Monday, August 19, 2013

Being "Mom"

Sometimes I wonder what things would be like if I never became "Autism Aware".  I mean, when Big Brother was turning 1 year old (he's an April baby), every time I turned around, there were Public Service Announcements (PSAs) of what to watch for to see question if your child is on the Autism Spectrum.  Well, we refer to Big Brother as our "Anti-Autism Child" because almost all of the warning signs were absent.  After the twins were born 9 months later, we had forgotten all about those PSAs and we never thought to look at them again.  Autism would never touch our lives.

But when Ballerina and Music Man were 26 months old, we learned they were both "Clearly On The Spectrum".

That was March, 2009.  Since then, I have been learning more every day about Autism and living with this diagnosis.  I've been learning how to handle the issues associated with Autism, what to watch for and when to watch for other potential issues.  I've learned about medications used to treat Autism and ADHD and we've tried a few of them.  I've learned about IEPs and 504s and I spend a lot of time making sure that both of my children receive the services that they need in order to grow and succeed.  And I obsess over things for them.  I defend them when I feel it's necessary and I discipline them when it is appropriate.  And I work hard to make sure they understand consequences because I don't know if they will be able to connect actions to consequences on their own.

Then I look at the way I parent Big Brother.  Remember him?  The "Anti-Autism Child"?  I watch the way HE looks at them and defends them when he's with his friends.  And I see how he has become their protector when they are not at home and their tormentor when they are within the walls of our home (like any other brother).  I see him going out and playing baseball and soccer, participating in Cub Scouts, going to Hebrew School to prepare for his bar-mitzvah, doing his homework, and reading his many books.  I see him growing up and doing so many of these things independently.

Music Man has no extra-curricular activities.  He simply doesn't WANT them.  He wants to play on the computer or read his books.  This year, we're trying to see if we can get him involved in something else.  He'll be taking a dance class for special needs kids.  We are also going to try private music lessons for him because he really does show an affinity towards music.  And I'm going to give Cub Scouts a try as well.

But with Big Brother, he always wanted to do these things.  You present an opportunity for a new activity and he'll JUMP at it.  We have reached a point where we are trying to find things to drop from his schedule because there simply isn't enough time.  For Music Man, I'm having to force these things on him.  I don't plan on doing this for long.  I just want to expose him to things so we can figure out what kind of activities he likes.  Because, when left to his own, we'll NEVER see where his interests and passions lie.

I never thought I would be forcing my children into activities.  Completing what they begin, yes.....that's very important to me (I don't believe in quitting [except for very rare circumstances]).  This is one of those things that is part of being an "Autism Mom"......and one of those things I wouldn't have expected.

But I'm a Mom first.....and Moms always do what they feel they must do.

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My name is Ilene and I am always trying to figure out how to get everything done.  I'm a happily married Stay-At-Home-Mom to 3 amazing children, two of whom are on the Autism Spectrum and a dog.

I would like to spend more of my time doing things that are considered "productive", but it hasn't been working out that way lately.  I'm hoping with the start of a new school year, I can get back on track.  When I find the time, I blog at My Family's Experience With Autism, where I share the stories of my children and my own personal revelations.  Feel free to stop by and share our stories.


  1. This may not be for everyone, but when my 24 y/o son who has Aspergers was in school, karate, swim team, and later, choral music were activities he was able to stick with and succeed with.

    1. We started swim team this year, and my intention is that they will all stay with it until they complete high school (unless we aren't home for a given summer). This is teaching a life skill. I have considered martial arts, but I've been told that it's a real commitment time-wise and I'm not sure we can manage it right now. I hope that they enjoy the activities I sign them up for. Sometimes we just have to keep trying. But having interests outside of themselves provides opportunities for socialization.....something that Music Man avoids with everything he can!