Deck the Halls

My husband and I were brought up in different decorating traditions. His mother always put up their (artificial) Christmas tree and all the decorations on Thanksgiving weekend, and within a day or two after Christmas, everything was put away. My mother’s house was usually decorated sometime in mid-December, but the (real) tree itself was not trimmed until Christmas Eve. We kept our decorations up until Epiphany on January 6th (the traditional 12 days of Christmas). Yes, we were usually the last on the block to pack it all up.

As a married couple, we gradually created our own tradition that splits the difference, decorating in early December and taking it all down around New Year’s. (The artificial vs. real tree is still up for debate).

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Regardless of the timing, we both want our house to look festive this time of year. But this can be challenging when the third member of our household really doesn’t like change. Our son used to enjoy the lights and atmosphere of Christmas, and the box of familiar holiday toys, books, music, and movies that appears along with the tinsel and ornaments. Not to mention the promise of never-ending cookies. Read More

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Safe Passage, Revisited

I’ve made a new commitment to post regularly on this blog. 

It helps me to reflect on this whole “parenting a young man with autism” thing and to try to put into words what life is like around here. It doesn’t have to be pretty or perfectly phrased. It just needs to be written and posted.

I know this commitment will be hard to meet some weeks. When my son is having a rough time, I don’t feel much like writing. Or I suppose it’s more that I don’t feel much like sharing. 

But I’m hoping that even when it’s been “one of those weeks,” as it has, I’ll still find a way to keep this blog active. 

Today, it’s appropriate to focus on gratitude with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, and with that, I’m grateful that I wrote this post five years ago so I can cheat a little bit and re-post it. 

A lot has changed in five years (from 13 to 18, wow, yes, there are changes), but the feelings described in this post remain true. Five years on, it’s more important than ever that we have family, friends, teachers, and others who support my son in the ways they do.  Read More

What a Picture is Worth

Show, don’t tell.

Or, at least show while you tell.

That’s a cardinal rule around here.

If you want my kid to do or learn something, show him what you mean. Visually. Write it down. Give him a live demonstration. Show him a picture. Or even better, a video.

Honestly, I’d have a hard time parenting this kid without Google Image search and YouTube. And I’m forever grateful to all of the people who post pictures and videos about the most mundane things and make them accessible to the whole world. They’re so darned useful. 

I’ve used photos or videos to prepare my kid for everything from rollercoasters to EEGs. 

This past week, he needed to get a blood draw. He’s generally pretty good now about getting that done, after years of trying, but there’s still always a risk that anxiety could capsize the effort. So, before we went, I pulled up a photo on Google of another young man getting his blood drawn at a similar lab. Read More

Building Skills

We’ve been focused for many years at school and home on increasing our son’s independent “life skills.” But with the end of traditional school looming ever closer, we’re even more aware of the importance of teaching him how to do things on his own, helping him find success in completing daily tasks, and in being as independent as possible. 

 In turn, I have to learn how to get out of his way.

As I’ve said before, I’m fully aware that my kid has “mom-enabled” deficits. I try not to do too much for him, but I don’t always succeed. Sometimes it’s because we are rushing to get somewhere and it’s easier for me to just DO all the things. Sometimes he is debilitated by anxiety and inability to communicate, and I’m doing what I can to lower his stress, which is clearly not the right time to add in a skill lesson. Read More