Throw Back Thursday ~ Halloween Edition

This is my all time favorite picture taking at Halloween. It just makes me laugh.

Ode to the old movies!

We used to get good use out of costumes and they would be worn for months and months after the big night. One year Sam was Spider Man and as you can see in the following photo Claire put her own twist on the ensemble and became Spider Girl. Please note the shoes and the jean jacket…the child has always been into accessorizing.

SpiderClaire

I love pictures of Rob with the kids but there is something particularly sweet to me when I come across pictures of him and Sam. The Bat Man devotion is still strong between the two of them. (Even though we all know IronMan is the best.) Pretty sure Sam’s hat came from a trip to the circus and this was not even taken in the month of October but it fit the dress up theme of the post and I love it.

100_0763

A Sam Funny

Sam is a planner. He likes to get a plan in place and then not deviate from it at all. (Routine is a big deal to people on the spectrum.) We keep that in mind but we also push him a little on that front because he doesn’t live in a bubble. He lives in a community with other people whose thoughts and preferences have to be considered as well. Last night was one such instance.

I had an engagement shoot and all the kids were home. Sam and I had talked earlier in the day about watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, his latest obsessions favorite past time. I had told him it would be fine but what I didn’t realize was that a movie marathon of some sort was starting at the same time and the girls wanted to watch it.

During a phone conversation I reminded him that we were working on being considerate of other people and no that just because he let his sisters watch something instead of the game shows did not make him a lifetime loser. (Please note that whenever he mention the phrase lifetime loser he does indeed hold his fingers into the shape of an “L” on his forehead.) I tried to talk him through understanding that his shows could be watched another time and they came on every day but the movies didn’t. He was pretty convinced I had been brainwashed by his sisters.

“But, Mooooom! We were agreed on this. You are spoiling them!”

Without missing a beat,

“Wait, is this some kind of feminist march?”

I think he is feeling slightly out numbered with his father out of town.

Poor kid.

DPP ~ Day 3

This kid.

Oh, my goodness does he make me smile. He is so full of exuberance and life. He didn’t ask to be on the running team. He asked if he could retire after his first race. He tells his coach that he is going to be too busy next year to run.

But he puts in his miles faithfully each week without complaint and without being told he needs to do it. And he is quick to encourage his teammates to keep going and not give up. (Which is really funny because in the beginning right in the middle of practice he would just decide he was done and stop and walk.)

On race day he is all there. Ready to run, ready to enjoy the pre/post race party.

This morning he bounced into my room, where I was still sleeping thank you very much, and in a very Tigger-esque kind of way free styling his favorite geico commercial, “Guess what day it is, Mom? Guess what day it is?”

Race Day!

He was so proud of his time. His coach had given him a 23 minute goal for the USO Airport run. He came across the finish line at 21:59.

He could have come in faster and slower though as far as I am concerned. I love this boy so much just because of who he is and how he lives his life…so fully and wholeheartedly.

 He looks more than just a little like his proud father standing behind him doesn’t he?

Sam’s World ~ It’s a Meme World

On Monday I shared one of Sam’s memes with y’all. Everybody seemed to be amused so I thought I would share a couple more with you.

He has made a lot of them. A.Lot.

Not all of them are as funny to us mere mortals as they are to him but that’s because his world is funnier than ours I think. But the ones that are funny to us show a glimpse into his world and I love that.

Some of the subjects in the memes repeat. When Sam finds something that gets a laugh he works it.

And for a kid that cannot have his green beans on the same plate as his chicken without panicking he loves to mash up the funniest people and characters.

He loves Grumpy Cat. One year we even had a Grumpy Cat cake for his birthday. He also enjoys Lord of The Rings. And Barney was a friend back in his younger days. Put the two together and well, you have a Sam meme.

Sam is a huge fan of SpongeBob. His favorite character is Patrick. What happens when Patrick meets LOTR? This.

Nothing and no one is safe from Sam’s meme maker. Michael Phelps? He’s got him. The first is one he made after watching Civil War this weekend.

This is what we lived with for days after Laura Bretan lost AGT.

He also went a little old school classic to share his dismay about his favorite act leaving the show.
The boy is pretty funny, don’t you think?

Is It Really Autumn?

The calendar may say that we’ve switched season but it sure doesn’t feel any differently around these parts. But that’s living in Florida, I guess, and since we can still enjoy the beach I figure it’s ok.

One sure fire way we can tell the seasons have changed despite the drop in temperature is the seasonal illnesses that strike this time every year. We’ve had strep and a couple of the worst head colds lately! I think we may all finally be on the mend and maybe, just maybe the weather is going to cooperate and I can open the windows this week and air out the house.

One of the reasons blogging has been so sporadic is that finding our school year groove has taken some time. But the dance is fun and we are settling in and everyone is doing fine. But I’ve got some fun things to post soon so hopefully I can get the ball rolling again.

Sam is enjoying ninth grade but he does love his weekends. Last night he made this meme and then called me over and said, “Do you know how I feel on Sunday nights? Like this!”

Sponge_bob_meme

Can he get an amen?

Life With Autism ~ A Teacher’s Perspective

We’ve have been extraordinarily blessed that Sam is able to attend the same classical Christian school that his sisters attend. It hasn’t always been this way, we homeschooled until sixth grade. You can read more about the beginning of his Trinitas adventure here.

For today I’d like to share a post written by one of Sam’s teachers. I cannot adequately express how thankful we are by the teachers and godly people that are part of Sam’s life…our life. We are truly rich.

From Mr. Butcher ~

As his brother in Christ, I have known Sam from the time my family joined the local Church congregation where Sam was already a member. His tall, gangly form, impossible to miss, has always been overshadowed by his equally heightened, gangly humor. Sam is the guy I could always count on for a bone-crunching hug, a litany of puns (of which I am most fond), and complete emotional transparency (refreshing and alarming at once). My first experience with Sam as a student was in a typing class, where his understanding of computers and proficiency in typing speed and accuracy eclipsed his fellow classmates. When he wasn’t being required to type lessons on the keyboard, he would often draw cartoons offering visual witticisms that were either related to his own loves, or those of his teachers, or classmates.  
It is unusual to have students who enter into the life of the teacher beyond those unavoidable, and often embarrassing ways, such as noticing verbal ticks or gestural patterns—those teacherly blemishes that become fodder for student amusement. That Sam and I share a love of puns, cartoons, and Star Wars doesn’t hurt, but a great thing about Sam is that he desires to connect his loves and his humor to the material that the teacher desires to present. This year I have Sam in logic—our last class of the day—a subject he loves far less than typing, and yet he brings the same inspirational talent of turning seemingly unrelated academic substance into hilarious visual comic strips and verbal puns is truly unparalleled. In other words, he has an innate desire to make the material into his own existence—not perhaps always in the wisest ways, but most assuredly with genuine interest. The pure delight that Sam exhibits when I put a logical fallacy into the mouth of Yosemite Sam, or when Sam offers me his own example of an Ad Hominem from the masked mouth of Kylo Ren often punctuates our days together.
Sam also exhibits another rare human capacity in those times when his frustration with logic puzzles or with his fellow students overwhelms him. I cannot think of a single instance where Sam wasn’t eager to make things right with me or with his classmates. Granted that his idea of what it means to make something right isn’t always the express image of Christ, Sam is a modern marvel: a man in whom there is no guile. As a teacher, Sam refreshes my joy for what I teach, testifying to the variety of ways in which a subject can compel interest. As a fellow disciple of Christ, Sam reminds me of the value of an honest acknowledgment of good and evil. May all teachers be blessed to have a few students like Sam in their lifetimes!

Learning From Autism ~ A Sister’s Perspective

I am blessed to have a unique relationship with each of my siblings.  However, my relationship with Sam probably stands out the most.  Through the years, as I have watched Sam grow up and go through different phases of life, I have seen that Autism is nothing but unpredictable.  Sam is a completely different person today than the baby who wouldn’t talk or look you in the eye.  Now in all his fifteen years of wisdom he is very opinionated and is constantly vying for your attention, sometimes relentlessly.  
Some of my first memories of Sam are from when he was quite young.  I remember observing that Sam behaved in a different way as a baby than my sisters.  Sam was the kid who poured dish soap all over the kitchen floor, took eggs out of the fridge and smashed them on the floor, and ran across the carpet with chocolate syrup leaving a trail wherever he went.  And while every kid can be mischievous there were just certain things that set Sam apart.  
I remember when I first understood what my parents were saying when they told me Sam had Autism.  To me it meant that he thought and processed things differently than everyone else, but that it wasn’t a bad thing.  I knew that having Autism would be challenging for Sam and for our family, and I couldn’t understand why God had chosen to make Sam this way.  Watching Sam go through this much of his life with Autism has taught me so much and has made me immensely proud to be his sister.  I never thought that there would come a day when Sam would start going to a Classical Christian school and thrive as he has. He has shown me that Autism isn’t an excuse for not giving something your all even though it is harder for you to succeed at something than other people.  Sam’s skills, persistence, and dedication have shown me that Autism truly is unpredictable.

Sam has taught me many other things besides what it means to be Autistic.  His quirky outlook on life and continuous telling of knock-knock jokes has showed me that laughter is a key part of life.  Sam is the master at laughing at himself and refusing to be embarrassed, something I know I am not good at by any means.  Whenever there is a dance floor you can be sure that Sam is right in the middle of it giving it all his white-boy rhythm.  Sam refuses to let how others might perceive him interfere with his enjoyment of life. 
 On a more serious note, Sam has taught me the importance of family.  In his very own way Sam is always there for me whenever I face hard times.  Sam is protective of all of his sisters and is always willing to offer  advice, random and unrelated though it may be.  I am confident that Sam is willing to slay any dragons that come my way, even if it comes in the challenge of a nerf gun war.  I am so thankful that God has brought me closer to my siblings over the years because they are truly my best friends.  

Now that I am twenty years old I am better able to comprehend what it means for Sam to have Autism.  How it will affect his life and ours in challenging and positive ways.  It is hard to say where I think Sam’s life is headed, but I trust that God has a plan for him that is better than any I could ever comprehend.  

When I was younger I questioned why God gave Sam to our family specifically.  Why He thought we were the best fit for a little boy with Autism.  Now every day I am reminded of why our family needs Sam.  God knew exactly what he was doing when he gifted our family with Sam.  
Sometimes I still struggle with the fact that Sam will not have a normal life.  However, Sam finds joy in whatever God gives him to do, as long as it doesn’t include physical labor.  I could not imagine life without a six-foot Autistic brother that hides in the shower to scare me half to death in the mornings.  Sam completes our family in a way that only his Autistic self could.  For me, having an Autistic brother is a reminder that God gives us far greater blessings than we could ever earn or deserve.  

Autism As A Super Power

A father’s perspective ~

The other day while mowing the lawn, Sam rode up next to me on his bike and interrupted me with some urgency. “Dad,” he asked earnestly, “do you think I’m extraordinary?”


As his question echoed in my head, I flashed back to when Sam was just a little boy, a boy who could barely run down the hallway without careening into the walls, bouncing from one side to the next like a drunk exaggerating every movement as an overcompensation for the last one. To the little boy who watched one Barney video over and over until one day, suddenly and without any obvious reason, he totally came unhinged as Barney sang Pop Goes the Weasel. To my son who, when desperately out of sorts and unable to control his emotions, would find calm as I struck his back with firm and forceful pats. To my only son who would never be the son I hoped for when the ultrasound revealed he was a boy.


From the moment of his birth I knew something was different about Sam, something not “normal.” I watched him as he lay silently in the clear plastic container they put new babies in, staring into the room as though he could see something the rest of us couldn’t. He simultaneously seemed impervious to the world around him and to absorb it completely. It was a look I would continue to see as he passed from infant to toddler to child to young man. As he grew it was clear that he was not going to develop into what I had expected, but as I watched him mature it became clear to me that this boy – my boy – was something truly special. I had set my sights for a son way too low.


Like most dads, I suppose, my ideal for my son was that he would be a better, faster, stronger version of me. I’d massage out of him all of my shortcomings. He would be all that I had fallen short of, and I could finally realize my true self through him. The son I got was so much more glorious than that. While frequently challenging, Sam is as close to pure as I can imagine. While he is undeniably my son (my quirkiness and his are strikingly similar), his guilelessness, his Kramer-like commitment to doing everything with full-on enthusiasm, and his uncanny sense of humor show him to be so much more than I could ever hope to be.


Sam is a joy factory. He is funny, smart, and has an eye for the world that is truly unique. He is unburdened by self-consciousness, which enables him to observe the world around him rather than being consumed with how the world sees him. His take on the world is often black and white, but his capacity for acceptance of others is awe-inspiring.


A person with autism certainly filters and processes the world differently, but there are times when I think the whole world would benefit from being more like Sam. I know I would.


So when Sam asked, “Dad, do you think I’m extraordinary,” my response was simply, “Yes, son. You are extraordinary.”


Life With Sam ~ Never Dull

Sometimes when Sam is having a minute we’ll go for a walk to help him settle down. Sometimes he needs to run and one of his sisters will bike ride beside him.

Last week he was wound pretty tight so even though it was dark and really, really cold the two of us bundled up and went for a walk.

There’s nothing quite like finding a toilet on the side of the road to restore a teenage boy to good humor. And yes, he did ask if he could drop his pants so it would look more realistic in the picture but I said no.

I know, I know.

I’m a really party pooper.

See what I did there?

🙂

Keeping Level

I’ve been doing the April autism posts for several years now and for some reason I am finding it difficult to do this year.

Partly because Sam is in that age range where parenting is more difficult than ever before. What children at this stage need is far less tangible than the needs of the toddler and young childhood years. Autism just adds a little extra something something to the equation.

When you first enter the world of autism everything is slightly skewed and off center. Things are sort of out of focus and it takes a minute to adjust. You begin to find your balance as the fog of diagnosis and research and information lifts. Slowly but surely you begin to find your way…to make your way…through a world where things are almost the same but not quite and a wrong step has pretty serious consequences.

It’s hit and miss and trial and error. But because they’re smaller it is easier to see what they need so you can at least have an idea of what they need from you.

Speech therapy? Check.

Occupational therapy? Check.

Special diet? Check.

Move on to medication? Check.

But we’re not in that stage anymore. We’ve done those things.

So now what? What’s next?

But the world is almost silent in response. See, until the 90’s autism was considered a relatively rare thing. Then in the early 00’s it was not only more common to hear the term autism spectrum disorder it seemed we were experiencing an epidemic. (This is generally attributed to better diagnostic categories and awareness of autism in general.) And now, all of those children who were part of that first wave are coming of age and research on autism and the teen years is practically non existent. We are the research.

And let me tell you, we’re clueless. When Sam was younger I could write a blog post about going gluten free or how we handled sensory issues. But the issues as a teenager are less concrete and so are the answers.

I’d rather forge ahead on our own though, honestly. Our world view and perspective is a totally different shape than where most of the specialist and experts are coming from. What they consider typical teenage behavior and rebellion is not a paradigm we share. Not for our neurotypical teens much less our autistic teenage son.

Oh, I’ll keep reading everything that comes my way and I will sort and sift and mine the nuggets that are beneficial to us. But it will be sorted and sifted through our paradigm…a world view that is Biblical and the same for all of us. Because we may need to adapt and relate to Sam differently but God doesn’t. That’s our standard. It’s where we find our balance and keep our thinking straight.

We’ll constantly slow him down and make him do and redo his written work because no matter how much he wants to “just get it over with” so he can play with Legos we want him to learn the truth that we only offer our best efforts and work because we want to honor God with everything we do.

We’ll work to help Sam find, establish and use a filter between his brain and his mouth because God says that our words and the way we say them mean something.

We’ll continue to insist that he show kindness and respectfulness to everyone because, just like him, they are made in the image of God. And that means we have to help him understand what disrespect is because he simply doesn’t get it.

We’ll keep drawing him back to understand “doing unto others” because empathy is not something that always comes easily to him.

We will continue to raise him as we raise his sisters…to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.

To do anything less would be to despise the gift that he is to us, to our family, to our church, and to our community.

Now for a Sam funny:

He has an amazing knack for inserting his own lyrics into almost any song and still maintaining the original song’s melody and pitch. So right now I want you to think of Queen’s classic “We Are The Champions”. Got it in your head? Good. Now instead of the words, “…no time for losers…” I want you to hear, “…no time for play time…” It was his anthem the other morning when he had to pick up his room instead of playing before school.

And, yes it was stuck in my head almost the entire day.