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Autism Used To Mean "We Can't," Now It Means "We Adjust."



From challenges to understanding our son's ASD

autism spectrum challenges


autism spectrum
Even before my son received the ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) diagnosis, life was very challenging. Way more challenging than it should be for first time parents and a new baby. Everyone told us “Life changes completely when you have a child,” but they couldn’t have meant all of this, right?

Around five months old, my son, who used to love car rides, suddenly became terrified of riding in the car at night. His screams would instantly bring me to tears and the only thing I could do was drive home faster. I’m still not sure what changed; maybe it was not being able to see his surroundings out the window, maybe it was the headlights zooming past. Whatever it was, during those first winter months as a new mom, I made sure to always be home by 4:30 to avoid another traumatic drive.

autism spectrum challengesSoon after that, the daily challenges began to pour in. We couldn’t skip a nap, ever, or my sweet baby boy would cry relentlessly. We couldn’t go anywhere too busy, or noisy, or colorful, or exciting, or hot or cold. It seemed so much of our world was just too much to handle and I couldn’t comfort him. Even on our good days, if we stayed out just a little too long, never really understanding where that line in time was drawn, it would cause meltdowns and sleepless nights.

Heartbroken for my son and completely exhausted, we just stopped going out. I was terrified of putting my son in a situation he couldn’t handle. And I felt completely helpless and a failure as a mother for not instinctively knowing how to reach him.

The invitations eventually stopped coming in. My husband would run all of our errands after work. And I stayed inside all day, every day, grieving my dream of a normal life.

Just before my son’s first birthday, he was evaluated and approved for Special Services. I remember crying so hard that day because this meant we were all going to get help. I didn’t know that there were answers for all my questions. I didn’t know that there were methods to relieve his challenges. We all so desperately needed guidance and I was blessed with four amazing teachers who have completely changed our lives.

ocean beach vacation
My list for his first IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) was more like a novel of challenges. But we started small, tackling the issues that caused the most daily upset. It’s been an tremendous amount of work, but we’ve all learned so much about his ASD.

So many families have children on the Spectrum and I want you to know you’re not alone in your struggles and triumphs. Every week, I will share our story in hopes that our experiences resonate with your family. I’ll share the teaching methods we’ve learned, products we use, and places we love to visit in the Hudson Valley.



I may not know what the sea has planned, but now I look forward to sailing every day. 

… 

Rielly is a part-time writer and full-time mama to an adorable autistic toddler. Her favorite hobbies include naptime, drinking coffee, and trips to Target. Follow her online @ CarpeCafea.com.

Other posts by this this blogger


To Tree Or Not To Tree.

Dec 14, 2017

A Christmas tree is always our biggest concern. They can be climbed, pulled down, and of course bare treacherous terrain with broken bulbs and sharp-edged ornaments.

No Man Ever Steps In The Same River Twice.

Dec 7, 2017

A few weeks or months after we have worked through a challenge, it would suddenly reappear. We learned that although this appears to be the same situation, it’s not.

What Is A Sensory Diet

Nov 30, 2017

Sometimes asking a child to “Be Quiet”, “Sit Still”, or “Pay Attention” can be an impossible request. They don’t yet understand how to. A Sensory Diet will help them transition their energy throughout the day.

"But He Doesn't Look Autistic"

Nov 21, 2017

These five words could have several meanings so I’ve decided to explore each one in hopes to break my emotional ties.

You Don't Have To Eat That

Nov 16, 2017

Although he can’t express why he likes or doesn’t like different foods, I understand that my son does have a reason and that reason is valid. I was the same way growing up!

Create An Activity Photo Library

Nov 9, 2017

So what do with do with bins of rice and play-doh and beans and kinetic sand? We stored all of these bins in a closet and created an activity photo library.

That's Right, I Let My Kid Watch TV

Nov 2, 2017

My son is Autistic, with or without technology. Here's how we've used TV and his tablet as tools for learning.

Bridging The Communication Gap With Signs

Oct 26, 2017

We started practicing signs with our son around 9 months and it has made all the difference in our relationship, his communication development, and his overall behavior.

That Time Mommy Brain Made Me Shoplift

Oct 19, 2017

Everyone told me I would be more tired that I’ve ever been and have crazy “mommy brain,” but I didn’t truly understand the gravity of that term until my first week home with my newborn.

Flexibility 101: Reading

Oct 12, 2017

One of the hardest things I’ve had to do in Early Intervention is teach my son flexibility, but it’s so very important for us both, to learn how to cope when things aren’t the same. If your child, like mine, is rigid with reading time, here’s a few ways to broaden their reading experience.

My Sensory Son's Top 10 Favorite Things At The Zoo

Oct 5, 2017

What’s the point in going to the zoo if not to check out the cool animals? Well, to Simon, there were other attractions that he really enjoyed, we just weren’t listening.

When You Hold My Hand

Sep 28, 2017

My little boy, you are growing up so fast. I want you to know, that no matter what, you are safe and I will always be here for you, so I hold you hand. I wish I could hold onto these moment forever.

Sensory Seeking vs. Sensory Defensive

Sep 21, 2017

Children with SPD struggle with regulating their senses. In an effort to normalize what they are feeling, children will modify their play and actions depending on how much or how little sensory input they need.

Who Am I Without EI?

Sep 15, 2017

My son is moving on and transitioning well into his first week of Preschool, but there’s no transition for parents. What am I supposed to do now?

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sep 14, 2017

SPD is so much more than just an “over sensitivity”. For some children on the spectrum, it can also mean that their bodies aren’t sensitive enough and may even get hurt because they don’t feel pain. Sensory Processing Disorder, in the very basic of terms, really means that there’s a breakdown of how the person is receiving and filtering stimulation.

Teaching Feelings To Children On The Spectrum

Sep 8, 2017

Children on the spectrum often have challenges expressing and understanding emotions. The subtle social cues, that we take for granted, can be met with confusion or missed entirely. Using multiple reinforcements through play and social stories is the approach that helped my son.

Learning Play & Socialization Through Musical Munchkins

Aug 28, 2017

Music class has such a positive impact on a child's mental, social and emotional growth in so many ways.

Reducing Barrier Stims

Aug 17, 2017

Through Early Intervention, we learned lots of techniques that have helped reduce barrier Stims while giving Simon more appropriate activities to address his sensory needs.

Keeping Perspective And Humor

Aug 10, 2017

Despite all of our daily struggles and tears, my son always makes me laugh and reminds me to take it easy. Simon never lets me forget to just chill and laugh, especially at the most inopportune times.

Not All Stims Are Created Equal (Part 2)

Jul 21, 2017

Stims can also develop as a means of escape and further prevent development.

Not All Stims Are Created Equal (Part 1)

Jul 20, 2017

Based on portrayals of Autistic children on TV and in movies, I thought stims were always either hand flapping or spinning in circles.