Sunday, June 28, 2015


Just one of those simple, overpriced pictures they take at Six Flags when you walk in.  They are hoping that you will buy their merchandise.  I did, indeed, purchase this after a trip to Six Flags in Gurnee with Ignatius.  I believe he was nine at the time.  Maybe 10.  

Tonight, I looked in it only to see he and I as both younger people.  So much had not happened in our lives at that point.  It was just Mom and Ig enjoying a day together.  

As of late, I have been thinking about the reality of what is to come.  He will really be going to Virginia, and I will really be staying here.  It's the end goal.  It's what I was working for 18 years to have happen.  Right?  So why does the mind play its tricks? Why is there sadness involved?  It should feel only like success.  Instead: ambivalence.  

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Explaining Autism

If you follow this blog (apologies for my looooong absence), you know that we have had many blessings, coupled with several challenges, in this life of ours.  One of the challenges is helping our sons navigate the world as they deal with social communications disorders.

We have been upfront about Asperger's, what it means, how it manifests itself, and that my elder son deals with it on a daily basis.  Since he was diagnosed around age 10, we have been openly discussing and naming the disorder.  

My younger son was a different case.  He was only two when diagnosed, and he is a totally different kid with completely different needs.  He was diagnosed with autism disorder (they would both now be considered persons with autism spectrum disorders). We struggled to get him speaking and acclimated to advocating for his needs.  He learns very differently from his brother, and he struggles with the minutiae of the academic world.  It was difficult to determine when we should name why he had the need for sensory, why he struggles with math and reading comprehension, why sometimes kids do not want to play with him, why he repeats, shouts, and the like.  I always felt I would know when to have the conversation.  It never seemed right because he was constantly flipping out if anything about him seemed atypical.  Well, the opportunity did, indeed, present itself.  Now, my son has a name to answer many of his questions.  Autism.

In 2007, I created a scrapbook called "Speak to Me."  The scrapbook was dedicated to Max's journey through the communication struggles he was having.  Max has loved this scrapbook--honestly, he loves all scrapbooks--because it was solely about him.  He also loves that it has buttons to push and a variety of audio recordings from that time.  So, after introducing him to the word "autism," we grabbed the scrapbook (which I made before his diagnosis) and read through what was happening with him at the time.  I cannot tell you how valuable that scrapbook was to this process.  God knew.  He gave it to me as an outlet, then as a guide.
Does he "fully" understand the breadth of his ASD?  No.  None of us does.  It's a developmental mystery that is different for each child who is on the spectrum.  However, he almost seemed relieved to have a name for the things about him that he knows are different from the norm.  We will move onward with building his confidence in the many ways he is unique, special, and in some ways, completely typical of any 10 year old boy.