LOVE is what gets you through Autism

There’s not much I like about Autism. 

Trying to understand why T does some of the things he does: where he goes when he disappears:how to help him when he gets really upset: how to make sure he isn’t aggressive with other kids: navigating the school system to try to get him support: the repetitive, obsessive behaviour: ….and let’s not forget the over stimulating, sensory sensitivity that often starts our day off ridonkulously early…

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I wouldn’t say that I have found the silver lining in why any of this has happened…we have accepted it and we are moving day at a time. Yes there are crap days where I feel depressed and sad and wish this wasn’t our fight but there are also some beautiful days…one which I think, if T DIDN’T have Autism, if he was just like any other boy, would he be doing what he just did?

That is exactly what I thought this morning as he woke up (at a reasonable time for once,not the 5 am since Daylight Savings) came into the living room and cuddled up close. And said what EVERY mom craves to hear from their child…

“Mom, I love you so much”

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You see, right now, T’s repetitive habit (because they change like the season) is to tell everyone that he loves them so much and he is going to “squish you like a bug” with his face all cute and squished up and then asks for a big, big hug.

I know this came from one of his daycare providers who he absolutely adores and who has a particular bond with T, and who says both of those things to him often.

I’ll take it! and so will my parents, my husband’s mom and every one of our friends who he has now said “I love you so much”.

Because he is a genuine, sweet little guy and when he says it to you….it is so very heartfelt and makes your heart skip a beat out of pure love right back to him.

So as much as at times, this journey can suck (as it does for all parents)…for this moment, I will happily enjoy this aspect of Autism.


Love and Autism

What I’m Thankful For: Twitter to Wine to Work/Life Balance

I am working on a project all about Thanks next year. I can’t hardly wait…but I have to exercise patience while we wait for people to make decisions, agree to ideas and come to the table with the support needed to make this effort as huge as we want it to.
While we wait, I have been reflecting on what I’m Thankful for after living through a fairly turbulent albeit incredibly exciting year. Below are a few “Thankfuls” I have realized have been a major part in getting me to where I am these days… happy, fulfilled, and getting closer to balanced every day.

From Twitter to Wine to Work/Life Balance, life is good.
  • I am Thankful for a husband who is truly a partner & gets that in this period of our lives he is the cheerleader, supporter, parent, chief bottle washer and laundry keeper upper. These days I have definitely been the worker bee (this pendulum has swung many times throughout our relationship) but I think he sees that I am energized and excited by what I’m doing vs coming home in a big giant stressball.
  • I am Thankful that being forced into a career change has helped create a much stronger work/life balance than I’ve ever had before in my life. I had a friend recently post on her blog about the time element of work/life balance, discussing the fact that you are never really “on” and “off” working freelance or for yourself. I look at it from a different perspective and see all the other positive elements of that work/life balance, opportunities I have had a chance to enjoy since starting up my business again. A few examples…I can take my son to his speech pathology appt every week without having to beg permission or explain to a boss: I have been able to volunteer at my children’s school, which feels good and right: I can choose when to go workout to stay healthy and focused (certain weeks it doesn’t always work, but I am doing it a heck of a lot more than when I was working corporate side): and my overall happiness is balanced and positive..I don’t rush to get out of the house in the morning…I take a deep breath to enjoy a quiet moment at times…because I can.
  • I am Thankful that I am working on projects that truly resonate with me vs. slogging/marketing products for the sake of a paycheque. Figuring out and coming into my own on what I like to do, the strategy I enjoy developing and the social media engagement that plays a major role in my business.
  • I am Thankful for Social Media. I think in a world of working on your own and working from remote locations, Twitter and Facebook is a way to keep in around the virtual water cooler and maintain that base social need people have to stay connected. I am also incredibly Thankful for Twitter. In the past year, I have met online and in real life, some of the most beautiful (and hilarious) people I have ever had the privilege of getting to know. I have such fondness for so many of them and enjoy the daily laughter, quips, support and encouragement that these tweeps have sent my way, and I in turn want to do the same.
  • I am Thankful that I can now fit into Banana Republic sizing (They have fabulous work/life balance cross-over clothing for the fabu working from home gig) because of actually getting into exercising and running specifically, learning to endure it and proudly achieving some major accomplishments this year.
  • I am Thankful for wine…this just an ode to the fact that a glass of wine can somehow magically soothe the day away, be enjoyed at a party, insinuate a romantic moment, and be the perfect company to a girls night out…
  • I am Thankful for friends. Real life, got your back, biggest fan, encouraging friends.  I didn’t realize how deeply those friendships went until so many changes happened in our lives. When I lost my job, I got Congratulations : When I decided to start my business again, I got absolute faith that I could accomplish it: When T was diagnosed,  we got “what can we do?”: When I don’t know how to talk about Autism and the roller coaster of emotions I have felt, they have listened, talked, hugged, been a shoulder, asked questions and quietly waited until we have found the ability to ask for help..Those friends have gotten me through so much and I cannot express to them how much I love them but hopefully as they read this post, they realize how very special they are.  THANK YOU.

Business is Business

I used to work for a very well known brand and had a very awesome job…but sometimes when certain perspectives are thrown in… “very awesome” is not all that great. I had plenty of privileges and access to VIP events but it also took me away from my family, required me to work many 14-16 hr days, late into the evening and impacted my personal life.

What a difference a year makes..I believe that everything happens for a reason and that reason is now perfectly clear. You see, I was in the automotive industry in the middle of the recession and was part of the many lay-offs that happened during that time. At first I was hurt, deeply heartbroken that I (after working so hard for the business) was one of the ones let go.. But I had been making noises about travelling too much and had asked to be considered for a contract position in order to have a better quality of that whole work/life balance everyone looks for.

Right as I was let go was at the height of T’s problems at daycare…he was getting more and more aggressive, that kid who bit or hit or didn’t play nicely with other children. There were a number of parents who got very adamant about not having our “bad” kid anywhere near theirs…aggressive in fact and we were devastated. So I pulled him from that daycare. Instead, we hired our babysitter for the summer to fully engage our two children and give them opportunities to grow. The change in T was instantaneous…the biting stopped, the aggression died down, everything became far more manageable….and I started my own business.

Which is kind of funny because I have also heard that raising a special needs child is like running a small business…so I guess I’m running 2 businesses..Not sure if I am running either well but hey..this is officially my learning curve. My husband will tell you that I do good work but that I am THE worst administrative business owner on the planet.While I’m not sure the planet, I am going to agree that I am pretty bad at it..

So why did this all happen this way? What if I hadn’t started my own thing? I can ONLY imagine how absolutely challenging it would be “corporately” to coordinate the necessity of the daytime appts or how taxing it would be to be travelling and try to work with my husband to manage all the scheduled requirements…having my business affords me the luxury of working when I want and when I need to but also being able to be there for our son. I am quickly becoming accustomed to the need for flexibility and learning that the “need to succeed’ can easily be tempered with the “need to provide” the best opportunities for T.

For awhile I was a terrible supplier…just couldn’t manage to get my stuff together professionally and adjust to this change in our lives. But somehow now…I’m back..and I’m changing. My viewpoint on life and business has become more about what do I need to do sustain vs what do I need to do to become a million dollar business. And shockingly for the first time in my life, that’s ok..I’m still kinda weirded out that that is ok but for now, I’m totally going with it…

Small Leaps of Success!

I did it…I finished the 5k run in under 30 minutes! This was complete with a moment of hyperventilating and the inability to swallow by the 4th k…BUT I actually did it…!

I am more and more realizing that its about taking small victories throughout life…not giving into preconceptions of how far or how difficult it would be…JUST DOING IT…

Its not just running..its my business.. its working through the red tape when it comes to helping T get the best possible care & resources. Its so easy to get overwhelmed with life, the demands of home, being a mom, being a business owner, being an advocate, taking care of your relationships. And the simplest answer is one step at a time…

I envy all those moms who seem to have the supermom gene, capable of managing everything and still being able to e-mail at the appropriate times/bake cookies/do volunteer work. But that’s just it, they SEEM to have it all together…

Being a Supermom doesn’t need to be about being able to accomplish everything on your list. It’s more about realizing when its time to stop, spend a moment with your kids, listen to them and just be present. I much prefer focusing on being THAT kind of supermom..

FINAL RESULTS: Overall Race 345/1141 (top 30%)
Age 35-39 (top 9%)
Overall Gender Top 17%
In my age, I came in 8/94

My time: 5 K in 29:42

So as much as I am still not a fan of running, I liked it enough to commit to the 10K…Lookout!

The Big Race

Its the night before our first 5K and I am working on my playlist for my run. I wanted something that would keep me going…remind me why I’m doing this…

I RELY on thinking about T’s fight to motivate me…it was creating enough anger inside that running became the perfect outlet to vent all that out. Except something has changed recently. I finally came to terms with the fact that my son is different and that as much as I feared the label “special needs’, the truth of the matter is, he does..(have needs that are different and specific)..and so all that anger that I had, has given way to a slightly calmer, more accepting version of myself..

Well crap…didn’t I time that wrong? In all sincerity, the last 3 months have been one of the biggest roller coaster rides we have ever been on…all we could do was focus on survival…getting through it…just getting through it. But we realized something. Survival is simply what its like to be a parent.

Regardless of T being Autistic, he’s still a little boy who, like many many other little boys his age, is in that stage that struggles to communicate what they want and when they can’t they get frustrated. He just happens to get a bit MORE frustrated and acts out physically to compensate.

And so life has changed for the better. I now realize why Autism Speaks has the 100 day tool kit, we are almost to the day since diagnosis and this is the first “bright spot” I have seen.

I head into this run, not angry…but excited about accomplishing this goal and working towards some new, healthier ones…

Focus on the prize

It’s the night before we are about to run our first ever half marathon. I am giddy with anticipation and slightly in awe as to how far we’ve come. As I have mentioned in past blogs, in March of this year, I couldn’t even accomplish 3k…couldn’t fathom doing 10, let alone 21km of actual running and hadn’t ever experienced the runner’s high I had fictitiously heard about from those crazy kooky friends I have who are runners.

But so much has changed this year. It’s like a light switched on in my head and things that I had repeatedly ignored as “inspirational” messages throughout my life ACTUALLY came true. Brilliant EPIC amazingly simple statements like ” You just have to start doing it” and “Just take it one step at a time” (while completely rudimentary and filled with common sense) somehow managed to bypass my thought pattern in a way that I never actually stopped and listened to those mega words of wisdom.

And then I step at a time. I started with a small goal of a 5k race which we trained and ran in May of this year….huh..Not as bad as I thought. So we trained for a 10k…again, in small incremental increases of distance, it wasn’t nearly the excruciating experience I expected. When we started back & forthing on the prospect of running a Half Marathon within our first year, we were told it wasn’t possible, that we hadn’t trained enough…Well, for anyone who knows me, telling me I CAN’T DO something is the perfect way to get me to do something, if nothing more than to simply prove you wrong..

So…here I am…10 hrs away from being on the starting line and achieving a bucket list moment in my life. Ready with a refreshed & inspired outlook and working towards accomplishing this goal. Which I need to note, wouldn’t have been possible but for my dear sweet incredible husband, who has patiently endured this training regime of early morning runs, evening training practices, cross training, high protein meals, & grumpy gusses to simply provide as much support as he can.

Thank you to my family for all your support. I will keep you posted on results tomorrow!