October 2010

The Great Pumpkin Story

by Tim on October 25, 2010

Today the J-Man went back for his first day of school after the 3 1/2 week fall break, which incidentally is why we’ve posted so little lately. Two kids running amok, some travel, being buried in work, a round of a stomach bug, and the normal life chaos will do that to you.

When he goes back to school, there’s always the question of whether he’s regressed during the time off and how long it may take to get back to where he was before break and into the groove of things. We usually hope for a few days. Last year it sometimes took the whole nine-week term…

But today we got this story from his teacher. She should warn me about sending me a joyous message that I might read outdoors because I busted out with the happy tears and then wondered whether passers-by thought I was seriously unstable. That’s OK; it’s more than worth it!

So today we were sitting at the track waiting for a few kids to finish their laps. J-Man was sorta in a yoga position, not stressed just comfy after his long walk. I started asking a few kids about the pumpkin patch. All of a sudden, he popped up and said “I” with a huge smile on his face. So I said, “J-Man, did you go to the pumpkin patch?” He said “I” again. So I cued him with pictures “yes or no. Did you go to the pumpkin patch?” He said “yeye” and patted his chest. Then I said “Did you get a pumpkin?” He patted his chest and tried his best to say pumpkin then said “yeye” again. I was melting with his excitement! He was so happy and proud of himself. It was a moment I will remember forever! Your son makes me honored to be a teacher.

And we are honored that you are his teacher. We don’t have enough words to thank you.

And I am so proud and happy I don’t know what to say!

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Autism Beatitudes

by Tim on October 11, 2010

I was skimming back through some writing I’d done a while back and stumbled across the following. Funny how you can forget you wrote something! I rather liked it and hope you do too. As with other things I’ve written, I wish to qualify this by saying that I’m aware I write from a parent and advocate’s perspective and that writing ‘on behalf of autism’ like this contains my own biases. I’d be interested – here or in general – in being called on my biases by any autistic persons who wish to do so.

These are meaningful to me as a parent, and I hope they are to you too.

Autism Beatitudes

Blessed are those who do not speak, for they shall teach us what lies beyond the limits of words.

Blessed are those who wholly focus on the simplest things, for they shall see wonders no one else can.

Blessed are the spinners, for they shall experience life from every angle.

Blessed are the picky, for they know exactly what they want.

Blessed are the stimmers, for they shall grow their wings and fly.

Blessed are those who always take the same path, for they are steadfast and true.

Blessed are those who are faithful to their rituals, for to them all the world can be a holy liturgy.

Blessed are those who repeat themselves, for they shall savor every sound and silence in between.

Blessed are the persistent, for they shall triumph where others have given up.

Blessed are those who are devoted to a single passion, for they shall explore depths no one has ever seen.

Blessed are those who memorize every detail, for they preserve that which would otherwise be forgotten.

Blessed are those who fight to be heard and accepted, for they shall safeguard the rights of all.

Blessed are those who watch and wait, for they shall discover and know and understand.

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Today I Was Strong Enough

by Tim on October 9, 2010

Today I ran in our local 5K Autism Run, which for me was a celebration of the J-Man and Dale Jr., being a dad, and the journey it’s taken me on, but also of a newer me who is getting fitter and feeling stronger a little bit at a time. About 2 1/2 months ago I started training for this 5K. Not long ago, walking up and down steps was hard. I was utterly burned out, and getting through the day took just about all I had. When I started running again, jogging for more than 90 seconds at a time was a real challenge.

Today I’m 13 pounds lighter and a pant size smaller than I was in late July, and I’m on a path that’s leading toward becoming someone who is strong enough to be the dad of two awesome kids.

If you’ve been following me on Twitter lately, you’ve seen me make references to being ‘strong enough’ quite a bit. I’ve read a lot of blog posts over the past three years about autism, parenting special needs children, and the challenges we all face. But none have stayed with me more than Rachel Coleman’s two-part “Strong Enough To Be Your Mom” post. (Part 1 and Part 2) I know we spread the love about Rachel and Signing Time around here because our boys accord her the adoration of a rock star and because we respect her so much, but her Strong Enough posts spoke to me when I felt like my body was falling apart.

It focused all my uncertainty, fear, and even anger about my health and strength and spirit into one thought: I just want to be strong enough. I don’t need to be stronger than anyone else; I just need to be strong enough to be their dad.

Finally, I started to do something about it. Goodbye Cokes and sweets, hello lean and green dinners, and back on the road to do something I used to love and am falling in love with again.

I feel as good physically as I’ve felt in a long time. Most days aren’t roses and sunshine, and emotionally life is still a roller coaster, but that’s OK. I’m not the Buddha, Mr. Congeniality, or one of the Care Bears. It’s not about measuring up to anyone or anything else. I’m training not for a marathon of 26.2 miles but the adventure-filled marathon that will last the rest of my life. And I want to make sure it takes me a very long time to finish it.

At first I started all this because I felt like I had to. Now I’m realizing I’m making the decisions to build a better me because I choose to. I choose to take better care of myself. I choose to do what it takes to be the good dad I want to be.

I choose to take ownership of my life, my health, and my parenting because I’m not some victim of circumstance, genetics, life chaos, or autism. I thought about my grandmother a lot while I was training and while I was on the road today. I thought about what she would do. The answer is simple: Kick butt, never quit, and don’t roll over for nobody or nothing. So that’s what I choose.

Now I’m looking for the next 5K to sign up for. Maybe 10K. After that, who knows what’s next!

But for today, I felt strong enough to be their dad.

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Oh, and my time. Not bad considering last year it took me an hour and five minutes in a low-back brace!

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