Confessions of an Autism Dad
One dad's perspectives on dealing with a child who has Autism. All in print - for good or bad.

Back home after a long trip away from Noah.

Earlier this week I returned home from a 5 day trip to L.A. and it was Noah's first time ever being apart from me for this long. I'm sure who it was more difficult for. I found my thoughts were constantly falling back to him and wondering how was feeling or what he was thinking about my absence.

Anytime I called, he wouldn't talk on the phone, but that's pretty normal for him. When I got home, he was sound asleep. I woke him up and he grinned from ear to ear for about 5 minutes while he hugged me and fell back to sleep. It was just one of those rare moments.

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No internet at home. . . it's driving me insane.

Sorry for the huge gap in posts everybody! Our internet has been down and I haven't been able to get online for more than a couple minutes at a time. I'm working on a post offline that I hope to get posted later this week. Its about Noah's concept of love and consequently the kind and/or hurtful words that he comes up with. Also, I have some great summer time pictures to share with everyone too! Man, my kids are getting tan!

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The orange bye-bye

For some reason, our word for baby nuks and binkies is a 'bye-bye.' How this came to be is too long to share and also irrelevant to the rest of the post, which I suppose makes me wonder why I chose to start it this way. . .

Noah has an orange bye-bye. He has had it for 3 of the 4 years that he's been alive. For most of the day he doesn't really want it unless he is tired and wanting to rest and then of course at bedtime. There have been times that we've lost the bye-bye at which point I turn into a forensic specialist as I grid off the entire house and finely search for this lost treasure. For if I should fail, Noah will stay up the entire night. Some of the place I have found it are outside in the backyard, under the fridge, under a couch, hidden in a pile of laundry, in the dishwasher, in a toy box, in the toilet (flushed, thank God), and in the car.

On one occasion I had to call of the search and make an emergency trip to the store (several different stores as it turned out) to find the exact same orange bye-bye. After a couple more hours of persuasion, Noah finally accepted the replacement. A week later, the original bye-bye turned up miraculously and he switched back. Since then he's never accepted a replacement again. No worries, that bye-bye has been boiled and sanitized every time it is recovered. It makes wonder though, how have other parents with children who have autism dealt with getting their little rascals to give up this plastic/latex piece of ultimate security?

Any tips?

Suggested reading: The Baby Gizmo Buying Guide: From Pacifiers to Potties . . . Why, When, and What to Buy for Pregnancy Through Preschool

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New Commenting Feature

Hey all,

Just wanted to introduce you the new commenting system I'm trying out. It seems pretty useful since it allows you comment without registering for a blogger profile. It also allows you to share photos in your comments, as well as sign in with your Facebook account. While it may not be what is familiar, I hope it turns out to be convenient. Let me know what your thoughts are. Thanks!

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Autism and siblings: a complex dynamic of compexity

I am currently lost when it comes to discipline with my kids. Don't tell them I said that (although I suspect that secretly they've already discovered this). Every day and especially first thing in the morning, the kids will start fighting about something. More often than not it starts with Noah yelling on one of this brothers.

Dawsyn mimics a lot of Noah's behaviors because he must think he can get away with them. He probably thinks that because it is partially true. I'm totally inconsistent. I'm so maxed out from Noah most times that I tend to blow off the little things with the rest of the kids. It's wise to choose your battles carefully, but sometimes your kids are going to act out just to make sure to do choose to battle SOMETHING.

What's worse is that like any siblings, Gracie and Dawsyn know how to push Noah's buttons - although usually it is not on purpose. Dawsyn may just be talking for too long and Noah can't take it anymore. He'll something issue a warning like, "Stop talking at me!"

Then - "WHAP!"

Someone is getting smacked, kicked, or scratched.

Noah seems to be oblivious to the fact that being in time out is bad. He just giggles and squirms around with me holding him in place until the time is up. I have to keep there though just so the other kids see that he gets the same punishment they do.  Ugh. . . .

If I can muster up the mental fortitude necessary, I might share the story about our road trip to the ocean for Mother's Day. All six of us in our little Kia Spectra for 3 hours.

Post about how often the kids trigger Noah and/or egg him on until he erupts and one of them get hurt. Use it to launch into a weekly series about how way to handle those situations.

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Bedtime Anxieties and sleep aides

As bedtime approached, my blood pressure would rise. We've come a long way from the days that Noah would take HOURS in bed before he actually fell asleep. He used to ask for specific toys, the light on and then off several different times, certain songs to be played, a specific blanket or pillow, etc. Basically, he had some OCD's when it came time to sleep. I'll discuss this on a later post, but Noah also requires that DADDY do everything for him (I'm not complaining, just stating this) so over the course of bedtime while everyone else is sleeping, I was the beck and call for a few hours - answering every request to make sure he didn't throw a tantrum and wake up the rest of the house. After finally falling asleep by 10 or 11pm he would be up bright and early at 5am.

Not anymore.

Over the summer we started Noah on 1mg of Melatonin about an hour before bed. I have a love/hate relationship with that stuff. It isn't that I don't agree with using medication on children but I think I've bought off on the stigma that surrounds parents who "medicate" their kids. My wife and I had to realize that we would have to get over that negative association because more than likely Noah is going to need some sort of medicine or supplement to help adjust him in some areas.

The melatonin  never just put him out like a sedative but it did help him wind down and stay in his bed when it was time to go to sleep. After a while thought, it would take 2mg and then 3mg. At this point we noticed he was waking up frequently in the middle of the night and was uncontrollably silly. He would repeat things over and over like, "No ABC's, no ABC's!" or some other nonsenical thing. This would go on for hours and everyone in the house would wake up. At this point we decided we did not want him to have Melatonin anymore.

After using for a few months and establishing a strong bed time routine, he's had little to no problem with going to bed. Occasionally, a 1mg dose is needed depending on how much stimulation he had throughout the day but never again will we be giving him nightly doses. Not to say that it is bad for all children, just not the right fit for ours.

I have decided to do a series of posts to share how we have our bedtime routine set up for our four kids and maybe some of the rest of you will find it helpful, regardless of your situation. It's Cars/Trucks time so I am off to build a small Hot Wheels car city and lay out the city carpet. Take care and have a great week!
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Noah's schedule is up on the wall!

Thanks to a great family friend, I didn't have to break out the crayons to make a schedule for Noah after all. Instead, our awesome friend brought over a Visual Picture Schedule for Noah to use - similar to what he had in his class room.

Today was our first run through and already I can tell that I am going to have to tweek a few things, but for the most part I'd say Noah is already enjoying just knowing that there is an element of routine and structure to his day. I think before he may have been feeling like the day is all up in the air (because it pretty much was) which gives him some anxiety or sense of less control over himself and his environment. Hence, he would act out of control.

He was very excited to start art time after breakfast and then get the cars out after art time. He will definitely be keeping me on task!

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Noah needs 'sun rises' on his schedule

Noah routinely gets up at around 5am every day. Until recently, he would wake up and it would be dark outside. Now, the sun is just creeping up when he opens his eyes and there is a glimpse of light in the sky that slightly peeks through his bedroom window.

This really ticks Noah off.

I try be very accommodating to his unusual or specific requests as long as it is a within what we call a reasonable compromise, but in this instance I can't help him. Here's what I told him.

"Noah, I want to help you but I can't spin the Earth backwards."

"Yes, spin it!"


So it looks like I am going to need to put the phases of the sun on Noah's schedule.

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Schedules and Routines are key (also I'm horrible at them)

I am not a "scheduling" kind of person. I never have been. I tend to pencil everything in without putting much thought into whether or not I actually have time to do any of it. Noah however, thrives on routine. In fact, the only times he doesn't feel like his entire world is out of control is if a routines schedule is in place. To this day, I have failed completely at providing this kind of structure. I have decided that it is crucial for me take some sort of step toward making a personal change and creating a simple picture oriented schedule for my children to see. Because if I don't make this change, my son may never either.

Over the course of several posts this week, I hope to be sharing the progress of my schedule and a few other things that I have dropped the ball on. For now, I'm off to get some paper and crayons and brush up on my drawing.

If you have any personal stories about loving/hating schedules and calendars, whether it pertains to autism or not, leave me a comment or email, I'd love to hear about it!

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This is my son, Noah

This is my son, Noah
He has autism


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