Planet B 365 Days in the World of Autism

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Miracle League – What an experience !

This past summer, B found a new passion BASEBALL ! This was exciting for many reasons, one of which is that it is a more “normal” or “typical” thing for a 12 year old boy to be interested in. Of course, this boy is still playing with Thomas trains at 12 years old but that is neither here nor there. His interest with baseball derived from logos of course, logos have been a passion of his for years. He became interested in the team names, where they were located, their throwback jersey’s etc… Not the same way my oldest son was interested in baseball. Every kid is different and we all know B is an original.

B’s big brother was thrilled and spent many summer days playing simulated baseball games with him. So when I remembered there was a beautiful Miracle League field a few miles away we had to sign him up. B has never been interested in playing ANY sports before, he hates PE at school and just would rather spend his time doing other things. So this was our first experience with him playing a team sport.

We signed him up and waited with baited breath for his season to start. We didn’t know what to expect, sometimes his obsessions lasted a few months and then completely died. By the time baseball season started he might not want any part of playing. But it was a chance worth taking, my baby wanted to play ball !

Last Saturday was opening day and I was probably more nervous than anyone else. I just didn’t know what to expect from B, he could get there and just decide he didn’t want to participate at all. He was already a little perplexed that he couldn’t just pick his own team to be on (these days it’s the Mariners for some reason)- but I kept reminding him his team was the Diamondbacks. We got to the field bright and early. Ty came home from school to see B’s opening day, thank goodness he came along. The field was beautiful and of course the volunteers couldn’t have been any nicer. I will tell you, that all the best people in the world are involved with the special needs community in some way. These people have the kindest hearts and always make you feel welcome and part of their community immediately. We met his coach and got his uniform. The smile on his face putting on his own official hat and jersey was priceless. Tears and more tears of happiness, mad that I forgot to bring my sunglasses to hide my eyes. He started playing catch with his dad to warm up before the game. Now, let me just tell you that B has never had any interest in playing catch with my husband. His dad has tried and always asked him if he wanted to- B always had other things to do and was not interested. This was their first time ever playing catch and B had an ARM ! He was zinging those balls right in my husbands glove. We were all in shock.

The coach came by and said, well he might be too advanced for this league and did we know there was another league he might want to try. We assured him since this was his first time playing catch at all, we didn’t know what to expect once the game started. I was thrilled that he still wanted to play, so far so good.

The game began and my husband was set up to B’s buddy. Unfortunately, a lot of the buddies (35 to be exact!) had cancelled at the last minute so they were short handed. My husband ended up pitching and Ty ended up coming in to be B’s buddy. More tears as B took the field for the first time, he was so excited to be out there. A year ago, he would have had absolutely no interest in this, it’s crazy how things change ! His team was playing the field first, but low and behold once the first player hit, B decided he wanted to run the bases too. HA! I thought to myself, this is the right league for him as he wasn’t the only kid out there who was wandering around, trying to do that too. All the parents cheered for everyone, both teams, all the players. Ty spent many years in little league with his Dad coaching. We spent countless hours at games and yet I never felt the comradery that I did being a part of the Miracle League.

Each team batted twice and played the field twice. A lot of the kids had to be helped much more than B, he definitely was the most into it out of the kids who were out there. One boy cried and didn’t want to participate. But that was okay, we all have those days, this was the Miracle League and anything goes my friend. It was such a heartwarming experience. At the end of the game, all the players shook hands but B wasn’t done yet. His absolute favorite thing is when MLB teams get a walk off homerun. When all the players charge the field and jump up and down hugging and cheering. So Ty took the pitcher’s mound, threw B a pitch. B got a hit and ran all the bases. B Sr and Ty met up with him at homeplate and they all jumped up and down cheering together. Such a great image and memory, it is burned on my heart and I will NEVER forget it.

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Rakking around the block…

My neighbor who brought us cookies last week, is me about 7 years ago. She has three little boys, kind of close in age (much closer than my boys were) and she just had a baby girl. I had a bag of clothes that B had grown out of and I was waiting to find someone to give it to for hand me downs. It was good stuff, Old Navy and a few other name brands, I really wanted to give it to someone not just, Amvets. It is always hard to tell how someone is going to react when you offer them hand me downs. I always took them. I would go through them later and decide what was worth keeping or not. I was very lucky as one of my best friends had a boy a year older than B and the same body type. So up until we moved she always gave me her son’s hand me downs. She buys name brands and takes really good care of her clothes, so it was lucky getting a brand new wardrobe every time. My sisters always gave me stuff for H too, but the age gap and quality of clothes wasn’t always great. Plus I have one girl, I like to buy brand new girls clothes, sue me.

I used to give all my boy and girl stuff to my sister in law. But she lives in a small house and doesn’t have much storage room. One time my husband told her he had a big bag of clothes for her kids and she rolled her eyes and my brother in law said she was complaining of having too many hand me downs, so we stopped giving them to her. Didn’t want to give them to someone who didn’t appreciate them.

Before we moved to Texas, I gave 6 HUGE bags of boy and girl hand me downs and gave them to one of my neighbors. She also had 4 kids that were pretty close in age, and I know that she really appreciated the clothes. It doesn’t feel good to give someone something if they act like it is more of a burden than a gift.

So I was a little cautious in asking my new neighbor if she wanted the clothes. You just never know how people are going to react and I don’t know her that well. I did not want to offend her that is for sure. I ran over and asked her and she was thrilled. Legitimately thrilled to get them, so glad that I gave them to her. Great RAK of the day !

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More Weekend RAKS

These RAKS are already making a big impact on my life, can’t imagine the things that will happen in forty days worth!

Friday was a rough day for me. I found that it was much harder to instill the RAK a day rule when I am in a sour mood, but I had made the commitment of 40 days, no turning back now. I kept it simple that day and just held doors for people. This mostly happened at the elementary school. You’d be surprised how many parents just stand by and watch younger kids struggle with the heavy school doors. So I stood there for quite a while in the morning just holding the door for everybody. Friday-check!

Then Saturday came and I received some unexpected good news. It made it much easier to perform my RAK that day. In the morning, my husband and I were getting some coffee and I put a few extra dollars in the tip jar for the barista. This tip jar is usually looking pretty sad since it’s a coffee shop inside our grocery store, so I know the person that received the tips was grateful.

Sunday’s RAK might not seem like a RAK on the surface but believe me it is. My oldest has been trying out for some AAU basketball teams and usually we all tag along. While he is trying out (since we are in different parts of Texas), my husband and I go on an excursion to find cool new parks to take the other kids to. I know it probably doesn’t sound that exciting but funds have been so scarce lately, it’s cheap entertainment and exercise for the kids. We have found some really beautiful parks here that we never would have found otherwise. But I digress, for Sunday’s RAK the kids and I stayed home and let my husband and T go alone to his tryout. Doesn’t seem like much of a RAK, but it truly is, just giving my husband that alone time is huge. He is very helpful when he is not at work and is always helping me out with the kids. He is also the first one to take B and leave a situation if he throws a tantrum or just needs a time out. Letting my husband go alone with my oldest, gave him the free time to do whatever he wanted ALONE for the two hours my son was at tryouts. He ended up going to Walmart, lol, but still at least he was able to do it all alone.

My RAK for today is I am going to post a positive comment on EVERY one of my facebook friends picture’s they post today. I don’t have a ton of facebook friends by my choice, but the one’s I do, do seem to post pictures a lot. I know from my own experience that if I post a pic of my kids, it’s always nice if someone comes in with a nice compliment. We all love compliments, don’t we? So that is the RAK of the day, maybe it will make someone’s day a little big brighter !

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RAK of the day and Valentine’s Party

Yesterday was V day, it was a pretty low key one because we are financially strapped right now. So for the teachers at school, I made homemade caramel corn. I call it “crack corn” because it is so addicting. I can eat a whole bag in one sitting, without even realizing it. Since I normally trying to do a little something for the teachers at school for holidays, I didn’t really consider this a “true” RAK, but then I changed things up a bit. I made an extra large batch of popcorn, and just decided I would give it out to all different staff members (who might not get recognized for holidays).

I went in to the elementary school to go to H and B’s class parties. I stopped H’s class first, she really loves it when I come into school. Since my boys never cared one way or the other, I am thinking this is a “girl” thing. I stayed for a bit, but then I wanted to get to B’s party so that his special education teacher could go back to her classroom. She accompanied him to his party in lieu of an aide. He was in his gen ed classroom and it’s still so nice just seeing him as a regular fixture there. He was next to his peer buddy, Lauren. They were chatting about their valentines, like friends, it was so nice to see. At this school, I feel like B is less of a “novelty” in the classroom, but more of a classmate. I don’t know if it was the special ed teacher, the gen ed teacher or just that these are really, good kids, but I am thankful that seem to know B and care to know him.

His blood sugar was really high that day, so I was going to change his site for his insulin pump in the bathroom. Even with the high blood sugar, he was so well behaved. When we got back to the party, the class was starting to play bingo. He played right along with them, with Lauren reminding him everyone once in a while that he had a piece to mark. Sweet little Lauren even brought B a little stuffed animal and box of chocolates. I felt terrible that I didn’t bring her anything, until I remembered the big bag of popcorn I had in my bag! It was better than nothing, I guess.

Once the party was over, B went over to one of his other friends in class, Heidi. It was so cool, he went completely on his own to go over there and tell her Happy Valentine’s Day and that he would see her tomorrow. Then other kids were coming up to him and saying goodbye to him and he told them the same thing! After that we went down to the special ed room to get his book bag. We passed out more popcorn to the aides there and B (again) said goodbye to all the kids in there and told them Happy Valentine’s Day. It really was a better gift than any box of chocolates or flowers that I have ever received.

Along our way out of the school, we came across the PE teacher, Assistant Principal and some random office worker. So those three got my last three bags of popcorn. They were genuinely surprised and it was so nice to see that. It’s only been the second day of this project and already we are reaping some rewards. After we got home, one of our neighbors (whom I have only spoke with a handful of times), sent over her three little boys with a plate of Valentine’s Day cookies for us. It really brought a tear to my eye it was so sweet. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring !

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RAKS ~ Random Acts of Kindness Lent Edition

So I am trying to be a good somewhat Catholic girl. I did not eat any meat at all yesterday and served a fish dinner for the kids. My RAK for yesterday was a simple one. After I decided to start this project I scanned the internet and Pinterest for ideas. There are tons out of there, but since I was pressed for time and finances yesterday, I kept it easy. My goal was on my way to and from the kids school, I would smile and say Hello or Good Afternoon to everyone I passed along the way. Since moving to Texas, this is something I try to do anyways, people are just overall nicer here. But usually if I don’t go out of my way to my eye contact with them, I don’t bother and also depends on what kind of day I am having too.
Yesterday, I was adamant though, even those few grouchy people I encountered, I still went out of my way to smile and say Hello. According to the theory of this experiment, I will never know whose day I may have made a little brighter with my simple gesture. Who knows? That’s the beauty of RAKS, they are random and you may never know the repercussions that your actions had on someone. On to day 2!

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Trying to make Lemonade….

Life has been handing me lemon after lemon the past few weeks. It has been a very frustrating and disheartening time for my family. I feel like things cannot just go right for us, no matter how hard I try. I am trying my absolute best to be optimistic through all this right now but it hasn’t been easy.

Today starts Lent. I am a non-practicing Catholic. Which breaks my mother’s heart, but it happens. I grew up Catholic, went to Catholic school, went to church EVERY Sunday. We had our own special pew we sat in every week and the mass we would attend (11am, best Deacon gave awesome Pop Culture Homilies), we were regulars. We were the people that would get annoyed when the church would get crowded on the major holiday’s and heaven forbid if some twice a year Catholic (Christmas and Easter) sat in our pew, we would be livid.

But then I grew up and got older. My family fell apart and I kind of lost my faith a bit. I am just not exactly sure I believe in everything the Catholic church says you should believe in. I just feel like we have learned that in this day age, the church needs to change with society. Homosexuals and Lesbians should be able to get married like the rest of us. Priests should be able to get married and have families of their own. How many people go to priests for marriage or family counseling? How can they possibly have a point of reference without experiencing these things for themselves? For that matter, women should be allowed to be Priests too, if they want to give their life up to God, why do they have to have the glass ceiling that being a nun gives them. We all know woman are better at running things, could you imagine how much a multi-tasking women priest or even Pope could get done???

Lastly, there is the issue of abortion. I love children with all my heart, mine and those around me. I have always been a “kid” person. But now that I have a daughter, my view has changed on this issue. What if heaven forbid, my teenage daughter was in a situation where she was raped and became pregnant? Could I let her suffer through a pregnancy like that? I just don’t know and I don’t feel like any of us can judge someone for that unless we find ourselves in their unfortunate shoes.

So, even though I haven’t been a practicing Catholic per se, I was married in a Catholic church. My kids have all been baptized but have not attended CCD because quite frankly, I haven’t been able to afford it. The last parish we belonged to wanted me to pay close to $1000 for my kids to attend CCD there. It just wasn’t feasible then or now.

But every year when Lent comes around, I feel that Catholic guilt come a-calling (and my mom too). Reminding me not to have meat on Ash Wednesday or on any Friday during Lent. It’s not a huge sacrifice, and it does lift my guilt for a short period of time, so why not? I even heard on tv that cutting out meat one day a week, could ultimately lead to weight loss, so that sounds even better. But for the past decade or so, I have not followed the Lenten rule of sacrificing something for Lent. Today the internet is all a buzz with people declaring what they are giving up, facebook, cola, candy… all supposed vices. I like my silly vices, no thank you. Then I saw a friend’s post on FB and she said instead of giving up something for Lent, she was going to celebrate a season of giving!

AHA… it was my AHA moment ala Oprah! A season of giving THAT I could get on board with! So I remember reading after Christmas a blog about a family that did Random Acts of Kindness during the month of December. Simple things, like paying for someone’s coffee in line at Starbucks, leaving a water bottle in their mailbox for the mailman, etc… little things that cost hardly any money. PERFECT because I am broke !

So that is my new project. For Lent I am instilling my Random Acts of Kindness, one a day until Easter Sunday. I am even going to post them on here daily (I am going to try anyways), as a reminder to keep me on track. I am going to get my kids involved as much as possible to… so let’s do this time for RAK to take over the world !! We’ll see maybe with this RAK project, I can make the BEST lemonade EVER !!

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Welcome to Holland

Beautiful poem

A friend of mine, had a post yesterday about getting her daughter’s new “squiggle” chair. She said it was a reminder that they were in Holland and should unpack and get used to it. I was clueless and commented, “oh are you in Holland, Michigan”? She responded by posting this beautiful link.

DUH.. I felt stupid. I had never heard of this poem or saying before. But wow I can’t stop watching it.

It’s so true. It just brings tears to my eyes, the truth of it all. I cry every time it gets to the part about how if you are so busy mourning the loss of going to Italy, that you will never appreciate the beauty of Holland.

Ain’t that the truth.

I have a hard time with this on a daily basis. I am not proud but it’s true. Every day we walk home from school and I see the groups of boys, B’s age, walking home with their friends, laughing, joking. Things he will probably never do with a group of friends. I can’t imagine ever letting him walk home from somewhere either. It is still a struggle to get him to cross the street and always look both ways to make sure it’s safe. I’d be a nervous wreck.

It’s hard not to imagine what kind of boy he would have been, at almost 10 years old. I do still mourn for that little boy. That doesn’t mean I don’t love the boy I have with all my heart, because I absolutely do. So today, as we walk home, I will remember to notice the beauty of the tulips around us and not worry about the trip to Italy that we will never ever take.

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Y2 ~ Day 21 Sleeping in his own bed

My kids have never been good about sleeping in their beds. I must confess, it wasn’t a big deal to me. I am so tired at the end of the day, that as long as they are sleeping, it didn’t really matter to me “where” they were sleeping. When they were smaller, I would move them into their beds if they fell asleep on the couch, my bed, wherever, but now even the little one’s are too heavy for me.
B always slept on the couch at our old house, he has never been a great sleeper. So once he was out, I didn’t want to risk waking him up to move him. He just doesn’t need a lot of sleep. Which is why I have used melatonin regularly with him, but I haven’t been using it in a few months now.
This past week, B has been asking to go to the Planetarium. His Dad told him that if he sleeps in his bed for 10 nights we will take him there. So the past two nights, after last call for snacks, he has gone up to his bed. He takes his brother’s kindle with him and watches videos to fall asleep. Last night he looked so cute, he had a solar system book (he was reading) with the kindle next to him playing a Thomas video. I went up to check his blood sugar for the night and it was good too. He even fell asleep about a half hour before his sister did, I couldn’t believe it. Now I wonder if he will continue to sleep in his bed after he reaches his goal. It will be interesting to see. I will be surprised if he does, but that kid is constantly surprising me.

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Y2~ Day 20 A little off..

B has been a little off lately. I don’t know what’s going on but he has just been “off”.

At school, he seems to be doing okay. But I fear they are a little lenient sometimes with how they fill out his chart. In some ways, he is particularly easy compared to some of the other special education students in his class. But then when you compare him to his same age peers, easy is the not the first word you think of, that is for sure.
So I need to talk to his teacher to get a full understanding of how his behavior has been in school. At home , it’s been really bad. Just a lot more tantrums than we are used to, and very hard to get over simple things.

It seems to be a trend that after school he is in a mood. Yesterday was no exception. He got home from school and wanted to play Roblox on the computer. It’s an online game, kind of like legos. I am not a fan of this game. No matter which computer they play it on, new, old, laptop, pc… it will eventually freeze. So it was with baited breath that I let him play the game yesterday. He tried it on his Dad’s mini laptop, then on the desktop computer. Both times it froze and MAJOR meltdowns occurred. Then of course since his game doesn’t work he decides he wants the iPad.
Well, his sister is playing with the iPad. So again, MAJOR meltdown alert. I am trying my best to be fair to the kids. No matter his disability, he needs to learn that just because he wants something that someone else has, it doesn’t make it automatically his. We take turns in this house, we share, just like in life. You don’t always get what you want. Does this make me a mean mom? I hope not, I just feel like it’s only fair to the other kids that we try to treat him the same as much as possible.
So his inconsolable meltdown led to his being put in time out with no electronics. I gave him a few minutes, checked his blood sugar (just in case) and it was fine. Then I told him I would set the timer and that it would be his turn in 30 minutes. He STILL continued to lose it. I just don’t know what’s gotten into him lately. I told him if he did not calm down, that it would be even longer before he got his turn. Still didn’t work.
So 45 minutes later he was still crying on and off about the iPad. “iPad 2 is for girls only” is his favorite thing to say, I think he said it 100 times in that 45 minute period. But I stick to my guns. It was only fair.
He finally got his turn and he actually apologized (on his own). He said, “I’m sorry I cried about the iPad, Mom”… hmm maybe just maybe I am doing something right after all…

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Y2~ Day 19 Mystery Solved

This past weekend, I finally found the youtube video B has been watching that has caused the obsession with VHS tapes. It’s a boy who has a VHS collection and he shows one video a day of the opening credits from said video. Say what? B has been into Logos on and off for a while now. Similar to his LED sign obsession, which had to be curbed because there are barely ANY LED signs in North Texas. So strange, in Illinois they were everywhere. But I digress…

So lately he has been using his iPad or my phone to tape movie/tv studio logos off the tv. He will ask us to rewind it if he misses it. Then he will watch it over and over again. Add it to the list of things that I don’t understand about Autism. He has even been drawing the studio logos and putting them all over the house. He just loves it. So at least now I know WHY he wants VHS tapes, because he wants to replicate what this kid on his youtube videos. My goal now is to get him to understand, that the beginning of a VHS tape is JUST the same as the beginning of the 100’s of DVD’s that we have. He can tape those beginnings to his heart’s content. Wish me luck.

As I was talking to my sister today, who was going to send him some VHS tapes, I told her to hold off. Then she wanted to know why he wanted them. I explained the situation to her and she couldn’t believe it. My niece (who has Asperger’s) has been doing the exact same thing. Go figure. These two are both on the spectrum but do not usually share any common interests. Truth be told she hates B. Let me repeat that, She HATES B. Like we have to make sure they are not in the same room alone ever because she is much bigger than him and might hurt him. Sad but true. It truly boggles my mind because she is the only person on the planet who has met the kid and not fallen in love with him. He is just a lovable boy in so many ways. And ironically, he really likes her. He always used to ask about going to her house to see her. Over break, my sister and I went shopping and took B along, he asked and wanted his cousin to go with. My sister cried, she feels so bad, because we don’t understand why she hates him.

So add that to the list about this disease that don’t make sense I guess…

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