Sunday, July 13, 2014

Bumble bees, Airplanes, Fruit Snacks, Oh My!

Mason did something pretty cool this past week-but before I share what it was-I want to share WHY it was so exciting for me...

Typically, children on the autism spectrum lack the ability to imaginary play.

This is true for Mason.

He does not have an imagination.

The first signs of imaginary play emerge around 18 months old-your child will pretend to talk on a toy phone, pretend to mimic what their parent does around the house- cooking, cleaning, etc...

(I remember when my niece who lives in Philadelphia was  actually pretending to "look for a parking spot" when she was driving in a little plastic car-she was not even 2 years old. )

From there, the imaginary play skills will continue to develop.

My three nephews were really into the whole super hero thing around 2.5.

They would dress up as Spider Man, and Batman.

They would shoot invisible webs from their wrists at me.

My niece, along with pretending she was looking for a parking spot would make up stories about owning a bakery, traveling to California (um...what?),and now her big thing is pretending she is Queen Elsa.

My best friend who has a son who is a few months younger than Mason likes to pretend he is Disney Characters. He was 2.5 (maybe younger?) and reenacting the entire Wizard of Oz movie.

He runs around pretending to be the Wicked Witch, melting us all with his imaginary broom.

So get the picture, right?

Mason...does not have an imagination.

He does not pretend.

He does not understand "Dress up" or "costumes".

In ABA therapy since last summer when he was 2.5, his therapist began to work on pretend play.

They started with rolling a car and saying "beep beep"

I was very confused at how this was all going to work.

I remember asking the therapist "Isn't he just imitating what you are doing? He really doesn't understand he is pretending to play 'cars' "

She agreed and explained that is how they start out teaching imaginary play.

Slowly, Mason did start to display very basic imaginary play skills.

He pretends to talk on the phone, he pretends to sweep the floor.

In ABA they now work on pretending to be different animals or objects.

They work in pretending to be a rocket, pretending to put on socks.

Here are some videos of Mason pretending.

He had to be taught all of this, none of it came naturally.

January 2014 Pretending

July 2014 Pretending

Pretending/imaginary play is a very important of child development and Mason has kind of had a little breakthrough.

I bought him these fruit snacks...I am totally desperate for him to eat anything that is remotely associated with fruit.

Anywhoo, he never ate them. Instead, he picked out Nemo and Dory and would walk around with them all day.

I actually found some Dorys in my bed.

I decided since Mason wasn't interested in eating the fruit snacks, I would do something fun with them.

I made an airplane out of them.

Now..anyone that knows me knows that my..ahem.."artistic" abilities are on the same level as like a 5 month old. So my fruit snack airplane wasn't anything great-it looked like a lower case "t" made out of Dory and Nemo fruit snacks.

Mason...however...was seriously impressed!

"Dory airplane!" He shouted.

He ran and got his Dusty airplane (from the movie "Planes")

"Two Airplanes" he said.

"Dusty Dory Airplanes"

He LOVED my fruit snack airplane.

He came ran into his room again, and brought out a white plastic hanger.

"White airplane. Dory airplane".

He put all of his airplanes together.

I was actually very shocked-and happy.

He was pretending the hanger was an airplane.

It honestly was the very first time on his own he pretended one object was something else.

I am pretty sure I am possibly the only parent who wanted to do a back flip because my kid pretended a hanger was an airplane.

We pretended different objects were airplanes all morning. We didn't actually "play" airplanes-Mason just likes to put them all together and look at them...but hey...there was pretending going on so I was not complaining at all!!

I really felt like this was a huge breakthrough for him.

On Friday morning, I felt like we had another type of breakthough.

I was getting Mason dressed for school, and I put a yellow and black striped shirt on him.

He looked at the shirt, looked at himself in the mirror.

'Bumble bee."

Bumble bee?

I literally fell to the floor laughing-I think he was telling me I was dressing him like a bumble bee!

I laughed to myself but was also super happy.

Mason has never seemed to understand dress up or costumes.

Was "bumble bee" maybe a sign that he is starting to understand?

At that moment, I was so happy for him.

I want him to have an imagination, I want him to be able to pretend and play with other kids.

I wanted to hug a bumble bee right at that moment for giving me hope!

Instead, I kissed my very own little bumble bee and told him I loved him.

"Are you my bumble bee?" I asked.


Well ok then!

                                                 not dressed as  a bumble bee

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Is It Possible?

So  I have read that many children with autism actually understand what is being said to them, and what is going on around them. Yet for some reason, their brain does not know how to respond to the language.

More and more I am beginning to believe this was the case with Mason.

The BCBA (Board Certified Behavioral Analyst) at Mason's school first brought it up to me one day when she was monitoring Mason's ABA session.

I mentioned how Mason had no receptive language at the age of 15 months old. He did not understand anything I said to him.

I actually thought he was possibly deaf.

She somewhat disagreed with me-saying that she believes Mason did have receptive language skills due to how fast he was learning, and that he just did not know how to respond back.

I thought to myself that I guess it COULD be possible...but then I thought of the days when I would just stare at him...wondering why he could not respond to anything I did.

Why did he not clap if I clapped at him? Why did he not point? Why did he not react like other kids when they saw a dog, or a bug?

I tucked the thought in the back of my mind.

That conversation was maybe 9 months ago.

Seeing Mason's development over the last few months has kind of convinced me that this could be true.

Mason has had a language explosion.

There was a time when, for him to understand a word, we had to repeatedly show him a picture, or bring the object to him over and over and over.

Repetition was the only way he could learn words. It was the only way he could learn commands.

Lately though, it seems like we don't need the repetition anymore.

This morning, Mason was holding my phone and had on "Ocean Waves" (what we listen to at night to relax-sounds of the ocean.)

The picture that comes up is of a drawing of an ocean and sand.

Mason looked at the picture and said "pool."

I literally was...shocked.

I laughed.

How did he know what a pool was?

He walked to my window, pointed outside to a very very large puddle.

"Two pools".

I had a pool at my old house- but he had not been in it for over a year.

Did he remember? How did he know a pool was a large body of water?

The other day, he walked over to where I used to keep his bottles. There has not been a bottle in here for almost a year.

He looked at me.

 "Baby baba."

Baby baba?

The thing that shocked me about this is that I had never heard Mason say "baba".


By the time he started talking, he was well off the bottle.

But yet, he knew what it was and remembered where I kept them.

After this morning when he declared that "two pools" were present, I began to think of his development "explosion".

I thought back to what the BCBA had said.

I thought about the fact that he could identify every letter of the alphabet non verbally before his 2nd birthday. (watch below)

Mason showing letters

Typically when children first learn letters and numbers it first starts out as rote learning- remembering things without giving any thought to their meaning.

You tell your child to name letters and they can identify the letters however they do not know their purpose is for spelling.

You can tell your child to count and they will repeat the numbers back but they really don't have a concept of actually counting.

Mason could identify all numbers and letters if I asked him before he was 2-he was probably about 18 months actually.

When he started to verbally identify letters and numbers, he also demonstrated he understood the purpose of them.

When he was two and a half, he could finally say the alphabet.

He could  also spell and identify his name and a few other words. He could even say the alphabet backwards.

Shortly after, he counted to 20 out of nowhere. He also could count backwards. He also demonstrated that he understood counting because we would be in my car and he would count things.

He would say things like "two shoes" or "four lights".

I could say "Mason how many air planes do you have"

He would count them for me.

As I thought about him knowing the word "pool"...I thought about development overall.

I really doubt that he learned the concept of counting and reading so quickly (like...just a few days) after just being able to verbally identify them.

He talks about things that I have never needed to show him over and over and over.

He understand the concept of ownership..."Mommy's bed, Mason's airplanes, Mommy's or Daddy's car, Georgia's cup.

Has it all really been in there? Has he always understood but just couldn't get it out?

The reason I was so crazy when Mason was young and showing developmental delays was because everything I read said to get children who have "red flags" started in early intervention early because it is the best time to "rewire" the brain to learn.

Mason has been in therapy since he was 16 months old. He was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at 21 months old. He started getting very intensive ABA at 24 months old.

At 3, he is starting to learn from his environment, like other kids.

There is no doubt in my mind his Autism Spectrum Disorder diagonsis is correct.

 He displays lack of imaginary play, and extreme repetitive behaviors are present. He has a fascination of spinning objects. He has a severe language delay. He does not seem to understand the concept of a friend. He has trouble with transitions.

I thought of Mason understanding what was happening around him, but not able to communicate back.

I wonder if he got annoyed at me when I kept asking him to show me his cup over and over because he actually knew what it was, but could not take his hand to point to it because he did not understand he was supposed to.

What if he has been counting things since he was little, but now just able in the last few months to show everyone he understood? It actually makes me sad because he loves counting.

I wish so much that I could jump in his brain for just 5 minutes...just to see what is going on in there, to help me understand him.

Obviously with that being totally impossible, I just hope at the end of the day, I am making the right choices for him.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Still Trying To Learn...

I just read THIS article, and I have to say it really describes the way Mason typically communicates-although now he is starting talk a lot more.

It is funny-when I read articles such as this, I have to take a step back. There is so much of Mason described in these characteristics of children with autism, it is much for me to handle.

I know he is on the autism spectrum...but it is weird...when you read in black and white "Communication Characteristics of Young Children With Autism"...and the whole article is describing how your child communicated for most of his 3 years of life...-it is really not easy.

Maybe something in the back of my mind still hopes his diagnosis is wrong.

I know it is not wrong. I am 100% sure it is not wrong.

I have no idea why I get so bewildered when I read this stuff.

It is kind of like the IEP meeting we went to-I know Mason has severe developmental delays, and I was not expecting the IEP team to tell me he was suddenly all caught up. I already knew his scores from the evals indicated that he had severe developmental delays.

But seeing it all on a HUGE screen is like a punch in the gut.

I cried at his IEP meeting.

I don't know why I cried. There were no "surprises" at all.

I don't know why when I read this article, I just shook my head.

I guess a year and a half is still hard.

Will this ever not be hard?

Anyway-I wanted to talk a bit about what the author of this article refers to as "Symbolic Communication"

I thought this section was really really interesting.

I try to learn something new about autism and about communication every day.

I google endlessly to try and find information that will help me understand autism better, information to help me help Mason better.

So..."Symbolic Communication" is something I had never read about.

Symbolic communication is the act of expressing your thoughts through language (i.e., a symbol that has a shared meaning between you and your listener). Types of symbols include: spoken words, written words, pictures, photographs, sign language, object and tactile symbols.Neuro-typically developing children begin to use their first words between 12-18 months of age. Poor joint attention and imitation skills as well as difficulty processing and/or discriminating speech from background noise all contribute to the child with autism’s difficulty in using symbolic communication.Children with autism generally use pre-symbolic communication to express their wants and needs. Your child may pull you by the hand to show you what he wants; he may cry and scream when a favorite toy is taken away, he may push undesired items away. These pre-symbolic forms of communication are usually very effective for meeting many of your child’s basic needs. 

Mason has used a lot of pre-symbolic communication-but it seems as though he is starting to use more I guess it would be "symbolic" communication.

Below are some forms of pre-symbolic communications described.

Pulling or leading with the hand- I had not known until recently that this was a form of communication typically seen in autistic children. Mason has done this since he was about 2. Instead of asking or non verbally indicating what it is the child wants to communicate, the child will take the parents hand and lead them to what they are requesting. Mason still does this, and he did it for most of the morning today too-although he now is really starting to make verbal requests. He said "sticks please"-(took me about 15 minutes to figure out he wanted veggie sticks). He can also request all food and drink verbally-previously I had no idea when he was thirsty unless he was right near his cup and he would point to it or we were somewhere where he could lead me to it.

Cry and scream with no other means to communicate why they are crying- When Mason was upset, I used to have to just guess what was wrong. This is getting better because Mason  is also becoming more verbal. Now when he cries, it is usually accompanied by a phrase that explains what is wrong. He can also tell me if his tummy hurts, if he is cold, etc...without going into full down melt down because I cannot figure it out.

Pushing undesired items away with no other means to communicate why they push the item away-Mason still does push things away that he does not want, but now it is usually accompanied by him telling me what he would like instead. For example, I made him a jelly sandwich for dinner. He first pushed his plate away but then  put it in the sink and said "no thank you"-I had to laugh-it was hilarious..and then said "cheerios please".

Oh... he also threw the sandwich on the floor and smashed jelly into my rug before putting the plate in the sink....but have got to appreciate the big picture.

When I see children Mason's age  in restaurants, eating with forks and spoons, sitting in their chairs talking to their parents about is hard. When I see a parent walk with their 3 year old into a store just to "run in and get a few things"...I get jealous-I still have to put Mason in the shopping cart seat and he is pretty much getting too big.

I did try to run into a store with him one time a few months ago and it was a total debacle. Maybe I will write about it later. I left sweating, smeared make up, disheveled hair-all for a birthday present and a gift bag.

The most important thing though-is that progress continues to be made.

Even if some points are slow-it does not stop.

Mason is saying new words every day regularly. It is blowing my mind.

He is really starting to imaginary play (he pretended hangers were airplanes today).

He is showing more and more interest in peers.

Some days I feel like I am on my way to Emerald City, and others I am lost in the Haunted Forrest.

Hell I have even related to just falling down in a field of poisonous poppies and  giving up.

Down my Yellow Brick Road I go...

Where I will end?

I don't really fucking know.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I Live For The Applause...Applause...Applause...

For some reason today, I thought about the first time Mason clapped his hands.

He was 2 years old.

Do you remember the first time your child clapped?

When I say he had never clapped his hands before-I actually mean it. Like...he never ever did it.

And he had to be taught how to clap in ABA therapy.

I remember clapping was one of the first skills we worked on when starting ABA. I don't know if he maybe would have clapped later...but all know is that at 2 he had never clapped, and I have seen 8 month old clap over something that excites them.

I remember thinking it was really weird he did not clap.

Or do "So Big".

Or mimic at all.

Children who develop typically pretty much clap, at most, by the time they are 1.

I remember watching a video a friend posted of her son that was the same age as Mason-maybe they were just 1 year old.

She yelled "TOUCHDOWN" and he put his arms in the air like the referee does when a touchdown is scored.

Mason cannot do that yet. Should he?

I saw my niece and nephew the same age.

He...was not the same.

He was not even close-I could tell when he turned 1 he had no understanding of what was being said to him.

I had no idea how to teach him.

Red flags flying all over the place people. Allllll over the place.

Something isn't right. Something isn't right.

The nagging voice in my head continued.

So anyway yadda yadda yadda- Mason displayed EVERY SINGLE RED FLAG as a 1 year old.

Here were the biggies-

No babbling by 12 months
No Pointing, clapping or waving by 12 months
No words at 16 months

BTW. I have no idea how my font changed. I don't feel like fucking around with font. font changed.

Anyway- yadda yadda yadda got the autism dx at 21 months.

So getting back to my story.

Mason clapping for the first time.

When Mason started ABA therapy, he... I guess you could say had not hit any of the "prerequisite" milestones that are necessary for language. 

He pointed, to ask or to label. And that was thanks to Early Intervention (SHOUT OUT to Rachel Patti his DI therapist. She laid so many foundations for Mason to make ABA successful for him-without Rachel and EI, ABA would have needed to start even further back.)

He did not point to share enjoyment with me (example-pointing because he was excited to see an airplane-that came around 2.5)

He did not mimic. 

Mimicking is a HUGE milestone-not sure if many people know that. 

Without mimicking, there will be no language. At 2, Mason had never mimicked anything we did.

He did not clap.

All of what I listed above are very important communication milestones that NEED to develop before actual language.

So...while Mason was getting ABA therapy, speech therapy and developmental therapy...we really couldn't focus on actual talking because the other milestones needed to be met first-the whole communication thing had to happen in the order that it happens naturally.

I think it took about 4 weeks of ABA therapy (at the time, Mason was getting 8 hours a week. He now gets 20) to teach him to clap.

And he did not clap appropriately. 

Once he learned to clap, he used clapping as a form of communication as opposed to showing that he was excited or he liked something.  (He did this on his own, his therapist did not teach him to use it the way he did)

He would clap to say hello.

Now...I am pretty sure he was not like "hey...i am going to clap to say hi"

But when someone would walk into a room, he would clap twice. And I remember the first time he did it. It took me a bit to realize he was clapping to acknowledge another person. But I was so happy when I figured it out.

He is communicating. It is in there somewhere.

Fast forward a year later. He totally claps appropriately. Holy crap all that therapy actually works! And now has started to communicate verbally, finally. 

This weekend, my sister and I were sitting next to each other and he pointed to both of us and said "Two Mommies."

It was hilarious.

Now...I am a twin (for anyone that does not know) so I am not 100% sure if he was saying "two mommies" because my sister and I look alike, however, he knows her name is TT (that is what he calls her), he asks for her all the time, he can tell us apart in pictures. 

So... I am pretty sure he said "two mommies" because he knows we are both mommies.

I guess my point is...when I think about what he has accomplished this amazes me. He works SO HARD. (No summer off for him!!)

 I am so so so proud of him and love him with all my heart. 

I wish I could do a magic clap or say a magic word so he understands how amazing he is.

Hopefully when I hug him and whisper how much I love him, and how proud of him I am...I hope he just knows.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Advice From A Stranger

So on my last blog entry, I don't know if I sounded like an emotional basket case or what, but a lot of friends emailed me and text me very supportive messages.

 I wrote the entry right after the picnic (even though I did not publish it until a few days later) so I guess my writing was very emotional because it had all just happened.

Thanks everyone for your supportive messages!

I was so focused on what Mason WASN'T doing, I did not even write about the really funny thing that he did at the picnic.

I was running late and still had to make sandwiches, so Scott picked up Mason and drove him to the party.

I literally was only like 20 minutes behind them.

When I arrived at school, Mason was already there.

I walked into the building.

Mason's face lit up like a Christmas tree.

He shouted at the top of his lungs


He ran over to me as if he had not seen me in DAYS.

It was almost embarrassing-not that his reaction was embarrassing. I LOVED every minute. But I kept thinking to myself that everyone in the building was thinking I ignored him or something.

"I swear I just saw him 15 minutes ago!"

He ran over to me and jumped in my arms and gave me a huge hug.

Every time someone from school walked bye, he would grab them.

He made sure they all knew his mommy was in the building by showing me to them when he grabbed them.

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHH" he shouted and would point to me with a HUGE smile.

Everyone was cracking up.

I felt like a total celeb.

So...the day wasn't all bad. I did cry like I wrote previously, and all of what I wrote was very real.

But there were also happy moments too.

This morning, I was inspired by a comment by a new reader who just discovered my blog.

Her son is a year behind Mason-he turned 2 March 2012 and was diagnosed with autism at 18 months.

She wrote that she can understand my sadness, but when she read my blog, she could only hope for the progress Mason has made for her own son by next year.

She described a school picnic recently, and said if her son could just sit with the other kids and not run away covering his ears...she would be so thrilled.

She suggested I go back and read my entries from a year ago.

So I did.

I realized that Mason had accomplished skills that seemed so far away to me 1 year ago.

Although he has a long way to go, he really has come very far.

Sometimes, you need to be hit in the head with an invisible frying pan by a total stranger to put things into perspective.

I know that people tell me to "focus on the good" all the time.

And I do try.

For some reason, that same advice coming from another mom who is hoping for her son to be where Mason is in a year just put it all in a different perspective.

Thank you Brina for your advice, and thanks everyone for always supporting Mason!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hiding Tears...

I was debating whether or not to blog about this incident...but then figured what the hell. This blog is supposed to be about the good, bad, ugly, happy, sad.

Before I write about what happened I just want to start out by saying (as everyone knows)...I love Mason so much. I am never disappointed in him. I try to imagine what it is like to be him and honestly, it is very difficult for me to do.

I read about autism, I know "what it is"...but at the end of the day I don't REALLY know.

Mason works very hard in school. He is flying through his ABA drills, talking a lot (mostly two word sentences that consist of labeling- Mommy's house, Georgia's cup, two airplanes, etc...). This weekend, he even said "shoes off" when we came home from the store, and "off" when he was done swinging on a swing.

It was pretty exciting-it is really so great for me (and him) that he can verbalize what he is thinking. I know it makes things just a bit easier for him.

When Mason is playing in a comfortable environment with only a few children, other than the language delay, you really cannot tell he has a disability.

This weekend he was playing with his cousin Georgia. She kept asking him to say words- "Mason say airplane" "Mason say juice"...and he would.

They chased each other, played ball, played on the beach. They laughed and Mason gave her endless hugs.

When he is in that type of setting, he really just seems like any other kid.

When it comes to actual social situations, however, that is where he is different.

Mason does not have an imagination. He does not "play". He does not understand things like birthday parties or holidays.

Friday was his end of the year school party and I will just get to the point of what I am writing about-

I left in tears.

I watched his teacher say "Everyone sit in the circle"

I watched the children, all 3 and under, walk over to the carpet and sit down, waiting anxiously for what the teacher was going to say.

I watched my son need a 1:1 aide to assist with following that direction,

Now, he understands what "sit down" means and can do it at home. But when he is in these social settings, it is like he retreats. All the kids were getting ready to sit down and sing their "summer" song and he was literally clueless about what was happening. It was not that he did not want to sit and sing a song. He just did not understand what was going on around him.

I watched all the kids sing their summer song and do hand motions, some were obviously more animated than others. Some kids looked nervous.

But my point is...they could all sit in a circle and sing a song.

My son could not. He sat there and did not do anything. And like I said it wasn't that he just did not want to participate...the only way to describe it would be like putting a baby in the middle of a circle and expecting it to participate.

Mason just did not understand.

I felt a lump in my throat and I felt the tears start to come.

I literally had to hold back or I was going to start sobbing.

I looked down so no one could see me.

Next,  "Karaoke" the Clown came front and center.

"Who wants to see a magic show?  Raise your hand!"

The children raised their hands in anticipation.

Mason did not raise his hand. Again, he did not understand.

By age 3 kids do not need to be "introduced" to new environments in order to understand what is happening. I pictured my niece and nephew who are both 3. I don' t think they have ever seen a magician but I am 100% sure in this scenario, they would be very excited and say yes and wait with anticipation, raise their hand, etc...

Karaoke the Clown passed out magic pencils to all the kids. She asked if someone wanted to be a helper and everyone raised their hands.

Mason did not raise his hand. He curiously looked at the pencil and kept asking "what is that"..even though he knows what a pencil is.

There was no interest in Karaoke's magic, no understanding of what was happening around him.

Karaoke picked a helper and asked her to wave the magic pencil in front of her book.

The pages of the book, which did not have pictures suddenly had pictures!!

The children "ooooed" and "ahhhhed".

I just stared at the kids. I stared at Mason.

Why didn't he understand?

Karaoke then asked who wanted to get their face painted.

Why didn't he jump up and down all excited to get his face painted like the other kids?

Now Mason has no imaginary play skills-I am sure this has something to do with why a scenario like this would  not make sense to him.

He does not understand pretend...well...let me back up-he can "pretend" if I ask him very specific scenarios- "pretend you are sleeping" "pretend you are a rocket"...but these are scenarios that he works on in ABA.

I am not 100% sure if he actually knows he is pretending, or if he is just following instructions but it does seem as though he is in the beginning stages of pretend play.

While exciting-it is still very difficult for me to see other kids make up whole scenarios about going to a bakery, play with Mickey Mouse figurines and have them pretend they are going to work.  Make cars crash into each other.

Mason has not developed skill. Again, it is not that he "doesn't like to" or because "he has never seen it before" naturally develop imagination. They naturally develop understanding of social situations.

This is so hard to explain and I am not sure I am doing a good job of explaining it but all I know is seeing Mason at school was totally different than seeing him at home with his cousins.

I watched children talk to their parents. I watched them show their parents art projects they had created. I watched them curiously await the magic tricks, and I watched them sing a song and do hand motions. I watched them raise their hand when asked a question, wanting to be picked to say the answer.

And I watched my son who seemed oblivious to it all.

I wish these things did not have to be so difficult for him.

My heart broke into a thousand pieces on Friday.

I want everyone to see him how I see him.

I want him to have friends.

Is he ever going to even make friends?

Is he going to get made fun of?

I pray very hard that when he is in kindergarten he will have a 1:1 aide-I am pretty much past the point of thinking "everything will be ok in kindergarten" which is initially what my thought was.

 I pray he will be potty trained.

In all honesty, I want to just keep him in my arms forever and protect him from the world.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

HAHA...Now THAT Was Funny!

I just read a really funny blog. I actually laughed out loud reading it.

Here it is if you want to laugh

One of my favorite qualities about...uh...myself was the ability to make people laugh.

I have been told I am "quick witted."

I have been told I would be a good cast member for SNL.

Many times, people have said to me

"How do you come up with those one liners so quickly?" (I have to admit, I was pretty good at them).

Here is one of ny favorite  "moments" of my...uh... comedy career.

One of my sister's I made up was when we were watching a story on the news about a restaurant in Chinatown that was repeatedly getting robbed at gunpoint, when finally, the owner took matters into his own hands.

The robber showed up... but this time the restaurant owner was ready.

He shot the gunman on arrival.


As my sister, brother in law, and I pondered how the showdown brother in law said

"I wonder what the owner said right before fired the shot"

I pictured the scenario.

Gunman walking into the restaurant...the owner waiting like a lion waits for a zebra...or...something.

And the most logical statement came to me at that moment.

"Your fortune says...'Time is up' "

I think we laughed for days. I don't know if it is as funny telling it now as it was at that moment...but my sister and brother in law still talk about it.

Anyway you get the point. I loved coming up with punchlines, I LOVED to tell stories. I could make the most basic story about myself into a Seinfeld episode.

I loved seeing my friends crack up.

So anywhoo-tonight I read the blog and laughed...and thought about how funny I used to be.

And it dawned on me that I was thinking of this characteristic in past tense.

"Used to be funny".

I realized I do not have the desire to make anyone laugh anymore.

I am so consumed in my own grief, my own terror, my obsession for the answers to autism...I just now sat here and realized I am losing...I guess myself.

I cannot remember the last time I told a funny story. Or tried to make someone laugh. Or turned on the television to watch a show, or read a book.

When I am alone, I read about autism. When I am with family, I talk about autism. When I see kids Mason's age I wonder why he has autism and they do not. I find myself falling into fits of panic, of anger at people I probably should not be angry at. The littlest things set me off if I feel misunderstood.

I am not saying I lay in the fetal position in the shower repeating "Einhorn is a man" over and over again the whole day-I mean I do go out and have fun. I go to my sister's a lot which really helps me get through these tough times.

But I do know that I am not the old me. These days, I need my friends to make ME laugh. It gets me through life. I need my friends and family so much to lift me up and get me through my grief (which I think is what I am going through-grief. Apparently there are like 5 stages or something)

I hope one day I can feel like myself again. Or maybe "myself" just isn't the old me anymore. I am a therapist, an advocate, an obsessive autism researcher and a mother. All things that I was not a little over 3 years ago.

So much has changed. I know we all grow and change is normal. I know being a parent is hard for everyone.

But being a child should not be hard for a child, and my son lives in a world that was not designed for him.

Before you clutch your pearls and gasp that I said such a thing...look at what I am doing.

I am putting him in 20 hours of therapy a week so he can be like me. Like you. Like the little boy at the mall who does not have autism. Like everyone else except himself.

I know he needs to be able to develop tools to be a functioning member of society as an adult in order to...well...survive. But along with everything else is the guilt I have that I am taking away a part of him. or maybe I am digging out a part of him that we don't see.

I really have no fucking idea what I am doing.

I don't want life to be hard for him. I don't want it to be filled with therapy. I want him to have friends, and play sports.

Being a parent is hard, it truly is.

But watching your child struggle is so much harder.

I want to help him, but I also want to make sure I am true to Mason for who he is-autism and all.

Maybe someday, I can be ME again, too.

The person who makes me laugh the most!!