Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April for Acceptance and a Birthday

Today is my birthday (32!  Is it sad that I had to do the math to figure that out?) and it just so happens it's also the first day of Autism Acceptance Month (okay, most people will probably be saying awareness but over here I'm saying acceptance, because I think most of us are all aware of autism because it's on the news quite a bit, at least once you start paying attention to it).  I can't think of any topic I would rather share my birthday month with and so I am going to be posting a little more about autism this month.

Since "Light it Up Blue for Autism Awareness" is an Autism Speaks thing, quite a few people in various groups and pages I'm on were looking for alternatives and the one that I kept seeing suggested was using gold to replace blue because Au the symbol for gold also happens to be the first two letters in the word autism.  And I found a facebook page (Light it Up Gold for Autism Awareness) where this banner was shared to be shared with others and thought it was perfect:


As I watch Mae playing with her siblings I can't help but think that they're presence in her life really is the most effective therapy I could possibly imagine.  Especially having a younger sibling.


 The thing about Patrick is that his entire life has pretty much been spent adoring Maggie.  From the time he could crawl he was after her, trailing her around the house, begging her to pay attention to him.


At first she would climb up onto things to get away from him but he just kept scooting after her, staring at her like she was the greatest thing he'd ever seen and handing her toys.  He insisted on playing whatever she was playing with, on doing whatever she was doing, pretty much all day long, every day of the week.


And one day I realized that there relationship had changed.  She wasn't climbing things to hide from him anymore.  She was handing him toys, they were getting into trouble together, smearing applesauce on my windows, racing across the living room and dancing with their big sister.


And it was wonderful.

And that was when she really started to show that she was noticing emotions.

Maybe it's because Patch is a baby, but she'd crouch down next to him and study his face.

When he was upset or crying she'd cock her head to the side and frown and then try to comfort him.


It was quite possibly the most amazing thing that I'd ever seen.  And now I've seen her do it over and over again, study his face with a look of complete concentration and then act on what she sees there to try to interact with him.


As you can imagine, they're partners in crime now.

Developmentally in many ways they're at about the same point, so sometimes I almost think of them as twins.  They're language isn't that far apart and when I do therapy activities with Maggie, Patch thinks they're fantastic and comes over and starts to do them too.  And when Maggie sees Patch doing them she's much, much more likely to join in and try to copy what he's doing.


For a long time we have planned on just sort of welcoming babies into our family as God sent them to us and Mae's diagnosis hasn't changed that.  In fact, more than ever I look forward to watching her relationship blossom with her newest sibling when he or she arrives this winter.


Patrick even begs to wear his sister's monkey leash.  I'm sure she's grateful for that, since it meant she wasn't wearing it... He even wore it proudly after splitting his lip while chasing after her in the little farm area at the zoo:


If Maggie had been diagnosed before Patrick was born, I likely would have been terrified at the idea of introducing another sibling.  Would it be too stressful? How would she react?

And that is why I am so, so grateful that he was born before her diagnosis and I got the chance to see them in action together as an inseparable duo before I really started to notice how important routine was in her days...

Then again, our routine didn't really change when Patrick arrived and hopefully the new baby will just fit right into the mix like he did.


Now to get downstairs to see what Sadie has in store for my birthday.  She has big plans and I've heard it involves a "Princess Party" and a present that she picked out for me at Rite Aid...

12 comments:

  1. Don't know if you follow her, but you might find Little Catholic Bubble's latest post interesting. She tells about the mother of an autistic child who wouldn't give up on him, and now he's on the verge of getting a Nobel Science prize --- at age 15.

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  2. I am curious about the "we will just have unlimited babies" idea. You are only 32 and it seems like you have kids pretty closely spaced. So are you up for having like 8 more babies? I don't mean this to be rude as I fully believe it is 100% your right to have any size of family, but I am just wondering if at any point you might say enough is enough? I know with my five I need to be done for my own sanity and so that we can move on to the next part of our marriage and family life and not always have a sick/pregnant/nursing mom and an infant. I would like to be able to enjoy my marriage, home and kids without reinventing the wheel every 2 years. I am not sure if that makes sense but I feel like i need my body back and a little autonomy. Plus I need to focus on my marriage instead of on pregnancy and babies. And to be honest I already shortchange my kids because I am so tired and maxed out, the older ones are tired of "no we can't it's nap time/baby is teething/mom is too tired". We want to give each one the gift of a Catholic education, serious music lessons and the possibility of pursing a sport seriously. I mean, at 32 if you have a baby every 2 years you could easy have six or seven or more - do you truly feel ready for that type of life? I'm not judging just fascinated by moms who are fine with having huge families. They must have something I don't! I used to think I wanted 8 and loved the idea of being "that virtuous mom" with 8 great well-behaved kids at Mass but now I am just the exhausted and pooped out mom of 5 doing her best to scrape by!

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  3. I feel totally ready for whatever God decides to send our way, whether it's 10 or none. I figure he doesn't give us the graces we need to face the future in advance of the time when we face challenges (or joys). But his grace is sufficient. And to be honest, I hope he blesses us with more and not less... I'd be beyond thrilled if I could see seven kids in our future. I'd be surprised because I doubt my body will hold out that long with a major surgery every two years but... I can hope!

    I'm going to be really, really, really sad when our baby years our over!

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  4. I guess that is true, people will just manage whatever happens. If it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger, right? Is there a limit to the number of c-sections a woman should have? I know even with vaginal deliveries the risk goes up every pregnancy, but that is all I have had. Will your body just stop getting pregnant after you've had too many c-sections or will that be something you need to work for?

    I wish I could feel more like you, let the cards fall where they may, but I guess I feel like at this point I need to use my human discernment to say no more for the benefit of the kids I already have. But, who knows, I could change my mind in a few years after a good break.

    I hope you have a great pregnancy!

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  5. Thank you! I'm hoping this one goes smoothly with less scares than last time!

    So far I've never really felt like this is killing me (or anything close to it). I guess I'm always thinking about how fast it's going by and how it's going to be over before I know it and how much I'm going to miss it when no one is little anymore!

    Some women have 9 c-sections and are fine, some are told they need to stop after 3. I guess the greatest risk would probably be an emergency hysterectomy at some point or uterine rupture. But I know there are women out there who have gone through a lot of damage and still get pregnant.

    I probably wouldn't trust NFP, or any method of birth control, if it was a life threatening situation. I do trust God (lol! What other choice do we really have!), even knowing that it might be a trial that's headed my way somewhere down the line. I guess partially I don't really see the point of worrying about it until I get to that point, because I might never get there!

    So far we kind of believe the benefits of having siblings out weighs the benefits of a lot of the outside activities that might be more accessible if we didn't have as many kids. Besides there with me all the time since we homeschool, so there never seems to be a gap in attention! They pretty much have it all the time!

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  6. My mom had six. She would have had as many as God sent and wanted more, but after my little brother's birth by C-section, she had to have a hysterectomy because the doctor noticed problems (pre-cancerous tissue? I don't know the details.) with her ovaries. She was 42 at the time. She never, ever thought she had too many kids. She thought having a family WAS her life, and in addition she helped my father in his small business (he owned a machine shop and she did the bookkeeping) and also, when the oldest three were grown and out of the house, she bought and managed a few rental properties as investments. In my mind, she was the epitome of the description of the good wife in the Bible, Proverbs 31:
    "An excellent wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
    The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    and he will have no lack of gain.
    She does him good, and not harm,
    all the days of her life.
    She seeks wool and flax,
    and works with willing hands.
    She is like the ships of the merchant;
    she brings her food from afar.
    She rises while it is yet night
    and provides food for her household
    and portions for her maidens.
    She considers a field and buys it;
    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
    She dresses herself with strength
    and makes her arms strong.
    She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
    Her lamp does not go out at night.
    She puts her hands to the distaff,
    and her hands hold the spindle.
    She opens her hand to the poor
    and reaches out her hands to the needy.
    She is not afraid of snow for her household,
    for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
    She makes bed coverings for herself;
    her clothing is fine linen and purple.
    Her husband is known in the gates
    when he sits among the elders of the land.
    She makes linen garments and sells them;
    she delivers sashes to the merchant.
    Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
    She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
    She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
    Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
    “Many women have done excellently,
    but you surpass them all.”
    Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
    Give her of the fruit of her hands,
    and let her works praise her in the gates."

    Truly, this was my mother. She used her intelligence and resourcefulness to bless my father and our family, helping us all. Doing all this was her life, and God blessed her abundantly, more, as she would say, than she ever dreamed.

    Sorry for the long comment.
    God Bless. ~ Bonnie

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  7. By the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Many blessings and much joy on this day!
    God Bless. ~ Bonnie

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  8. One thing I have always struggled with is knowing when to "let it go" and trust God, and when to use my God-given intellect, reason and judgment to make a decision. Obviously we don't just say "well, it's all up to God so why make any life decisions!?" We trust God, but use our judgment to give our kids medication when they are ill. We trust God, but wear seatbelts. We trust God, but we get educations so that we can provide a good life for our families. We trust God, but save our money. We trust God, but don't let our kids play out front unsupervised. I never know where the line is, and have never really understood why people single out childbearing as the one area where we should implicitly trust and make no decisions on our own. I wish I had more clarity on this issue. I really do. I wish I knew where trusting God and using the gift of discernment intersected when it came to family size. This is maybe one of the biggest struggles for me as a Catholic. Because I am not a person who feels comfortable having an unlimited number of babies, this is a very tough topic for me.

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  9. Happy Birthday Cam! I agree with you about letting God choose. I admit to being fearful of another autism diagnosis although A has a rare autism being regressive. I absolutely love seeing the bond between A and her siblings especially the way her baby brother looks at her and how she looks him right in the eye (a rarity for her) and smiles! He climbs all over her even when she's upset and she just lets him.

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  10. I know that we've absolutely put in major prayer and tried to listen to God's voice in our lives when we've had major life decisions to make, so that's not a totally true statement.

    I guess also don't see the same relationship between having children and treating an illness or being killed in a car accident. I just really don't feel like it's "killing me" at all, as I said earlier.

    I know it's a struggle and it's not like having a large family is a requirement in the Church. For various reasons people don't. If you have a serious reason to avoid you have a serious reason to avoid.

    But I don't see trusting in God and even biology (I'm totally thrilled with our two year spacing and it really doesn't feel all that close to me) as that out of step with any other faucet of our lives.

    I would take medicine if I was sick, but I don't feel the need to do something do avoid what my body is naturally equipped to do and what my vocation calls me to do, which is to be open to life.

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  11. Hafsa, that is so, so sweet! I know that our therapists have said that they feel like there is a better prognosis with siblings because of their interactions, just based on what they've seen working with tons of kids!

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  12. I hope you had a great birthday! I never know how old I am without serious math either. :) I can rattle off my kids ages, birth dates, times, lengths and weights with no problem though.

    -Joni

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