Posts tagged Autism

Day 221 – Covid Weary is Not the Term

There are such a wide range of perspectives of the lockdown measures for the pandemic. Everyone is impacted to varying degrees. For some it’s just a matter of battling the cabin fever as they work and school from home. For others, it is trying to adjust a self employed business to keep it afloat for the next 6 months or who knows how long. For some it’s unemployment for a second time in a year while others in essential services and frontline work are working overtime and are exhausted both physically and mentally. Some are just plain afraid and feel safe at home.

For us it is a great big complicated mess of predicaments that keep us into a category all our own and that no EI or Covid Response can cover. We are on our own when it comes to the supports that have been a considerable help to us in dealing with our normal, everyday struggles minus Covid Lockdown complications. As it is with the Covid lockdown measures, we are pretty much up the creek without a paddle going over waterfalls every stinking day and the term Covid Weary is not the term I would use: Covid Abused would be a more suitable term.

Our boys used to participate in day programs and recreation/social programs during the week and on weekends as well as occasional respite. Every week they were swimming and engaging in lots of physical and social activities and we were able to get breaks during those times to either run errands, complete little projects or get out on a date. The movement for individuals with autism is a huge help with regulation of stimulation to them. It really seems to give balance for them. Without the movement programs, they are less and less able to regulate the over stimulation of the environment around them. 

Since Covid, the day programming has been cut down due to increased fees and we are burning through the funding that we use to pay for it. One of our sons started refusing to go to day programming and hasn’t been going since the Fall. We still aren’t sure what is the reason behind that. It could be he is afraid of the masks. Or it could be that they can’t do anything with them at day programming like they used to and he’s bored there and just prefers to be home being bored. His funding will not run out if he decides to go back. Unfortunately, we can’t use his funding for our other son’s programming.

All other programs and respite have been cancelled since March 2020. Almost 11 months. 

I’ve had people (Professionals) say, “Yeah? Like, so has everyone else.” 

Please let me explain. I’ve left my job so that I can care for our guys so that at least one of us can earn a living. Normally taking care of two adults with such severe needs and dependence requires one on one care. We have always paid two people to care for our boys. When I say boys, I am talking full grown adult males that are 200 plus pounds and taller than me. They have meltdowns with self injurious behaviours. One slaps his head, jumps up and down and screams to the point of making himself sick and creating a bald spot on the back of his head. The other hits his head with a closed fist and bites his wrist extremely hard often breaking skin and bruising. If his helmet keeps him from hitting his head, he will slap his face breaking blood vessels and bruising and blackening his eyes with swelling. He also jumps and screams. Is there any intervention when they get to this point? No. Not with a 200 plus pound man. Even to those of us who are used to it, it is incredibly disturbing to see. Sometimes we get a few signals that it’s coming like heavy breathing or growling type noises but a lot of times we don’t know it’s coming until we hear that first slap and they go from green to red alert in just a few brief seconds. Pre-Covid this happened maybe a few times a week. Now we get to watch our sons beat themselves up a few times a day each. They don’t have their routine and they are bored and they have had no movement to help with self regulation. 

What I want to do is cover my ears and crawl into a corner and rock until it’s over. But even then I would still feel the floor shake and hear the screams. My heart races, my stomach tightens up really hard and it hurts. My breathing becomes really shallow until my heart starts hurting too. 

Some days, I can handle it and try to get them to a safe spot and reduce as much stimulation as possible and make attempts at distracting them out of their meltdowns. As time goes on the flight instinct grows and the fight instinct fades. I want to escape from this prison of ours. Our home,  with the torture of witnessing such cruel and horrible treatment of our sons at their own hands. 

How much longer will we have to endure this and what damage will we see at the end? I’m starting to realize the concept of self harm that my boys seem to have as their second nature. I’m pushing away urges to hit myself in the head and scratch myself ruthlessly. What is it about physical pain that would be an escape from the torment?

I feel like there is no playbook for this. Why on earth would this be on the minds of those making decisions about social programs during a pandemic when this just isn’t a reality for anyone? Why on earth would my work benefits cover a leave of absence for this? How can anyone in their safe minds comprehend the conditions of a home in this much turmoil? Where can the help be found when contemplation of such things is impossible to people who would never experience this?  

We are not in this together and there is no imagination that can dare to say that we are not alone in this.

Day 213 – Notes to self?

I read a blog recently of a woman with children on the Autism spectrum.  She was looking back and wrote what she would say to herself if she could go back in time and talk to herself when it all started. It was about the advice she would give to herself.

She then encouraged others to post their advice to themselves so here is my shot at it.

Read More

Day 177: Costumes

Tomorrow is Halloween and I thought I would post about costumes.

I am not so sure if my boys are typical when it comes to kids with autism and costumes but I will share my experiences with the boys at this time of year to give you a bit of an idea of how this holiday goes for kids with Autism.

Costumes are tricky to do around here.  We aren’t the kind of family to do Halloween like Christmas with decorations and tons of money spent on costumes.  We will only spend money on candy and on costumes only if necessary for props.

Our boys don’t like hats and we usually try to buy coats with tighter hoods and buy scarves to bundle them up during the winter months.  So hats or other such objects on their heads are not likely to stay on for long.  Costumes with masks are definitely out of the question and things pinned on them or sticking out would be ripped off in a matter of minutes.

Andy and Ethan are only a year apart in age and have been in the same class together since nursery school so I have gotten in the habit of matching their costumes such as Thing 1 and Thing 2 and Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble.  This year they are in separate schools so I can do separate costumes.

The boys don’t really go out trick or treating.  We have just taken them around the block in the past.  They didn’t understand that you don’t go into the house when the door is opened.  Ethan still, any day of the year, will go to neighbours houses to visit with them.  He visited Uncle Bill next door this year and even went down to the basement to check everything out while I was getting Andy into our house after a drive.

My boys aren’t really much into sweets.  The only candy they can eat on their diet is Skittles and Starbursts and we take out the red ones.  So they aren’t really into getting the loot.  Usually I end up eating it and that’s not good when you are trying to shed some pounds so BJ will be getting the extra loot this year.

As far as getting scared, the boys don’t get scared of other costumes.  They get curious though so we have to keep a close eye on them around folks in costumes.

Halloween is not a huge holiday around here, which is ok with me.  We have fun playing with pumpkin guts when we carve and hang out in the living room to hand out candy.  They are very content with that.


Day 176: Emergency Preparedness

Hurricane Sandy is a huge storm that has been dubbed “Frankenstorm” in relation to the size of it, the closeness to Halloween and the destruction of this storm of the year.

I have been searching online for tips on how to prepare for this storm and it should be noted that folks with children with Autism need to take special precautions.

It is especially important for families to have plan in the event of sudden emergencies like fire or tornado, since the possibility of getting separated from your children exists and can be avoided if a plan is prepared ahead of time.

Come up with a plan for your family.  Know what you are going to do if you have to evacuate, where you are going to go and what you will need to take.  Know your supports and use them, such as family or friends to turn to for help.  Pack a kit of absolute necessities including communication aids, meds., health cards and insurance documents.  Have clothing, pull ups and wipes and special toys ready in a special backpack for your children and don’t forget to include security items like blankets and fidget toys.

Have a plan for when the power goes out.  Know what you will do with your children when there is no electronics to entertain.  Have flashlights in a known location and extra batteries on hand.  Charge cell phones, laptops, iPads etc.

If your children can not communicate it would be good to post signs on the doors to inform emergency workers of children who will not be able to respond to them.  I have read about parents creating an “All about Me” book to have on hand for emergency personnel.

Have emergency food supplies on hand and keep this in mind also for children with special diets.  Make a menu up of non-perishable foods and how to prepare them and keep ingredients on hand.  Water is needed in emergencies for both drinking and for cleaning.  Have extra supplies for toiletting on hand.  It is suggested that people have 72 hrs. worth of food and other necessities on hand.

If you are aware of a possible emergency for example a hurricane is forecasted to hit your area, then do the laundry and dishes so that they are not piled up and dirty when you have no power.  It is also advised to de-clutter so that you don’t trip over things in the dark.

I hope this storm isn’t as bad as it could be and that we all fair well through it all.  Keep tight and safe!

Day 175: Smarts

Today, my little Ethy woke up and wandered into the kitchen, was promptly changed into his clothes for school then wandered a bit more in the kitchen where he passed by his food and went and laid down on the couch in the living room.  He looked like he might be sick so after about 10 minutes, I decided to keep him home from school.

After I told the bus driver he wasn’t going to school that day and calling the school with the same news, I went to check on him again.  He had gotten up and was at the toy box looking through the toys.  He gave me a hug and then proceeded to wander with the toy he chose to the bathroom.  He wanted to take a bath.  He was getting more and more animated throughout all of this and I began to wonder if my little guy was really sick.

I got him undressed and into the tub with all his favourite tub toys.  He was laughing and playing and splashing having a grand ol’ time in the water and my suspicions rose.

He was goofing around and had unplugged the stopper and was then filling up the tub again when I decided to get him out and dressed again.

Once dressed he went to the kitchen to get the breakfast he missed while playing the sick boy part.  He was laughing and smiling and hugging.

I took him down to the sunroom since the couches down there are wipeable incase he really was sick and he wanted to go outside.  My mom always told us when we were only a bit under the weather that fresh air was good for us and encouraged us to go outside so I didn’t see anything wrong with it.

He is right now outside wandering and swinging and I am most certain now that he is not sick.

The psychologists once told me he was mentally retarded and would not learn anymore than he had learned.  Well they were wrong because my boy learned how to fake sickness to play hookie from school!

Day 173: Autism and the Church

Our chapel has just purchased some land to build a new building in another location in a subdivision close the our current building.  It is all very exciting to us as we make the plans to break ground in the spring.  It reminded me of a post I wrote a while ago about Autism and the Church so I am reposting it here with a few edits.

The incidence of autism has risen to 1 in every 100 children that are affected.  The numbers are staggering considering ten years ago it was 1 in 10,000.  The government is just now coming to terms with the epidemic and beginning to consider an autism strategy to deal with what will soon be a burgeoning population of adults with autism.

As a church and family of God, I think it important also to be prepared to deal with Autism in our assemblies as well.

Scripturally speaking there are a couple of instances I can recall, where people with disabilities needed help from friends.  There was a paralytic man who wanted to see Jesus and his friends lowered him through the roof to the Lord. Another man had been sick for a long time and sat by a pool that could heal him but he had no friends to put him into the water.  Autism is a fairly new epidemic and there isn’t really scriptural reference for handling Autism in the church.  So most of what I say are practical helps.

First of all, there really has to be a genuine love for this special group of people and their families.  It is not an easy disorder to deal with as a family and having the love of those in our assemblies makes a huge difference! Believe me, it can be a balm to the wounds of the heart to know that your family is truly loved.

That being said, an effort is required and it begins with educating yourselves.  Don’t always depend on getting all the right answers from the family members either.  I know I have been approached by people in meeting and it really is hard to get everything covered in a 5 minute conversation by the coat racks.  So look it up on the internet.  Read blogs by parents of children with autism and their every day struggles.  There is actually a blog called The Inclusive Church with great, practical ideas on how to include kids with Autism!

Don’t ever make assumptions!!!!  Autism is a disorder where children have odd behaviours and outbursts because of unusual things like a smell or buzzing lights.  These parents have children that do not have a wheel chair or obvious physical features that indicate that there is a disability so they are used to being judged as terrible parents based on the behaviours of their children.

Asking parents what you can do to help is helpful to some degree.  But I do have to admit that I sometimes don’t even know what to ask for with regards to help.  Certainly give them time to come up with a list for everyone.

Some children with autism are darters.  They run off very quickly and since they often do not understand dangers like cars and parking lots or even the concept of being lost.  They will walk away and keep right on walking.  So please stop a child with autism from walking/running out of the building without their parents or an adult.  Depending on the severity of the child, you may have to grab their hand or physically block them but the danger of them running into a car is very serious.  And I have been in situations where my son has gotten away from me and people have just watched him run past them with me running in hot pursuit.  It sure would have been nice if that person had stopped him keeping me from having to run 1/2 a block to catch up to him.

Even if you haven’t done the research, please don’t be afraid to interact with children with autism.  Even if they can’t talk, you can easily say “hey, kurt, I love your slinky.  That looks like it’s a lot of fun to play with”  “give me five” or “you are growing up.  Look how tall you are now!”  Don’t be afraid even if it is awkward for you talking to someone who may not understand or can’t respond or can’t respond properly.  You will get better at it and you will get to know their likes and dislikes.  It is far worse for you to ignore this family out of fear of what to say than to engage with them and experience a few awkward moments as you get used to it.  This is part of showing that love and it is showing that you are making an effort!

This is a big one!  I know that friendships in the assemblies are important to kids in that they have positive influences on each other and it encourages them to stay in the assemblies.  PLEASE, PLEASE, encourage your children to include children with autism or even kids with social awkwardness.  As a parent of children with social difficulties one thing that happens is, we mourn the loss of what we had dreamed for our children including social acceptance and popularity.  I know that I had envisioned my children being social butterflies and having wonderful, lasting friendships in the assemblies that would carry into their adult life just like the friendships I had as a teenager.  It is difficult for many of us parents to see our kids struggling and being left out of the other kids sleepovers, movie nights, birthday parties and outings because of their social awkwardness, it just breaks our hearts.

I think it is a help to a parent to have their children’s peers teaching their child social rules and what is acceptable and what isn’t.  I think it may even be more affective than a parent teaching them not to mention how beneficial it is for the “normal” kids to be making an effort to include these kids on their own personal growth.

Social clicks and special activities amongst them that continually exclude others who are not so popular aren’t necessarily encouraged but are present sometimes.  When this happens, kids with Autism don’t get a chance to benefit from social learning opportunities around their peers and the social kids don’t get a chance to learn the ability to socialize with kids with Autism.  It’s a lose/lose situation.

“If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matt 5:46-48

I realize how difficult this can be in taking a lot of folks out their comfort zones to reach out and make an effort to the people affected by autism.  But if you can just imagine for a minute how much these families are struggling and really what you may be giving up is nothing compared to the daily struggles they face.  You are really only risking growth and an opportunity to truly reflect Christ in your life and an opportunity to minister to Christ Himself. “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matt 25:40

Day 172: What It’s Like

I can’t remember if I had posted this or not but I had written a letter several years ago before I started blogging.

The background to the reason for the letter is as follows. The boys were in therapy and at therapy, there was a very large black book of policies and in it contained policies from where to greet the parents and children to how to handle infectious diseases and that policy probably was about half of that big black book.  They had a colour chart for the discharge from a child’s nose and #of hours after a loose BM for the child to stay home requirement in there.  It was incredibly ridiculous in my opinion especially since part of the condition of Autism involves either chronic constipation or chronic diarrhea.  My boys always had loose BMs. It took me a long time to convince them of that fact and that they were not going to give everyone in the building the runs.

Ethan had at one point gotten a hold of a toothbrush and used it as a stim toy. A stim is a repetitive behaviour a child can fixate on in order to stimulate their senses of touch or sight or sound or with a certain movement.  Ethan had this toothbrush and managed to irritate his stomach and there was a red mark.  The IBI looked it up in their big black book and informed me that Ethan had to see a doctor before returning to IBI.  I called them and told them it was from him stimming with a toothbrush.  They insisted he needed to see a doctor first.

Now seeing a doctor may seem like no problem to the average person but for the parent of a child with Autism, it is an absolute nightmare. A child that does not understand physical boundaries, has a tendency to destroy any paper and toys within seconds, who absolutely can not sit still for anything, hates waiting and throws temper tantrums for any one of those reasons and that is all before we even get into the exam room.  Add to that a physical exam where he had to sit still while being poked and prodded in a tiny room with no room to wander and I had developed a terrible dislike for doctors visits.
My dislike had nothing really at all to do with the doctor but it was awful and I avoided those visits unless it was absolutely necessary and I knew what the cause of Ethan’s rash was and thought it ridiculous that they would not take my word for it.  So in my frustration, I wrote the following letter and gave many copies of it out so that they could place it in their big black book of policies!

I am the mother of 3 “special” boys. My oldest is 8 yrs. Old and wears two hearing aids for a mild hearing impairment and is, in all likelihood, going to have a diagnosis of ADD within the next month or two. My 6 yr. Old son is autistic and is completely non-verbal and is on the most severe side of the autism spectrum. My 5 yr. Old is very similar to my 6 yr. Old except he says “mama” on occasion.
I have written this out of raw emotion and not for any literary reason except to offer a bit of a glimpse into the shoes I fill 24-7. So the grammar and English are not the best and the metaphors are poor. I hope that perhaps people who read this who wonder how I can do it or what is going on when I appear a little distant or foggy brained or cannot relate completely with the world around me, perhaps they can understand just a little bit better upon reading this.
What is it all about, being the mother of three “special” boys? It’s about meeting the nutritional and dietary needs of three very different likes, dislikes and restrictions (ie:gluten and cassien).
It’s about teaching self-help skills to children who require 100 repetitions and rewards to attain a skill that requires only 5 to 10 reps. for the average child to learn the same skill.
It’s teaching an emotionally over reactive boy how to get along with friends that have already figured out his weakness and have targeted it.
It’s trying to guess the possible reasons for a dramatic change in behaviour that leaves my normally happy, easy going boy into an explosive child that erupts into a very loud, self injurious fit that no amount of feeding, deep pressure, comfort, discipline, time outs, redirection or medicine will ease.
It is about not getting all the children settled and asleep for the night until about 10 or 11 pm, even if you begin at 8 pm. Then to be awakened to shrill screaming and stomping at 3 or 4 am and not being able to get them back to sleep before they need to be off to school.
It is spending 2 hours with my grade 3 student, constantly redirecting his attention back to his homework of one sheet that should only take 15 minutes to complete.
It is avoiding reading or seeing more news on another family’s plight so that I don’t get upset and cry about my own plight.
It is about cleaning sheets and carpets in the middle of the night because a child woke up and had a bowel movement then had a sensory experience with it afterwards.
It is averting the darting child and constantly setting up situations where I don’t have to handle two at the same time because usually one runs away or gets into something in the 20 seconds that I’ve let go to handle the other.
It’s about reading all the news of the latest treatments, vitamins and concoctions that find their way to my doorstep, mailbox, inbox or windshield and weeding out what is worth the time and money trying. It is also figuring out how long to stick with it and judging behaviours that correspond with the miracle cure.
It is about taking the proverbial two steps forward and one step back.
It’s about keeping birth dates and medical and developmental histories for each child memorized and sorted with the proper child, ready to recite on demand. Not to mention aptitude scores and how many BM’s they have a day as well as what time of day they occur.
It’s about those times when I have no choice but to take one of them to the doctors or hospital when they are sick. I am met with looks ranging from shock, horror, sympathy, disgust, surprise and helplessness from people as I try to tame one of those fits while waiting over an hour for someone to even suggest some kind of help while my child bites, hits, pushes and kicks at me out of the sheer terror of this situation they do not want to be in while they are sick and hurting.
It is also wondering who will actually misjudge the situation and call FACS.
It is about trying to balance the wonder mom act of doing incredible feats in “floor time”, potty training, cognitive development and behaviour management and giving myself some questionable “me time” so that I don’t self destruct when my husband is 2 minutes late going out the door for our appointment with the accountant at tax time.
It’s about hearing the advice from friends, family, professionals and neighbours without feeling like I am not doing enough.
It’s about knowing how many couples divorce when in a situation somewhat similar to ours and trying desperately not to become one of those couples.
It’s about trying not to ignore my husband’s needs for food and attention not to mention his need for clean and ironed clothes.
It’s about exhausting the bank account of the last $2.00 the day after pay day knowing of upcoming financial obligations before the next pay day.
It’s about wondering if a friend is criticizing me behind my back for feeling overwhelmed and basically having a “pity party” every once in a while when I’ve just about reached the end of my rope and the PMS is in full swing.
It’s also wondering if friends don’t want me around anymore because they don’t know how to deal with me and my “baggage”.
It is also about trying to be a normal woman and having fun with people so that I can step out of things for an hour or two and be that carefree 21-yr old with no responsibilities, burdens and obligations that I once was.
It is about trying to correct the things in me that are not good.
It is also about failing to do that and trying to conquer the guilt.
It’s about wanting (on the rare occasion) to get in the car and drive away but knowing that in my mind, that it is impossible.
It’s about dreaming of things getting better and then waking up.
It’s about the struggle between accepting the disabilities in my boys and loving them for who they are and wanting improvements.
It’s trying to be sensitive to friends who don’t understand and get hurt when I say so.
It’s also about not reacting to ignorant people because they are unacquainted with Autism.
It is about wondering why God thought that I could do this. I feel significantly inadequate!
It is about the characters that emerge from my guys that give me rare glimpses into their personalities. The coy turn of the head, the comical raising of the eyebrows, or the twitch of the nose that will send us both into hysterics that proves that they are not void little bodies that are completely unresponsive to the world around them.
It’s about those smiles and hugs that make me forget about everything else and melts my heart for the love I feel from that simple expression.
It’s about the hope that regardless of whether any of my circumstances change or not that I am changing and learning. My hope is that you will too!

Yup I was mad.  But I sweetened it up in the end, I think.

Day 171: Respite

Ahhh Respite…

Mirriam-Webster defines Respite to be “providing or being temporary care in relief of a primary caregiver

Taking care of children with special needs is demanding in physical, mental and emotional ways.  Even the most physically fit, emotionally and mentally balanced people have breaking points and need to take breaks.  If not, the body will inevitably go on strike in some form or fashion forcing one to take a break.  It is best to plan the breaks before the body breaks down from wear and tear.

This is where Respite comes in.

In our region there are designated government subsidized respite sites.  For those of you reading this and wondering for yourselves about sending your child/ren to respite, I will explain why and how we use respite because I believe once you get over your initial reservations (as I once had) this will become a wonderful help to you as a parent and a wonderful experience for your child. I might also add that this is a subsidized organization and the cost is $90 each for the entire weekend (meals included unless GF/CF).

Respite is available to our boys once every 6 weeks or so. We get a list of available dates and check off which ones we are interested in so I usually go through my calendar and see which weekends we have weddings or other commitments, events or vacations and book those weekends. Sometimes we just use a free weekend to get stuff done around the house as we are hard pressed to get anything done with the boys at home.

The respite facilities the boys go to are safe which was our biggest concern. It looks like it was a school converted into a respite facility. The doors going outside have security locks and a code is punched in to open the doors and in the event of a fire, these doors will automatically open.

There are rooms where the children can sleep either on their own or with other beds and there is equipment available to meet any special needs like rails etc. There is a living room with a couch and chair and big screen tv with plexi-glass over it.

There is a separate huge shower and a bathroom with a huge jacuzzi tub and the boys just love these! There is a huge eating area that is separate from the kitchen which is also a bonus so the boys don’t get into food and stuff that they can’t have! The eating area has huge windows surrounding it with a beautiful view of the wooded back yard area! When we arrive that is the first place Ethan will go to. He will grab a toy and go straight to the window.

There is a gymnasium for the kids to have space to run around and there is also a snoozelyn room that is darkened and has fibre optic lights and a ball pool and mirrors and comfy stuffed vinyl pads all over! There is also a huge fenced-in yard out back with swings and plenty of space to run! If they didn’t do anything else but hang out there, the boys are still quite happy but they also take them swimming and to parks, splash pads and Happy Rolph’s (petting zoo, bird sanctuary and park) and if the weather is bad, they go for van rides and the boys love going for drives! The staff are great and I have heard them say that they love working with the boys, which is always nice to hear!

I have felt guilty in the past about planning things without the boys but now I see that compared to taking them to something that I know we would have to restrain them constantly and where they would not enjoy, I am sure that they would enjoy the respite so much more.

We get the freedom every once in a while to be normal parents and have special times with BJ who doesn’t often get special time with mom and dad. We are quite happy with respite and feel that it is good for us to have those breaks. It has been so healthy for our marriage, and for BJ and the boys are happy! I recommend it whole heartedly!

For those who don’t have children with special needs, then this just gives you another glimpse of what we plan for our boys in order to fix a leaky toilet or go to a wedding or to take BJ mini-putting.

Day 170: Family Photos

So my husband gave me the idea for a post about family photos.

One of the difficulties families with kids with Autism face is getting a decent family photo.

Children with autism have a hard time staying in one place for even a couple of minutes let alone for an extended period of time. It is a feat in and of itself and sometimes the meltdowns occur before a decent shot can be had and once a meltdown occurs there is no getting back into place.

Getting the kids to pose with bright lights and often cramped spaces with all kinds of metal objects is another difficulty and getting them to look at the camera takes great skill by only photographers who know a little something about autism.

Shown above is a family photo we took in a studio.  I am guessing it was about 11 years ago.

Shown above is the next family photo taken 10 years later!  Yes, you heard that ten years later we decided to give it another try.

We did it differently the next time though.  We got out of the studio with all the bright lights and funny umbrella thingys and moved to a wide open space with plenty of leaves and grass to pick and play with.  We had  a photographer that was prepared to take a lot of shots (thankfully, the invention of digital cameras happened in those ten years) and who was up for taking walking shots and ta’da!  Le Voila!  Great family picture but not without taking 50 shots to get one where we are all looking and smiling in the one pose.

Day 169: Practical Marriage Tips (Continued…)

Use the Words “I love that about you…” and “Thanks so much for…” Often

This is the kind of thing couples do when they are dating before they are married but don’t do so much afterwords.  Sometimes it even gets replaced with complaints about each other.

Reminding your spouse of some of the things you appreciate about them not only lets them know that you like them and the things they do but also reminds you of the wonderful person you are married to.  If this is a habit for each of you, your kids will learn the qualities they would need to look for in a future spouse too!

If it Isn’t a Big Deal, Let it Slide

I don’t know about you but I am not a perfect person.  I make mistakes.  Thing is, when I make mistakes, I know it and I regret them.  Therefore, I don’t think it is necessary to point out every mistake.  Sometimes they need to be discussed for a “next time we will do this instead” pep talk but for those little stupid mistakes, just let them slide.  No need to create unnecessary embarrassment for the one you love.

Fess Up and Learn to Say “I’m sorry”

My mom had a saying when my sister and I were growing up.  “It takes two to tango”.  In other words, often both parties have committed an offence of some sort in an argument.  I know that even though I may be on solid ground in an argument, it doesn’t take long for me to think of something I have done wrong too.  If I admit to my offences and apologize for it, often my husband won’t have his back up and then think about his part in the “tango” and apologize too.  There is no need to dance around the silly back and forth stuff when you can get straight to the points.

Spontaneous Displays of Affection

Every now and then, out of the blue, just grab your man or woman and give them a good squeeze.  It says “Hey, you are special to me and I need you” and deep pressure does a world of good to stressed out people! I don’t think I need to explain any further on this one.

Well that’s all I will write for now on tips.  I’m sure there are many others to add and please feel free to add them in the comments!