When Life Is Overwhelming

We all pride ourselves on being busy. We have a calendar of things to do. It imparts importance. You’ve got places to be and days to seize. You have arrived! And your status in life is clearly evident by your hasty, hourly, hoping from one happening spot to another.

But what do you do when life, repetitively, places you in 2 places at once? How do you, repetitively, chose to perform one priority task over another? What are your actual decisions when faced, daily, with conflicting social, personal and career responsibilities?

Enduring an overwhelming situation, temporarily, is par for the course but when there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel and decision-fatigue sets in, where do you turn?

The short answer is … you fall to your knees in prayer.

Your path is already known. And God has already made a way.

Simply put …this is only a test.

(Spoiler Alert … your heavenly father determines your score. And he has already said that if you just take the test, you will pass. It’s all in the bag. It’s fixed! No jail time. )

So this is a test. This is only a test of your Emergency Faith in Operations Needs. And you need more faith. But, not to worry, it’s free. It’s handed out every time that you pray. It just … falls from the sky.

Had this been a true emergency, you would have only seen one foot print in the sand. http://www.footprints-inthe-sand.com/index.php?page=Poem/Poem.php

For now, you have to walk. After all, it’s still a test.

It’s your open-book test. It’s your use every resource around you test. It’s your ask the Lord for all the answers test. It’s your call a life-line test. It’s your YOU-WILL-NOT-FAIL test.

So come boldly before the thrown of grace and ask for the answers. Hebrew 4:16 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews+4%3A16&version=NKJV

Because life becoming overwhelming … is only a test.

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The Hate U Give

I stayed up late last night with my 11 year old daughter, watching the movie THUG: The Hate U Give.

I was so starving midway, there I was at 2am, air frying salmon to stay within my weight watcher points. Anyway.

It was an emotional ride showing all sides in the case of police shooting of a black man. It exposed the hard gangster life of the projects and a family’s desire to want more for their kids. It exposed the very stupid moves that fake-thuggers make that gets them killed by assuming cops. I was afraid that it was a little too real for my daughter.

So after the movie ended and we prepped for bed, I asked her this question. I said … what was the most important lesson you learned from this movie? And then I braced myself for the answer. She could have had so many. She could have hated the white cop for killing that black kid. She could have felt angered at the message that she should acknowledge life is unfair and just put her hands up. She could have hated black cops.

But she paused a while and then said … Chose my friends carefully.

I had to pause. And process that. Then I said to her. EXACTLY. You’re exactly right.

She identified with the main character of a Black Girl going to a rich private school. Because that’s who she is. And she drew her own correlations.

But you know what …

The Bible said … shun the very appearance of evil.

My Grandmother said … show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.

I read … 2 cant walk together unless they agree.

And I always said to her … take that dam hoodie off your head or I will stop buying you those sweats you like.

I teach her that all lives matter but that her black life matters the most to me. And that’s why I support #blacklivesmatter. Because my color is the weapon that others fear. And I cant put it down. I can only only draw a smile on it.

And with that, we fell asleep.

#autismsibling

Another Bad Idea

You know how it goes. I’m with him a lot so I know him. And I want what is best for my son. I’ll even go as far as saying that I know what is best for my son. So I called his Developmental Pediatrician and made the request. I said “Please decrease his dose of Adderal. I think that it’s causing him to tense up and bite his lips.”

That was a bad idea.

By all means, the request was granted! Afterall, it is a controlled substance. There is always the concern of diversion and misuse. So, his requested lower dose Rx was never written faster.

Let me just mention this early on. Adderal does not treat Autism. It will not treat stims. And it does not make your child normal.

But it surely treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. And since my little man has been gifted with both Autism and ADHD, you will soon get my title.

Wikepedia being one of my favorite sites, I will quote them: “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder of the neurodevelopmental type. It is characterized by difficulty paying attention, excessive activity, or difficulty controlling behavior which is not appropriate for a person’s age. There is also often problems with regulation of emotions. The symptoms appear before a person is twelve years old, are present for more than six months, and cause problems in at least two settings (such as school, home, or recreational activities).In children, problems paying attention may result in poor school performance. Additionally there is an association with other mental disorders and substance misuse. Although it causes impairment, particularly in modern society, many people with ADHD can have sustained attention for tasks they find interesting or rewarding (known as hyperfocus).”

So my hyperfocused, electronics junkie of a 7 year old son was non-stop jumping, squealing, hands flailing, singing, touching, fidgeting, running, and eating out the fridge of all its contents. I was amazed. His home ABA instructors were at loss … as if to say .. who is this kid? You see, they didn’t know him a year ago … off meds.

It is truly amazing to watch how a stimulant, like Adderal, calms a kid who naturally behaves as if his blood runs on expresso. Is there short circuit that occurs? Or does it just line up his neurotransmitters to fire on cue. Either way, he needs more in his life and I’ll be the first to say … Another bad idea, know-it-all mom.

But I won’t give up. He’s counting on me. I got you boo.

Killing Me Softly

It’s amazing how often we hear the word, Wellness, in our current era. #Wellness. It’s cool. It’s trendy. Remind me to go buy my KALE sweat shirt because seriously, I’m trying. I am all about this new push on society to be well because well, we are not well.

I’m only forty..ech..ehm..something but I still recall when wellness was expected. It was forced on us by our mom figure and desert was not before dinner. It was a broccoli eaten with resentment. And a long walk home from school. Wellness was not covered by insurance payers and you were certainly not rewarded for choosing to go for a walk. Fat-shaming was in and Wellness, well, it was not a thing.

Personally, I think that this frameshift in how we present wellness is smart! Brilliant even. We all know the old cliché … If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Rewarding Wellness is doing just that. Who doesn’t love gratification? And since human nature is prone to the path of destruction, a little encouraging nudge to nibble on nature’s goodness may be where it’s at. After all, if you give me options like Study or Play? Apple or chocolate? Coffee or water? without an incentive, I will be energized for my all day play at Hershey park. Gone are the days of discipline and self-control. It was a hard lost fight and we, the fat, need more than a healthy LDL goal to propel us to maintaining wellness.

Seriously. every convenience is at hand. What’s a person to do? And don’t tell me about how healthy our forefathers were. My forefathers ate fruit because that was the path of least resistance! So yes. They were lazy too. Need I remind you that they preferred to ride on top of a mule. I too recall when it was easier to grab a fruit, off a tree, than to husk a coconut, grate it, make sugar and bake it all together so that I could have a sweet treat. That was why I ate fruit then too. But now, I eat fruit because I’m rewarded. Hey!

But whether we like it or not, convenience is here to stay. And I’m sure that somewhere, someone is coming up with a way for me to get to the fridge without standing. So smart is how we must now think. How can I pull off being well? Because, as you know, to be well these days requires planning and scheduling and tracking and staying on top of things. I will need a personal assistant so that I can remain well each day. A wrench in my day plans never leads to a 10 mile walk home. No. It leads to missing the gym class and picking up pizza because I have no time left to make dinner before that PTA meeting at 6pm.

It’s all killing me softly.

But what I love about life, is that to every problem, there is a solution. Death happens to be one of them which brings me right back to this wellness thing. I’m not ready for the ultimate solution and discipline is low in supply so what’s left? Ah… yes, the mythical, mesmerizing carrot stick. In my case, the dangling hope of losing 50 pounds.

So, I went and found a game changer? It’s Weight Watchers! (They should pay me for saying that. I’m so doing this all wrong). But despite being a medical doctor and telling everyone to eat right and exercise, I too am (present tense) prey to the pull of pizza. I too need a rewarding way to budget my time and energies. Life depreciates us. It just does. You try and win and repeat and win and who cares? Not even you sometimes. Then one day, someone gave you a bravo sticker and you’re like … Wow! … that felt good. Suddenly, you want another friggin sticker! And everything is well with the world again. Next thing, you’re driving past the bakery to the farmer’s market. And you want to take an extra 5 mins of your day to track your breakfast on an app that is programmed to say “Good Job.” Wow! Again!

So, half the battle is already won. I’ve acknowledged that convenience is killing me. Now onto the next half … Rewarding Wellness!
Oh, for me? A little icon on my app for my 25lb weight loss? Shucks. (Insert bashful smile).

BLAZE!

It was the only word out of his mouth. BLAZE.

I know what it means. He knows that I know what it means. And he knows what is coming next … the prompt!

I want a full sentence and I don’t want to have to ignore or prompt him to get it. But there we were … in a battle of who goes first … So , I went.

“Full sentence please,” I said. To which he replied. “I want Blaze please” and then looked at me with his smiling, bright-eyed face, mouth ready to say “yea” after I say ‘yes’ but there it was … on my face … the smile that’s turned upside down … a frown.

2 years before – I read him the story “Blaze and the Monster Machine” off of my kindle. He was … eh … about it and I felt that the story was a little wordy for him at the time. It used sentences that played on words like “Gimme some speed” and “I’d like to hang out with my new friends.” He was certainly not at the level to understand that speed was not something that I would hand him or that hang was a slang.

But here we are, fast forwarded 2 years, having zoomed past lots of resistance to reading despite his abilities, here reading a bedtime story. It was not Blaze. It was “Pete the Cat: and the treasure map.” He allowed me to read it. He was even quiet and listening. Off Adderal for 2 weeks. But then the story ended and I closed my kindle app. No sooner than I did that, his head popped up from the pillow and he said “Blaze!”

I looked at him puzzled. I haven’t read Blaze in over 2 years. Even moreso, I’ve purchased him the truck and he doesn’t play with it. There’s is Blaze on TV but he’d rather watch Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood. Regardless, who am I to refuse a request to read a story. So, I re-opened the app, found ‘Mighty Monster Machine” and read him to sleep.

It is the next night, hence my frown. But as autism moms know, you play along. “Good asking Nolan. But a better sentence is … can you read me the story of Blaze, Please?”

“Yes” he said, as he parroted the sentence after me.

I sighed inwardly and wondered when this will get easier. When will he ever conversate and not parrot. And then immediately comforted myself with the victory of potty training and my mantra of “One day, this too shall pass.”

We won that night! Because he verbalized a new sentence.

And I responded with “I will read it to you as a bedtime story. Are you ready to go to bed?” Surprisingly, he placed his cute little 6 year old hand into mine and tugged me all the way to his room where he again fell asleep to “Gimme some speed.”

He’s So Affectionate!

He’s so affectionate! Those words were said about my son. Mine. The don’t touch me, why are you hugging me, Tazmanian, that I gave birth to. Those aren’t words often spoken about a kid with autism combined with ADHD. But after viewing a short video of my son pleading for a Panera Chocolate Chipper, a commenter made just that stated observation. And it resonated.

Now, I’ve struggle with that for years. I could not understand why he pushes me away. Let’s put that into present terms… I refuse to understand why he pushes me away. Even until now, his hugs involve him placing both open palms on my person (you know, the double-handed universal STOP sign. What? That’s not a thing? Just him? Hm…) as he leans his body in to accept my gigantuous squeeze.

Maybe it’s my depression and absolute need for touch. Like dude, love begets love, man. Get over here and hug me.

Mom guilt was at an all time high when he was about a year old. I knew that I loved him. Come on. He’s mine. That’s automatic. Right? But, fact was, sometimes I wasn’t sure. “Come gimme a hug buddy. Kiss mommy.” That’s a thing. Yes. It is. And it echoed all day in our house.

I expressed these feelings to a social worker at preschool and not only was I referred to therapy for crying, I was reprimanded and told to respect his wishes of not wanting to be touched.

What the whaaaat?

Lady, he doesn’t like to talk either. Are we going to respect that too?

I was emotionally perplexed. My son and I were at different ends of the emotional spectrum of life. And I was being made to feel guilty for trying to win him over.

But sure thing, after I mentioned this again to another person, it was confirmed that I should respect his wishes under the rational of sensory overload and possible pain.

I surrendered. I caved. I fell into hopelessness, envisioning my son, isolated, mutually and willfully removed from socialization. And I thought … Dang, he’s never getting a girlfriend.

But who wants to inflict pain?

But by golly, if it’s painful then I don’t want to be this ginormous syringe injecting him “Q4 hours.”

And so the back and forth fight went on in my mind. I was stressed.

It didn’t take long. I gloriously failed the first few days of “respecting his wishes.” Has no one read the plethora of studies on the need for babies to be touched? Or am I just needy?

I certainly look to our professionals for guidance, but I began to question everything.

Aren’t there sensory gyms to help kids get over sensory issues? Aren’t there feeding therapies, paid for by insurance, to help kids get over texture issues? Isn’t there ABA for autism? And who on earth respects the wishes of a toddler?! Boy, I said sit down!

I soon started my own home grown, tailored to Nolan, Hug Therapy.

I figured, if he can sit in a noisy class with 5 other out-of-control special kids surrounded by walls plastered with every kind of pattern and design geared to the whole purpose of learning behaviors that do not come naturally and then going to the sensory room to help him sort out his “feeling” (ha, l love that one) then I will be relentless at de-sensitizing him to hugs.

I got no where with that. He hugged me like a cold potato.

Sure it was for personal gains. I know that I love the little tyrant ripping my house to shreds but one hug makes it all worthwhile. And of course it was also for his gain because the world loves hugs and I’m trying to matriculate him there.

So, I thought of how to further inflict my will on this poor unsuspecting child. (Oh come on! We all do it. There’s a vitamin or 2 tucked into that chocolate milk. The kid never asked for riboflavin!)

So at nights, when he was nice and sleepy, we snuggled. It was the only time he would settle into a lap. With the possible the exception of 103 fever. (I sneakily liked those hugs too).

Soon, it was morning snuggles and sneaky little blanket playtime on the bed with a quick hug.

It’s the same idea behind “Gimme bah!” He learned that. Bah! As in kisses. And we got all the kisses we wanted. We simple had to ask. None volunteered themselves.

So “Gimme hug” was next. He got to chose. And he did. Open palmed and pushing back but he did. And he would come in for a hug and boom, your second is up and he’s gone.

It’s been 3 or more years since I started Hug Therapy. And It worked – ish! After a while, he was climbing EVERYONE! Non-discriminantly. I may have had a few teacher notes about it.

But he’s 6 now and in that videotaped request for a cookie, he ran over to his sister, Natalie, cupped her lower face in both his palms, looked her in the eyes and said “another cookie!”. And when another cookie didn’t arrive stat, he hugged his big sister, snuggly resting his head on her neck, while sadly saying “cookie is broken.”

He got another cookie though and I got another victory.

(And, yes, we are still working on sentence content. The cookie is not broken but nice talking buddy. 😉)

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You Just Never Know …

Motivation is a fickle beast. One moment you’re swept up in a fiery energetic fuel that lights a path to great writing while the next moment you are water-douced and finding it a struggle to write a comment on a post.

Today’s motivation came during such wet times as I commented, arguably, to a post. The poster respectfilly stuck to her grounds and re-expressed her points convincingly. Then added as a side note the statements … Have you blogged recently? I love your blog. You were like my floatie during the begining years of my sons diagnosis. I share your blog with other autism moms. And then she did the most amazing thing …. wait for it … she quoted a sentence from an older blog post of mine.

I closed my mind and breathed for a moment thinking … did I just read all that? Did she just quote me?

To that I say … holy crap. Thank you @skinnyasis!

I write for myself, publicly but this platform of mine has touch lives and transcended beyond likes and comments on a post ( … of which I totally love … and want more ) to folks IRL via word of mouth.

I not only want the world to be aware of autism and what I go through. I want parents of those with autism to laugh at the crazies, smile at their success and persevere through the tough times

So Ding … Spark of the Day! Today’s blog was brought to you by the letters “Oh” and the fingers “Snap” and by contributions from readers like you. Thank you!

So what is your task today? Your task is to be that unexpected supporter to some you hardly know. Because …you just never know

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