Friday, August 29, 2014

Stretched Thin



I have never been so busy in my life.

One of the biggest transitions to our new life in Cincinnati has been adjusting to B's new work schedule.  In San Antonio B used to get home from work at 4:30 everyday.  At the latest.  Often times walking in the door around 4.  How dreamy is that?  And while his hours are still pretty reasonable they're later--some days much later.  

The mornings are a race to get PSP off to school and I spend the rest of my day bouncing back and forth between Zuzu and Lamp.  Like, all day.  Not to mention keeping up with housework, unpacking, decorating, planning, blogging and painting.  And I do pretty well I think.

Until about 5:00.  Then it's like someone is pulling on little strings attached to the top of my head and the bottom of my feet, stretching and pulling my sanity to the very limits.

I've gotta make dinner.  Pulling.

Zuzu is crying.  Pulling.

Lamp wants to go outside.  Pulling.

Lamp wants to come inside.  Pulling.

Kids are hungry.  Pulling.

Zuzu needs a diaper change.  Pulling.

The girls are arguing.  Pulling.

We're hungry!  What are we having for dinner!  More pulling...

Until I either snap--which by the way, I think the definition of a hypocrite is hearing yourself yell, Stop yelling!!-- or the husband eventually comes walking through the door saving us all from certain destruction.  Once the kids are in bed I'm crouched in a corner self-medicating with 1-2 bowls of ice cream and mindless TV.  I don't even try to go to bed early because Zuzu will wake around 11... so what's the point?

And that's my day.  Anyone relate?  

Additionally I have so many projects for the blog, for the home, for the family or for me that I am DYING to get to but there is just no time.  Lamp will start school in a couple weeks and I'm hoping that will help me find a little breathing room.

That being said, we are really enjoying our new home and this new chapter in our lives.  3 kids.  A baby who is almost crawling.  A husband finally in the thick of his career.  A home we really love.  It's like when you work out and hurt afterword, but it's a good hurt because you know your body was working hard, being productive and that it will all pay off in the end.  It's like that.

My offering this Friday is 3 of my favorite pictures featuring my 3 favorite kids from the past couple weeks.  Top is baby Zuzu (on my old, new-to-us Persian rug... thankyoucraigslist) so very close to crawling.  So close!  My third baby, but my first crawler... can you believe it?  You guys, she is a doll.
Miss PSP and I at the Cincinnati Museum center a week ago for the final weekend of the Princess Diana exhibit.  This was the last stop on an 11 year tour before all the goods head back to the UK.  So glad we saw it on the second to the last day of the exhibit!  Seeing her wedding dress, among other real princess artifacts was actually very cool.

Lastly Lamp finally got her own big girl bed last week and she loves it.  We LOVE it.  A toddler sized Jenny Lind from the Land of Nod.  I've had the idea of matching Jenny Lind's for my girls for a while now... so happy to see this in real life.  It's the perfect size.  A bed she can get in of and out of all by herself.  This is a huge win.  Thanks Land of Nod.

I shared these pics on instagram--feel free to follow me at thislittlemiggy.

Thanks for the love and support you guys always give me.
More spotlights to come soon I promise.

XO
Migs

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Back To School Outfit Guide: Lamp



Of course when Lampy saw big sister doing a back to school photo shoot, she insisted on having one as well.  I was happy to oblige.  Since I still play a major role in helping Lamp get dressed in the morning (although she's becoming more independent on this front) and choosing the outfits, this photo shoot was mostly just for fun--meaning I won't be printing this out in a book for a reference like I will for PSP.  Lamp is definitely more opinionated these days on what she wants to wear, with what accessories and when.  It's taken a little time to learn what works and doesn't work with Lamp's body type, but now it's pretty easy to find the pieces what work for her. Bubble shorts or bloomer style shorts are a staple as are leggings.  Shirts are pretty easy as long as they're tank tops or short sleeves.  The one thing that can and will get tricky is finding appropriate cold weather wear--for the record if I see a vest, short-sleeve sweater or short sleeve jacket you bet your bottom dollar I'm snatching that up and buying it in multiple sizes.  Anyway, Lamp isn't really a fan of outerwear, so I took this opportunity to style her outfits with little vests and jackets in an effort to help her embrace them, both for fashion and function.  Having lived in San Antonio most of her life girlfriend is gonna need to actually bundle up this winter!  Without further ado, here is Lamp's Back to School Outfit guide.  

Hand me down flower shorts, with a sweet butterfly T from Old Navy that was on clearance.  
Moccs in Blush from Freshly Picked and a purple tiara she picked out herself.  


Looking Biker Chic in all black with H&M leggings and H&M Skull T and silver Moccs from Freshly Picked.   

Adding a denim vest from Target for a little variation... clearly she's not sure about this.  


H&M Leggings, Heart Tank Top from Target and Hot Pink Moccs from Freshly Picked.  


Too cool for school. (Sign courtesy of PSP)

Adding a little jacket from the Gap, swapping out Moccs and it looks like she's still feeling fancy!

Top Old Navy clearance, and some of our favorite demin bubble shorts from Target with large polka dots (similar to these, but no polkadots), moccs from Freshly Picked.  

Lamp loves, loves, loves this hot pink lace peplum top (that's more of a dress on her  :))  from Target,  again with the denim vest and moccs from Freshly Picked.

Lastly, Lamp showing off her signature sass with denim puffy vest from Target, H&M leggings and her golden ballet slippers.  


Welp...that's a wrap folks.
Thanks for checking out our Back to School Outfit Guide!



Monday, August 25, 2014

Back To School Outfit Guide


Moving across the country will certainly take a chunk out of your summer.  There was very little swimming pool-ing, Popsicle-ing and backyard sprinkler-ing this year.  No complaints though, it is what it is and we still managed to have some good times.  For some reason hiking the Y in Provo, Utah seems to be at the top of our girls awesome stuff we did this summer list.  In fact our visit to BYU in general was a favorite, as the girls played "college" a few times in recent weeks pretending the garage is their dorm room, the driveway with chalk drawings is of course the art museum, and they even have a spot for the creamery--pretty much a summary of my college experience right there.  I didn't really write about it, but posted some Utah pics here.  

Anyway, school started last week actually and we are ready!  One of the big changes for us this year is that PSP is going to a school that does not require uniforms, as she has worn them for the past 2 years.  

Yay!  And Boo!  

Initially I was not a fan of the uniform thing, but over the past couple of years I came to appreciate that having a uniform makes for a much more streamlined morning, as picking an outfit can arguably be one of the biggest time-eaters in the morning rush.  However, I know I enjoy a cute outfit as much as the next girl and so I'm excited for PSP to have this little bit of self-expression back in her life.  Additionally PSP is at that age where she's still figuring out what looks good together, what doesn't and why.  To help make this transition a little easier I suggested taking some pictures of cute outfits and then printing them out--either as separate photos or an inexpensive photo book--so she could have a little reference guide for outfits.  She loved the idea!  And as you're about to see, she got really into the picture taking and is quite the little model.  I'll put some outfit sources where applicable, but a lot of these pieces are things she's had for years mixed with a few new additions.  Here are some of our favorites photos.  

This was her actual first day of school outfit.  
Shift and capri leggings both J.Crew.  I got all J.crew items during their additional 40% off sale--it pays to sign up for emails from your favorite stores to cash in on the good deals.  Also, PSP is tall for her age and I've found that a lot of dresses in her size are just too short, but they make great tunics with leggings or layered over cuffed jeans.  



I also wanted to show her how she could take a simple sun dress like this and add a sweater for easy layering options that change the look of the outfit, but also give a little warmth to chilly classrooms. 

Ta-da!  
Sundress J. Crew, sweater Old Navy, gold Saltwater Sandals


PSP loved this little football style T from J. Crew with the gold on the sleeves... rather tomboy princess I think.  Also, another lesson in taking a cute t-shirt and jeans...

                                                               + one lace undershirt...

                                                = Jumping for joy for cute outfit combos!   
 Football T J.Crew, Jeans Gap  Again PSP is tall and thin, a hard combo when it comes to buying jeans.  I am currently LOVING The Gap "slim" fit.  It's not the style, it's the fit...so if you get a "super skinny" style, you can order in regular or slim, much like you would petit or tall clothing for adults.  I'm SO happy I recently discovered this because I'm not kidding when I say I haven't found a pair of jeans in years that fit her in both the length and waist.  Thanks Gap!  

Old (but still cute) sweatshirt from Old Navy, Jeans The Gap

I also talked about making little changes like cuffing the bottoms of jeans for a slightly different look.
Old (but still cute) T from J.Crew, Jeans Gap


I had to include two photos of the same outfit because they're both so awesome.  Little model I tell ya... Anyway, these outfits are all from clothes she already had but in a new combo she hasn't tried before.  I love the look of layered tights with shorts/skirts for an alternate chilly weather look.  I can't tell you how excited I am for Fall this year!  I still miss you plenty San Antonio, but a real Fall is something I've been craving for years.  

And here we have the same outfit, but just swapped out the shorts for a skirt.  I love doing this with a look I love, but to add a little variety.  

You can never go wrong with jeans and a cute T, layered with a tank for a little variety.  
T Henry and Flora, Tank The Gap, Jeans The Gap


Honestly, I've been wanting to do this for myself for years and after this I think I might.  PSP enjoyed the process and will hopefully enjoy having the final result.  I haven't yet printed out a book as I still want to do more outfits--most likely just ones I put together on her floor and take pictures of.  And if you think Lamp was going to be left out of the fun stay tuned... we did an back to school photoshoot for her too and ...well it's pretty great.  

I'm all for PSP having her own style, but honestly kids just need a little help this age figuring out what looks good and what doesn't.  I think seeing some pictures will also help her figure out her own outfits as well.  Also, and probably most importantly, I hope this really reduces the "what am I going to wear?" & "What are you wearing?" drama in the morning.  Anyone else ever do anything like this?  Anyone else besides Cher from Clueless that is...

Friday, August 22, 2014

Special Needs Spotlight || Elizabeth & Luke

Hi friends--the winner of the Freshly Picked Giveaway is Doris--who asked for the Heirloom size 8--you won!  I'll be emailing you the details shortly.  Or feel free to email me at thislittlemiggy at gmail dot com.  Congrats!  


 Hi Miggy!  Thanks so much for having our family, I always love Fridays and learning about other special needs families. I am excited to share our story with you.  I am Sarah, my husband is Eric and we live in southern Utah. We have 3 kids, our oldest and youngest are only 29.5 months apart. If their close age isn’t enough to keep us busy our middle and youngest child were born with a birth defect called Craniosynostosis.


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Miggy:  Hi Sarah! Thank you for being with us today. As mentioned in your email you have not 1 but 2 babies with craniosynostosis.  Can you please educate us on this condition?  What causes craniosynostosis, what are the symptoms and/or concerns that come with it and is it treatable?  


Sarah:  Craniosynostosis means that the plates in an infant’s skull that are typically separated by sutures have fused together prematurely. For my babies, this meant their sagittal suture was fused together at birth resulting in no soft spot and long oblong heads, resembling the shape of a football. If left untreated the child will continue to have a misshapen head as well as possibly experience pressure on the brain as their brain grows but is restricted by their fused skull. This can lead to brain damage. There is no known cause for the condition and in our case we were assured it was not genetic. However, after having a second baby with the same condition we are in the process of genetic testing. Craniosynostosis is treatable. Two surgery options are offered. The first is a Cranial Vault Reconstruction, where the fused suture is cut and re-stabilized with plates and screws, or the less invasive approach, endoscopic treatment with helmet therapy, which is the option we chose for both children.  

Miggy: Can you take me back to the day/s Elizabeth and Luke were diagnosed with this condition? Do you remember how you felt?  Can you compare those first thoughts and feelings with how you feel now?


Sarah:  When Elizabeth was born in 2012, her head looked funny to me. The doctors assured me that it was from a rough delivery. However, it still didn’t sit with me and I was sure there was a problem. The day we were released from the hospital, we had a pediatrician check on us and ask me if I had heard of Craniosynostosis and explained what it was to me. I immediately burst into tears. In my heart I knew she had this condition but at 6 days old it would be confirmed by a CT scan. Hearing my pediatrician call with the CT results confirming she had the condition was one of the worst days I had experienced. New mommy hormones mixed with the news of a birth defect didn’t sit well with me. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep I couldn’t think. I spent the next 2 months awaiting her surgery crying with extreme anxiety.


When Luke was born earlier this year, I suspected he had the same condition, and it was also confirmed by a CT scan at 6 days old. I responded the same way, with tears, but this time I was able to hold it together much better since I had been through it before, I knew what to expect and that helped calm my nerves.



Miggy: Explain how craniosynostosis affects your day-to-day life--or does it?


Sarah:  Elizabeth finished helmet therapy in June 2013, she acts and functions like a typical little girl, she continues to get scans and meet with her surgeon once a year for 5 years. The only lasting effect she has is she won’t be able to play contact sports. Luke is 2.5 months into his helmet therapy. He wears it 23 hours a day. He overheats quickly and can’t spend time outdoors wearing his helmet, it frustrates him as he is trying to grasp new skills such as sitting and crawling, and it frustrates me that I have hard time kissing his sweet little head and am constantly getting bonked with a big hard piece of plastic.

Miggy: What are the biggest worries you face for your kiddos?   


Sarah:  Like most other Moms I am worried about how other people will respond to Luke in his helmet. With almost a year of helmet therapy under our belts (including Elizabeth’s time) we have heard them called many different names, some kids are nervous of them and wonder why they are wearing a helmet. Parents and other adults say strange things, act strange and try to encourage their kids to stay away from us not to ask too many questions. My biggest worry however is them needing an additional surgery later on in their lives. Sending your child into surgery especially for work on their skull is an overwhelming task.

Miggy: Now for a lighter question, I’m a big believer in seeing the humor in life and learning to laugh, so have you ever had any funny conversations/moments you never imagined due to your special needs situations?   


Sarah:  Helmets have become so normal in our family, Elizabeth and their older brother Logan, are constantly asking to wear a helmet like Luke. It’s quite funny seeing them all in a helmet, looking like they are part of a small football team.


Miggy: How can people best approach or respond to your kids? Is there something you wish other people knew so as to avoid awkward or hurtful situations?  
Sarah:  I appreciate when people ask questions and are polite about it. It’s much nicer than just speculating or avoiding.

Miggy: I know from firsthand experience what a special role siblings can play in your special needs journey.  Is there anything you’d like to share about your other children and their relationship to your son/daughter?
Sarah:  My oldest child is not quite 3 yet, so I haven’t seen a whole lot of sibling support and with this being his second sibling, it’s completely normal for him. I think he thinks all little brothers and sisters come with surgery and helmets.

Miggy: If you could say something to the mom who is just starting on this journey of Craniosynostosis, what would you say?   What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time?    

Sarah:  I would tell them, the wait to surgery is definitely the hardest part. Once surgery comes it will be so amazing to see how resilient your child is and just how quickly they recover. I would highly recommend joining a support group. Finding support from other people in my exact same situation has been such a lifesaver!


Miggy: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since becoming a Craniosynostosis mom?


Sarah:  I have learned to be sensitive and aware of the needs of other people.
Also, you can learn more about craniosynostosis at Craniocarebears.org, an incredible non-profit organization that provides so much support to Craniosynostosis families. They send a care package to your child before surgery and helped to calm our nerves.


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Sarah, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful family with us today.  I don't know how many times I've read "I just thought something was off, but the Dr kept telling me everything was OK..." scenario.  This isn't to diss Dr's--they've got a tough job and many of them do it well.  I DO want to point out how important it is to listen to our instincts, especially as parents.  I know I experienced those "gut" feelings about Lamp and her stomach when the Dr's were trying to tell me it was probably nothing.  And I've heard it time and time again from other parents of special needs kiddos.  Trust your instincts, be a little (or a lot) pushy and if necessary get another opinion.  Sarah I also liked that you said find a support group--so important!  So great that you were actually able to find one for craniosynostosis families--it really does help to have someone you can talk to whose walked down a similar road. Thanks again Sarah and give those precious kiddos hugs and high fives from me!

As always if you or someone you know would like to participate in the Special Needs Spotlight please email me, or have them email me directly, at thislittlemiggy at gmail dot com.  

Have a great weekend and stay awesome.   

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lost and Found




When we moved to Ohio we stopped in Utah for a couple weeks.  One of our tasks was to clean out all our stuff we left behind in my in-laws basement shortly before we got married and moved away 9 years ago.  The thing is some of the stuff we put in storage there was simply being moved from my dad's basement to our in-laws basement--which means a lot of this stuff has been sorta hidden for 15+ years.  Yesterday I unearthed a Miggy time-capsule of sorts--my high school Birkenstocks (totes back in style--high fives younger me), a small stack of my favorites magazine ever, Sassy, old CD's including my Swing collection, a couple of Led Zeppelin vinyls, some of my grandmothers vintage dresses, and a couple boxes of old letters, pictures, cards, etc.

Seeing all this old stuff brought up so many different thoughts and questions to my mind.  First, there was a sense of pride in seeing that my 18 year old self decided to keep my Birkenstocks as if I knew they'd make a comeback.  I tried for a long time in college to shed my 'hippie' roots, but it seems like I could never fully shake it.  You can take the girl out of Colorado, but... Additionally I loved Sassy magazine and still think it was the best teen publication of it's kind.  If you were familiar with Sassy then you know, it was the alternative to all the stupid, pandering magazines telling girls how to dress and flirt sin order to land the man of your dreams.  I still remember Sassy publishing articles like "America's Farmers are Disappearing and Why You Should Care" or something of the like.   Not that Sassy didn't like make-up and fashion as much as the next magazine, they were just much more genuine about it.  Additionally they really opened up the definition of beauty by featuring models who truly broadened the stereotypical definition of beauty.  This was definitely a conscious decision as I often remember friends talking about the "Sassy models" and how unique they were.  "You could be a Sassy model" was high praise in my circle and I appreciated that as a girl who felt good about her looks, but didn't consider herself 'pretty' in the classic sense.  OK--it's clear I have a lot to say about Sassy!

But some other things I unearthed were letters and old pictures--some of them old love letters and pictures from guys who are not my husband--ha!  I haven't really gone through that stuff much yet, but I suppose I will at some point.  I know a lot of people have mixed feelings on this type of thing.  I know some women who have thrown away every letter from a guy who was not her husband, while others--like myself--hold onto old letters and pictures because for me I view it as an important part of my history.  Those experiences and specifically the people who have come in and out of my life all played a part in making me, me.  Plus letters?  Actual, hand written letters... there's something wonderful about having boxes of words people wrote just for you.

Lastly I think about sentimentality and the desire we sometimes have to hold onto certain parts of our past.  I mean I hadn't seen this stuff in probably 15+ years... I didn't even remember that I had held onto all of these things, and likely wouldn't have missed any of it too much if I had never seen it again.  But opening up a box of old relics feels like a opening a present from my past self.  I do not want to be a pack-rat, and I try to go through things regularly to purge and clean out, but somethings are worth holding onto in my opinion.  Led Zeppelin on vinyl?  Timeless.  My grandma's dresses from the 1940's and 1950's?  Amazing!  Additionally, I love that I have these old shoes, magazines and letters from my past.  History--personal or otherwise--is important.

I'm so curious to hear your thoughts about all this--do you have a box (or 2 or 3) with pieces of your past?  Is it a comfort thing?  Is it for happy or sad reminders?  Both?  What about letters--especially 
"love" letters--do you hold onto them, why?  If so what does your spouse/significant other think of this?  If not, why did you get rid of them?  Do you ever wish you hadn't?  Lastly, do you ever marvel at the person you were vs. the person you are now?  Do you still see the essentially the same person or is your old self hardly recognizable to your current self?  For better or for worse, I think I still see a lot of 18-year-old-me in almost-38-year-old-me.  I'm cool with that.  I liked that girl.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Freshly Picked Giveaway



Well you guys know that we're big fans we are of Freshly Picked Moccs around these parts, so I thought I'd host a little giveaway just in time for school.  There's a reason these moccs grace the feet of the mini Celebrity set and are now being carried in Nordstroms across the country and online.  They are top quality, super-soft leather and made in the good ol' USA to boot.  I've sent moccs to friends and family and they never disappoint!  There are lots of amazing prints and colors right now so it's  great time to win some moccs!

To enter first go to Freshly Picked and choose the color and size of moccasin you would choose if you won and leave a comment on this post with the size and color.  You'll get a bonus entry for following thislittlemiggy on Instagram.  Contest runs this week and the winner will be announced Friday morning with my special needs spotlight.  Also, winner can not have won any other Freshly Picked Moccs within the last 60 days.  Open to US readers only.  

Good luck!


Friday, August 15, 2014

Special Needs Spotlight || Kelly and Bob



My intro: Hi, I'm Kelly. I'm 33 years old and Autistic with SPD.  My son is also Autistic with SPD and Childhood Apraxia of Speech. He is almost 5.  I'm mixed, Caribbean and French Canadian, and my hubby is Canadian of Austrian and Irish heritage. So our son is one-quarter black, which is why I called my blog OneQuarterMama.ca. I tend to be very political in my writing, searching for equality in the world, but I mostly write about being Autistic.

Hubby and I both work in the tech industry full time. Our son attends a special school just for Autistics. I also have a Twitter, YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Also, one important note, I use Identity-First Language all the time. I am Autistic. We are a culture of people with different brains. Just like the Deaf are a culture of non-hearing people. For more on this, see ASAN's stance on the matter: http://autisticadvocacy.org/identity-first-language/(I’m not sure if Kelly meant for this to be in the actual interview or not, but I left it in because I think it’s such an important part of the conversation and so we could all educate ourselves on the matter a little more.  For some people you may think this is just "semantics" or perhaps she is being picky or sensitive.  However I think we can all recognize that whether it’s race, religion, disability, sports, or profession using the proper language within a culture is important.  In the interview I refer to Kelly as “a person with autism” she would prefer me and others to refer to her as “an autistic person.”  (Is that right Kelly?) However, I did not change any of my wording in the interview below, for authenticity’s sake and so that everyone else can hopefully learn from my missteps in the interview.  She gives me another tip/correction later on as well.  Thank you Kelly for the gracious corrections!)  

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Miggy:  Hi Kelly!  That you so much for reaching out and participating in today's spotlight.  You are the first mother I've interviewed who has a child with autism (including sensory processing disorder and apraxia of speech) AND who has autism yourself.  So lets start with you.  I'd love to hear about your childhood--at what age did you recognize your autism and what was school like for you growing up?  I know for many of us parents of a child with disabilities, school and the accompanying social aspect, is a big concern.  

Kelly:  I didn't have my ASD and SPD diagnosis until adulthood, last year, so I've gone through the majority of my life just thinking there was something wrong with me. Elementary was socially tough, but by the time I got to high school, I accepted and embraced my “weirdness."  Rather than fighting it, I made use of it by becoming class clown.  However, I still did not understand why I struggled to do certain things other people took for granted.  The structure of elementary and high school suited me well, but I completely floundered my first semesters of CEGEP (college prep) and university without structure.  I was, however, consistently on either the honor or scholar roll. So that studious, nerdy, quiet girl?  Probably Autistic. We don't argue, we are extremely obedient, model students, but have maybe one or two friends, if any. 


Miggy:  I’m also curious about your family, in particular your parents, and how you were raised?  How did they help you make the most of your disability?  Were there things they did that were really great?  Was there anything you wish they would have done better, or at least differently?  


Kelly: My parents did not know I was disabled, they just said I was "different" and told me to be proud of my difference.  However, they both abused my sister and I emotionally and verbally, so they weren't fit parents.  I don't think they should have had children at all.  My father died three years ago and my mom and I have a very limited and tense relationship. What do I think they could have done differently?  Asked for help to deal with their own issues and those of their children.


Miggy: I don't know a lot about you, but I do know that you're married, you have a job, a child and run a blog about autism as well.  It seems that you would be categorized as "high functioning."  I think it's a common perception that people with disabilities have a much lower chance of leading a "full" life--marriage, family, employment, etc.  What do you want people to know about your life now and how it relates to having autism?  

Kelly: Pssst, we also don't use functioning labels to describe our disability: http://www.onequartermama.ca/2013/12/why-i-dont-like-functioning-labels.html 

My high school sweetheart's brother is also Autistic, so I  think I simply attract patient men who can deal with autism.  My husband is very calm, level and patient.  I am more spontaneous and childlike.  He is my grounding sounding board who says, "I don't think that's a good idea" to some of my crazier ideas.  So there is love to be found in patient people.  We also have a level of cooperation and teamwork that I don't know other couples maintain.  We simply pick up each other's slack for the higher good of the family. 

As for work, I did best when I was self-employed, but the ups and downs of that were tough for us early in our marriage. That being said, I consider myself chronically under-employed and jumped around from job to job in the past.  Only recently have I become a bit more stable in that regard.  This current job is the first time I've asked for accommodations (since I finally have a diagnosis) but it hasn't been met all that well.  I may take the leap into entrepreneurship again soon.

I think the take away is that we can achieve a "normal" life, but I know for me, I need to make sure I don't get overwhelmed.  I take a lot more breaks than most people.  I don't drink alcohol at all or go to bed late.  When I do go out and socialize, I need the next day to recover.  I know my limits and have to stick to them if I want to remain productive. Constant self-care is the best way to put it.  Also, I've learned my happiness is more important than money. 


Miggy: Now lets talk about your son.  At what point did you figure out that your son has autism as well?  What was your reaction then and how do you feel about it now?  


Kelly:  I knew something wasn't quite right very early on, but I couldn't pinpoint what. Because of my degree in Linguistics, I knew he wasn't developing language skills normally.  I knew he was most likely apraxic.  Doctors did not believe me when I brought up his developmental issues, so I had to find a private psychologist to assess him. When we got the diagnosis of ASD and SPD, I was not at all surprised.  It felt like a relief and validation to know I wasn't crazy or making things up.  We got the apraxia diagnosis a year later and I was upset because it felt like a double-whammy of challenges for him.  I didn't want him to have such a hard time growing up, like I did.  I still consider his apraxia much more challenging to deal with than his autism.  Probably because I can relate much more easily to the autistic experience. 


Miggy: What are your biggest day-to-day challenges, both as a person with autism and as the mother of a child with autism?

Kelly:  I have to make choices about what I can accomplish each day.  I limit myself to usually one activity a day.  So one day it's groceries, another day is laundry.  There's a lot of teamwork involved in my daily living.  I may load and start the dishwasher in the morning before work and my husband will empty it when he gets home from work.  I will put the wash in the laundry and hubby will put it in the dryer.  Everything is shared.

When it comes to parenting, I see it as an advantage.  I see things from my son's perspective and understand how he experiences the world, for the most part.  I often act as a behaviour decipherer for my husband.  I'm like the Autistic Whisperer.  I often say, “he’s doing that because of this and now he needs this."  I think my understanding of him allows him to be freely who he is, and it must be nice for him. 

I also don't know what it's like to parent any other way, so I'm just used to it. I have to repeat the same things hundreds of times a day, and it's not an issue for me.  I know a lot of other parents are really bothered by certain autistic behaviours, but I know things will get better with time, so it's not a big deal to me. 

     
Miggy: What are the biggest worries you face for your son?    

Kelly:  I fear abuse from others and people taking advantage of him.  I want someone to love him well after I am gone. I want to know he will be well-loved and cared for.  I also want him to feel productive and happy.  I don't want him to suffer as much as I did.  I set the bar high and I make sure he is well-loved and respected at home.  I want him to be able to stand up for himself and know what is right. He should expect the best and he only deserves the best.  I don't want anyone to ever convince him otherwise. 

Miggy: Now for a lighter question, I’m a big believer in seeing the humor in life and learning to laugh, so have you ever had any funny conversations/moments you never imagined due to your special needs situations? 

Kelly:  Not really funny, but it might look strange to others: if we're out and we can see we're getting to the sensory limits and need to make an exit in order to prevent a total meltdown, my husband and I will look at each other and say, "oh, it's starting...." and then we just start packing things up. Others on the outside don't notice a difference in our son's behaviour, but we're able to see the little signs when they start and we're very proactive about it.  


Miggy: How can people best approach or respond to you, your family and/or your son? Is there something you wish other people knew so as to avoid awkward or hurtful situations?  

Kelly:  I wish people had more tolerance for difference.  We get stared at a lot while out in public, not just because we're an interracial family, but because of my son's behaviours.  He jumps, flaps and hums almost constantly.  I don't stop him from doing these things because it doesn't harm anyone.  If he were hitting someone, I would do something, but his behaviours are not discipline issues.  He is extremely obedient, but only when it really matters.  I don't demand a perfect quiet child.  I let him be his exuberant, happy self and I get a lot of dirty looks.  Different is not wrong, it's just different.  Different is not dangerous either.  Jumping is just jumping. Singing is happy. Why get worked up about it?  And if a singing jumping child is the worst thing you see in a grocery store today, and that makes you angry, you have problems and should have stayed home. 


Miggy: What would you say to the mother who's child was just diagnosed with autism?  If there was one thing you could help the world understand about people with autism what would it be?   

Kelly:  Don't panic and there's no need to rush anything.  It doesn't mean we will never learn, we just take a more scenic route :)  The wheels in our heads are constantly turning. You think we're in our own world?  We're not - unless you're extremely boring to us.  Even if we're non-verbal, talk to us about science, about how the world works.  Get down to our level and see the details.  A lot of the time, parents think because their child doesn't parrot back the ABCs, they don't understand anything.  Instead give them letters or a crayon and let them surprise you with the fact they can read and write.  Or get them an iPad.  Don't keep reading us baby books, move on to bigger subjects, because we're already past that.  We hear you. We hear everything you say. Even as an adult in an office with people whispering, I hear your conversations and I remember them.  All of it. 

There's no rush or competition. This generation of kids will live to be at least 100 years old. They have plenty of time to master skills.  Don't stress over milestones, just keep teaching us stuff.  We are curious people - just keep feeding our brains facts.  It doesn't matter if I can't tie my shoes, allow me to become a physicist and I'm sure I can pay someone to do that for me. 

Also, read lots written by Autistic adults.  A lot of us have had the wrong stuff done to us and we're willing to share what does work instead.  Your number one job as a parent is to protect us from abuse.  Protect us from people with bad intentions because we're not able to read people properly and we need help figuring out a good person from a bad one.  Educate law enforcement so that they don't shoot us for not complying with requests to stop screaming, running or "acting oddly."

Let your child have a real childhood.  Watch out for those who want to charge you tons of money for hours upon hours of "therapy."  We need to play and learn on our own as well.  Get into our interests.  If we're into trains, buy us trains, and show us train documentaries.  If we're fascinated by lock mechanisms, buy us a lock picking kit and practice locks.  If we're into computers, teach us to code.  We usually learn everything we can about one thing and then move on to something new.  Support us in our interests and we will surprise you. 

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Thank you so much Kelly--that was fantastic.  So informative and helpful.  First, I have to say that I was struck with your advice at the end about supporting Autistic children in their interests--all I could think was, yeah I could be doing a better job with my own children in this area.  Brilliant advice, especially for Autistic children.  And I smiled when you said "we just take a more scenic route."  Couldn't we all stand to slow down a little?  But I absolutely love what you said about a parents number one job is to protect their Autistic children from abuse.  Children by nature are more vulnerable than adults, but children with disabilities even more so!  I too worry about the vulnerability of my daughters--particularly Lamp--so I'm very glad you mentioned this.  Thanks again for sharing you and your son with us today!  So enlightening and educational.  Much love to you and your family.  


If you or someone you know would like to participate in the Special Needs Spotlight series please email me, or have your friend/family member email me directly, at thislittlemiggy at gmail dot com.  

Have a great weekend!