Are We Having Fun Yet?

“Come on, Peter!  This is supposed to be fun!”  These are phrases I find myself saying often.  Very often.  This past weekend I tried my best to do “fun” things with Peter, to get him out of the house and away from his iPad.  On Saturday, my sister was visiting so we went to a nearby state park to play in this adorable Splash Pad:


I first had to convince Peter that it was okay to enter the gate.  Mind you, we’d been there before!  It took another ten minutes for Peter to get near the water, then another ten until he seemed to be having a bit of fun:


By then I was hot and sweaty, so when Peter sat himself on a bench a short time later and tried to put on his shoes, I was fine with leaving.

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Just Keep Spinning: The Sensory Seeker

Can you imagine riding a roller coaster in endless loops and never getting dizzy?  Or participating in the Dizzy Bat Race at a baseball game and not stumbling around like a drunken sailor?  Or riding the carousel at the State Fair for hours and never feeling sick?  That’s Peter.  It sounds crazy, I know, but it’s true.  Peter does not get dizzy.

When Peter was three years old we took him to an Occupational Therapist (OT) in Hartsville, S.C. who was well-known in the area for her expertise in sensory issues.  We had known for awhile that Peter had “sensory problems” but we not certain what that meant.  The autism stereotype brings to mind those individuals who shy away from sensory input such as lights and sounds and movement.  Peter did not seem to fit that stereotype; in fact, he seemed to be just the opposite by seeking out sensory input rather than shying away from it.  We were right.

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I Dreamed That You Could Speak

Dear Peter,

“I love you, Mommy,” you said to me in a voice of crystal melody.  Oh, the joy!  To hear your childlike voice, to hear you say “Mommy” for the very first time!  I was overwhelmed.  I awoke with tears in my eyes and a sob in my throat.

Then I realized.  A dream.

Joy can turn to loss in an instant.

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Autism Sibling Essay

Our oldest son will be heading off to college in the fall.  “In the fall” sounds like a long way away, but when I look at the calendar I gulp.  That’s only a month away!  How could 18 years have flown by so quickly?

Christopher is an amazing person.  He has achieved so much in his young life, but I fear that he is sometimes forgotten amidst the overwhelming demands of his youngest sibling.  I am reassured, though, when I read the following essay that he wrote for a scholarship contest.  His writing shows a depth of understanding that is rare, as well as a tendency towards compassion and acceptance.  He gets it.  We are super proud of him.

I never thought that I would say that my 8 year old brother who flaps his arms wildly and screeches when he’s excited but screams bloody murder when he’s mad would have had such an immense impact on my life, but here we are. May 14, 2009 was the day my life changed completely. Peter was born, and was diagnosed with autism not long after. When I heard that Peter was autistic, I was confused, and scared. At the time, I didn’t know what to expect. Before that point, I hadn’t really had any experience with anyone with any type of disorder, and I definitely didn’t realize how it would affect me.

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A New Family Member: Goddess of Wisdom

A few months ago, in a moment of lunacy, I caved. I finally agreed to something I’d been adamantly against for years. I would never do it. It wouldn’t happen. Even though I told my oldest son when he was 5 that it would happen when he was 10, I knew in my heart that it wasn’t likely. Now he is 18. And it finally happened.

We got a dog.

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Play Date

Yesterday we took Peter to his first Play Date at a friend’s house.  At the age of eight, our older boys had already been to a variety of birthday parties, play dates, sleepovers, field trips, team events, school parties, etc.  I recall feeling annoyed with each invitation, each new obligation.  I’ve changed my tune in recent years.  Because until now, Peter has received none of those invitations.

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Celebrating in Style

Happy Fourth of July, America!! This little guy celebrated by smearing red, white, and blue cupcake frosting all over the kitchen and himself.  Okay, mostly blue.  The frosting color that stains. The one that won’t wash off a little face.

He did this quite stealthily in about 30 seconds. The perfect little James Bond.

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The Beach as The Great Equalizer

Here is what I learned last week on vacation: at the beach, my family is invisible.  We blend in.  We don’t stand out one bit.  Rejoice!  Again, I say: Rejoice!

I fully expected to come home from a week at the ocean with enough fodder to write a long post about traveling with an autistic child; about the sensory problems, the behaviors, the judgmental stares from strangers.  It was mid-week, though, as I sat on my beach chair in Observation Mode, when I realized that piece was not going to be written.  The story had changed.  Drastically.

I realized that I had gone half a week without apologizing for my son’s behaviors, without stressing out about disturbing others, without worrying about the messes Peter makes.  Why?  Because for once, every other family was in the same boat as ours.

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He’s Naked Again!

You know those nightmares we all have about showing up to work in our pajamas, or being on stage in our underwear, or – God forbid! – forgetting to get dressed before going out in public?  Do you recall the acute feelings of horror and embarrassment, of mortification?

Yes?  Well, my son will never have those nightmares.

How do I know?  Because he is completely unaware that other people have any interest in what he does.

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