Friday, January 31, 2014

10 Things that Shouldn't be said to Parents of Autistic Children

We have all heard them. Those comments that just make the vein in your forehead pop. The comments that make you want to say " Did those words just come out of your mouth?" I have thought about 10 of my favorite things that have been said to me in regards to my children being special needs. I am sure there are countless others but these have got to be my favorite.

1) " I bet if we spanked the bad behavior out of the child there will be no Autism"
 Ok so.. let me get this straight. If I physically harm my children, that is going to correct their behavior. No. This is not the case.  Sorry to all the spankers out there. Autism behaviors can't be treated with force. Actually come to think about it, its been proven that spanking or physical violence does nothing to correct behaviors in children. Look it up.

2) "They will grow out of the Autism, right?"
Sadly no. They will always have Autism. But with the correct services they will be able to function in a world that is full of chaos. These services are not a cure. OT, ABA, Speech and Special Education are more to make sure the quality of life is better.

3) "Looks like your child is have a tantrum."
No, my child is having a Meltdown. Not a Tantrum. Partly because they are over stimulated and over loaded. There is a difference between having a meltdown and have a tantrum. Tantrums are attention seeking, where meltdowns are not.

4) " I am sorry that you have an Autistic Child"
Please don't be. My child is going to be who they are going to be regardless if they have Autism or not. Autism is not a life sentence or a disease that should be shunned. It is what it is. Look at it as a way of viewing the world differently.

5) " So they are non verbal, that means they don't understand what I am saying.."
 Just because they don't talk doesn't mean they can't hear. They fully understand what you are saying to them, they just have an issue letting you know how they feel on the subject.

6) " Being Autistic means you don't understand Emotions..."
An Autistic person knows very well what emotions are. It goes back to trying to communicate. They know what happiness, sadness, frustration and anger is. Its all about how they wish to express it.

7) "They are autistic, which means they are unpredictable. They shouldn't be allowed in public Places"
No. They should be in public places. They have every right to be in public as you do. Sometimes its the experience of the outside world that can help them navigate. Again they experience the world through a different sphere.

8) " Being Autistic means they won't amount to much"
Everyone has their own potential. Even Autistic people. They are smart and intelligent in their own right. Who is to say that just because one person has difficulty in a certain area means they won't amount to much. There are plenty of people who are on the spectrum that have shown the world they are rockstars.

9) " Having a Special Needs child must be a drain on you. I couldn't do it. "
Do you think that most of us woke up one day after we got the diagnosis and thought. " Nope, just not going to do this..." I bet none of us did. We woke up and knew we had a job to do as a parent. And I am willing to bet that if you are presented with a challenge concerning your child, you would do it. Why? That is your child. The person you would go to the 4 corners of the earth to make sure they survive.

And finally..

10) "All  Autistic people are the same.."
 Well, not they are not. There is a reason why there is a spectrum. Autism has many traits, yes. But there are no two Autistic people a like. To sound cliche ( Sorry), but I see Autism kind of like Snowflakes. Yes they are cold, yes they fall from the sky and yes they are associated with Winter. But all of their patterns are different. Some big, some small. Some with more intricate designs than others. This can be applied to Autism. Everyone has their own uniqueness.  

I know there are other cringe worth statements. Theses are some that have stuck with me since our first diagnosis.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I struggle.

I struggle.

When I get up in the morning. I struggle. Trying to lift my eye lids up to meet the morning light. Trying to find the energy to raise my head off the pillow. I struggle.

When the kids don't want to listen to the things I tell them. " Please get dressed" Or " I need you to be ready to go" I struggle.

When I am standing in the freezing cold waiting for a bus, trying to keep my autistic son from bolting  into traffic, while people drive by and watch this spectacle. I struggle.

When I am trying to get on with my daily life, go to the gym, loose the weight, pick up this and pick up that. I struggle.

When I am trying to get my child into a car seat he simply does not want to go into, screaming all the way. Noticing the curious eyes from behind a curtains. Taking note. I struggle.

When my son screeches in delight over watching a train go around the cheese section a bizillion times and then getting angry when we have to leave. Watching people stare and whisper. I struggle.

When my children who try so hard, still have defeat. Trying to boost their spirits. I struggle.

When I am sitting in Doctor Appointments and Teacher Conferences. Listening to what needs to be done in order for my autistic children to survive. I struggle

When I am trying so hard to keep it together, while the Autism and ADHD gang up on my sanity. I struggle. 

When I have to say goodbye to my spouse for a long period of time. Trying so desperately to be strong for my children. Trying to ignore the whispers. I struggle.

When I have a day where the world has fallen apart at my feet. Trying to convince myself it could be worse. I struggle.

When I am trying to guard myself from those who don't have the best interests at heart. I struggle. 

When I am trying to come up for air and keep everyone afloat. I struggle.

When I am trying to do my best with what I got. I struggle.

 There are days where I struggle just to get by. 

There are days where I am able to keep my struggle in check and days where I cannot.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Groundhog Day Syndrome

When you have deployed spouse its hard not to get into a rut where your days feel like the same one over and over again. I call this "The Groundhog Day Syndrome" Its where you feel like each day, doesn't matter what day of the week it is, feels like the one you just had yesterday.

For a lot of us, just trying to keep our sanity, without losing it, while staring at the four corners of your living room can be a bit of a challenge. And when you are one of those couples that doesn't have the hectic schedule of children added into the mix the art of staying busy is like trying to grasp at straws. Loneliness is one of the biggest things, besides depression that plague us Military Spouses. That desire to have an adult conversation, go out or even something as simple as having a meal with someone. I admit that there have been times where Siri has been the only form of adult conversation I have had in 24hr window. Sad really, when you think about it. But it makes my point. 

Deployment Blues is an other killer for us, spouses. As much as we try to keep up beat. Putting that X on the calender as a way of a count down of sorts. We still tend to get down. Depression and loneliness are like bosom buddies in the realm of Military Spouses. In a weird twist, you are happy they have found each other to keep themselves company, but not great for you. Its hard not feel like these when our spouse deploys. As we miss them, we go about our dailies, some of us come home to an empty house or some of us come home to the chaos of children. Either way we wish that we would have either some help or someone to relax with.

So how do we over come "Groundhog Day Syndrome"?  As hard as it may seem, I know I have tried a lot of things, but here are some that have worked for me...

Find yourself a good therapist. Seriously. Your mental health is one of the most important things you need to take care of. Depression is no joke. A good therapist will help you keep track of your emotions. They will be there for when you have that anxiety. They are that third party that doesn't have any emotional connection to what you are dealing with.

Find people you can relate to. If you are part of a command, like a ship, contact your Ombudsman. Most likely they will put you in touch with a Spouse Association attached to the boat. If you are not part of a command like that, most bases, through Family Support, will have Support Groups for family members who have a deployed spouse. These are fantastic. They are always child friendly. And the people who run them know that life can be tough, especially when you have kids. And don't be afraid to join even if you don't have kids. A lot of these groups will do social events (Especially around the holidays), which is a good way to get out a meet people who are rowing in the same boat.

Remember who you can trust. Neighbours, Friends, Family.. you name it. These are the people who are going to help you out in a pinch. When you need someone to pick up the kids, or watch them if you are having one of those days where the world has gone to hell. These are the people that are going to understand.  They don't have to other military either. Sometimes the civilian world gets it.

Be Active. I am not saying go run a marathon. But join something you like doing. If you have time while the kids are in school, find an activity that motivates you. Painting, Yoga, Rock Climbing.. you name it. And if you have little ones, maybe a Mommy and Me activity. Something that gets you out!

And Lastly,

Be easy on Yourself. You are only but one person. You are going to have your bad days and your good days. Its ok to feel blue. Its ok to feel overwhelmed. You after all only human. Don't feel guilty that you are having a good day and your spouse isn't there to enjoy with you. Hold on to that good feeling. Cherish it. Remember that each day is a new day. New beginnings, new challenges. New experiences.

This too, shall pass. Continue marking your calenders with those X's. Its one more day that has passed till your loved one comes home.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A sad reality for Military Services...

So I was having a discussion with some fellow military spouses about the recent on goings of government and military COLA and retirement. We all came to that conclusion that general public doesn't really care about what happens to the military. So a thought...

If Walmart started closing down, making cuts, downsizing if you will..people would be screaming from the roof tops. It would make National News, quicker than anything. What if I told you that was happening to the military. Our commissaries and exchanges, most of them are located on bases, which provide us our groceries and the other things you can buy at Walmart, are shutting down. Commissaries are essential to base living, as there are times when you can't get off base to shop or you are in a foreign country and getting food from the local economy isn't in the cards. Exchanges are the same thing. Its not just a "privilege" to shop there, most times its our only way to buy the things we need to live on. So when they start closing them down, most times that effects the whole base. So just imagine if Walmart no longer existed and how angry people would be.

But wait there is more..

I am willing to bet people don't know that some of our clinics and hospitals are closing as well. Again if Kaiser Permanente or some other big medical group decided to close clinics or even hospitals, it would, one be on National News and two, people would be rightly angry about it. Jobs lost, medical services not being provided to the masses. So how do you think the military feels when their clinics and hospitals start closing down. Medical services not being taken care for the people that are asked to go and fight for this country? But yet its ok. The military can take it, right?

It is true that we are a hearty bunch. We tend to pull up our socks, carry on despite what is getting thrown at us. But it begs the question of, when are people going to stop, pay attention to the cries and outrage of the military and it's families at Government cuts to our services and retirements. Is it going to be when those cuts finally effect the general public? Because it will happen. Its called the draft. When you have low numbers at the recruitment offices and you don't have enough people who want to join, the draft will be put in place. Is that when we are going to hear your voice of dismay? When your children are getting shipped off to War and there is nothing you can do?

So why is it that if something like Walmart or Kaiser Permanente closing will light a fire in people to call to arms, but yet when the same thing happens to the military everyone stays silent?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Those who quietly serve, patiently wait

Those who quietly serve,  patiently wait... I saw that on a bumper sticker on the back of a car. Proud Army Wife sticker right next to it, as I was trying to get all three of my children into the family van, after a hellish trip to the grocery store right before a winter storm. As my kids continued to act like bad behaved monkeys, that sticker made me think..

For so many of us spouses, regardless, what is going on in our lives, we stop everything we are doing to focus on the careers of our spouses. For me, its been 12 years of marriage, three kids, 4 moves and multiple deployments and now a Geo Bachelor. My husband has been gone for most of our marriage. I always joke that its a wonder that we have children. I don't have enough fingers or toes to count just how many birthdays, holidays and special events this man has missed.  I can't tell you how many times when I have had days like today, where I would have loved to just pick up the four things at the store by myself. Or when all three are sick over a major holiday and I am the only one standing and all I want is 5 minutes without someone throwing up. Or maybe that time, where the toilet exploded and then furnace deciding to take a turn for the worst all in the same month and I had to figure out what to do. I don't have enough digits on my appendages to count the missed doctor appointments when it comes to our children that have special needs. Or when Autism and ADHD tagged teamed me and all I wanted to do was scream. 

I patiently wait. I wait for the day my better half comes home. I patiently wait for someone to take my hand and tell me its going to be ok after a crappy day. I patiently wait for him do what he must in order for us to live life. I patiently wait for the Military to cut us some slack. Which I know is never going to happen. I will wait with abated breath when my husband will be able to finally enjoy his family.

But will I do this quietly? No. I will not. I will fight on for my husband and his shipmates. I will not sit and look at the four corners of my living room. I will make sure that my husband who does proudly serve has a voice when he doesn't. I will do what I can with what I got. I will do what I can, because there is a need. I will do what I can because that is what it means to be a Military Spouse.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Autism Acceptance and Autism Awareness

Autism Acceptance and Autism Awareness...

Interesting concept.

Awareness:  is the state or ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, or sensory patterns. In this level of consciousness, sense data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding

Acceptance: is a person's assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition without attempting to change it, protest, or exit

Now with those two things now described, I can  write what I wanted to write.

When it comes to Autism Awareness, it seems that we, within the community know very well the drive to make the outside world aware of Autism. There is the "Light it Blue" Campaign in April. Which was great when it first got started by Autism Speaks. Now, not so much as it has become more about money than the actual cause. There are so many memes out there that scream AUTISM AWARENESS ( I admit that I have made a few of those) that state that we want the outside world to notice the fact that we have Autism or it is in our families and to be aware of it. The interesting part about many of these memes is that it denotes that the person in question should be singled out. I mean yes we know the autistic person has feelings, breathes air, eats, sleeps and functions. They are human. The trick is, is that they do all those things on their own level. Which brings me to Acceptance.

You can be aware that someone does things differently than yourself. Sometimes its a personal preference or sometimes its just the way naturally you do things. When you accept that someone does something different than yourself, that is when you can respect that person for doing something different. For the Autism Community, Acceptance is the key. I know that all of you are aware that Autism is out there. But Accept it. Accept the person that has it.

So when you see an Autistic person who is doing something differently, accept that. You might just learn something from that person. You might see another way of looking something.

You can be aware all day long, but accepting and acknowledging the person for who they are.. That is key.

We are always aware, just not always accepting.  

Monday, January 13, 2014

I lost faith..

I know I said I was going to take a hiatus. Break. Vacation if you will from writing. I have had time to think about things. Things that are important. Well to me anyway...

I lost faith in myself.I had that self doubt that I couldn't write. I convinced myself that I was horrible at writing, based on the fact that I didn't think anyone read my posts. When I put out yesterday that I was going to take a break, the amount of support that came was overwhelming. It really touched in a way that it made me tear up.

When I started this blog, my intention was to offer support. To offer a laugh or a smile. To say to people that, " Hey, You are not alone.." I wanted those who felt that the experiences they were having were normal. The feelings that they were having were ok. Now I know I have blogged about a lot of stuff. Some of it was informative to some and not so much to others. I was willing to put myself out there and share an aspect of my life with the world. Like anything its tough to write about yourself and put yourself out there.

In all honesty, it comes down to me loosing faith in myself. The thought of "I can't do this.." Instead of " Hey, you know what? You CAN do this." If my writing reaches 1 person or 100, it will be ok either way. In a twist, loosing faith in yourself isn't a great message to give to your children. But its ok to tell them its ok if you need to take a step back and recharge. This applies to everything you do. And everything I do.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Play it Forward...simple concept

Life can be so chaotic at times where you can barely get a thought in and take five minutes to yourself. It can be a demanding mistress that takes everything out of you at the end of the day. So when you do have that thought of Y'know I should do something redeeming. Play it forward. It doesn't have to be anything major. A cup of coffee for someone or made an offer of a lunch paid. Or maybe just be helpful. It only takes a second to let someone know that you care and that you are a decent human being. The experience is truly uplifting. I know cliche... But listen...

Today I did something that was amazing. It wasn't anything big. Nothing that cost a lot. It was something that meant something to someone else. I bought  the old fellow that was behind me in Starbucks a cup of coffe and a muffin. He patiently stood there while my children who were acting like squirrels around him. It turns out that this man was was a WWII and Korean War Veteran. He had just lost his wife, who he married right before he was shipped off to War in 1943. She apparently was his rock and that was so proud of him for serving so much that he continued in the service through the Korean War. She never complained. Loved him. When I told him our family's story, he quietly told me that we are a dying breed, the ones that love and support. He thanked me graciously for treating him to a cup of joe and a snack. I wished him a great day and went on my way. I know as I was walking out he sat there with a smile on his face. I would like to think that I had blessed his day a little and hopefully let him know that a perfect stranger can care.

With all the chaos that is happening, take pause and just do something simple for someone. As you never know when something unexpected will come your way. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Why the fight for the Military is important.

Why is the fight of the Military and it's families an important one?

For the past couple of weeks the voices of the military have been heard due to cuts in retirement and earned benefits  in the recent budget deal that was passed right before Christmas. We fight to have what our service members have earned through war zones, deployments and 20+ years in the service. In Decmeber most of us were stunned that both Congress and Senate would haphazardly pass this bill without even a regard to this country's service men and women. We were no more shocked when Senator McCain, a Veteran himself, with a long military family history voted to pass this bill. On the eve of this historic vote, we the families of this country's service members took to any platform we could to beg and plead to anyone who would listen to contact their Senator and congress rep on our behalf. We wanted Washington to know that what they did was a disservice to those who have and still proudly served in this Nation's military. We are asking again to lend us your voice and your anger to let the government know they need to correct their mistake. They need to let the military know they actually care. 

So the question is why should the general public care?

Well there are many reasons. 

You see if we didn't have people to volunteer to enlist, there would be the draft. Yes I said it. The draft. For those who remember what that is from Vietnam and WWII, it means that you owe your country time in the service. So when the next group of people feel the need to challenge the freedoms of this country, be prepared to be conscripted. How does that tie in to what is happening? Well if the Governement continues to screw the military over there is no incentive to join, therefore, in order to protect this country and it's freedoms, the draft will be re-instated. Now it would be nice if those who handle the money for the Military had done some years in the military to understand how it works so we wouldn't have people like Senator Paul Ryan and Senator Murray putting a budget deal like this one through. 

Another is reason, is the military shouldn't have to worry about their hard earned retirement and benefits that were promised to them when they enlisted. They need to be focused on the job their country asks them to do. All these freedoms that people are screaming about, Speech, Guns etc, those rights are protected by the military, whether they agree with them or not. So when we are faced with a government that doesn't see the need to take care of its military, why should the military bother to care? Well they bother because they signed an agreement when they enlisted and each time they are up to get out, this country asks them to stay in with promises. Also there is this thing called honor. Most service members you talk to say it's been an honor to serve and protect their country. There is this thing called Sacrifice. The military has sacrificed a lot in the name of service. Time with family and the ultimate sacrifice, their lives. 

We don't want to be that country that doesn't stand behind it's Veterans and Active Duty.

So the plight of this country's military is important to the everyday person. I beg you to please stand with us. Please call your Government Reps. If you are on any social media, lend us your voice. With that being said make Washington #KeepYourPromise.