Every child with Autism is different, and every family is different. This is my take on Autism. I don’t pretend to speak for everyone impacted by Autism, just myself.
Autism, to me, is a way of experiencing the world and a way of thinking that differs from the majority of people. This way of thinking and experiencing is a challenge because it is hard for us typical people to understand, and people not impacted by Autism don’t care to understand. (Not judging. It was me once too.) There are plenty of other challenges people with Autism face, but it seems to me a lack of acceptance and understanding for neurological difference is the root of many challenges people with Autism face.
Autism makes Drake different and being different isn’t bad. It makes life more difficult, and Drake will have to work hard to overcome people’s misunderstanding and discrimination. But his difference is important. Having people in our world who see things differently and think differently is essential and important for progress in our society. Drake’s different way of thinking shouldn’t be stamped out of him, but nourished.
I don’t want Drake to conform for the sake of fitting in with the rest of us, for making us more comfortable. I don’t care if he acts like other kids or adults as he gets older as long as he is happy and living a personally fulfilling life. Autism is part of who Drake is in a meaningful, sometimes difficult, and often wonderful way. I would never want to change who he is. I love him for who he is. I want only for him to be his best and most authentic self and to find happiness in this world wherever he can. It is what I want for all my children.
The Reading Nook is a series of posts that feature my kids’ favorite books! These are the books my kids love. They are not intended to be full reviews. Instead, they give my general impressions and my kids’ reactions so you can decide if your little one would like it too. This post likely contain affiliate links.
Both of my children love If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. The story follows the plight of a boy who gives a mouse a cookie and soon finds the mouse has many other ideas and wants! The kids love the detailed drawings and expressive Mouse, and I love that the pictures give us a lot to talk about as we read. I actually prefer talking about the pictures over reading the book. Maybe it is because I’ve read this book so many times, but it gets tiring to read with all the “if… then…” statements. On the other hand, this does help the kids understand if/then statements and cause and effect relationships. Either way, the kids love it, so I deal.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is also a great jumping off point for all sorts of tot activities. If you do a Pinterest search, there are a ton of educational activities for all different age groups. I haven’t taken advantage of this opportunity as much as I should. When Drake was just about 2, we made cookies together after reading this book for some fun. He was a little young to help much. It was the first time he’d had a chocolate chip cookie, and he learned the word quickly after that!
Drake also enjoys this cartoon version on Amazon. It’s a shame they didn’t make more episodes!
We own and love If You Give a Pig a Pancake as well.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that our living room is a play room. There are no toys in the boys’ (already small) room as I encourage them to think of it for sleeping and because I like to be around the kids while they are playing (havoc making).
So the living room is full of toys, toy boxes, and kid’s decor. It isn’t the best way, but it's the only way we’ve got! In general, the kids’ toys are organized. I try to keep sets together and similar toys together. We also have miscellaneous toy storage bins for the random stuff.
Here’s Why I Bother to Organize The Toys:
When I clean up, I always resort the toys, but I don’t pick up them all up every single day. Some days the clutter and mess just hang out.
Here’s Why I Don’t Clean Up?
Overall, I roll with the punches. I pick up or don’t, but I do it knowing that the kids are just fine, mess or not.
At the end of the day, I lay in bed wondering how it all went to pot so quickly. Where did my patience go? Why did the kids do that? Why hadn’t I reacted the way I normally do or the way I want to? What is that sticky stuff in my hair? Did I do the dishes?
We’re all human. We all have bad days including our kids. Drake has periods of time (weeks to months) where he becomes especially stubborn and emotional, and these times have a negative impact on us all. I’m sure Devin will have them too as he gets older.
During these times, I struggle to be patient, calm, and happy in my life as a mother, and these times are when Drake needs me to be patient and calm. It isn’t that I don’t love being a mom because I do, but some days, weeks, months wear you down to the bone. The endless screaming and crying and mess making and no sleep and what the hell happened to my body? It isn’t the kids fault or my fault. The culprit is mom burnout pure and simple.
A nice hot bath and some good old-fashioned rest go a long way towards helping keep me out of this mood. They are necessary to my emotional upkeep, but when I hit the burn outs hard, it takes more than rest to bring me back to myself.
How I Get Through It:
Above all, give yourself time. It takes more than a day. It takes more than a week sometimes. Be gentle with yourself, and soon you will be the mom you remember.
I've posted a couple of pregnancy related videos that might interest you. I love Damian's reaction to me telling him we're having another baby. While honest and funny, you can tell he is happy. In the second video, I talk about how the pregnancy is going, my glucose test woes, and I reveal the sex of our newest baby and the name.
The Reading Nook is a series of posts that feature my kids’ favorite books! They are not intended to be full reviews. Instead, they give my general impressions and my kids’ reactions so you can decide if your little one would like it too.
I’ve never met a kid under the age of 3 who didn’t appreciate a dramatic pretend sneeze. Chu’s Day and Chu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman, Devin’s absolute favorite books, make good use of this love. The main character is an adorable panda bear named Chu whose sneezes have big consequences. There is a slow build up to the sneeze, and it delights both Devin and Drake when it finally happens. Their anticipation and excitement for the sneeze is almost tangible.
The illustrations by Adam Rex are beautiful, detailed, and funny even to a 16 month old. As a mom of littles, I also appreciate that there is just the right amount of words on each page so we can both read the words and talk about the pictures without the kids losing interest (and sometimes I can just speed read when it’s the 11th time I’ve read the book that day!).
I plan on adding Chu's Day at the Beach to our collection soon. We borrowed Chu’s Day at the Beach from the library and it is just as good!
I can’t claim to be an expert on cooking with small children as I just started with Drake. In fact, I don’t think you’ll ever hear me say I’m an expert on anything. It’s not my way. Even though Drake is only beginning in the kitchen, I have learned so much! I love having him help me! So far we made pancakes twice, pizza crescent rolls, and he has chopped a banana. He’s even cracked an egg on his own! (And I fished the shell out after.)
There are many reasons I decided to cook with Drake, but the main one is that I wanted to give him an opportunity to complete a project and feel proud of his hard work. I love seeing him confident and proud.
Some Tips (especially if your tot is as wiggly as mine!)
Stay safe. I won’t give too much guidance here because only you know what your child is capable of doing safely. For Drake, I save cooking on the stovetop and sharp knives for me. I let him chop with a butter knife though.
Prepare your space, ingredients, and tools ahead of time. Just take everything you need out. You don’t want to be distracting looking for a measuring cup when there’s a big bowl of flour sitting in front of your curious toddler. Clear a large space for them to make a mess in.
Speaking of messes… It is messy! The more you let your little one do, the messier it becomes. I usually have a lot of clean up! I’m hoping to include Drake more in the cleaning soon though.
Expect the unexpected. Drake has always had an independent streak. He doesn’t quietly wait for my next instruction. He takes the lead, dumping in the milk I just poured or grabbing the whisk and mixing a bowl that is not ready for mixing. He plows forward confidently and sometimes erroneously.
Avoid negative comments. They’re learning and experimenting. If they spill half a cup of sugar on the floor… well that isn’t great, but it isn’t the end of the world. For myself at least, it is more important to cultivate his joy of cooking before we worry about anything else.
Why I love Cooking with Drake
Drake loves being in the kitchen with me! And it gives us a special time to bond. We finally have a shared interest! (Sorry Drake, I don’t love Thomas the Train the way you do.)
Drake is gaining basic cooking skills, and he is learning to enjoy the work. I didn’t learn to cook until I was well into my 20’s, and I wish I had more experience.
Drake is getting practice completing a project that takes multiple steps and requires that he follow directions. These are areas we need to work on with Drake.
Beware, there is one drawback. Now he wants to help cook ALL THE TIME, and it’s not practical. Sometimes there isn’t much for him to do, and sometimes the kitchen is not kid ready. (Our kitchen is small so I tend to keep the kids out.) I love, love, love that he wants to help and enjoys it, but sometimes I just have to get dinner on the table!
All in all, Drake and I are having a ton of fun cooking together, and I’m so happy I gathered enough courage to try it with him.
Welcome to the family!
We are a laid back, fun, family of four living on a dime in 700 square feet. Life might not be perfect, but every moment of every day, it is beautiful.