Tuesday, September 15, 2015

There is no ham in hamburgers

I have been a mom for 27 years. I was 25 years old when I became a mom for the first time. As almost every mom will tell you there is no describing the overwhelming love a mother feels for her child. You really cannot know that feeling until you become a parent. As a young mom of a typically developing child, and then two, and then three, and then four.... I got to do a lot of amazing things with my kids. I enjoyed my time with them very much. When my sixth child was born I was not quite so young anymore. I had children at home, aged 13, 11, 8, 6, and 3. I'd had enough experience to know what I was doing. I had taught a lot of kids to walk, talk, use a spoon, brush their teeth, dress themselves and all the other things moms teach their kids to do. I really knew what I was doing. Except this time I did not. This time my baby did not learn the things I tried to teach him. This time was different. And around age two and a half the things he had been able to learn he seemed to forget. And that's when I knew. That is when I knew that something was really not right. And I first heard the word "autism." Autism has robbed my son Tate of a lot of things but autism has not robbed us of everything. Autism has never been able to limit our love. Autism has not taken our sense of humor. And in spite of autism, we have a really good life. Tate, not autism, is celebrated every day. Tate makes my heart smile. He does that in a lot of ways. Sometimes even the obsessions, struggles and misunderstandings are an endearing part of our lives. Tate is different than his siblings but different is not always bad or wrong. Different is just different. 

I have tried to illustrate some of the ways Tate thinks differently. 

Tate, being a very literal thinker is often struggling to understand figurative language. Words with more than one meaning are also often misunderstood. Here are just a few of the things I've had to try and reconcile for Tate recently. 









If Tate believes someone is upset with him he becomes anxious. It is not often I lose my patience with Tate. I know it will take him longer to get past a conflict than it will me and usually if I have to correct him I do it with a smile on my face so he understands he is not "in trouble." Sometimes though I slip. The following illustrates the results if I lose my cool.

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Nine months of each year for the past three, Tate insists on wearing a hoodie. He has several, his favorite have a Kansas University Jayhawk on them. He becomes upset if he is asked to take the hoodies off but sometimes I must insist. His hoodies are as important to Tate as a blanket or pacifier can become to a baby. A hoodie seem to be his comfort item. 


Tate, like many people his age would rather not help with chores. Sometimes he can be coaxed into helping out but most of the time he is ready with an excuse. The exception is laundry. A few months ago he discovered he likes to do laundry and he takes his job very seriously. 




Tate's little sister drives him crazy but he is also very protective of her. He can yell at her himself but he sure does not want anyone else saying a cross word to her. Sydney was born in Russia and we adopted her before her first birthday. Tate tells me often that her Russian heritage should exempt her from behaving. It makes perfect sense to him.


If you liked this post, you might also like Tate's Texts.

20 comments:

  1. Hi! I found your blog through the Autism Speaks website, love these cartoons :-) I have a high functioning 7 year old son and a 3 year old daughter going through the screening process for suspected autism right now, and a nearly one year old son. I was a little thrown by my daughter following in her brother's foot steps of development and am so glad I found your blog. So many things you write about are what my life if like! Like the literal nature of my son and the anxiety about order and any changes without tons of warning. So many of my friends don't/can't understand what having an autistic child(ren) is like! It gets very lonely, I must admit. So, thank you for writing so moms like me can feel like we aren't alone in this crazy, beautiful life with our extraordinary kids.

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    1. I am so glad you found the blog too! Hang around. We are over 4000 followers strong now on Facebook and there are a lot of real encouragers on board. We are helping each other. - Lisa

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    2. Hi I totally agree, love the cartoons in fact I saw the one where he showers without a curtain and I cried. Big time. It summed up our lives completely. I read it just now, after days that have turned onto weeks of frustration and miscommunication between me and my 6yr old.
      Thankyou for letting me know I'm not alone ��

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    3. Hi I totally agree, love the cartoons in fact I saw the one where he showers without a curtain and I cried. Big time. It summed up our lives completely. I read it just now, after days that have turned onto weeks of frustration and miscommunication between me and my 6yr old.
      Thankyou for letting me know I'm not alone ��

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  2. My son Corban at 3 "mom the red octagon with four letters you're supposed to stop at red octagon you didn't stop mom" at 4 "frozen pizza! "I want mine cooked!" At 8 he gets it now most of the time and makes jokes whenever there is a literal interpretation however sometimes things drive him crazy like his teacher gave him a reward and he asked how he earned it and she said "it depends" He came home upset that he did not know how to earn the reward instead of being happy he had the toy. He kept saying "she said it depends, it depends on what?"

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    1. You'd better start stopping at ALL of those red octagons! HA. I love your examples! Thanks for the comment. - Lisa

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  3. Lisa saw the link to your blog on Twitter. How totally spot on your cartoons are, please tell me some publisher has snapped you up. Those cartoons would be awesome resource info for Schools and families in for us parents trying to constantly explain what "being literal" means for our kids and us as parents. NorwichMother UK

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    1. No one is knocking on my door yet but I dream of the day! I'd love to do more for autism awareness. Autism Speaks has been giving me a platform for many of my blog posts and for that I am very grateful. If you hear of anyone looking for me to make me famous then let me know! HA.

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  4. I love these. And I so get it. I'll never forget the look on my son's face when I told my mom on the phone, as I unpacked groceries, that I wasn't going to open that can of worms. The horror. Thanks for brightening my day.

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    1. Priceless. I actually say that often myself (but not while I'm unpacking the groceries!) I should have thought to illustrate that one! I love it. When my book deal comes thru (haha) then I'll definitely put that one in the book. Thanks for the laugh. - Lisa

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  5. I can't help but chuckle at these. I myself am 28 years old with Autism. It feels so good to find someone who not only gets it but genuinely shows it. I really hope to see more of the good work.

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  6. My oldest by, who is fifteen, is so much like Tate. It is uncanny. Thank you for this. Sometimes I need perspective to assist in understanding my sons, behavior as a teen with ASD. You have given me what I needed today... Perspective and a laugh.

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  7. While driving to dinner one night with my then 8 year old Aspie heard me say to my mom that a friend of mine had lost her baby. From the backseat this very indignant little voice pipes up and says, "What kind of a mother is she if she can't find her baby? Did they find the baby? How did she lose the baby? Did they call the police?" It took about 10 minutes of explaining what we meant. He finally gave up and just said the whole thing was stupid!
    I had a picture in my head of what he must have been thinking. A few years later, I told the woman who we'd been talking about, about his reaction and she was so tickled with it. She said she wished I'd told her at the time.
    Thanks for the laughs today! My two sons are 11 and 15 and we've had a lot of those same conversations that you shared.

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  8. I have a 2 year old son with severe adhd. A 10 year old stepson with adhd and high functioning Asperger's. My 7 year old daughter has adhd, developmental delays, and I suspect autism and getting her screened for it. So much of this reminds me of daily life in my house, mostly of my 7 year old. She has a blanket she's had since birth (8 weeks premature) and if she doesn't have it she will melt down. she doesn't get when someone is playfully teasing her and will say "why are you being so mean?!" she doesn't get simple directions sometimes. she didn't speak until about 4 years of age. She chews on EVERYTHING! She isn't neat and orderly though. it's so frustrating with her a lot of times, but I try to be patient with her. I have 5 kids so she doesn't understand that I cant spend more time with her than them or about everyone having equal time. So it is often that I am explaining being fair or equal or reminding her that she had a turn and it is now her sister's turn to (cook, watch movie, etc with mom). I feel like a broken record a lot with her, no matter how many times I explain germs and such from putting stuff in her mouth or whatever else....it feels like I want to pull my hair out sometimes because I say the same thing over and over and over and over....lol. it was nice to find this on the mighty website because it helps to know im not alone in dealing with the frustrations but love of our special children. In fact, im starting a school to give special needs kids opportunities they usually don't get elsewhere...a place to be able to learn in a manner that is best for them based on their own learning style. my kids aren't getting the education they need or deserve at their school so I wanted to make the change so my kids and others like them can be given a chance. so many out there think they cant do anything due to their special needs, but they all have something theyre super good at and that can be built upon.

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  9. Thanks for sharing info. Keep up the good work...We hope you will visit our blog often as we discuss topics of interest to you
    Great Deal

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  11. I am so happy to have found this post. I have a high-functioning (almost) 7 year old and I feel like he will be just like Tate in a few years. Evan is so quirky and funny...he is a wonderful kid. He struggles with expressive speech and social situations, but he is bright and funny and we laugh every day. He is also a huge fan of hoodies! We realize we have challenges ahead and sometimes I do get frustrated, but mostly I completely agree with this sentence you wrote: "Tate makes my heart smile. He does that in a lot of ways. Sometimes even the obsessions, struggles and misunderstandings are an endearing part of our lives." I feel exactly like this about my Evan. Thanks for your wonderful blog. I look forward to reading more!

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  12. I can't even explain how much reading your blog and esp your opening page where you explain about your son has helped me this last week my son Avery is 2 1\2 and we had been noticing he seemed to not be moving forward if anything he seemed to be going backwards I have two other older children and they were doing a lot more by this age so I had told myself maybe he just taking awhile longer then I don't even know why but autism crossed my mind so I started googling and reading and crying and crying because so many things were him and it was like I just knew and my thoughts are going to be confirmed my sweet lil boy he has an appt coming up And I know we have a long road ahead of us but I just want to try and learn and educate myself as much as possible but reading your blog gave me hope and made me laugh when I can't stop crying I also have a newborn lil girl and think about her being on the spectrum I'm so happy your son has thrived into such a great funny kid I can only hope the same for mine thanks again I will def keep reading no matter what the outcome of my Avery's testing is

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    1. Thanks for letting me know that my blog has made a difference Liz. I started it hoping I could help moms who were coming after me. Let me know how it is going with Avery's testing. I check the Facebook page often. Quirks and Chaos

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