Food

The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction.  A person cooking is a person giving.  Even the simplest food is a gift…Laurie Colwin.  Our loving Creator has blessed us with an array of colorful and flavorful food to eat.  I remember my grandmother and mom were big on cooking food with flare and color.  Till this day, I still cook food together according to color appeal; so if I do collard greens, I need another color vegetable to balance like sweet glazed orange carrots or yellow roasted corn.  Yes, I was trained to even garnish meat with colorful seasons and herbs.  Honestly, cooking beautiful tasteful food is an amazing sensory experience on all levels.  I believe cooking and eating food with love ones is loving and intimate.  In fact, I love when all of my siblings come together and cook amazing food.  As I close my eyes: my oldest brother Earl is doing a seafood feast, brother Mike manning the grill with steaks/chicken/burgers, sister Lisa doing a slap your momma homemade pound cake with lemon drip icing, sister Stephanie making a mean casserole dish/real deal macaroni and cheese, sister Dee chopping away all sorts of colorful veggies to saute with fire, and me doing Louisiana style red beans and rice along with down home peach cobbler.  Truly, food is not just for energy but it’s an experience of creativity and sensory awakening.  Maybe, that’s why M struggles with certain foods.  He has been going to feeding clinic therapy to help with sensory issues to food.  I never realized how many textures food encompass.  I have noticed if a food item do not appeal to even one of M’s senses, he refuse to eat it.  Hence if it smell wrong or look weird or feel odd; M will not entertain that food item.  As a mom who loves to cook flavorful and colorful food, I had to readjust in keeping some food very simple in order for M to eat.   Like for supper today, I did a bed of herb season yellow rice with garlic basil fried chicken in olive oil.  However, M had simple soft small turkey meatballs cut up over plain diced up noodles lightly sauced.  Trust me, I  have learned do not over fancy it for him or add too many items together on his plate.  It took years for M to accept more than one food item together on a plate and sometimes it still a struggle now.  M is reminding me that food is not all about fancy ingredients but simple made-up foods are better when they’re cooked with love and care.

Simply an autism mom enjoying food

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Bacon

I think we love bacon because it has all the qualities of an amazing sensory experience.  When we cook it, sizzling sound is so appetizing, the aroma is maddening, the crunch of the texture is so gratifying and the taste delivers every time..Alex Guarnaschelli.  This past weekend, I cooked some bacon for breakfast.  I promise the aroma of bacon lured M to the kitchen table.  In general whatever I cook, I fix a plate for M.  Sadly, he rarely eat my cooking or anybody else’s.   His beautiful complex brain connects everything to his sensory experience.  Hence no matter what it is, if it does not connect with a sensory, it gets rejected by his brain.  On the other hand, if something do connect but is deem to overwhelming to process, his brain get jumbled in confusion.  In which case, I have learned M often need space and time to regulate his thoughts/emotions.  However on this day, M picked up the bacon on his plate.  He smelled, touched and licked the bacon.  Finally, he ate it!  Yes, the bacon connected with all of his sensories perfectly.  In fact, M not only ate his bacon but mine as well.  He could not contain himself in the chair, M kept jumping up and down with an occasionally leg kick. That bacon had my M on a happy sensory high.  Watching M sensory experience to bacon has reminded me of how wonderfully we’re design by Jehovah, God.

Simply an autism mom enjoying bacon

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A Hug

A hug is like a boomerang, you get it back right away…Bill Keane.  I believe a sincere and honest hearted hug can be comforting in giving emotional support or reassurance during critical moments.  Yes, a hug can do amazing good in generating positive energy into our daily routine.  Honestly, a hug is a personal thing.  We’re inviting someone into our personal space which goes beyond a handshake.  In my life so far some of the most memorable and endearing hugs has been with my grandmother, mom and my aunt Cat from Mississippi.  They would give the most warmest deepest bear hugs, arms spread open with full on embrace.  I promise, you could feel their pure love for you.  I still cry when I think about how much I miss their hugs.  I don’t think you ever outgrow needing a hug.  Maybe, that is one of many beautiful elements to being human.  Unsurprising, a sincere hug can do wonders for a child.  My M hugs differently.  I am learning for M hugs are something earned.  I think since hugs require an invitation into personal space, M struggles with finding a balance between not feeling awkward and spatial anxiety.  Hence, I do think it’s respectful and considerate to ask M for permission to hug.  Yes, often times his reaction will be no.  However for the rare few people he allow, oh what a blessing.  Truthfully, no one should feel offended.   I am his mom and I still have to ask for a hug.  Sadly, the older M gets hugs are becoming scarce.  This does hurt my heart as a mom.  Perhaps every mom feels like this, I think it’s in our DNA to love on our children.  Today was a real treat for me, M let me hug him at least six times.  He generally turn sideways to allow me to hug him, never extending his arm out to hug back.  However, I am thankful that he does let me add a kiss on the forehead.  He often say “Kiss, kiss” to me after a hug.  M is reminding me a sincere hug sure can make a hard day less stressful and an easy day joyful…I cherish every hug from M!

Simply an autism mom enjoying a hug

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Self-Love

Loving oneself is not hard, when you understand who and what ‘yourself’ is.  It has nothing to do with the shape of your face, the size of eyes, the length of your hair or the quality of your clothes.  It’s beyond all those things and it’s what give life to everything about you.  Your own self is such a treasure…Phylicia Rashad.  True, some may consider self-love as being egotistical, narcissist or being prideful.  However, healthy self-love is tied into our relationship with God.  We understand our Creator loves us more than we love ourselves.  Hence, generating within us humility and realistic self-love.  It’s about accepting all of yourself in the way our Creator accepts you.  Thus we see, feel, think, and believe;  we’re worth loving.  Honestly, practicing and expressing self-love is a process.  I think our experiences in life impact our journey of self-love.  I believe in our seasons of life, our self-love may adjust.  For example if someone deeply wronged us or we made a mistake, having forgiveness become a part of our self-love can be healing.  Perhaps, a sound self-love is imperative before we can expect others to love us.  I want M to have a healthy self-love.  I have faith this will be another tool enabling him to deal with any struggles in life.  Yesterday, I gave M a wipe to clean his mouth.  He surprised me by going to a mirror.  He kept turning his head different ways.  I watched as he made various facial expressions.  He finally said “M!”,  as if he finally discovered himself.  I said “Yes M, that is your reflection.”  He said “love you!” while still looking into the mirror.  I realized he was giving self-love.  M is reminding me of the amazing beauty and power of wholesome self-love, especially when it’s align with our Creator’s view of us!

Simply an autism mom thinking

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Tears

There is a sacredness in tears.  They’re not the mark of weakness, but the mark of power.  They speak more eloquently than ten thousands tongues.  They’re the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love…Washington Irving.  Life is full of happiness and tears, our strength to keep going comes from having faith.  Maybe our tears are a gift that cleanse and heal our soul.  True, often our tears are private.  In moments of solitude, our tears fall from our heart.  Our tears may flow to flick of memories, life frustrations, or pure joy.  Sometimes my tears are unspoken words.  The day M was born produce within me a different intensity of tears.  As a parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder, I often fight back tears.  However there can be moments that are emotionally overwhelming, uncontrollable tears cascade.  I feel with each seed of hope planted within M, my tears are sown in.  I believe love of a child bring forth tears of joy and exhaustion regardless of their ability.  Today M had a rough morning.  He shed many frustration tears.  I wanted him to find his inner peace.  However, it was hard.  M had misplaced his favorite sensory string.  We searched the house high and low but to no avail.  Hence, M had difficulty adjusting even after leaving home to attend the Kingdom Hall.  In honesty, M and I finally just sat in the car for a while listening to spiritual melodies until his tears stop.  In those moments my prayer and tears become one.  In the end, M peace was restored.  He looked at me and said “love you.”  M is reminding me tears are a symbol of emotions…revealing we’re human!

Simply a autism mom reasoning

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