me about her feelings, that I would just stick up for Alex as usual and explain Autism or that he’s “special” and not listen to her feelings.

We had a good talk (in person, not text) and I explained again to her the difference between my reaction over the shower incident and how I would act if she told me about her feelings about Autism.  I told her she can tell me anything and I would listen and try to understand and keep my “sticking up for Alexness” quiet.

PARENTING FAIL. UGH…… when does this get easier???

And then, I told her to go shower 🙂


Weird is the New Normal

I’m excited that a recent blog I wrote about life with Autism was used in an amazing viral movement by my friend “Parenting with Asperger’s Syndrome” to help kids with Aspergers know that Weird is the new Normal. We’re all a little weird and it’s okay. Check it out here and comment if you want to share what makes you weird too 🙂

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He Loves Me!!

My son seems to have found a way to tell me he loves me ~ I gave him cookie dough ice cream for dessert and he left all the cookie dough for ME!!! That’s almost as good as a verbal “I love you” 🙂

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Is It Weird?

Do you think it’s weird that…..

  • I can tell that it’s a full moon just by the way my son acts the night before?
  • I wonder if he is part vampire because he can look at you with those eyes and make you do whatever he wants and occasionally bites me?
  • I am SO proud when my daughter interacts with my son that I actually tear up?
  • Everyone I introduce Alex to falls in love with him, or am I just making myself think that?
  • I try to do twice as much to make my daughter feel as “special” as my son? Even though I’ve tried to explain to her, she doesn’t want to be that kind of special, she still gets jealous of the attention he gets.
  • I fear rude and ignorant reactions in stores and restaurants when I go out with my son because I don’t feel like dealing with the sadness that it brings or the sheer anger that it invokes in me?
  • When someone is acting socially awkward or that I just don’t get, I assume they must have autistic tendencies and instantly have patience with them?
  • I get excited when my son follows a simple direction like “Get Your Shoes” without having to show him what shoes are every time?
  • When my kids are laughing, I will do whatever it takes to keep them laughing for as long as possible? And let me tell you – it can get pretty embarrassing 🙂
  • I’m jealous of other people’s kids that are in cub scouts, swimming and tee ball?
  • I still let out a high pitched GOOD JOB ALEX with genuine excitement every time my son stays dry after going out on a short car ride? (He’s 9)
  • I sometimes yell at him and say, YOU’RE 9!!!! COME ON!!!!
  • I get insanely pissed if my daughter lashes out at her brother out of  frustration and then feel unbearably guilty because of it?
  • I strategically place food that isn’t difficult to clean up out on the counter so if he wakes up at 3am for a snack, I don’t have to clean up as much in the morning?
  • I sometimes hide in the car to make a phone call in peace?
  • I  wonder if Alex is just taking it all in and going to write a tell all book one day?
  • I have locks on almost everything due to learning the hard way that Alex WILL get into it, even though he never has before? (see blog post about contacts, chocolate, etc…someday I’ll write about the paint, mud, water and bleach too)
  • I think that people that work with special needs kids are literally angels walking on earth?
  • I don’t let myself think about the future because it’s too overwhelming and instead choose to remain oblivious and enjoy today?
  • I will absolutely never ever give up on trying to get Alex to say I love you every single night before bed? I mouth it to him, I yell it, I whisper it, I try to move his mouth to say it, I sign it to him, I sing it… still nothing.
  • Do you think that it’s weird that I have total hope that no matter what happens today, there’s always tomorrow?

Me neither 🙂


Weekly Whirl – World Autism Awareness Day is 1 Month Away!

Weekly Whirl – World Autism Awareness Day is 1 Month Away!.

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