It’s the little things that can change your whole perspective

In chapter 11 weLear Ed about autism spectrum disorders  I’ve never really have never had much experience with people who have Autism, although I’ve known a few people from a distance who have been diagnosed: mostly customers that have come into my parents’ restaurant  there is one family that BOTH their sons are autistic. I couldn’t even imagine the hardship. But there was one experience I have had when I was sixteen years old that has forever left an impression on my heart.

At sixteen I was also working a part-time job in the mall at one of those trampoline places. It was a fun job. I worked with children all day and I have always loved working with kids. One afternoon a mother came with her 8 year old son. He has a sweet, round face and pretty blue eyes. I didn’t notice anything off right away. But she said, “My son is autistic and we really want to try this. But he just learned to skip yesterday, so I’m not going to get my hopes up. The first attempt she did to convince the little boy–I believe his name was Billy–to jump on the trampoline, he wouldn’t have none of it. The mother smiled and said they would just try again a little later.

About an hour later, Billy and his mother returned. Now at the time, I really didn’t know anything about autism. I just smiled my most friendly smile and knelt down in front of Billy and asked him if he wanted to jump. He nodded his head yes but didn’t say anything. His mother watched our interactions closely. Billy allowed me to take his hand (again, I wasnt aware how miraculous this was) and brought him in front of the trampoline. He was scared by I smiled at him again and explained to him that I was going to lift him up and put a harness on. I told him the harness was to protect him. I was agitated but step by step I coaxed Billy onto the trampoline and into the harness. His mother stood by holding her breath. Billy was still agitated and scared. But I kept my smile and only raised the harness with him in it slightly. I took Billy’s hand and started jumping gently. He looked a little amazed and slowly a smile spread across his sweet face. Little blitters I raised the harness a little higher so that Billy was eventully jumping at a good height while I still held his hand. I explained I was letting go but I would still stand beside him. When he seemed comfortable, I hopped off the trampoline and stood directly in front of Billy, smilIng and cheering him on. When I turned towards his mother she was sobbing. And smiling. She said,” I can’t believe it. He just learned to skip and now this. ” it was at that moment what a huge achievement jumping on that trampoline truly was for BilLy.

I was overwhelmed with emotion that I had helped make such an impact on Billy and his mother. She thanked me profusely and told me how much it meant to her that I had stuck with it and helped Billy achieve something new. I’ve never forgotten Billy and his mother. But I know when I looked in his eyes I saw understanding. I know there has to be more to autism then even recent research can know. I hope one day we can understand it more so  that we can better understand the sweet Billy’s of the world.

They grow up so fast…

When my husband and I met my stepson was halfway through his second year of infancy. He was a sweet, energetic toddler who loved to laugh and talk. And that hasn’t changed. I’ve been lucky enough to officially have him as my Bonus son for almost two years but I have loved and helped raise him as my own for as long as he can remember. And I’ve cherished all the time we have been able to spend together.

I have watched him changed and grow physicall, mentallyk, and emotionally through his “play years.” He just turned 7 today. I’ve been surprised and astounded as I have watched this sweet, chubby-faced baby boy to an intelligent, polite (most of the time!), and ever-so-sweet big boy.

When I look at Kurt’s pictures hanging on the wall from when he was three years old, and then compare them side-by-side with picture of this past year, it is almost scary how much he has changed. It’s hard to believe he’s the same little boy! No longer does he have his chubby, round, baby-fat face. In it’s place is a lean, almost chiseled face instead. His cheekbones are pronouced, his eyes are more focused. He is a mini-me of his daddy. He’s grown tall, proportionate. He used to be this waddling, toddler with short legs. He used to run full speed, head down when he was younger. Usually he ran head first into a door. But he always got up and kept going.

He is so much smarter now. Too smart for his own good! He of course asks many questions. When he is not here, I miss him so much. It gets too quiet! He talks non stop!

Kurt and I like to read together and play hidden object games.

It makes me sad that Kurt is now seven. It’s just a reminder that they all grow up. He turned seven today, my youngest turns one on the twenty-fourth. I really do wish they would stay young forever.

REpost: Miracles

I have always found fetal development and the birth process fascinating. How can one not? To think that a human being starts out as a single cell is mind blowing. When I became pregnant, I started looking at pregnancy and birth in a completely different way. I read as much as I could. So a lot of the facts in chapter four I had already learned from reaching pregnancy books when I was carrying Deacon (my son). I remember specifically how scary the idea of teratogens were. It seemed like every tiny aspect of my surrounding environment was harmful to my unborn child. You aren’t even allowed to eat deli meats! I did a lot of worrying. I did not have any caffeine. I cut it out completely. I do not smoke. I followed the pregnancy books and doctors orders closely. I made up a birthing plan. I was terrified.

The one thing I learned in chapter 4 that truly surprised me, and that made sense after reading about it, was that the fetus’ hormones that trigger the birth process. I started labor about 3 days before going to the hospital. I suffered thru the labor pains for those days because the doctors kept telling me it wasn’t time when I called. But when I finally go into for my doctor’s appointment, they of course said they weren’t comfortable letting me go home, so I was admitted and was in labor for another 36 hours. Of course, it’s true when people say its the most painful thing they’ve ever experienced.

The doctor finally decided a c-section was best. When they finally got me into surgery and Deacon was taken out, they discovered that his umbilical cord was entirely too short to have been able to have a normal birth to begin with. I would have thought they could catch something like that in the ultrasounds, but my doctor said she had never seen anything like it. It explained why he carried so low, and why he mainly stayed in one place while I was pregnant. Also, the cord was attached to the placenta in an unusual place, the side instead of center.

Back to the fetus starting the labor process, everybody had been joking that my baby was too comfortable (he was a week late when he was finally born!), and really, all that time he was ready to meet everybody! When I think about it, I feel as if he was trying to tell me he was ready for an entire week before he was born. But the too-short umbilical cord kept him from moving down to the birth canal. The contractions were putting stress on him and his heart rate kept dipping. If my doctor had not insisted on a c-section, either Deacon, or I, or both of us could have been lost.

The umbilical cord raised many questions, for us and my doctor. She told us that samples were sent to the lab to run tests, but I never heard any news back. But what could cause something like that to happen? I was so careful in my pregnancy. Could it have been a teratogen that I wasn’t aware of? Or could genetics possible be the reason? And if that is the case, what is the probability that my next child could have the same issue? These are questions that I will have to find the answers to before we can have another child.

There are so many things that can affect a fetus’ development and how birth goes for the mother and baby. It can be an unpredictable and scary time. Especially when things do not happen the way you think they should. But the most important thing is for the baby to be born healthy and to be happy. I was lucky. My son, Deacon John, was born a perfectly healthy, happy, sweet, beautiful baby boy with 10 fingers, 10 toes, perfect lips, nose, ears, eyes, etc. (I might be slightly biased.)He does have a slight case of torticollis, which is a tightened neck muscle. His doctor said it is more than likely from being kept in the same position for so long because of his cord. He does have full range of motion, but his head tilts ever so slightly to the left. But he will be started physical therapy sessions soon to correct it. To look at such a beautiful thing as a sweet baby and think that I had a part in creating such a wonderful creature is truly a miracle in my book.