Friday, February 19, 2016

Parenting Differently

     Parenting a child on the autism spectrum is different from parenting a "normal" kid. It's similar to parenting other special needs children for sure. And every autistic kid is different, that's also for sure. My particular flavor of child is very smart. It isn't very often that I explain something to him and he doesn't understand. Sometimes I try to explain things to other kids and it's clear they have no idea. The follow up question or comment is a great indicator. 
     Sometimes I feel judged that I explain too much. But I've been a parent to this kid for almost 10 years now, and can tell we are doing things right for him. Sometimes I feel judged that I didn't correct him in the moment. Here's the thing. He processes things differently, I process things differently. Generally when he says something bluntly, it's because he's not quite right, hungry, tired, unregulated. 
I know the feeling.
     Ninety-five percent of the time, he's pretty awesome. Lucky, I know. But when he's off, he's really off. As he's gotten older I understand things that will set him off. Mostly I try to predict the day. Let him know how I think things will go. New experiences aren't always predictable. But letting him know I'm guessing helps. 
     Today he got a little blunt with a friend when he was beyond hungry. Then when we got to our destination he tried to get out of the car while a lady who was parked next to us had her rear door open. He was pushing our door into her open door.  I apologized to her, and started to let him know it wasn't ok. He became agitated. I told him we'd talk about it later, after he'd eaten.
     On the drive home we talked about how blunt he was to his friend. How typically he does a great job of being a good friend and not saying hurtful things. But this was a case of being blunt, a little more nuanced. It was true, everything he said, but it still had the effect of making his friend feel bad. 
    We talked about using a filter. How on Instagram people use filters to make their pictures look better. And people filter their words to make them look better too. 
      Sometimes, most of the time, when he's off, you just gotta put a pin on the conversation. We try to give him as much life knowledge as we can. At the end of the day, I think good parenting is letting your kids know who you are and how you feel about things. Either way, they are watching your every move and know what you value, by your actions. Explaining things helps with perception.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Time to hang in

November is already here. We had an awesome summer. Some planning brought us time with friends and family. Lazy days at the beach, evening cookouts, enjoying the patio and long days.
This is where we will spend most of our winter evenings. I got this couch from CB2 last year. It's now a year old and I can say I'm pretty happy with the choice. It's very comfortable for overnight guests. The pillows are from Target and IKEA. The Throw is from kate spade's Saturday line, which I hear is now defunct. I picked it up randomly at my local t.j.maxx. The colors are absolutely perfect for our home. It really pulls everything together and looks styled.  But what I'm most excited for are the matching throws I got today at Homegoods.

Seriously! Doesn't that look toasty?! I'm sure we will be getting another New England style winter...bring on the snow days!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Easy curtains

I made these curtains out of a vintage tablecloth.
Just cut it in half, lined it with a light weight cotton in red. Used a tension rod and curtain rings to hang.
The vintage tablecloth was originally made for a table just like the one in this pic. An old friend gave us this table from his families camp in New Hampshire. We've owned it for about 23 years now. The original chairs fell apart, replaced with these chairs I got at Target in 2001. These same chairs are easy to find on the internet. They've held up very well. The window valance is original to the house. The pottery, tin tray and ice crusher are all vintage. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

April is Autism Acceptance month

April is Autism Acceptance month. Five and a half years ago, my son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. at the time that dx ment atypical autism, or as the pediatrician first said to me, "a little autistic". Autism Speaks was well known by then and those commercials didn't sound like my son. What my husband and I saw was a little guy who reminded us of ourselves, but far more brilliant. I can definately say our instincts where correct.

There wasn't much online in 2009. I would do google searches and not come up with much that discribed my child. Fortunately, there was a lot more online by 2013. 

My advice to any person who knows an autistic person is as follows:

Anxiety and fear are often a response to the environment. Understanding an autistic persons sensory differences is very important. Please learn about proproceptive,vestibular and the more commonly known sight, touch, taste, smell and sound. Acceptance means altering the environment to accommodate an autistic persons sensory needs. That can mean tools like headphones, personal music, other sensory tools, or just keeping your schedule simple. If your gonna do something that's sensory heavy, build some break time in or time for rest later that day or the next.

Stimming is a coping mechanism that serves the purpose of self regulation. Stimming is any repetitive movement or ritual that a person uses. Acceptance of an autistic person means allowing an autistic person to stim.

Before an autistic person can let you in, you need to relate to them. Understanding is so important to build trust. That might mean playing with toys they are interested in. Talking about their preferred topic.
Humor is also important. Disrespect and anger towards an autistic person only leads to mistrust, fear and anxiety. Acceptance means taking that person as they are today. Criticizing or talking about someone when they're in the room erodes  that trust.

Learn to see the signals that precede a meltdown. 
There have been so many therapies used on autistic people that are wrong. I recently saw a documentary where the parents held down their child when he had a meltdown. I found this very disturbing and dehumanizing. It was clear that the parents loved their child very much, but were misguided.  This technique is very mainstream today, at home and in schools. They have missed the communication that preceded the meltdown. They have failed to teach their child to understand his own bodies signals. The professionals in their lives have failed to teach them how to recognize these signals and avoid a meltdown. 

Advocate for the autistic person. This is as simple as explaining why a behavior that at first seems odd is a coping mechanism. Acceptance comes from understanding. Other children are often pointing out unusual things my son does. It's not necessarily coming from a mean place, more like curiosity. Explaining why he talks and paces, or hums helps them understand. It's as simple as, he uses this tool to help him focus. Asking my son when we are trying a new tool helps him get to know his body and has helped him to advocate for himself as he has gotten older.

Remember that autistic people are not naturally manipulative, don't ever assume bad intentions. Manipulation and lying can be learned over time, but are not characteristics of being autistic.

Lastly, presume competence. Always look for ways to foster independence. Self care skills take time. Build in supports like visual schedules. Taking the time to explain why we need to learn new skills helps. Look for opportunities for the autistic person in your life to have choices. That could mean what they wear, or the order that they get ready for school. Ask preferences. Break tasks down. Explain why self care, time management and other daily tasks are important. Patience, build in extra time. Again criticizing and yelling only lead to anxiety and avoidance.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Tardis Door

This is the doorway to our attic. It's a tiny stair case, you have to duck just before you reach the top, then it opens up into one large room. You could say it's bigger on the inside. 😉 I created this for The Doctor.  That's what my son likes to be called. He's a big doctor who fan, and we are too. Actually he would say he's not. He would say he IS The Doctor, and depending on the outfit, he would tell you how old he is. His favorites are the second, third, fourth, tenth, and especially the eighth.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Livingroom

I purchased this chair a little over 2 years ago from a company called Thrive furniture. They are out of California. They're furniture is made in the U.S. The chair is called the Jefferson. The fabric it's made of is quite good with cats. It seems to be resistant to cat claws. It does collect cat hair, but that is easily vacuumed up. It's really a chair for giants, or curling up. Curb side shipping is free anywhere in the lower 48. The pillows are from West Elm. I purchased them on sale a few years ago. I love the material feel and pattern. However the fabric could good hold up better. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Where did the time go...

Well. It's been a long time. And a lot has happened. Bare with me while I figure this blogging thing out.When I first started this blog I was looking for a creative outlet to chronicle the creative process of decorating a home and being a first time parent. Fast forward several years. The house is pretty decorated and I guess this kid's childhood is half over. Wow! So in addition to talking about the house, personal fashion, I will also be talking about " the Doctor", that's what he likes to be called.