Archive for Autism

Black and Blue and Embarrassed All Over

Posted in Autism, Why you should maybe rethink the whole reproducing thing with tags , , , , on February 7, 2009 by Ms. Ex

I took my sons to my favorite coffee shop today, the Starlight Cafe.  I had to meet someone next door to it, and the cafe is very kid-friendly (thank you Carri!), so I thought it would be fun to pop in and chill for a while with some juice and cookies.

I knew Ethan was tired.  I should have known better than to interrupt him.

To back up a bit, I ran into my friend Bunny and her fella there, so we sat together while my boys played with the toys Carri keeps for just such occasions.  A family with three well-behaved (which means probably spanked with a belt, but I’m only guessing) children sat in a booth eying my kids uneasily, or judgmentally.  At least, that’s what I imagined in my never-feel-like-I’m-a-good-enough-parent brain.

I should say, it was the parents who looked uneasy.  The children just looked jealous.

So when Ethan accidentally dumped the Othello game on the floor, I used every patient cell in my body (which is to say, not many) to go help him pick up the pieces and make myself look like the sweet, patient, in-control Mommy that I wish I were.  He wanted to play the game with me, but first he needed to put those pieces right where they belong, in the nice channels in the board intended for those little black and white circles.  I helped.  The baby B helped.  Unfortunately, Beckett’s help was more like removal and throwing, so it was taking forever.

Somewhere in there, the patient cells in me died and were replaced by newer, hurry-the-frig-up cells.

So I started walking away with the game while the pieces were still  in disarray.  Thus commenceth the screaming.  The OCD gene will not be silenced!

When I knelt down in front of Ethan, and under the smug glare of the sweet angel child parents,  to tell him he could not scream – he punched me.

And I do mean punched.

Knowing what would come, and in this new “trying to be firm no matter what kind of scene it causes” persona, I said, “Time to go,” and picked him up.  That’s when he grabbed a handfull of face with his ragged, sharp fingernails.  That bit of face included the eye that yesterday was hit at close range with a Bee Story toy.

My new friend, Bunny, looked on.  I avoided eye contact.  With anyone.  Mostly because my vision was a little fuzzy.

Bleeding, and trying to avoid being more seriously injured by this child I had in what I affectionately refer to as “the autistic kid is gonna kick my ass hold”, I finally looked at Bunny in embarrassment.

“Now you know where I get my material,” I said.



Tower of Babbles

Posted in Autism, Motherhood with tags , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2008 by Ms. Ex

My sixteen month old baby B has started babbling!

Doesn’t sound much like news, does it?  But he goes around laughing and talking all the time, and even repeats back to me the words I say to him.  While looking me in the eye.

My four year old E never did these things.  At some point, his trajectory changed.  He did not imitate me, not even my facial expressions, not even as a baby when it should be reflexive.  Except, he did say ‘tractor’ for a short time.  And here  I thought my daughter’s first word was telling.  (Did you say, ‘tattoo’??)

Instead of talking, E walked at ten months.  He conquered steps at twelve.  When he was this creepy, walking baby (you know what I mean – a cute little baby head  should not be on top of a biped.  It’s weird.), he would push a doll stroller around our driveway, rain or shine, heat or cold.  That’s what he wanted to do.  I would read and watch him, or do dishes and look out the window at him, and there he would be.  Pushing. A stroller.  In circles.

My oldest child is twelve years older than the next one, so I hardly rememberbed what it was like to have a baby.  With E, I looked up developmental milestones, and noted that he was way ahead with gross motor skills.  As for the other things, well…we can chalk that up to eccentricity, right?  It’s not as if he doesn’t have a wealth of familial sources.

Then along comes baby B.  Sweet.  Happy.  Smiley!  Baby B.  He sleeps.  He nurses.  Not like a meth head or junkie, but like an infant.  Who can quit whenever he wants.  Really. And round about one year old, I noticed some strange sounds coming from his mouth.  Sounds very much like the ones I was making, with inflection to match.  Now, a few months later, he is a regular chatterbox.  His enunciation could stand improvement, but he talks up a storm! It is a completely different world than it was with E.  It’s fun, we laugh, we interact.  We communicate.

E is considered only mildly autistic and highly functional.  He does talk now, but only to people he knows well, and he doesn’t make much eye contact.  The thing is, he is so high functioning, we might never have pursued any help.  He might never have been given tools to reach his true potential.  People told me all the time, “Oh, boys talk later than girls, you’ll see.  Just wait.”  But something in me knew.  It was more than being late to things  (which he got from me, just so you know),  it was a different path altogether.

So, along with just not taking people’s advice, don’t let them persuade you that you are wrong.  We mothers (especially).  We grew these children inside of us! We released them into the world, provide their nourishment and love and everything they need. If something is niggling at you, or you see something in your little one that concerns you – ask someone about it.  Do research.  And you keep asking the questions until you get an answer you feel confident about.

You must do what will work for each one and for your family as a whole.  And follow your gut.  We are the ones who know our babies and know when something is different or wrong.  And also, when things are just right.


Posted in Autism, Motherhood with tags , , , , , on November 20, 2008 by Ms. Ex

My babies are curled into me, in that space between chin and thigh that forms when I lie down.  We are a comma, a parenthesis at the end of a very long day.  I have yelled and grabbed and stomped and slammed, and the day is not quite over.  Now we just have to settle the one who elicits all the storminess from me.  He lay still and sweetly silent for a moment, then something inside him says, “Now,” and he reaches out to pinch, or bite. Or he rears his heavy head back and it meets a smaller head.  The struggling begins again until it exhausts itself momentarily in a collapse of teary sobs, and once more we mark the end of something, still and curved in the dark.

I love the comma, the parenthesis, the ellipsis.  The trailing off or the pause.  And I long for a day with no exclamation point.

A Family of Autists

Posted in Autism, Motherhood with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2008 by Ms. Ex

“Artistic?  He’s artistic? Well, I guess he gets that from you.”

“No, Mom. I said autistic – they told us he’s autistic. And he has ADHD, but I guess we already knew that.”

“Oh. What, because he has tantrums? He’ll grow out of it, you’ll see. Your brother was like that, he would hold his breath until he turned blue and passed out, and now he’s perfectly…um…well, anyway, I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

And maybe he will be.  Little E of weaponry atop the china cabinet fame. Little E with the big personality, with the adorable quirks, with what looks like a slight touch of sociopathy. My baby, my little guy.

I always say he was different from the very first day he was born. He cried inconsolably. He did not look at me. He never smiled. He would push a baby stroller around our driveway for hours on end, all by himself, no matter how cold or miserable the weather. I’m talking fourteen months old, here. It was the only reprieve I got from the incredibly overwhelming need for touch he had.

I realize that is a different thing for an autistic child, needing touch. But it is not that he’s affectionate, necessarily, but that he’s touching me to fill his own black hole of…something. Craving?

We spent hours with the doctor, his resident (intern? I got confused in the introductions part of the journey today), and his nurse.  I went hoping to finally get some direction, some idea of what E’s issues are, if any.  And I got some direction, some ideas. And some extremely difficult news.

It’s really not as if I didn’t know. I think I have known on some level for a long time, but I also kept believing that I must be wrong. It is so mild, surely it must be something else. Something less…permanent. You see, I went in with this child that, despite the soul-sucking challenges, I have managed to parent fairly well considering our personalities. Mine being obsessive, his being the same about different things. I went in thinking that maybe this crack team of experts would say – “AHA! We know exactly what you need to do to keep E from dislocating the arm of his little brother and giving you another corneal abrasion, while simultaneously convincing him to eat something that is not brown.  Or white.”

I left knowing my son is a hair’s breadth from geniosity (geniusosity? geniousness?), but cannot draw a circle. That he can learn to read, but might not fare well making friends. That my gorgeous, precious, spirited boy is now my gorgeous, precious, spirited, autistic boy.

It is a relief. It is a sentence of some kind. It is the end, the beginning, the middle of long roads ahead. I cry. I stop. I form plans. I research. I cry some more. We mothers, we like to know. But, by the very nature of our jobs, we also sometimes like to play pretend, just a tiny bit longer.

Not a Poem

Posted in Autism, Poetry with tags , , , , , on August 25, 2008 by Ms. Ex

I don’t feel poetic tonight

I feel sweaty, sticky, raw from a loud and violent day

with my four-year-old.

Atop the china cabinet is our armory:

Golf clubs, a toy fishing pole, a plastic shovel, a piece of wood splintered from a door jamb.

A plastic sword, a paddle covered with suction cups for catching the rubber ball, a bag of lifesaver

jellybeans (don’t ask me why).

It’s not that he wants to hurt me

It is the same thing in me that is in him that I got from my father like my brother:

This fury, escaping through the force of a fist.

This wall of turmoil inside, piling up behind the lump in my throat that closes it off from

the words that might rescue me, from the healing I might do, from the forgiveness I might need.

These things we choke on –

they are our doom.

And our salvation.