Thursday, 21 February 2013

Mommy forgets, sparks a firestorm.

First, let me apologize for not talking to any of you since the first week of February.
It is nothing you said, or did and I am not snubbing you, you are my friend and I still luvs ya!

I just have been really busy lately and it is only now that I have a few minutes for us to sit, have a coffee and chat.

As a parent we sometimes get so busy with life that we forget something that we promised our child.
Whether it is to go somewhere, do something or buy that special toy, forgetting can lead to a tantrum or the cold shoulder and you feeling guilty.

This is a natural feeling. The child is disappointed because he or she did not get to do, go or have what they were looking forward to. You feel guilty for that disappointment.

However, we are human, we can forget, especially when we have a 1000 things to juggle on our plate and in our minds.

Usually, the disappointment blows over.

It blows over for me too.

But, for me, the reaction of forgetting something is much more severe.


Christian's school every month sends home a flyer listing a variety of children's/youth books were the kids can pick out which books they want and the parent fills out the form and sends it in with the money by a certain date.
I love this because not only do company have really good, entertaining and educational books for a very reasonable price, but each order helps raise funds for the child's classroom, providing them with reading material and so on.

For me, anything that can get my son excited about reading while providing for his school, is tops with me!

I promised Christian that he could get two of his favourite books and I would have the order ready by Monday, the due date.

Well, I made a oops when I got caught up in everything else going on in my life and I, eek!


I did not even realize that I forgot until Christian asked me where his order was so he could pass it in to his teacher.
This is when I remembered I accidentally threw the form away!

Oh Lord.

Brace myself, here comes a meltdown.

A meltdown that I failed epically at stopping.

First the tears.
Then the name calling and swear words that no boy his age should know.
Then the screaming with the crying
This quickly escalated to stomping, more screams, self effacing statements and ripping off his shirt.
He stormed off to his room, slammed the door and screamed for another half hour into his pillow.

Did I mention that in the middle of all this, it caused a negative response from his baby brother who, not understanding what was happening with his big brother, screamed and cried right along with him?

This was easily the worst meltdown in months.

Normally, Christian's meltdowns last anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, tops.
This one lasted an hour.
It left my husband wrung out and stressed, Brandon unsure how to the approach his brother once it was over and Christian exhausted and his eyes swollen from all the tears.

As for me, though I was calm and serene during the whole event, because I am too used to the meltdowns, when the dust settled, I ran out the door for a nice long walk to clear my head because it was spinning and muddled from the trauma.
I do not feel anything during anymore, it is afterwards I feel the effects.

I cannot explain what goes inside Christian's brain in the middle of this terrifying storm, what sort of fireworks that are being fired off at the same time, overwhelming him.

I cannot explain why autism will cause something so simple, so innocent, cause such a dramatic reaction.

I am not a doctor.

I am just a mother, struggling everyday to understand Christian, while he struggles to understand us.

Thank you for letting me ramble.

Much love,

Friday, 8 February 2013

Watch your words and your tone...young mom!

I got to watch my words and how I say them. 

It has been two and half years since Christian's diagnosis and I am still learning and I will continue to learn and grow until the day I take my last breath. 

I would never claim to be an expert on high functioning autism, I can only go with my limited experience with Christian because he is the only one I know and understand. 

The only one I can know. 

Each individual is unique, no one should be painted the same.

I could not agree more.

Now that I know the reason for my child's behaviour, I can accept and understand a little better and know how to cope with those behaviours. 

However, in my quest to be the all understanding mom, well versed in Christian's needs as a person with autism, I forget that I am also human.

I forget that sometimes that he misunderstands facial expressions, tone of voice and words. 

I learned this lesson the hard way yesterday morning.

As I waited for Christian's taxi to arrive to take him to school, a school bus stopped in front of our house  and I made the comment as I looked down at my three year old, "Boy Brandon, I cannot wait for you to get old enough so I can throw you in school!"
This was meant to be a joke because Brandon was being a normal three year old running around, tormenting Christian and screaming at the top of his lungs.
However, Christian did not interpret my comment as a joke.

Instead, he broke down crying.

At first I was confused why Christian would be crying, but it became clear when he asked through his tears why I would be so mean as to want to hurt his brother like that by throwing him in the school? He could break an arm, a leg or hurt his head. 


Christian took my words literally, instead of figuratively, believing that I was going to pick Brandon up and throw him in the school!!

It took a while to calm Christian down so I could explain what I meant by "throwing Brandon in school" 
This is an expression that I heard many times growing up in my family, it means that I was wishing that Brandon was old enough to go to school. 

This explanation will take a while for him to absorb, as with  most information, Christian needs time to process so he can understand. 

Needless to say, this was a hard lesson to learn, like many previous. 

I have to tell you about those some other time. 

Now, if you excuse me, I better go, Brandon is yelling "The taxi is here!" 
I have to see that Christian gets "thrown" in school promptly and safely. 

Much love

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Brotherly love

Good Day to all of you!

Growing up an only child, I often wondered and envied those who had a brother or a sister. 
I wondered what it would be like to have someone to talk to, play with and share things and yes, even to do battle with over the normal sibling issues. 

My parents always seemed contented in just having me, so I never got the chance. 

So, you can imagine my shock in meeting my future husband who brought with him eight siblings, plus  spouses and children! 

I was introduced to each and every one of them on our first date, at a wedding.

I came from a quiet, peaceful environment, my world surrounded by only my mother and father to being tossed helpless into an environment where their were bodies everywhere, all  packed into one tiny house, with loud conversation competing with the music blasting from some radio.

I swore, that if I were going to ever have a baby with this man, this one of a sea of loud and boisterous humans, that we were going to have just one.

Being quiet and reserved, my love promised the same.

For eight years after we were married, we kept that promise, happy and blessed to have just Christian.

With the struggles we were having with Christian from infancy, just one was all we could handle. 

But sometimes a woman's own body, own emotions, betray good intentions and what she believes she wants.

During this time, several friends and family members had given birth, and I was quickly surrounded by babies.

Beautiful, cuddly, smell so sweet, little miracles.

Of course, it did not help that I also worked at a daycare, so my days were filled with children!

It did not take long for the baby craving to prove to be too much.

Brandon Gerard Avery Traverse was born on December 5, 2009.

At first, as expected, Christian did not take joy in becoming a brother. 
He, after all had been an only child for eight years, having me and his father all to himself. 

However, Christian's reaction to his baby brother was not just unfavourable, it was violent.

His moods would change in a heartbeat.  One moment he was kissing his baby brother, the next he was trying to smoother him the moment he started to cry.

Christian will hold his brother in his lap, with supervision, then try to throw him to the floor the moment we stopped looking.

This flip the switch behaviour with Brandon was frighting and left my husband and I at our wits end.

My husband and I understood that it is very natural for one child to be jealous of another, especially when that child has been the only for so long, but Christian's behaviour was extreme, in our opinion.

It was not until the diagnosis of autism, and learning that that condition meant, did all our confusions become clear.

Simply put, as I stated previously,  Christian's sensory issues made him want to smother his baby brother when he cried because his cries were too painful for him to endure, and he wanted him to simply stop. 

Also, the new baby had interrupted his peaceful day to day routine, making him feel frustrated and confused as to why his life could not continue to be the same as before. 

Christian's behaviours, though disturbing to us at the time, were not acts of cruelty but they were the only ways he could understand how to cope. 

Christian is now 11, and Brandon is 3 and my heart fills with love and joy as I see the bond blooming between them. 

Brandon loves Christian like only a little brother can, with awe, Christian is Brandon's hero. 
He follows him around, he walks with him to the front door when he leaves for school and is there at the top of the stairs shouting "Welcome home, Christian, I missed you!" 

Christian is a very loving and protective big brother. 
He will kiss and hug him every chance he got, especially when Brandon is sick or crying and often hands him his favourite toy to make him feel better.
Christian even now picks out Brandon's clothes after a bath, and helps dress him.
He reads him bedtime stories and always plays toys with Brandon. 

Of course, he still gets angry with Brandon when he yells too loud, breaks one of his toys or eats all his favourite food.  

But, that is a part of the brother experience

Monday, 4 February 2013

Happy where is that damn bottle?


I chose this attractive picture to coincide with what I look like after an entire weekend and Monday morning with two children, on my own. 

Trust me, you do not want to see the real picture of me, because I do not want to be responsible for giving you nightmares. 

Having a special needs child is a blessing, teaching you the value of life and bringing out strengths you did not know you had.

For the most part this is true with Christian, but sometimes that statement screams idealistic. 

One is the perfect number for  my Christian, because when it is only him with me, things can usually run smoothly.

However, add his three year old brother into the mix, then open the the gates of hell and find mommy a straight jacket, and catch me Satan, I am jumping in!

First, let me just say in honesty, that my two sons are very loving, sweet and kind and have a beautiful brother bond. 

Let me give you an example from this past weekend.

Brandon was feeling tired Sunday afternoon, after awaking at 5 am(his usual time) and spending a busy morning with Christian, screaming, yelling and running all over the house, pausing briefly to eat a snack and to dance to "Gangnam Style" by Psy with Christian, decided that he wanted to have a nap, so he proceeded to take his blankie, bockie(bottle) and pillow into Christian's room were Christian snuggled down next to his brother and covered the both of them up.

This was a beautiful scene to witness and brought a tear to my eye.

Until two minutes later I hear a murderous scream and ran in to see what was the matter.

Brandon was on the floor screaming because Brandon accidentally kicked Christian in his stomach, causing an unfavourable reaction, resulting with Christian kicking his brother back, forcing him onto the floor.

Peaceful moment disappeared like a puff of smoke.

Christian is hypersensitive to touch and if he receives a touch that he himself does not initiate, his reaction is swift and aggressive. 
This could mean returning the offensive touch, or getting mad by yelling and sometimes leading to a mini meltdown. 

It took a half hour to calm the both of the down, and then it was Mom and Christian time to explain what Brandon did was an accident, he did not mean to do it and why it was wrong to kick his brother back.

Although I understood why he did kick his brother.

The rest of the day went smoothly. 

Today is Monday, and this means returning to the familiar task of school preparation routine.

Christian, like most people with autism, thrive on routine that must not ever change or one must deal with the disastrous consequences. 

It is a delicate dance to keep Christian's routine precise and still have him ready for his transportation that takes him to school which arrives at 7:40.

First he arises at 5 am and proceeds to the living room to play with his Pokemon toys, his brother and watch tv for one hour.

Then, it is Brandon's bath, this takes all of five minutes as Brandon does not like the water too much, and hates getting washed even more. 

I must empty the bath before filling up Christian's, making sure it is the right temperature before calling him in to test it, and if it is to his liking, then he gets undressed and gets in.

The next step to to place a digital clock next to Christian and tell him what time to get out, if I did not do this, then he either stay in there until he was a prune and the bath was cold because he, is my water baby and adores the water! Or, he will not get out at all until I went in myself and helped him out. 

After bath, drying and dressing in matching clothes, it is breakfast time.

It takes Christian anywhere from five minutes to fifteen in deciding his breakfast, and another twenty to eat it, so by the time he is done and ready for his medicine and brushing his teeth, time is running out.

Christian is a laid back child and has no understanding of time and how important it is to get ready so he can be ready on time for when his taxi comes. 

Never rush Christian, never tell him to hurry up because this will delay time even more because rushing him brings on a full blown tantrum. 

I learned the hard way on that one!

Putting on his shoes/boots is another lesson in patience for mommy, as Christian easily gets frustrated when something does not go right the first time. He had just learned to tie his shoelaces, so after struggling to put on his footwear(that are well fitted, I assure you) it takes him awhile to tie his shoes because he makes mistakes which of course leads to yet another tantrum.
Sometimes if we are really short on if the taxi is in the driveway, short, I will tie them for him.

Once he is ready and his favourite jacket, hat and shoes are on, he is finally at the door.

All I am left with is the bliss of very active three year old for the next five hours.

Now, where is that bottle?

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Symptoms of Autism

Although not all children with autism display aggression, it is a very common symptom, as temper outbursts & outright tantrums are common. These can range from a brief explosion to a total meltdown. Children with autism may also strike out through hitting and/or biting as well as by destroying objects & possessions. A child with autism throwing a tantrum is not "spoiled" or a "brat." Parents of kids with ASD hear these terms quite often. These behaviors are symptoms of a disorder, not a result of poor parenting skills. 

From the Always Unique Totally Intelligent Sometimes Mysterious Facebook page.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Welcome to Mom and Christian's upside down, inside out world

Welcome one, welcome all!

In October of 2009,  a nine year old boy sits in a small room answering questions and playing with toys while a mom and a dad look anxiously through the two way mirror.
They are waiting for answers to questions of their own, nine years worth of questions that has lead to whirlwind of emotions, leaving the mom and dad weary, emotionally drained.
Finally, after two hours, the doctor hands them a gift
A diagnosis.
Once more a flurry of mixed emotions overwhelm them, ranging from joy to grief.
Grief for the continuing long, difficult road ahead for the three of them.
Joy that their instincts of 'something not quite right' were validated after so long being told that there was nothing wrong, that their son will grow out of it, while their son continued to display disturbing behaviour.
The mom, the dad and the boy, finally had a name for that 'something not quite right'


I want to welcome you to this blog I entitled  Love's Journey with autism, because the above introduction described my family situation two years ago.

Christian Peter Traverse was diagnosed with high functioning autism in October 2009 after nine years of knowing there was something wrong with our child.

How his father and I knew that the high pitched screams that seemed to come from nowhere, the self inflicted injuries, the obsessive focusing on only one thing, crying out in agony when he heard an alarm  or vacuum cleaner. Sensitivity to the slightest touch, were he could not bear his fingernails or toenails getting trimmed, or making haircuts a nightmare, was not normal, to us.

However, to every other medical professional, it meant nothing, just a stage that Christian would grow out of of.

He did not. 

It got worse.

Finally, a compassionate teacher believed us, after observing his behaviour in her class and got the ball rolling to the diagnosis.
It took two more years on the waiting list for Christian to see the proper medical professionals, but it was worth the wait to finally know that his condition had a name and he was going to be helped.

I have no technical or statistical knowledge about autism, I can only write about the day to day journey that I am on with Christian as I struggle to understand his struggles as he is living them.
I will be pouring out my heart onto these pages, the ups and the downs, the battles and victories with living with a gift with autism.

Also, from time to time, Christian will pop in and say hello!

I hope you come on this journey with us!

Love, Tina