Saturday, April 21, 2012

I am guilty...

It is the third week of autism awareness month.  I have not written a blog in weeks. I have taken the month to do a little personal reflection and to be completely honest...I don't like what I see. 

When we started Autism Pirate it was for all the right reasons. We wanted to share our experiences and help others who were starting out on their journey if we could.   I feel like for me (I won't speak for Scott) I am guilty of letting that goal get away from me a little bit. 

For those of you who are not autism parents there is something you need to know.   Some of us are competitive. Just like most moms, soccer moms included, we secretly judge each other and ourself by comparing our "situation" to one another. 

When we do this, "our situation" can for some, turn into (sigh) I will just say it... an "all about me party".  It is hard to admit but I'm really GUILTY.  Our blog has gotten a lot attention which is awesome but I will admit it went to my head, not a little but a lot.   I am so submerged in autism because it is my home life and my work life. I was letting it take over in all the wrong ways.   I kind of feel like I have an autism headache.   

The past few days I have finally been able to sum up how I have been feeling for the past few weeks.  It started when I watched this amazing video about a family and Mom that I have had the opportunity to get to know over the past few months. Becky (mom in the video) has left a lasting impression on me.  I have never met a mom who is so committed to doing absolutely everything imaginable when it comes to learning.  I'm amazed and inspired.

On Friday, I attended a workshop at the Thompson Center Conference by Scott Bellini that REALLY got me to thinking.  Bellini said one thing that truly resonated with me.  "Just because we put someone in a social environment, it does not teach them the skills they need in that environment to be successful.  They have to learn to STOP, WATCH, and FOLLOW".  This hit home.  Rye has access but he does not have the skills.  We have to teach these skills to him. This takes time and a commitment that I have not been giving my full effort.  

Finally, today Rye participated in his first Special Olympics swim meet.  I was taken back by the love, support, and understanding of so many people.  Today my boy was an athlete who encompassed the Special Olympic oath of:  "Let me win.  But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."  Today my boy won and he was brave in trying something he had never done before.  He also made his family so proud and gave his mommy one gigantic gut check.  

This journey is absolutely 100% not "about me".  The party is over Tara Shade.  Our journey is about living life to the fullest.  Finding absolutely every opportunity for growth and learning.  For my boys, and for me.  I have had a moment.  I am moving in a new direction.   

I'm getting back to the basics.  I want to focus my time and energy on learning about the most effective and cutting edge treatments. I want to implement these treatments with my son and folks I work with at my job. I want to raise money for treatment and services through Ella's Hope. Hope has always stayed focused on treatment which is why I love her. 

I will grow, learn, and "check" myself all the time to ensure that my vision and focus stay on what's important. 

My boys. 
My job. 
My family. 

Nothing else really matters. 

Awareness month for me this year has been a big dose of self-awareness. I am rejuvenated.  I'm moving forward.  I was guilty but I have recognized it and I am moving on!   

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Movie is Better Than the Book.

How many times have you heard that? Probably not as many as the reverse of that statement. Rye LOVES movies. We let him watch a lot of movies on weekends because he doesn't get that privilege during the week, and he works really hard Monday through Friday. We first noticed the advantage to "vegging out" to movies when he started playing baseball last year. The first few games were horrible. Fits about not getting to field the ball every time. Fits about not being able to run past first base. Fits about the game being over. And so on… Then along came a movie called The Sandlot. Wow! Within that movie, came the power of understanding the game of baseball. Also, came the phrase, "you play baseball like a girl!" (but that's a blog for another day!). But because he loves to watch movies, and they capture his attention like no other tool we have, we can effectively teach Rye many things with a movie as a reference.

Yes, we feel guilty about the amount of time he spends watching movies on weekends. Yes, we feel like it's a cop-out at times to use a movie as a teaching tool. And yes, we wish it were different. But it's not, and as the saying goes, "if the shoe fits…"

So i wrote a blog not long ago about how Wyatt and I play basketball. We're always trying to get Rye to play with us and rarely he does, or IF he does, he really doesn't want to. I rejoiced a few weeks ago when I asked him to play and he said, "ok, but only for 10 minutes." Then guess what? Along came another movie… (you saw it coming) Space Jam. This past weekend, I couldn't get Rye inside because he wanted to play basketball. At least three times on Saturday, he dragged me out to play a game. We play at our neighbors, they have a "low" rim and is perfect for Rye and Wyatt. So the three of us started a game and were having a blast playing a game of basketball. And Wyatt… was REALLY on cloud nine because he's always trying to get his brother to play something other than light sabers.

We were playing (them against me), and the neighbor kid comes out to play with us. I quickly calculate what the best team options are for RYE… to have a successful basketball game experience. I do this all the time, and yes, again, with guilt toward Wyatt because I know he can adjust and adapt more easily than Rye. So Rye and I vs. Wyatt and Trevor. Now comes the second major calculation… who wins the game? I'm old, but i'm twice the size of all of these kids and the rim is at my head. I decide that Rye needs the experience of losing a game. And so he does. As anticipated, he has a pretty big fit about it. But later that day, we go out for another game. This time it's just the three of us and Wyatt and Rye beat me. Our life is about calculations and creating teachable moments with every activity. But first we have to get Rye to engage in the activity. And for that, we love the power of the movie.