4 pieces of advice for parenting your autistc teenager
autism, parenting

4 Pieces of Advice for Parenting Your Autistic Teenager

4 pieces of advice for parenting your autistc teenager

Parenting an autistic teenager is a whole different ball game than parenting a little kid.  Hormones go haywire, they get big and strong, and things just get harder.  It kind of comes as a shock, really.

But nobody tells you that when they are first diagnosed as toddlers or preschoolers.

Their future as adults starts to stare you down and it can look downright scary!

How will my kid live on their own?  Will they be able live on their own?  What happens when they are bigger than me?  How do you get help and services?  What if they can’t tell me what’s causing behavior changes?

Lots of scary questions. Continue reading “4 Pieces of Advice for Parenting Your Autistic Teenager”

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kids, parenting

Why You Should Make Your Teenager Buy Their Own Clothes

Why you should make your teenager buy their own clothes

Years ago, when I was growing up, my parents instituted a rule that when we turned 13 we were responsible for buying our own clothes.  The farm would provide us with a pair of work boots and every day coat (meaning the coat you wore to do chores and farmwork) and Mom and Dad would make sure we had a decent “good” coat (meaning it was nicer, but you wore it forever!), but all other clothing purchases were your responsibility (we did get underwear at Christmas, though, so that helped, lol).

I had no other friends who had to buy ALL of their own clothes!  Seriously.  If they needed new jeans, their parents bought it for them.  They want a new sweater?  Their parents bought it for them.  Now, granted, my situation was slightly different, in that I had a good job by 13 (farming for your dad starts early and he paid pretty well.  And you get LOTS of summer hours in the tractor!)  But I had friends who had jobs later who still didn’t have to buy all of their own clothes.

As our kids got older, we instituted the same rule (except for Reece, but that’s a whole different story).  And we are completely in the minority. Continue reading “Why You Should Make Your Teenager Buy Their Own Clothes”

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autism, kids, parenting

Unexpected and Unplanned Blessings

 

unexpected post pic

 

My baby turns 11 today!  How is that possible??  I don’t feel old enough to have my youngest child be that old!  And to put a different perspective on it- my youngest brother was 11 when my twins were born!  Crazy how time flies.  I had so many people tell me that when I was a young mom deep in the trenches of babies and toddlers, but I don’t think I really believed them?

Anyway, I’ve been spending the morning reflecting on the day Lindy came into our lives and what my expectations were for that day and for my life in general.  Looking back, I can see a little glimpse now of what God had planned…

So, to give you a background-

I’m a planner and I always had a plan for my life.  I was going to get married in my early 20’s and have my first baby by 25, pop out a few more over the next few years and have this lovely large family of blond, blue-eyed children.  Basically, I wanted to recreate the family my siblings and I had!  I come from a fairly large family (there were 5 of us kids) and everybody in the family (aunts and uncles) also has lots of kids, minimum 3.  I had 20+ cousins on both sides of my family!

Enter real life-

I got married at the ripe old age of 21 (I thought I was so old and mature!) and had the twins at 22 after a horrible pregnancy full of many medical issues.  Reece (my autistic son) had some physical challenges (low muscle tone), but after a year of physical therapy, he seemed fine.  So, when the twins were on the verge of 3 years old, we decided it was time for another.  I got pregnant right away and spent the next 8 months in virtual pregnancy hell.  I had worse complications than I had with the twins (complications with hyperemesis gravidarum) and I was more than happy to see that pregnancy come to an end!  So, on March 23 after 18 hours of pitocin induced labor and an emergency c-section, Lindy Sue came into the world!  And I tell ya, I should never question God or try to give Him orders because He knows what He is doing!  He gave us the exactly perfect child.  She was my saving grace!

You see, during my last trimester, Reece was showing signs of autism and over the weekend that I was in the hospital having Lindy, he completely flipped.  I came home to a blank-eyed boy who wouldn’t sleep, ran around stimming all day and who quit playing with his twin.  It was crazy and heart-breaking and depressing and horrible.  But, I had a little beautiful baby who rarely cried, was always happy, was completely easy going and who was my bright spot in a suddenly dark and confusing world.

Lindy grew up to be have strawberry blond hair (a total surprise inherited from her great-great-aunt!) and bright blue eyes.  She is her sister’s best friend and my baby girl.  She’s shy around others, but a total ham at home, full of one-liners, just like her dad.  She’s not what I had pictured all those years ago when I was telling God how things were going to be!  Nope, God taught me another lesson (He’s all too good at that!) and blessed me with kids that I needed, not the kids that I wanted.

So, on this day, March 23, 2017, I’m giving thanks to Him for the past 11 years with my littlest baby!

What are blessings has God given you that were completely unexpected? Does your family look like you pictured it would? 

 

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cleaning, homemaking, parenting

Why My Kids Don’t Have Chores

whymykidsdon'thavechores

 

Ok, so technically, we do have chores around our house and farm, but the farm jobs are the only ones we deem “chores.” I have never implemented the “chore chart” idea or assigned anything to anybody.  I’ve often pondered it and once bought an expensive magnet chore chart system at a homeschool convention, but after attempting it for a week, I gave up and a couple years later, I sold it.

Yet, my kids still help me around the house daily.

How do we do it?  Everything I’ve read maintains that assigned chores are the way to go and I’m one of the only moms I know who doesn’t “assign” their kids specific tasks for a specified amount of time.

There are two reasons:

  1.  I’m somewhat lazy and disorganized and I’m not a list fan.
  2.  My kids don’t want assigned chores.

Of course, you say.  What kids want assigned chores?

So, here’s the deal.  My kids are 14 and 11, so I’ve been doing the parenting gig for awhile and while I don’t pat myself on the back often for perceived parenting wins, I think I may have done something right way back in the day when they were toddlers and preschoolers of which I am now reaping the benefits.

Here’s what I did:

They constantly “helped” me around the house every day, all day.

And now, after a decade of it, it’s totally normal for my now big kids to help me when I need it, sometimes without asking (some things are just automatic) and sometimes with asking (but in a cheerful, non-nagging way).  We work together all day.  When we have our weekly deep cleans, they help- no complaining.  When we have meals (which is every day, 3 times a day), they help clean it up, do the dishes, and clean the kitchen- with me.  Sometimes we divide and conquer- “Elisa, you sweep the floor, while Lindy loads the dishwasher and I’m going to switch out laundry.”  It works beautifully.

I asked them a couple months ago if they would rather have assigned jobs or do they like our current non-system.  And you know what?  They liked the status quo.

I think our lack of chores fosters a better sense of actually working together as a family rather than each individual completing an individual job because that what the boss (me) assigned.  Yes, someday they will have jobs in the real world and that might be a scenario for them.  But they will also have families in real world and I think a family home should be a much different place than a work environment.

So, let your littles work with you everywhere in the house (I know it can often seem counterproductive at the time!).  That stage is so short in the grand scheme of things and before you know, you will be seeing the results of your hard work and patience.  Clearing the table isn’t such a chore when you all work together and you can talk and chat and laugh.

And that is why we don’t have “chores.”

 

What do you think?  Do you have a chore system? What is something you did when your kids were little that has benefited you and them now that they are older?

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autism, kids, parenting

When You Don’t Get Your Miracle (Autism Journey)

Ten years ago, our family experienced a sudden shift in our life journey that no one saw coming.  Our son became autistic.  There were subtle warning signs starting when he was about 15 months old, but nothing jarring that really made us question his development.  That’s for another post. But, the fact of the matter is, at age 3 1/2 our only son swirled into autism and our life was changed.

I tend to gravitate towards challenges and I always like to be great at everything I do (or I won’t even attempt it- its a flaw of mine!) and once we had our official diagnosis, I was determined to beat it.  My son would be cured come hell or high water.  We would be one of those success stories.  Besides, having a less-than-perfect son was NOT in my life plan!

I jumped into exploring autism with everything I had.  I read and I researched.  I left no stone, no diet, no supplement, nothing unturned.  We found a bio-medical doctor four hours away.  After a battery of tests, it was determined that he was deficient in a bazillion different vitamins and minerals and he was intolerant to a bazillion different foods.  I ate, drank, breathed and slept autism (I seriously literally dreamed about all the diet and supplements he was on!).  At my ten year high school class reunion, I told everyone that I fully expected him to be cured by the next reunion.  I wasn’t gonna be one of those parents that just let it all go, come what may.  No, by golly, we were gonna beat this thing!!!

Over time, something happened. Or rather didn’t happen.  Our son wasn’t getting better.  We begged and pleaded with God.  I said the same prayer every day, “Lord, please heal him.”  I was doing everything I was supposed to do!  We were on the right diet and were giving him the right supplements.  But, he wasn’t healed.  Oh, we’d have our steps forward, but we had just as many backward.  I kept thinking that there was something else out there, that if we just found the last piece of the puzzle, that it would all be better and we’d have our “normal” son back.  I had our book written in my head.  You know, the one with our family’s picture on the cover where I tell all about our journey and how we healed our son.

But, about 3 years ago, I finally realized it- we weren’t going to be that miracle family.  It just wasn’t going to be us.  Our son would always have “special needs.”  God wasn’t going to grant me my miracle.  After seven years of desperately trying and hoping for that bolt of lightning, I stopped.

Our story doesn’t end there.  I didn’t spiral into depression and I didn’t quit loving our son.  I didn’t stop praising God or question His sovereignty over my life.  Instead, I looked back on our journey and thought about the what-ifs in a different way.  What if he was normal?  What would our life be like?  Would we be a happier family?  Would Jeff and I have a stronger marriage?

You know what?  When I changed my perspective (or perhaps God has changed it for me, slowly working on my over the years), I saw different answers to those questions.  My son and his quirks have made me a better person.  They have given us a stronger marriage.  They have made his sisters more compassionate kids.  They’ve shown me traits (both good and bad) in other people that I didn’t know were there.  Where once autism was the enemy to fight, the one bad thing in a really good life, I have found that autism hasn’t been the enemy.  A cure for it is not the miracle I needed.  God knew all along that for me to grow in my faith, for Jeff and I to become an extremely tight partnership, for my girls to be able to see people in a better light, for our family to be healthier and stronger, He would have to give us something to make that happen.  He chose autism for us.

While I still have hopes for our son to live a “normal” life, I also don’t worry as much about the future with him.  God has seen us through all the time.  He knows what we need and He knows what our son needs.  Who am I to question that?  That is the real miracle.

 

 

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