Total Pageviews

Aug 22, 2012

Hair Clippers and Mirrors

As an autism mom, I'm grateful for hair clippers.  I haven't ever been one who felt talented in the hair cutting department.  I have cut my own bangs with disastrous results.  I cut Caiti's hair once...from whence I was banned forever from touching her hair.  I don't even try to cut my boys' hair.
A common thing in so many kids with autism is HATING haircuts.  The first time we cut Garrett's hair, my dad was there to video the momentous occasion.  Let's just say it was painful to watch.  I've never seen him scream or cry so much.  It just wasn't the cute home movie I was expecting.  My sister had clippers and would come over three or four times a year and cut his hair super short.  We learned ways to distract him, like putting a movie on the portable DVD player, etc.  When we got stationed in San Diego, I no longer had the wonderful luxury of having a sister to cut hair.  We started going to the local NEX (Navy store) gas station.  It has a Barbershop right inside, and haircuts are under $10.
Let's just say that ended the last time I took Jason there.  He was so upset, I'm sure due to the sensory overload of all the buzzing clippers, the bright lights, tons of people, etc.  He started crying so hard that he threw up all over their cape.
That's when I bought clippers.  Yay for those.  I can hold Jason in my lap and hurry real fast and cut his hair.  If he needs a little break, he can have one, and then I have to chase him around and finish the haircut.  Also, those clippers paid for themselves the first time I cut both Garrett and Jason's hair.

Caiti, on the other hand, has beautiful, naturally curly hair.  She's not so keen on my putting clips, bows, barrettes  ponytail holders, etc., in her hair, so if it gets too long, it starts to look really stringy and messy.  I can't cut her hair either, because clippers don't really work for a longer hairstyle, right?  Luckily, we have found a salon that actually has decent lighting and hair stylists who are flexible.  She tolerates the cape for about a minute, then freaks out and tries to take it off.  She'll stay sitting for about that long as well.  Those hair stylists are good at cutting her hair while she stands up...and doesn't stand still at all. The only reason Caiti is any good at the salon is that they have giant mirrors that she can look at herself in and smile and make faces.  That is her favorite.  So, yes, I'm also thankful for the mirrors at the salon as well.


Aug 10, 2012

An Umbrella, not a sponge

As an autism mom, I'm grateful for a saying my mom used to tell me when I was feeling sad about something someone said about me.  "You can be a sponge and soak in the bad things people say about you, or you can be an umbrella and let them slide right off."  I try to remember this when I hear people make comments about my children, my parenting, etc.
Last night we were watching TV, and an ad for a law firm came on.  They were saying that if you took Zoloft during pregnancy, that could cause birth defects, including autism..."  Hmmm.  Lets add that to the list of things that I did (the last two months while I was pregnant with Jason, when Kevin left for basic training).  I am tired of these law firms looking for easy prey in parents of children with autism.  Yes, we feel bad, and it is human nature for us to feel like it was our fault and wonder if we had something to do with why our children have autism.  I was also overweight when I was pregnant with Caiti and Jason.  According to some studies, overweight mothers cause autism.  If that isn't the dumbest thing I've ever heard.  What about the skinny mothers with kids with autism and the overweight mothers with "neurotypical" children.
In the 1950's there was a theory out that there that autism was a result of "refrigerator mothers."  "The "refrigerator mother" label was based on the assumption that autistic behaviors stem from the emotional frigidity of the children's mothers. As a result, mothers of some children on the autistic spectrum suffered from blame, guilt, and self-doubt from the 1950s throughout the 1970s and beyond: when the prevailing medical belief that autism resulted from inadequate parenting was widely assumed to be correct. Some present-day proponents of the psychogenic theory of autism continue to maintain that the condition is a result of poor parenting. However, others merely point out that some conditions are perhaps psychological in origin rather than physiological, and that this is not necessarily a reflection on parenting skills." (wikipedia)
Vaccines...well there's another moral dilemma.  So many people want to blame vaccines.  I remember the feeling of dread I would get when I vaccinated Caiti.  Garrett was showing signs of autism, and I had totally followed  a vaccination schedule with him.  I remember praying, "God, please don't let these vaccines hurt my baby."  I also remember some study or another that said that vaccines caused autism, and feeling devastated and crying that I had done that to my babies.   So with Jason, I decided to hold off on vaccines.  Then, when he was 3 years old, he got the whooping cough.  Also, he had just been diagnosed with autism, as well, so I had proof that his autism wasn't a result of vaccinations.  I decided then and there that even if vaccines did cause autism, I would take that over my child dying from a dangerous disease/illness that could have been prevented if I hadn't been afraid.
According to Dr. Eric Courchesne, director of the Autism Center of Excellence at the UCSD school of Medicine, "UC San Diego has inched closer to the root causes of autism, identifying genes that appear to go haywire before a child is born, preventing the brain from developing normally.  Neuroscientist Eric Courchesne says he and his collaborators found evidence that many genes basically misfire, producing an overabundance of brain cells in the pre-frontal cortex that affect a child’s social, language and communications skills.  The problem begins during the second and third trimester of pregnancy, the period in which most brain cells are created.  “Essentially, the wiring pattern for the brain goes wrong and you don’t get normal development,”  (Gary Robbins)
So I have been trying to be an umbrella, and not a sponge.  I'm trying to let all the billions of theories of what I did wrong as a mother roll right off my back; and as they roll off my back, I'm going to try my hardest to think about all the things I'm doing right to try and give my children a happy life.

Aug 2, 2012

Being a Source of Comfort

As an autism mom, I'm grateful that I'm finally able to play the role of comforting mommy to my Caiti.  When she was little I had a hard time with Caiti.  It seemed like she saw me as a piece of furniture or just a part of the room.  Then she would go snuggle with her daddy or Aunt Michelle.  I didn't know how to reach her.  My therapist was awesome and told me the obvious of doing things with Caiti that I know she totally loves.  The problem was that I don't love to give her rides or let her splash and make big old messes in the tub...but it was worth it to start making connections with my Caiti. She started to see me as someone that could help her have some fun.
Yesterday was our first day having Speech Therapy back in their office.  They had worked with us by doing home visits when we only had one car for a couple of years.  Now that I have my own car, they wanted us to start back once a week at the office.
The best moment of my day, and possibly my week, was when the speech therapist went up to Caiti and told her it was time for speech.  Without hesitating, Caiti came up to me, looked me in the eyes, smiled and grabbed my hand.  She wanted me to come with her on this new experience that might be a little scary.  I was so happy.  I only got to walk her as far as the door, but that walk brought warm fuzzies to my heart, as I realized that Caiti was seeking me out for comfort.  After all, isn't that a mother's role?