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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mason's "Birth Story"

Mason is about to turn 4..this Sunday-to be exact!

I honestly cannot believe it- 4 years just flew by in a blink.

I read so many "birth stories" online.

Stories of women who...uh...gave birth.

Stories of how they triumphed...during birth.

There were tears, emotions, feelings of immense pride-which is very well justified.

Giving birth is fucking hard!

Contractions are no joke. That shit fucking hurts like a mother fucker-no shit!

So I can understand the feeling of empowerment women feel as they do what... they were born to do.

The power of how they felt when giving birth is described in glorious detail!

The connection with the baby, Their significant other... as nature took its course!

Unexpected twists and turns, OR...the perfect birth-just what they intended and exactly how they imagined.

The baby! the connection!

Lets all sigh with amazement.

And then lets talk about my birth story....which is...I really don't have one.

I went to the hospital, got induced due to IUGR,

Got an epi,

Was on Facebook.,

At 10 cm, a really hot doctor was all up in my shizz while my mom yelled that he was "really manipulating my vagina" (still not sure what that even means)  as I was trying to push my son out.

Bet no one every writes about that part in their birth story!

So-that is pretty much my pre birth story.

For me-the story began when I actually begin to deliver- I will never forget the moment when I gave birth to Mason-it was seriously fucking surreal.

I literally was thinking to myself

"A person is coming out of me. WTF"

It was weird, freaky, and amazing at the same time.

But I still cried when was happening.

I could not wrap my brain around the fact that my body literally created a human and it was coming out of me.

How did I do this?

How did I make this?

I looked at him the first time.  His eyes. his lips. His face. His fingers and toes.

How did I? Me? 

How did I create this perfect little person?

When you think about life developing in your body, and then coming out to become their own person, it is truly a miracle.

So whether you deliver your baby with the aide of pitocin and an epidural at a hospital like I did, whether you decide a non medicated birth at home, whether you have a scheduled, unplanned, or emergency c-section.

Nothing is as amazing as the fact that in the end no matter how our kids get here get here....we moms went through a tough 9 months to get our kids here- and they are perfect!

To me, in the end,  it didn't matter if I  had the perfect birth I always wanted or if I went to the hospital, played on facebook,  had some embarrassing moments,  and my baby came out.

I don't have a birth story and I am proud.

I...like...just gave birth.

And look what I accomplished!




















Saturday, February 21, 2015

"Hi Everything!"


Yesterday Mason was watching Barney. (ugh OMG I never knew anything about Barney before and wish it could stay that way)

I feel like he is a bit old for Barney but whatever. He really likes it.

He LOVES seeing the kids who are on the show. When they come on, he yells "HI KIDS!!!"

Actually on a side note, he says hi to everyone and everything now. As we were leaving Shoprite a few nights ago  (yes Shoprite again. I feel like lots of shit always goes down in my blog at Shoprite) he yelled at the top of his lungs "BYE SHOPRITE! SEE YA NEXT TIME!!!"

Anyway getting back to Barney. As we were watching, a song about exercise came on and Mason started copying what the kids were doing on the show.

They ran, he ran around the table. They jumped, he jumped too. They crawled around, he did too. Hands in the air to reach up, he did too.

He was laughing and yelling "Hey kids!" the whole time.

No prompting from me-he was doing it on his own.

 I joined in and at the part where the kids jump, he grabbed my hands and we jumped together.

My mind flashed back to when I had him enrolled at "Little Gym" when he was about 19 months old.

To make a long story short, he was in a class for 18-24 months and I remember all of the kids except Mason could follow the teacher's instructions when she told everyone to run in a circle, try to skip, try to hop, etc...

I remember just watching the kids in his gym class just follow along and laughing and enjoying themselves...

I remember just watching Mason and wondering why he didn't understand like the other kids did. The kids in his class could even answer what their names were.

Yeah there were some kids who didn't want to participate but I could tell they were CHOOSING to not listen, as opposed to Mason who just didn't understand the situation.

This is really happening. This is really fucking happening.

That is what I thought to myself over and over. I actually asked his Early Intervention therapist if I should put him in a younger class but she said no-being in the class with same peers will help him.

Later I found out this is called "Peer Modeling".

Basically...kids learn by watching each other and it is very effective way for children with developmental delays to learn.

Peer Modeling is why it is very important for someone like Mason to be in an inclusion classroom setting. This means that he and other students with autism participate in a classroom setting with typically developing peers as opposed to being shunned away to a special ed only class which is what used to be done back in the day.

Mason has been in an inclusion setting for almost 2 years now at his school. I know that the peer modeling has made such a big difference in his development-particularly this year when his individualized program is really putting an emphasis on peer to peer interaction.

I have seen a huge difference in him probably within the last 6 months socially.

He says hi to EVERYONE. He actually said hi to a person on a bike the other day.

"It's a bike! Hi Person!"

 He has now taken an interest in what other kids are doing and what they are playing. Yeah he is not pretending to be Batman yet like kids his age (and who knows if he will even ever like Batman) but the most important thing is that I am seeing growth. His development, while slow, has never stagnated.

So to other people, watching an almost 4 year old boy run around and yell "hi kids" and participate to a show on television doesn't really seem like that big of a deal.

For Mason and I...it was something we had never done together. He giggled and laughed as I crawled around with him.

"Mommy's turn Mommy's turn!" he yelled.

So much of Mason's life has been me watching watching him simply react to things around him, and me prompting him to help him along.

To watch him at almost 4 years old, finally start to interact on his own is something I was not sure was going to happen a year ago.

I don't want to "change" Mason. I am not trying to "erase" who he is.

I know he will always be autistic and I have finally realized that trying to "erase" autism is not going to help him.

The best way to help him is to work with him and not against him...to work with his strengths but still let him be himself.

Autism, I have realized, does not a death sentence.

As Mason has grown, so have I. I realize I need to fit myself into Mason's world as opposed to making him fit into mine.

And I need to make it crystal clear to everyone who interacts with him that is what is expected.

I think this mindset is helping me mentally and it is helping Mason developmentally.

I love all of his little quirks that..if they were gone...he would not be Mason.

I love this kid so much.

I am so proud that I am his mom.







Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Feeling Positive

I am feeling positive.

I think the last time I felt positive about the future, Mason was 9 months old....however I am not 100% sure because I cannot accurately pinpoint when my worry started.

But...I know it was before he turned 12 months old.

I never want to experience that again-the feeling in the back of my head that something is not right.

The feeling that I was I was standing on the beach-watching a huge black wave emerge from the distance, ..preparing to swallow me and there was nowhere for me to run except right into the wave.

This is how I felt pre diagnosis.

The wave did what it had to do,  and I stood on an island, alone.

This is how I felt post diagnosis.

But now...now I am feeling different.

I don't know why all of my imagery from my mind is about water.

But now I feel like I am on a little sail boat and I am sailing toward the sun.

And lately, I don't feel so alone.






Sunday, February 15, 2015

Updates

I feel like things are starting to come together for Mason.

His language is really really picking up-last night he looked at some flowers I had on a table and said

"Oooo they are beautiful. They are cool"

He picked one out of the vase.

"Here you go, Mommy".

It was so cute and sweet-he was super excited to hand me a flower!

He is really interacting with what he sees on T.V.

Recently, he has been really into Barney.

When the kids come on, he yells "Hi Kids!!"

He dances along, tries to copy their sweet dance moves, and sings along.

Barney is super annoying, but I really think the show is helping Mason developmentally.

He laughs at the funny parts too which cracks me up.

He is doing a good job with dressing and undressing. He still needs help, but instead of screaming in frustration, he asks for help.

He actually asks for help for almost everything that he has trouble with-THANK GOD.

I don' t think I could have taken much more of the freak outs...although this morning he was trying to close a plastic egg and and I helped him without him asking and he got super pissed and yelled "NOOO HELLLLP!!!"

Alrighty then.

When I vacuum or sweep, he wants to "be a helper" as he says.)

He helps me push the vacuum and he tries to sweep with the broom-or as he calls it- the "sweepy". ..I am not allowed to call it a broom.

These skills typically emerge around 18 months.

A few times in the last year he has copied what I was doing around the house, but it was really only when I prompted him,

While at the time I thought he was developing this skill, looking back, I think he was just copying me because of all the prompting. He didn't really "want" to help. He was just mimicking-which is great too but not the same thing.

Now, he wants to be a "helper" without any prompting!

He is really advancing pretend in pretend play.

Last week, he used both his hands to put my hair in pony tails and said I was a dog. It was hysterical. I think I laughed for an hour.

This morning when he was putting on my robe, he said "Mommy put on Anna's dress"

He was pretending my robe was Anna from Frozen's dress LOL!!!

Also this morning he tried to put a diaper on Big Bird and then he tucked in-this was all without prompting from me.

I am not sure when this type of pretending typically emerges, but I do remember at Mason's autism evaluation, the Dr who evaluated him wanted to see if he could pretend to give a baby in a bath and I was astounded that it should be a skill he should be able to do-he was 21 months old.

One thing he does that kind of makes me sad is when he makes two toys interact, he makes one Mason and one the ABA therapist.

I was listening him play with two of his Magic Clip dolls and this was the conversation they had:

"Ok Mason. Say muddy. Muddy. Good job, nice talking."

He was reenacting one of his speech drills in ABA.

Another time, I watched him play with Big Bird. Mason crossed his legs and said

"OK Big Bird. Cross those legs"

He crossed Big Bird's legs

"Nice job Big Bird"

I am not sure why this made me sad.

Don't get me wrong, I was happy he was playing but...out of all the scenarios he could play I felt a little guilty that therapy was what he thought of.

Someone pointed out it was the same as playing "school" which I guess is true but...I don't know. It just didn't sit right with me.

Yesterday we were playing and I made one of his toys go to Shoprite-Mason's favorite place to go along with Target-he asks once a day to go to both.

He kind of looked at me as if to say "Wow I can do that?" and then copied me.

This is how he made his toys talk:

"Hi"

"Want to go to Shoprite?"

"Lets go!"

Um...that was about it.

He looked amused and unsure when he was doing it, but he also had a big smile on his face-it was something new!

Also this morning he asked for a spoon and a bowl to eat his cereal!

Overall though I am really happy with his progression. He is so funny, he likes to joke around, he loves to sing along with whatever is on, and he loves to dance and make his toys dance. His personality has really come through this last year.

Now if only he would sit on the dang potty!






Thursday, February 12, 2015

Mother of the Year

Yeah so you can all just call me mother of the year. I basically ripped my kid's heart out and stomped all over it this morning.

Mason woke up and immediately grabbed the tablet to watch "Disney Collector Surprise Eggs" as soon as he woke up-well-not as soon as he woke up. We snuggled and I scratched his back and we played our games we made up where I tickle him and he cracks up.

But as soon as I got out of bed, he went for the tablet.

Side note-if you don't know what Disney Collector is-ummm you are lucky??? It is some chick who makes MILLIONS on facebook opening toys.

Young kids  everywhere are hooked!

http://www.today.com/parents/disneycollector-toy-reviewer-enchants-toddlers-youtube-1D80001314

Disney Collector

I know that is horrible but I am in survival mode when it is time to go to school so there are no meltdowns. Hey-I will take anything to distract him.

As he is watching Disney Collector and i am making his lunch he says

"Want Surprise Eggs"

"Ok Mason. We can go to Target and get Surprise Eggs if you want."
"
OK Mason. We can go to Target and get Surprise Eggs if you want.

OMG. Dumb Dumb Dumb.

So dumb of me to say.

Children with autism are very literal. So when I said we could go to Target, he like seriously thought we were going to Target. I had no idea.

He happily hate his cereal, drank his milk, got dressed. No fights.

Holy Crap! What a great day!

He picked out two toys to bring in the car like he does every morning- "Skipper" and "Sparky"- characters from the movie Planes which is his favorite along with Finding Nemo.

No drama getting in the car seat (his new thing is that he wants to drive and I spend literally 15 minutes trying to get him out of the front seat.)

Mason is happily buckled in his car seat holding Skipper and Sparky...when it happens.

"Ok Mason! Let's go to school!!"

Same thing I say every morning.

I begin to pull away.

I hear thrashing.

Skipper whizzes by my head.

No idea what happened to Sparky.

I look in the rear view mirror...totally bewildered.

"NOOOO SCHOOOOL NOOOOO SCHOOOOL!!!!"

My child literally looked at me like I crushed his dreams.

He. Was. Pissed.

"WANT TO GO TO TAAAARRRRGGGEEEETTTT!!!! WAAAANNNNT SUUUURPPPRIIIISEEE EGGGGGGGSSSS"

Ummmm

Fuck? Whoops? What the fuck just happened?

He thought we were going to Target because of what I said.

OK Mason. We can go to Target and get Surprise Eggs if you want.

I shit you not, this kid was looking at me like I was the biggest asshole alive.

I am pretty sure he was thinking I tricked him.

The thrashing. The screaming.

I had brushed his hair and wiped his nose right before we left (OMG these winter colds, one end and one begins!!)  but  when I looked at him in the mirror, he looked like a kid who's mom had never heard of a tissue.

As a side note, before I had kids I always wondered why moms didn't wipe their kids noses. Little did I know the kid's nose was probably wiped 3,458,947,809 and the mom was just fucking sick of snot.

Sorry I judged, moms.

Anyway-

Mason was really mad at me. I felt so horrible. I wanted to drive to Target but I knew I had to be back at home for work by 9.

He was crushed and there was nothing I could do about it.

I tried to sing songs and make him happy but he was not having it.

I ended up resorting to giving him my phone to watch Surprise Eggs on You Tube which I really hate doing-but I couldn't comfort him driving so the phone was the only thing I could think of to calm him down.

By the time we got to school, all was ok. I dropped him off without any type of incident, but all day I felt so so so guilty.

When I picked him up later in the evening, I had planned to surprise him by going to Target, but he beat me to the punch.

"Want go to Target. Want a toy. Want surprise eggs"

Ok Mason. You will get surprise eggs.

I walked all through Target and couldn't find plastic eggs? Isn't it 90000 days until easter? Seems like the usual time frame for when stores start selling for a holiday right?

No eggs. Target does not have plastic eggs.  They sell Trojan Hot Spot Vibrating Rings, toddler clothes, and vegetables and power tools. All in the same store!!!  But I cannot find a fucking plastic egg?

We walked around Target. We walked through the toy section.

"Mason look there is Paw Patrol"

"No Paw Patrol. Want Eggs"

"Mason look Dusty"

"Cool"

"Do you want a new Dusty?"

"Want Surprise Eggs'

My heart sunk.

There were no eggs in the store anywhere.

I walked to the section where there were Frozen toys.

"Mason look. Ana, Elsa, and Olf. Do you want Frozen"

"No Fanks"

All of a sudden, his face lights up.

"Woahhhhh cool!!!! Want dem"

I look at what he is pointing to

It is Disney Magic Clip Princesses. Belle, Arielle, Tiana, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel all together in one box.

A Disney Collector Favorite!!

Mason already had  Ana and Elsa magic clip dolls at home-another toy he had picked out himself.

I guess he wanted to add to the collection.

"Want dem. Want 6 dresses. Mommy can I have 6 dresses please?"

"Yes you can Mason"

I handed him the box.

You would have thought I handed this kid a million bucks.

"Fanks Mommy"

As I walked through target one more time trying to see if I missed plastic eggs anywhere, Mason showed his excitement for his new toys. He couldn't wait to open them, but did a great job waiting in line and he handed the cashier the box and said "Fank You!!"

"BYYYYEEEE TARGETTTT!! SEEE YA NEXT TIME"

He shouted it so loud-grinning ear to ear, holding his Disney Magic Clip Princess box.

It felt so normal.

I took my kid to get a toy.

And he was really happy.









Friday, January 30, 2015

I Love You Mason

So this time last year when Mason was about to turn 3...well...I wouldn't say he was non verbal but he wasn't verbal the way a 3 year old should be.

Most of his language was labeling and unless you were with him every day, no one really knew what he was saying because he started most of his words with a "d" sound. He did not speak in sentences-mostly everything was one or two words only. He could count to 20, say the alphabet, spell his name.

Here he is exactly a year ago counting to 10.


Here is another video of him looking at pictures

Both of these were taken about a year ago.

A year later, I am so happy with his progress. Remember-this kid has been in some sort of speech therapy since he was 16 months old so this stuff is not happening naturally.

He works very very very hard.

At his preschool, he gets speech, OT and ABA. In ABA they do a lot of speech and OT drills as well.

He can sit with the ABA instructor for two and a half hours and pay attention and follow the directions-I swear he is so good at sitting and listening because he started Early Intervention at 16 months old and would sit with the therapist for almost an hour while they worked on language and social development.

Anyway-you get the picture.

 I sometimes get the comment "see he is fine" which really annoys be because...it wasn't fine. Needing hours and hours of speech therapy isn't "fine".

Anyway-the last 6 months he has had a real language explosion. His speaking is so much clearer than it was before. He is speaking in sentences.

He does not have any conversational language yet although strangely, he will have conversations with himself.

For example-right now he just said

"Mason. No bouncing ball in the house. Ok. You are so smart you catch the ball. Can I have the ball? That's nice asking"

Seriously he just had that conversation with...himself.

He is doing all of these funny things now that crack me up.

Yesterday he was talking in a really weird voice and told me he was a monster.

Whenever I am in the bathroom, he waits for me to come out and when I do he claps and says "Great job on potty mommy!"

Thanks Mason. It is nice to feel appreciated.

We play games such as pretending to jump in water and see sharks-and he really gets it and understands. He actually made up the shark part of the game-we were pretending to swim in water and he said "ahhh shark!"

Anyway this morning he woke up crying around 5 am.

"Mason what is wrong?"

"I need help. Shirt is stuck. Fix it"

I turned on the light and his shirt was like all twisted in the arms-no idea what this child did.

He was really crying and just saying "It is stuck. Fix".

"Ok Mason. Mommy will fix your shirt"

I fixed his shirt and he snuggled close to me.

"Fanks Mommy, " he said.

"You are welcome Mason" I said.

I sat in the dark and thought about our conversation.

Then it kind of hit me-we DID have a little conversation together.

It wasn't the type of conversation my sisters have with their 4 year olds-but...it was a start.

He wasn't labeling or asking for food. He needed help and could tell me exactly what was wrong.

"Fanks Mommy" repeated over and over in my head. The way Mason said it, you would have thought I was seriously the greatest person who ever lived.

 He really sounded so grateful that I fixed his shirt. We drifted back to sleep...

About 45 minutes later he was out of bed, lifting my eyelid up and holding my glasses for me to put on.

"Mommy get up on floor" ("Get up on floor" means he wants me to get out of bed)

Mommy can I have milk please?"

"Mommy can I watch doggie dancing?"

"Mommy no shoes and socks. Put them on the sofa"

"Turn fan on. Make it fast"

"Turn lights on"

"Change my diaper"

"Want to do letters puzzle"

"Want some chex and pretzels. Mommy can I have chex and pretzels please?"

"Can I watch Dusty Crophopper please?"

All this and I didn't even have my robe all the way on.

I got up, changed his diaper, got him some milk, gave him the iPad to watch doggie dancing, put his shoes and socks in his room, turned the fan on fast, brought out his puzzle, filled his cereal bowl with chex, and put on the movie Planes Fire and Rescue-his new favorite movie.

Hey...the kid knows what he wants.

"Fanks Mommy" he said again.

I hugged and kissed him.

"I love you Mason".

"I love you Mason" he said back to me.

I smiled and laughed to myself.

We will get there.

I am sure.







Friday, January 9, 2015

I Wish I Could Have a Dang Crystal Ball...

So there are a lot of blogs out there written by autistic adults that describe how they felt as a child growing up. I have been reading a lot of them to try to gain the perspective of autistic people.

Many of them sound like they are very hostile towards their parents. They feel that therapy was abusive (particularly ABA therapy which is what Mason gets) and hearing that REALLY bothers me.

I am present for Mason's ABA therapy for 6 hours  during the a week. He laughs, he hugs the therapists, he is excited when they come to my home.

He looks to me no different than a kid in school memorizing spelling words or the 50 states.

I mean...that stuff is boring. it is normal for kids to be bored right?

He is doing probably a lot more "learning" that a typical child his age because he is basically learning behaviors that typical kids do not have to be taught. How to speak, how to play with toys, how to age appropriate self care.

Learning those things, IMO are what he needs to ensure a successful future.

It is all so confusing. If I felt Mason was not happy, I would pull  him out right away.

 He seems happy to me...I can tell when he is unhappy.

I just wish he could tell me himself.

I wish I could say "are you happy at school" and he could answer that question.

One of the other things I have read is that autistic people always knew what was going on around them even if they seemed like they were "in their own world."

Many of them write about how they understood what was going on but their body could not react.

I thought about when Mason was 1 and I would ask him over and over to point to his cup but he wouldn't.

But now I wonder ...maybe he couldn't??

I am thankful for getting early intervention for him.

I want to set him up for success.

Babies turn into toddlers, toddlers into preschoolers, and preschoolers into elementary kids etc...

I know in my heart if I had ignored the signs or just waited for them to hopefully go away, I would be setting him up for failure later on.

I don't have any regrets in that respect but about once a day it crosses my mind...

Am I doing this right?

How do I know?

Is he going to hate me because one day I kept asking him to point to his cup? Is that what these adults remember as abusive?

Is he going to think this blog is insulting?

Sigh.

I have learned so much the last 2 years-especially this past year.

I just don't ever want him to think I was trying to change him into someone else and that I did what I did because I love him.

He did not have a voice.

I am his mother and I had to make the decisions as best I could.

I know many autistic adults believe they are more of a voice than parents of autistic kids.

I do appreciate their perspectives and I am trying to learn from it....and I have. I have learned a lot and hope to continue to learn even more.

Plus I don't have any autistic friends I can just call up and ask what they think.

And even if I did...who's to say they were experiencing the same thing Mason is?

My perception of autism has somewhat changed because of the viewpoints of autistic adults and believe me-it is totally for the better.

I can see things from a perspective that I never thought of before.

But I honestly feel at this time, no one knows his voice better than me... because no one else loves him the way I do.

And I will know that I have done my job as a mom if as an adult,  he can look back and tell me he was happy.