Finding Ourselves on the Autism Spectrum


I’ve been really flustered lately. And now I’m up at 4:30 in the morning, because I was having a weird dream – I rarely remember dreams unless I wake up in the middle of them – and then I needed to use the bathroom. Now my thoughts are spinning, but not in the usual negative loops. It’s just been a weird and busy few days so far, and I seem to have a lot to process. So instead of lying awake in bed running through all of it randomly over and over again, I’m going to give a shot at typing it out in order to process it all a bit and see how that goes.

My kids are on a week-long break from school, and that’s always a bit of a challenge for me. We started out the break with a visit from my parents who live about four hours away. My dad and I both have birthdays this month – mine was on Saturday – so that and my parents’ anniversary last month were excuses to celebrate with ice cream cake and a dinner out as a family. We fit in some euchre and board games, my dad and Hubby fixed a couple bothersome things in the house, I baked some bread and some brownies, and my husband grilled out in the middle of a blizzard.

That last bit probably requires some explanation. There was a big shift in the weather for the weekend after Hubby had already bought these little steaks he was all geeked about, and Theodore had a Cub Scout requirement about helping to prepare (not actually doing the cooking part) a meal cooked ( not necessarily eaten) outdoors. It was humorous enough for me to call various family members over to see at different points, but sad enough that I didn’t take any pictures or videotape, because I felt sorry for miserable snow-covered Hubby.

Back to my winter break. So, nothing momentous happened over the past few days, but a lot of things have just felt weird and have been accumulating. I turned 43 on Saturday. (I had actually been getting a kick out of 42, because it’s supposed to be the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything :).) My three boys have been absolutely bouncing off the walls and each other, which stresses me out even when my parents aren’t around to watch. I’m having a very hormonally challenging week, too – probably TMI, but that’s been having an unusually large effect on me in the past few years. And there was a full moon on Saturday. Hubby keeps bringing the car home almost out of gas. Hubby also had to go in to work three different times during the weekend. My own car keeps needing to be jumpstarted. Water has had to be shut off in different parts of the house to accommodate the repairs Hubby and my dad were doing. The weather got lovely and warm for a couple days, and then we had enough snow the morning my folks were leaving that we had the whole family out taking turns with our two shovels, the brushes/scrapers for the cars, and the rock salt before they could get on the road. Theodore had his eight-year-old twin friends over to visit for about four hours yesterday. And Simon has been particularly out of sorts lately for a variety of reasons.

I appear to have actually been successful at pushing Simon to get all of his winter break homework done at the beginning of the break, when he still remembered what assignments to do and how to do them. And he made plans on his own for a friend to come over, which almost never happens. Good things, but not the usual for us. On the negative side, he made a complete fuss over a missing Nintendo DS stylus that he likely misplaced himself and for which we have several replacements. He also got too overwhelmed to make it to the last several meetings of the robotics club. And he got completely stuck when asked to make a birthday card for me – a task he does for various people several times a year with no problem, and that he managed for his grandpa just fine.

I had to obtain a replacement stylus before Simon would budge for our family meal out, which made me a cranky dinner companion. I also pretty much told him what to put on my birthday card, just so he could fulfill his dad’s requirement three days after the fact. I talked him through options for handling his friend’s request for sharing something on a videogame that was making him uncomfortable to share. He got to bail on the robotics thing even though he really didn’t have anything else to do. And I let him pretty much avoid everyone for the four hours the twins were here.

It all sounds pretty wishy-washy on my part, but it just felt on an instinctive level like he was in a bad place and needed some accommodations. Alongside the accommodations I’ve been insisting he still do his morning jobs and keep up with his typing practice and that he get a modicum of exercise. I’ve also been having him make a fair amount of his own food. I asked him to ride home with his friend who had been over to visit on Monday and to talk on the phone (eek) when another friend called to make plans to get together. Yesterday I took him to the store to buy Yugioh cards when he made a request, but then I asked him to go look for them on his own while I shopped for groceries. He looked and sounded ready to balk at that part. Apparently he had wanted to go with me to avoid being asked by his dad to do things like this on his own, and I was messing up his plan.

I didn’t insist, but I started a conversation about where he wants to be a few years from now and what small steps we can take in a positive direction. I’m not sure if he changed his mind or just wanted to get out of the conversation, but he headed off toward the trading cards on his own. I was just texting him to see how things were going when he showed up behind me with his mission accomplished and looking pleased with himself. He then helped with the checking out and offered to push the cart, and at home I asked him to bring in the recycling containers and make our salad for dinner.

While Simon and I were out shopping, Alvin and Theodore actually played Legos together for an extended period without fussing or fighting with each other. I honestly can’t remember the last time that happened. They built a Lego town of their own design and both seemed very pleased with it. Alvin was also a big help earlier in the day keeping an eye on Theo and his little friends who were visiting and heading off signs of trouble before anything could turn into a big problem. It was definitely an unusual day.

Later last evening Simon started a conversation with me that rambled all over the place from what were the first signs I had noticed that he had autism to why he isn’t yet feeling interested in dating. He asked lots of questions. He even started reading a part of Tony Attwood’s book on Asperger’s that I handed to him partway through the conversation. It was strange, but very cool.

So now it’s 6:30AM, and my family will be up in a bit. My own car is almost out of gas and will likely need a jumpstart. I have no idea what we’re going to have for dinner, and Theodore needs a present for a birthday party he’s attending today. Alvin will need a ride home from his sleepover at a friend’s house. I think I’ve cleared my head enough that I may be ready for a nap. As for the rest, I guess I’ll find out when it happens. 

Comments on: "Processing" (19)

  1. (((hugs))) That’s a lot, and I’m not processing terribly well this morning myself. But Happy Birthday! (((hugs)))

  2. All those ‘little’ things to deal with must add up, but you still found time to talk Simon through some pretty important stuff. You really deserve that nap – hope it’s uninterrupted! (Belated happy birthday, by the way!)

  3. Happy Birthday! (late) 🙂

    There are a lot of great things mixed in here! Some huge accomplishments even though there is other stuff going on too. I am sorry you were woken up though, it really throws things off when that happens to me.

    I can relate to the birthday card thing, for me it would be much more difficult to make a card for my mom because she was the closest to me while I was growing up and I have more emotions wrapped around that relationship than I do for grandparents. I would have questions flooding my mind like what do I say, how do I say it, I don’t know what to say! She is just too close in feelings. For grandparents it would be easy “happy birthday I love you, hope it’s great!” and done.

    That could be why he had such a struggle. Maybe. 🙂

    I hope writing it helped and you have a less flustered day!

    • Thanks. It’s been a weird day so far.

      I can never tell when something is going to get my kid stuck. I suppose with some things I can tell, but I usually do a decent job preventing those or at least preparing him ahead of time. This out of the blue stuff just makes me feel stuck about what to do or say to help – kind of the way he feels, I suppose.

  4. If I’d known you were up, we could have chatted it all out. I was up early, too, with swirling thoughts. The nice thing about waking up hours before everyone is that there’s silence and the chance to think and write without children yelling.

    • I agree about the silence. I don’t so much mind the time being up as I do knowing how tired I’ll feel later when the day officially starts.

  5. Hi Diane, belated Happy Birthday!
    It’s good to hear that writing cleared your head. Hope you had a good nap. I find that doing my Morning Pages (Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way) helps me a lot – very therapeutic. But they are for my private consumption. Blog posts are public and so I can get a bit tense over how they are shaping up, but I hope to loosen up eventually! 🙂

    • Thanks, Bruce. Nice to hear from you. 🙂

      I’ve been thinking about doing some more journaling for my own purposes. Not everything seems like stuff I want to share or that would be of interest to anyone but me, but the process of writing it out does help to clarify my thoughts. I like the idea of being all loose and open like some people are, but it never quite feels like me. Maybe we can both take it in very small steps. 🙂

    • Aspergirl Maybe said:

      Oh, I loved “The Right to Write” by her – I should check out one of her other books. I did morning pages a couple of times, but didn’t make it a habit. I am always rushed in the morning, so I may have to try doing it right after my son is in bed at night.

  6. Aspergirl Maybe said:

    Happy Birthday Diane!

    So sorry for your hubby to have to grill in the snow! My brother in law grilled out in the pouring rain one Easter when his wife had planned to have lamb chops or something like that – poor guy. 🙂

    I totally feel for you with the whole week being so all over the place, especially when it’s your birthday! Maybe you can have a different day when you get to do exactly what you want to make up for it.

    Oh, and I loved the part about Simon going off to look at the cards being perhaps to get away from the conversation – hey, whatever works, right??

    I am inspired by the way you work so hard to meet everyone’s needs in your family. You truly are a great mom (although I hope you can get some rest yourself)!!

    • Ooh, pouring rain seems worse than snow to me, even though this was pretty bad.

      It does seem like a lot of the time my kids are more motivated to get me to stop talking than anything else. 🙂 People not hearing me or not wanting to seems to be an ongoing theme with me. I still haven’t figured out what to take from that.

      Thanks for all your kind words. It means a lot.

  7. Hi Diane-firstly-thanks for the lovely comments on my blog…sorry I haven’t been over sooner..but it has also been a school free week here as well..But you are now on my list! AND school will be in session starting Monday…

    I love when I am up before the kids…once they are awake all bets are off! I too love the outside grilling.heehee. Oh the things we do sometimes. 🙂

    Your Simon sounds so much like my Sam. Sometimes I feel like I push him to do things while holding on to him at the same time. It can be so hard to find balance with so many different people/personalities/needs. It sounds like you are doing a lovely job of it..I look forward to reading more of your adventures. 🙂

    • How great of you to stop by and take the time to comment! Thanks for youe kind words.

      I am constantly amazed by how much many of us have in common once we start sharing. Two more days before everyone heads back to school. I feel bad that they’d rather stay here, but I honestly feel like I’ve been holding my breath for a week already. 🙂

      I’m always terribly behind in my reading, but I enjoy your blog very much. Thanks for looking in on mine.

  8. Belated Happy Birthday! We had similar issues with our daughter not wanting to interact with her brother’s friends. I think giving him a break on that one is totally okay. A house full of people would stress my daughter even if it was just family. Sending you hugs and hoping this week is better.

    • Thanks very much, Sue.

      Yes, getting away from people is a must for Simon if he’s going to be able to have any nice time with them. We recently went out with cousins from my husband’s side of the family, and Simon spent a fair amount of time staring at the TV in the restaurant. But then toward the end he actually participated in the conversation voluntarily. I suppose we all do better when we can feel comfortable and have our needs met. 🙂

  9. Mary Mary said:

    I, too, will be sad to give up 42. I shall have to remember to savor these last few months of it.

    I hope 43 treats you well.

    I know it can get kind of hectic and disconcerting when you have house guests (I’m usually exhausted before they even arrive, since I feel the need to clean my usually messy home), still, I have always been a little jealous of your parents ability/willingness to travel to see you and spend time at your place.

    I love the remark about Simon possibly going off to look at the cards to escape the conversation with you about going off to look at the cards.

    And of course…the bbq in the blizzard? I don’t care how miserable he looked…I’d have taken pictures. 😉

    • Hey, Lady.

      I am really very grateful that my folks visit. It’s so much easier on my family, even with the extra stresses of having more people in the house. (My oldest was better about giving up his room before he got too big to fit on the couch. :))

      I really do believe that my effect as a parent has less to do with my intentions than it does with whatever my kids decide to do about my intentions. They really have no interest in my agenda for them – especially if it involves being healthy and balanced and well-adjusted. The one constant appears to be their desire to get me to stop talking, and I am slowly trying to learn how to use this power for good. 🙂

      Yeah, I probably would have snuck in a few pictures if I could have figured out where the camera was without asking Hubby. He wouldn’t have appreciated that at the time. 🙂

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