Hi! Thanks for stopping by! If you’re new here, that makes two of us. I’m pretty new to the world of blogging. You can see how this whole thing started and read my very first post by clicking here. Maybe you’d like a little insight into who I am and who these people are I keep writing about. Click here to meet the cast and crew (aka: the fam). If you’d rather read about me in the third person, you can find my official bio here. If you’d like to hold my writing in paper form, click here to learn more about my book and how to buy it. Or just scroll down to see what I’ve been up to lately. I’m hoping that you can relate with my ramblings in some shape or fashion, or that you can at least take away a smile and maybe some autism awareness. So kick back, take your shoes off, have a brownie, and stay a while – unless you have stinky feet, in which case you should probably leave the shoes on.
We had a great Easter service at church this morning. The children preformed a little musical and they did such a great job! Eli (my three-year-old) sat this one out. He’s not a fan of standing up in front of the church, and I’m not a fan of chasing him down the isles in front of the entire congregation, so we just hung back and watched the other kids do their thing.
After the musical, the children all went to children’s church. Justin (my teenager) wanted to take Eli back to be with the other kids. I didn’t see the harm in it, so I was like, “Sure.” And then after they had left the sanctuary, it dawned on me – they’re probably eating! How could I have not thought to ask ahead of time about that? How could I have sent the two of them off alone into what was sure to be a gluten minefield?!
I jumped up and ran after them, but I was too late. I walked in just in time to see Eli take a lick of icing off of his yummy-looking, gluten-filled cupcake. So I had no choice, I had to snatch the cupcake – his absolute favorite treat of all time – right out of his excited little hands. Yes, I was feeling like mommy of the year.
He was too stunned at first to even get upset. Of course I would give it back. Mommy would never steal his cupcake. Any minute now. It took a little while for him to realize he wasn’t getting it back. And then the tears started rolling. Yep, this was a very low moment in my 14-year stint as a mother. The worst part was that I couldn’t explain in an intelligible way why I had taken it from him. Gotta love the barrier of a language delay!
Trying to redeem myself, I came home and baked him cupcakes – complete with sprinkles; He didn’t like them. Apparently, gluten is a very important component of a cupcake as far as he is concerned. I don’t understand because I thought they were really good. Of course, I don’t believe I’ve ever met a cupcake I didn’t like. But I guess it truly is the thought that counts because I seem to have been forgiven. All is right with the world again. I just don’t ever want to go through anything like that ever again, and yet, somehow I’m sure I will. But I have learned a very important lesson – always assume there will be cake!
Sorry I haven’t been posting much lately. My life has gone from nuts and chaotic to a stark raving crazy mayhem in no time flat, with the utterance of two simple words: “gluten intolerant.” Both of my boys have had to go gluten-free, and I don’t mean in an “I’m going to cure my kids’ autism like Jenny McCarthy did” kind of way. I mean in a “their blood work shows that they don’t tolerate gluten and it’s making them sick” kind of way. If it helps behavior-wise, that would be great, but the main concern is their health.
Not sure if you know this, but gluten-free food is expensive – $6 for a loaf of bread expensive. And just in case you aren’t from around here, that’s at least three times more than the regular bread goes for (six times more if you, like me, buy the $.99 store brand). And when you take into consideration the fact that the size of the loaf is about half the size of a regular loaf of bread, that makes it even more disheartening. But apparently that’s a trend with gluten-free products – they usually come in very small packages. It’s like they assume that people who don’t eat gluten must not get very hungry.
So to sum it up – gluten free food costs a lot more and you get a lot less. And if that wasn’t sucky enough, there’s always the possibility that you’ll just end up throwing the entire package into the garbage because it isn’t fit for human consumption. Yes, some of this gluten-free “food” (and I use the term “food” lightly) is just plain nasty, and it’s really difficult for me to wrap my mind around the fact that somebody, somewhere must eat the stuff. Why else would they continue to sell it?
So grocery shopping has suddenly become a little like some sort of game show, only we have to use our own money instead of game show money. And when we try a new gluten-free product, we cross our fingers and hold our breath, hoping it’s actually edible. When it is, it’s like, “Jackpot!!! Don’t you dare throw that package away! We need to make sure we remember what to buy.”
The fact that my kids are so incredibly picky hasn’t exactly helped to make this transition any easier. I was honestly scared to death that Eli would starve since he was basically living off of Goldfish crackers and Carnation Instant Breakfast mix to begin with – both of which contain gluten – of course.
Being able to give him the Carnation as a meal replacement made me feel better about his extremely limited and nutritionally deficient diet. And he refuses to drink any other brand of meal replacement drink that we’ve tried.
I’ve searched high and low for a gluten-free cracker that he will eat. So far, no luck. He keeps asking for his Goldfish but I can’t find a replacement. We have gotten him to eat some gluten-free bread, and we still have applesauce and bananas – the only gluten-free foods he already had in his diet. And of course, he still likes potato chips – luckily, there are many gluten-free varieties. So I don’t think he’s going to starve, but his diet definitely needs a LOT of work!
So I’ve been really busy trying to put bread on the table – literally! I’ve been forced to spend a lot more time in the kitchen because gluten-free food is also not really all that convenient. I’m having to make a lot more stuff from scratch – not exactly my forte. I’ve even tried baking my own gluten-free bread in order to save a few dollars. I finally decided I wasn’t really saving money since my bread didn’t really taste like bread. I think we should stick with the store bought kind. And I’ve been spending a lot more time working from home in order to pay for that bread.
I still have to do all of my usual mommy stuff – handling disaster control, defusing meltdowns, trying to potty train (unsuccessfully), chasing down a naked toddler and making him put his clothes back on (Eli has apparently decided that he belongs in a nudist colony), and yep – the dog peed on the floor again. Have mercy! I’m a disheveled mess and my house is too. But I’m going to get the hang of this gluten-free thing eventually. It’s just going to take some time. So bear with me. I’m still here, just stretched a little thinner than usual (no reflection on my waistline). It seems like there really is life after Goldfish, but it’s definitely going to require some getting used to!
I love being a mom, don’t get me wrong. I want to make that clear. But there are quite a few things people usually don’t mention when talking about the wonders of motherhood. Most people tend to leave out the stuff that would send any sane person running for the hills.
Motherhood is filled with lots of joys. It is without a doubt the most rewarding job on earth. And it’s a good thing because the very survival of our species depends on that. In fact, I’m pretty sure moms suffer from some type of selective amnesia that is somehow ingrained into our DNA. Or perhaps it’s some form of PTSD repression, blocking out the more traumatic aspects of parenting. I’m not sure, but it must be one or the other. This is the only explanation I can come up with for why people have multiple children.
But eventually most of us snap out of it. That’s the moment we decide we’re done. We’re so thankful for the kids we have. We love them more than life itself. But our judgment is no longer clouded by the amnesia effect. We’re too exhausted to forget the less adorable aspects of parenting. We are fully aware that one more child might just do us in. We finally decide, “No more. I’m at my maximum child capacity. If I can just manage to grow the ones I have into healthy, functional adults (or care for them as not so functional adults in certain cases), I’m retiring. Maybe some grandkids one day, but otherwise, no more children for me.”
So it’s full disclosure time. Here’s a list of some of the less glamorous aspects of motherhood that I don’t recall being brought to my attention as I was preparing my future nest. But that’s probably for the best. Some things are better to live and learn. Future moms, you may want to look away.
- You’re going to need a strong stomach for this job! You’re going to spend the next 18 or more years cleaning up someone else’s bodily fluids. Everyone knows they’ll have to change diapers. But nobody is prepared for the cesspool of pee, poop, snot, and puke that awaits them.
- Hope you don’t mind playing in the potty. There’s a strong likelihood that you will one day find yourself on your knees, on your bathroom floor, elbow deep in toilet water, fishing for Legos, toy cars, and all kinds of other things that should never be in a toilet. And it is highly unlikely this will be an isolated event.
- Keep a plumber on standby. Refer to number 2.
- Stock up on Febreeze! You wouldn’t know it by looking at them the first time you hold that precious little bundle of joy in your arms, but this angelic creature is going to fill your home with the foulest of smells. From dirty diapers, to funky feet, to whatever horrid smelling treasure they find in the back yard, to the food they sneak into their bedroom and forget about until it has grown so much hair that it resembles a small animal, they are going to stink up your house.
- If you’re the type of person who obsesses over a spotless house… good luck with that. I’m not laughing at you; I’m laughing with you.
- You should probably just hold off on any home improvement projects until the kids are grown. They’re going to tear your house apart brick by brick and board by board. There’s no point in worrying about fixing it because they’re just going to destroy it again. Hang a picture over that hole and move on.
- Hope you got plenty of sleep the first twenty or so years of your life because there’s a strong possibility you won’t be getting any more of that for a while. If your child has autism, it’s probably going to be a really, REALLY long while. Yeah, I was counting on losing some sleep with a newborn. Everyone knows new moms don’t get a lot of sleep. But nobody told me that he still might not be sleeping at the age of 14!
- Life’s about to get really loud. You will probably think he’s loud when he’s crying with colic, but he’s only going to get louder as he grows. When he’s a toddler, running through the house with that wild banshee squeal that has the neighbors looking out their windows, you’ll long for that tiny little newborn cry. And then when he’s a teenager, with his teenage attitude, you’ll think, Where did my sweet little child go? If you decide to throw in another kid, things are going to get even louder. If they have autism, you’re going to meet a level of loud you didn’t know existed. You better invest in some noise cancelling headphones. Yep, they’re not just for the sensory needs of the child. They really come in handy for mom too!
- If you ever want to pee alone, you must remember to lock the door. Then enjoy your solitude while you listen to the sounds of the world coming to an end just outside the locked door as your child/children beat on the door and stick their hands underneath, as they attempt to somehow squeeze themselves underneath the small space between the bottom of the door and the floor. Just pray they don’t succeed. Hey, at least you know where they are and what they’re doing.
- Beware of Legos and bare feet. It’s like they were invented for the purpose of inflicting pain. Indoor sandspurs – housespurs. Prepare to have them infiltrate every nook and cranny of your home. That noise you hear when you’re vacuuming and it sounds like you just sucked up a pile of rocks… Lego. That thing the dog’s chewing on over in the corner, and you’re not quite sure what it used to be… Lego. In your purse, stuck to a half-eaten sucker… Lego. That object lodged in the sink drain… yep, another Lego. (Refer to number 3.) And somehow your foot always manages to find one as you’re attempting to quietly maneuver through the house in the middle of the night. So much for stealth! Those kids you finally got to sleep, guess what? They’re up. (Refer to number 7.)
“The difference between high-functioning and low-functioning is that high-functioning means your deficits are ignored, and low-functioning means your assets are ignored.”
– Laura Tisoncik
Okay, so I know I’m a little behind on this post. The plan was, and still is, to do a new myth each week. But what can I say, the past couple of weeks have been pretty hectic in the Dixon home. Blogging hasn’t exactly been top priority.
For now, there’s a break in the storm, so I’m just going to get up, brush off the debris and try to pick up where I left off.
This week’s myth: “High functioning autism isn’t really a disability.”
The truth is, there are a lot of people with high-functioning autism who see their autism as a gift. They don’t look at it as a disability, and many of these people believe that others shouldn’t either.
I sincerely think it’s awesome for them that they are able to have that outlook. Many people with high-functioning autism manage to overcome their obstacles and go on to lead very normal and fulfilling lives. This gives me all kinds of hope for my boys. And there are definitely aspects of autism that can be seen as gifts.
But the problem is that autism is unique to each person who lives with it. And the spectrum is vast. Even the high-functioning end of the spectrum alone is incredibly diverse in the challenges that each person faces.
The term high-functioning implies a high level of functioning. And I suppose compared to someone on the low-functioning end of the autism spectrum, that’s true. But some people who are classified as high-functioning may not ever live independently. Yep, you read that right. High-functioning does not guarantee self-sufficiency.
My kids are both on the high-functioning end of the spectrum, but the challenges we face are enormous. My children are not “just a little quirky.” They have very real issues. They can’t do everything that kids their age are supposed to be able to do. They struggle with so much that others take for granted. They spend so much time in therapy, time that they should be spending just being kids.
I mean I get it. I understand why so many people feel the need to focus on the positives of autism while ignoring the parts that, quite frankly, stink. I try to do that too, as often as I can. The autism community works so hard to rally for acceptance. We don’t want autism to be feared, and we don’t want to be pitied. We want others to understand exactly how incredible autistic people can be.
At the same time, we want people to understand the unique obstacles we face. We fight to get our children the special services and accommodations that they need. We want people to be sympathetic to their behavioral outbursts and sensory needs. If autism is such a great thing, then what are we complaining about? Why do we need special treatment?
This is probably not going to make me super popular and it’s sure to be taken the wrong way by somebody, somewhere (probably a lot of somebodies), but I’m going to say it anyway – I personally don’t think autism is all that great. Sorry, but I don’t.
My boys are great. Actually, they’re better than great. They’re incredibly awesome and fantastic. There are many amazing aspects of their personalities that are a direct result of their autism. And in that respect, I suppose I have to give autism some props. But in general, it is my opinion that autism sucks. It’s hard – even for many on the high-functioning end.
I’m constantly juggling therapy schedules and searching for interventions for my children’s continued improvement, so that hopefully one day they can look at their autism as a gift. I want that for them. But for now, at this very moment, I’m having a hard time looking at it that way. They are a gift – my greatest gifts. I accept them and love them the way that they are. That doesn’t make their autism any less challenging.
I think there is a tendency to sugar-coat life on the spectrum. And while I understand the importance of focusing on the positive side of things, I think that pretending something is better than it actually is can be as equally damaging as extreme negativity. How can we spread autism awareness if we’re telling people it’s great and making it out to be some sort of advantage? (I do get that in certain situations it can be viewed as an advantage. But that’s not typical.)
It bugs me when people act like having high-functioning autism is a guarantee of some kind of geniusness (Yes, I just made that word up). First of all, not all people with high-functioning autism are savants. And secondly, being a savant doesn’t mean that someone functions well. It doesn’t guarantee that life will be easy, or even that they will be able to brush their own teeth.
Some people say that autism is a different ability and not a disability. I admit, I like the way that sounds. But isn’t that true of any disability? Having a disability doesn’t make someone less of a person. It simply means they have obstacles to overcome that the general population doesn’t. That makes them all the more awesome and inspiring in my book. But their struggle is still real.
“One thing that makes being a special needs mother even more difficult is to know that there are people who don’t even think you deserve that title.”
– Cynthia Dixon, Raising Rainbows
Okay, I know the moms against Pinterest thing has been done to death lately. But today I’m feeling pretty unoriginal and also pretty anti-Pinterest, so I thought, Why not go ahead and throw in my two cents about why Pinterest is the root of all evil?
The funny thing is that I’m actually a very artsy, craftsy person by nature. The more creative and original the project, the better. And early on (VERRY early on) in my years of parenting, I was that mom. You know the mom I’m talking about – the one that makes you want to gouge her eyes out when she shows up to the class party with beautifully decorated, homemade cupcakes that resemble zoo animals and personalized goody bags crafted from scrapbooking supplies, and all you brought was some paper plates and a bag of chips. Yes, I was that mom (at least I tried really hard to be) for a short little while, until motherhood beat it out of me using utter physical and mental exhaustion as well as a lack of unoccupied time.
I’m not going to lie, it’s a little disappointing knowing I can’t be that mom. There’s still a part of me who wants to be her, but I know my limitations. I’m doing good most days to cover the basic motherly tasks, like feeding my children, making sure they are clean and have clean clothes to wear, and keeping the little one from impaling himself on something while pretending he’s a stunt driver (without actual wheels). I don’t have the time or energy to sculpt sandwiches into the shape of cartoon characters. I just don’t.
When I first discovered Pinterest I was so excited. It was like I had stumbled onto a creativity gold mine! All those awesome ideas in one place! I’ve wasted countless hours pinning crafts and activities that I’ll never actually get around to doing in bouts of unrealistic optimism and a complete loss of touch with reality.
Eventually I realized that as great as this all seemed at first, in the wrong hands (like the hands of a neurotic, mediocre mama suffering from a slight June Cleaver inferiority complex) Pinterest becomes more than just a place to find neat ideas. It actually represents everything that is wrong with the world. It sets the bar ridiculously high for moms everywhere. How does Pinterest get under my skin? Let me count the ways…
- It makes me worry that I’m depriving my kids of some awesome childhood where their mom makes everything fun and always has a cool activity up her sleeve.
- It rubs my nose in all of the super healthy, yet delicious looking recipes that I should be cooking daily and feeding to my family. Meanwhile, I’m doing good just to get my picky eaters to eat a frozen pizza. Hey, tomato sauce kind of counts as a vegetable. Right? Thank God for multivitamins and Pediasures!
- It reminds me of all the DIY projects I would love to do around my home, plus causes me to add even more things onto my never-ending mental to-do list. But the only DIY projects I’ll be taking on in the near future are the laundry, dishes, and maybe dinner – not that frozen food really counts as DIY. Maybe I’ll get around to some of those projects one day… when the kids are off in college.
- It makes me feel inadequate in my crafting abilities. Like I said, I’m a pretty crafty person. But somehow my Pinterest creations never seem to be quite as incredible as the picture I’m going by.
- It encourages moms to try and one-up one another by flaunting their supermom skills. Isn’t there enough of that going on already without the assistance of social media? I’m not even trying to play that game. Baking perfectly iced cookies in the shape of Thomas the Trains, complete with a licorice and pretzel railway track, and taking a picture of them isn’t going to prove what an amazing mother I am. Maybe I should snap a picture of my zombie-like self at 2 A.M. trying to convince my three-year-old that his body actually does require sleep, or cleaning up puke because I tried to introduce a new non-preferred food and he became physically ill at the mere thought of putting it into his mouth. Or maybe I should get some pics of the many meltdowns I’m constantly attempting to defuse. Would that prove my awesome momminess?
- It loads me down with unnecessary, and hopefully irrational, guilt. I see so many different choice boards, picture schedules, visual timers, sensory activities, and work boxes. Who has time to make all these? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made my share. But there are so many things I haven’t tried. Maybe I should invest in a laminator. My son’s language skills have come a long way, but what if my lack of lamination is the reason they are still limited? Maybe my son’s aversion to getting wet stems from me not doing enough sensory play activities with him. Yes Pinterest, thanks for that.
- Jealousy. That green-eyed monster is always there to greet me whenever I log onto my account. I want to be like those picture perfect mothers with the neatly organized homes, the mad baking skills, the kids who sit still while looking in the direction of the camera and smiling for pictures, and the craft project for every occasion.
And yet I’m still somehow magnetically drawn to Pinterest. Like a bug to the zapper right before it gets sizzled. I can’t seem to stay away. The truth is, I love Pinterest. And that, my friends, is how Pinterest proves that I’m a glutton for punishment.
The dude who invented our modern time system definitely wasn’t autistic. How could I possibly know this? It’s simple. Two words: “daylight savings.” There’s no way that concept came from the mind of a person with autism.
People with autism generally like change about as much as cats generally like taking baths – the kind of baths that involve lots of soap and scrubbing their fur the wrong way. So yeah, it’s not exactly their favorite thing. And having an entire hour just vanish into nonexistence, well that’s pretty huge as far as change goes!
My kids have been completely off since this hour disappeared, and unfortunately, I know it’s going to take at least a month, maybe longer, for them to adjust to this new schedule. They’re transitionally challenged.
Yes, if I could travel back in time, I’d love to slap that daylight savings guy right in the face and say, “Dude! What are you thinking?! You want more daylight hours, how about changing your schedule instead of forcing everyone else to change theirs!”
The truth is, it’s not that easy for me to adjust to this time change either.
I do like having later daylight hours. It makes me feel like I get more accomplished, although I’m pretty sure that’s just an illusion.
But these new hours make it easy to lose track of time and not realize how late it’s getting. It’ll take me a little while to recalibrate my internal clock.
Plus, sleep is a precious commodity around here, and I don’t exactly appreciate having an hour of it ripped away.
I personally think the whole concept is ridiculous and unnecessary. But if it must be done, it could be done a better way.
Autism parents understand the value of transition. In fact, it’s the bedrock that our daily schedules revolve around. We always try to allow time to adjust, time to get used to a change that’s taking place. Our kids need that. We don’t dive in headfirst; we slowly wade in on the shallow end.
They should totally let us redesign daylight savings. Losing an entire hour can be pretty painful, but who would miss 15 minutes? Why not have a daylight savings month – bumping those clocks ahead 15 minutes at the time, four Sundays in a row? It takes most people that long to get used to the new time anyway. Same end result – no sudden change – no sleep deprivation.
Or here’s a crazy thought – we could just allow time to flow naturally and leave the clocks alone, except when it’s time to change the batteries.
This is exciting stuff – my very first product review and giveaway! Do you know what this means? Someone read my blog and was impressed with it enough to think, Hey, that would be a great place to endorse my product! How cool is that?!
I guess I need to work on writing an official disclaimer for this kind of thing. In the meantime, let me just give you the rundown of how this review thing works.
The wonderful people over at Silverado Jewelry contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing a piece of their jewelry. And of course I was like, “Well, yeah! I would love to!” So they sent me this beautiful autism awareness necklace to enjoy, wear, and review. And while it’s totally awesome that I’m getting free jewelry out of this deal, I would never recommend a product that I don’t believe in. I give honest reviews and will only endorse products that I enjoy and use. I would never recommend a friend buy something that I know is a piece of junk, and I consider all of you to be my online friends.
Now for the review: I received the necklace quickly after agreeing to do the review. It came in a pretty little box with a bow on the top. The packaging kept it safe and sound in the delivery process so that it arrived at my house in excellent condition.
The necklace was exactly what Silverado Jewelry had advertised on their website. It’s a very pretty and simple design that goes great with almost any outfit. What a beautiful way to spread autism awareness! I’ve worn it pretty much everywhere I’ve gone this week and have had several compliments.
I love the fact that it’s very light weight. I hate having something heavy hanging around my neck. Maybe I have some sensory issues of my own.
It comes with the words “Autism Awareness” stamped on the front, but you can change that to a name if you would like (as long as it will fit).
Guess what? One of my lucky readers is going to receive one of these awareness necklaces for free! So unless you’re completely opposed to getting free necklaces in the mail, you should definitely click on this link to be redirected over to my Facebook page to enter for your chance to win!
The lucky winner will be announced on Saturday, March 28th!
This was so beautiful that I just had to share!
Dear Mom in the Waiting Room,
I didn’t see you at first. What I noticed as we walked in was a young, laughing girl spinning around with a stuffed animal at the end of her outstretched arms. She had that kind of pure laugh that made me smile just hearing it.
We were there for an ultrasound. Not a major procedure, but my son had major stress. My son is autistic, and has a boatload of medical trauma from his years in an orphanage. Add those together, and hospitals don’t end up high on our list. My son didn’t even notice the spinning, laughing girl.
I sat my nervous son down on the couch, gave him his iPad, and went to fill up his water bottle. (“Have him drink lots of water for an hour, and don’t let him pee,” they told us. Yeah, okay. We had peed 4 times since the parking garage.)
The waiting room…
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Do you hear that? Well, of course you don’t because there isn’t any audio attached to this post. But if you could hear what I hear, you would hear the beautiful, glorious sounds of silence. Yes, for the first time in the past two weeks of this winter nightmare I’ve been living in, both of my children are back in school!
Justin went back on Friday, but Eli only goes three days a week (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays). So today was his first day back.
The only thing that would make this day more perfect would be not having all this work to do and just being able to kick back and chill. But I can’t – partly because I’m a busy person, but mostly because my kids have been home for two weeks, and I haven’t been able to get anything done. So I’m behind on pretty much everything. All thanks to that rodent, Punxsutawney Phil, and his stupid shadow.
Phil, I’m not a fan. You may have everyone else fooled with your cute little furry act, but I’m on to you. I know you’re evil.
All I can say is that any groundhog who runs back into his hole after being stuck in there all winter obviously isn’t trapped in there with a bunch of stir crazy kids because if he was, let me tell you, no shadow would stop him from breaking out of there!