How I Know

The Boy is what I call not-quite-verbal. He can speak, had years of speech therapy which started with teaching him basic words like “running” and “ball” with flash cards. He enjoys words a great deal, and finds puns and double entendres highly entertaining. One of his obsessions is “ugly sounds” in the band class, and when I remind him that reading The Hunger Games is on our schedule for the evening, he says, “Reed!” back to me, with a perfect imitation of the sound of a reed instrument squeaking. He then explains the joke, that “reed” r-e-e-d is not the same as “read” r-e-a-d, and which one did I mean? Haha.

But ask him what he did in school today? Crickets. Not a peep. Ask him where his field trip is on Friday? Not a word. It’s not as if he doesn’t know. He just cannot form the words. And due to his verbosity at school about his favorite topics, those who know little about him or about autism assume a lot.

Sometimes, they can't tell us what hurts. We just have to notice.He also will never tell me he is experiencing pain, which worries this mama. In fourteen years, The Boy has never once complained of a headache, but he’s probably had one. And he definitely will not tell me if his dad’s absence and lack of communication is causing him pain, either. I have always told The Boy that he can call his dad anytime he likes. He has never taken me up on the offer. He has difficulty talking to him on the phone on the rare occasions that his dad calls him because he has difficulty creating conversation, and his dad doesn’t understand the types of questions to ask.

But I can still tell. When getting dressed, he will switch from the t-shirt I chose to the Steelers t-shirt for the day (his dad is a Steelers fan and got him the shirt one Christmas). He will ask me random questions about what his dad’s cats are doing. Little things that let me know that he’s thinking about and missing his dad.

It’s a different type of listening. More of a “noticing,” but it’s a huge skill set we autism parents develop. We use it to notice the ways our kiddos self-advocate and self-calm, so we can help them replicate the strategy if it works. We use it to notice a budding new interest that we can encourage.We use it, as in this case, to notice when they might be feeling a bit low or lonely and need some extra cuddles and attention. Basic parenting, sure, but supercharged.

Headache With a Chance of Migraine

It takes a lot to stop me in my tracks.  And thankfully, migraines don’t affect me on a daily basis.  But they do catch up to me every so often.  I have learned what can lead to a migraine, and I have learned how to cope.  Besides that, there’s not much I can do.  And when one happens, I am so thankful that The Boy is of an age to take care of himself for the most part.  It isn’t an ideal day when mom is dead to the world and incapable of functioning, but he can feed himself and occupy himself, even if his teeth don’t get brushed.

Deutsch: "Kopfschmerzen". Die wohl b...

I had a migraine yesterday, and it started as day four of a tension headache.  But I knew this one was different  because it became centered on my left side, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to ease the pain.  I slept most of the day.

I’ve said it before – being ill and having to provide for others is one of the worst parts about being a single parent.  Migraines are a lot worse than just “bad headaches”.

I know there are lots of others who don’t have it as easy as I do.  If you know someone who gets migraines, make sure to ask them in advance how you can help.  Can you take the kids for a bit, make sure they eat?  Do some laundry?  Come over and make sure the house stays quiet for awhile?  Every little bit helps, and we have to take care of each other!