Out Of The Mouth Of Children

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“…Yes. Did you never read this, ‘Out of the mouth of children and infants, you have brought forth praise’?” (Matthew 21:16) One of the greatest joys of being a mother is hearing your child express their first words such as ‘mom’. We’re gifted with 86,400 seconds in a day to communicate with our fellow mankind. Those communications could encompass empathy, love, warmth and kindness. Honestly, some of us struggle with just expressing our basic needs or wants to others. Hence, we may practice often how to improve our communication skills. As a parent, you want to give your child all the tools to be effective communicators not just in their needs but fundamental heartfelt expressive words to our Creator and other humans. Thus, M has been in speech therapy since the age of two. He received early intervention with a wonderful speech therapist name Marilyn. She taught M basic sign language to express his needs. Before this gift, M would frequently have fits, scream or cry. It was true, I could feel M’s frustration because I did not always understand what he was trying to communicate. Additionally, M’s therapy helped him in connecting or processing words. For example, M learned the sign language for the word mom. However, it took M some time to make the connection that I represented the word mom. This past year M received an Alternative and Augmentative Communication device. It has opened up another avenue for him to expressive language. He now often hit the button with my picture to say mom. This new technology has been a wonderful gift into M’s thinking process. For example, last month M kept rubbing the left side of his face and once took my hand to touch his face. Since I was not sure what exactly M was communicating, I told M to get his AAC device. He immediately did and responded by hitting the button for teeth several times. So I asked, “M do your teeth hurt?” M responded, “HURT!” with the device. Hence, I made M an pediatric dentist appointment. It turn out the dentist had to remove one M’s back baby molar tooth that was loose to make room for a new one underneath his gum. In full disclosure, it did take six of us to help M with this dental procedure. Even though he wanted the pain to go away, he did not agree with the process. Afterwards, M needed some time to work out his feelings in the wheelchair stroller. M has been working on connecting emotional words with pictures using his AAC device. Additionally, we have been working with M in understanding it’s OK to ask for help when his emotions are overwhelming (James 1:5). Hence, he has mastered saying the word HELP and hitting the button on his AAC for God’s name Jehovah. M has taught me that speech may not always be an option but that there is plenty he want to communicate; I just need to have patience while he continue to expand his communication skills.

Simply an autism mom

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M’s Birth

‘Look! Sons are inheritance from Jehovah; The fruit of the womb is a reward.’ (Psalm 127:3) “Love you” M finally said, only after I repeatedly said ‘I love you’ to him before his goodnight kiss on the forehead last night. Those words from M are few and far between. Hence, when I finally do hear them I do cry. I hope every parent hold dear when their child express love for them. As I watched M slip into dreamy rest, I had flashbacks of his birth. It seem time has gone by so fast since the doctor told my husband and I, we’re pregnant. At the time, I experienced so much flooded emotions that panic set into my heart. My age and health played a huge role in my pregnancy with M. I remember the doctor being concerned to the point of me possibly needing bed rest. However, that year I had an amazing class of students/parents and family that was there for me. Yes, early testing in my pregnancy did show possible issues with M. However, I prayed for so long to be a mom that nothing was going to stop me in trying to carry M to full term. Even when that meant taking different medications and four shots a day plus weekly doctor visits. “Mrs. Fowler you know your shoes not matching” a student told me one day. I responded ” Do I still have my shoes on?”. True, many days I was swollen and hurting but amazingly M would do flips in my belly when he would hear the children in my classroom. Interestingly, I thought M was going to be a girl at first. We had picked out a beautiful girl’s name beginning with a M. Oddly every-time I would rub my belly and say that name, I would get nauseated. Later, a ultra sonogram would reveal M was a boy. Maybe, M was trying to tell me he was not happy with that particular name. Once, I started saying M in a boy’s name it seemed he approved and no more nausea feeling. On M’s birth day, I had a strong urge to get things completed on my to do list before M birth. I awoke early around 4 a.m cleaning the house. Later, My mom called to check on me. “I am going shopping this morning” I told my mom. In her loving wisdom my mom convinced me I was in no condition to drive. Instead, she drove my husband and I around town shopping. Fact, the movies/books do not truly tell you everything when labor pains start to hit. I knew something was starting to go wrong when my mom had to stop me at a fast food restaurant to use the restroom again. Noteworthy, I had been feeling odd pressure on my belly that morning but did not really understood the gravity of my situation. This particular restroom stop was weird. A pain hit me so hard I screamed and real tears flowed. It took every ounce of strength for me to make it back to the car. “Mom something is wrong! It hurt so bad, something is coming out!” I cried. I begun to feel light headed and all my energy was gone. At this point, my husband called the doctor and we were instructed to go to the hospital. It seemed like the bottom had fallen underneath me. “Tammy, just let it go and breath” my mom said. I had tried to be strong for M but in those moments at the hospital and delivery room everything went wrong. I do remember the doctor asking me if there was a choice of M or I too survive, which do I choose? “Please, let M live” was my last response before losing consciousness. I do not remember M birth or hearing his first scream. My husband told me that there were so much bleeding and it seemed like eternity before the doctors could get M to breath. He noted M was quickly taken away by the nurses. It would be hours later before I gain full consciousness. My first thought was did M survive. A nurse would later take my husband and I to the NICU wing of the hospital. I could not walk so the nurse roll me in with a wheelchair. M looked so helpless and tiny in the NICU bed. There were tubes in him. He was struggling to breath. I cried because I did this to him. The nurse put her arms around me. Another nurse took M out his bed and said “he need to feel your love”. I was so scared as she placed M in my arms with tubes still attached. She had to show me how to hold him so as not to disrupt the wires and tubes. In that moment, I became a mom. M was and is a blessing. He fought to survive against all odds. M’s birth expended my understanding of love, I felt unconditional love while holding him in the mist of beeping machines.

Simply an autism mom remembering

Becoming A Friend

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“A true friend shows love at all times, And is a brother who is born for times of distress” Proverbs 17:17. Our life is lively with endless possibilities of becoming the person we want to be. As imperfect humans it takes concentrated efforts to be kind, peaceful, forgiving, compassionate, understanding, thankful, giving, honest-heart and humble. The world around us often does not reflect such beautiful qualities. However, growing up my mom would tell us “We do not get to choose what family we’re born into but we can choose who we surround ourselves with.” She would always encourage my siblings and I to become a friend to our Creator first because from there we would learn the foundation of being a friend. (James 2:23) Now as a parent myself, I want M to learn about becoming a friend to our Creator. I was so grateful in 2012 the series ‘Become Jehovah’s Friend’ was produced by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. Since M learn better by repetition, music, one on one, love and patience; these series of videos have been a beautiful blessing in his development of becoming a friend. He is learning that our Creator loves and value him. Thus, he too can take interest in others and be a friend. Two of his favorite videos to replay over and over is ‘Jehovah Will Help You Be Bold’ and ‘Making Friends’. We have downloaded the jw.org app on all electronic devices. This has been a real joy for M both at home and when traveling. We have learned to make sure all devices are fully charged before leaving home, so M has needed comfort items (straws, strings and electronic device) in his hand. This week we had to take M to the doctor after noticing him repeatedly hitting his head. It was discovered he was suffering from double ear infection. Through the whole process M kept playing the video ‘Jehovah Will Help You Be Bold’. “Help, help!” M would yell when he wanted us to reboot the electronic device when it would freeze from hitting replay over and over. Today, he seem to be getting his pep back and of course finding comfort in watching ‘Become Jehovah’s Friend’ series. There is a lot of things that come with choosing or becoming a friend. I want M to have the increase capacity for love, level of patience and a door of possibilities. After all, a true friend would aspire us to become our best self possible. Whether some friends maybe with him for a season or life span, I want M to always hold onto the best friend all of us can enjoy and appreciate our loving Creator Jehovah, God.

Simply An Autism Mom

Finding Our Way Home

We come to love not by finding a perfect person but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly…Sam Keen. Often finding our way home has little to do with the physical things we see, rather it’s everything to do with the way we mentally process them. These past months has been a long road finding our way mentally home. The Covid-19 pandemic brought about so much disruption in our world. For M and I it has been like putting puzzle pieces back together again, after having it torn apart. Often our daily routine was reset differently. This took a toll on our mental health. We try to be prepared but things never always go the way we expect. It’s those things we don’t see coming that we struggle to balance the joy and frustration of life. I love to believe that the older we get we don’t mind adjustments or changes. However, the truth is no matter the age we do mind. Even after Covid-19 virus left me, the lingering symptoms remained for months. There were days or moments where I felt like my brain was in a fog. Sometimes M and I would be in the middle of doing a lesson for his virtual learning and my memory or thought would go blank. On days where I felt not myself mentally, M would come up to me and ask “OK, OK?”. M showing concern for my well being brought me to tears. I am suppose to be the strong one, keeping all his puzzle pieces together. So when I look into his brown eyes, I think ‘I just can’t….’ Faith and trust in Isaiah 41:10 keeps me holding on. Everyone define their way home differently, honestly for M and I it’s about finding the positive in our stumbles so we can keep putting our puzzle back together. M taught me that it’s OK for him to see mommy is not perfect but together we can develop compassion, understanding and love for one another.

Simply an autism mom putting a puzzle back together one piece at a time

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The Talk

The greatest lesson I learned that year in Mrs. Henry’s class was the lesson Dr. Martin Luther King , Jr. , tried to teach:  Never judge people by the color of their skin.  God makes each of us unique in ways that go much deeper…Ruby Bridges.  These several weeks has been difficult for M.  I struggled with talking to M about the changes in our world.  How do you talk to a child, who see the glass not as half full or half empty but how it look from underneath?  M school was shut down in mid March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  This greatly impacted his daily routine.  All his therapeutic services came to a complete stop overnight.  I did my best to explain to M everyday.  “Bus, bus school school”, M asked everyday for awhile.  My repetitiveness of  “M, no bus or school today” over time was enough for him to understand.  We decided to create a fun school enviroment at home for M.  I found a large etch-o-sketch, tricycle, sensory swing and trampoline for him to use during gross motor activities.  Of course, his therapists and teachers came up with lesson plans for M.  However, he was confused seeing his teachers in the computer.  He would run back and forth making sounds at the screen.  The last day of school, the principal had a drive-by day.  We were able to pick-up final report card and other items our child may have left at school.  M started crying seeing his teacher and school.  Yes, I did talk to M that morning about going to his school.  Honestly a part of life is being able to talk, it’s heartbreaking when I see M not understanding or confused.  That brings me to the subject of race.  Realistically, I can not shield M completely from everything unkind.  “Yes, you’re beautiful  and you can be awesome with Jehovah”, I tell M everyday.  As a mother of a beautiful brown child on the autism spectrum,  I do worry.  What do people see?  Will they have a open-heart?  At this time, M do not see race as an issue.  He is fascinated by different hues of color.  On the other hand, he does notice or react to people actions toward him.  He lights up when someone takes the time to talk to him kindly.  If everyone talk honest and kind to one another; we’ll find solutions and connections.  True, our experiences are completely different.  However, seeing the glass from underneath with M; everyone regardless of hue and ability is completely beautiful!  (  Acts 10:34-35)

Simply an autism mom having a talk