Steele LT Football players

Five Years Beyond Autism Diagnosis: High Hopes & Happiness

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, thanks to a very intense full-time job. I love it, but it certainly takes up most of my time. Anyway, for those of you that have followed MommyQ, you know I have an autistic son. He was diagnosed at the age of three and now he’s eight years old! Wow! Over the last five years, I’ve talked to so many parents about autism. The one piece of advice I give over and over again is, “Take it one day at a time.”  There’s no need to worry needlessly into the future, because it does nothing for you. Make each day count and be thankful for every milestone. It may sound too simple, but when you’re trying to live in the moment, simple is good.

If you had asked me where my son would be now as far as school, sports, etc, my outlook was originally bleak. Not because I’m a pessimistic person, but because autism is such a mysterious reality. The good news is he’s doing great. (You can see his smiling face in the photo above – he’s in the light blue shirt, posing with our high school football team.) Thanks to a solid support system of friends, family and community, he is thriving.  He learns in a regular classroom with one-on-one help as needed. He reads, writes, does math and enjoys science. He’s faster on a computer or iPhone/iPad than I am. He can play tennis and soccer and swims like a fish. A few months ago, he started Kung Fu and today his skills are impressive, not to mention he uses a staff. It’s like having my own Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle! He’s learning a routine for his school’s Talent Show, so I’m very excited for him.

I remember the days when he hardly spoke, couldn’t complete directions, didn’t take interest in the world around him and had minimal physical strength. He existed in his own world and we desperately fought to bring him out of it. Today, he’s a normal kid who loves chocolate cake, hates cauliflower, fights with his little brother and blushes when a female classmate gives him a hug. His perspective of the world will always be different, but different isn’t bad. I’ve learned that a big dose of hope brings happiness. Keep your chin up.

Beyonce’s Baby Drama: Welcome to Crazyville, Blue Ivy

It seems Beyonce spared no expense when it came to her baby girl’s birth. Any why would she? She’s Beyonce. TMZ has released photos of her beautiful hospital suite which costs around $700-$800 per night. A tad expensive, yes, but that’s not an insane amount. Her posse used about four rooms during her stay – evidently her entourage travels with her for her birth – ew.  Why? In case she decides to record an album during delivery or needs a sequins bodysuit? Anyway, so four rooms would’ve run her about $3,200. Again, not a big deal when you’re sitting on kabillions of dollars. Click image below to see more of her hospital suite!

So why so much drama about Beyonce’s baby? It really didn’t cost a ton if the above info is correct. Wait, there’s more! On Wed. of this week the NY State Health Department got  “complaints from new parents who claim they were mistreated by the staff at Lenox Hill Hospital while Beyonce was giving birth in the VIP room.”  The parents who were having babies in the hospital while Bey & Z were there said, “they were neglected by staff and prevented from visiting their newborns … due to the drama surrounding the superstar.” Gee, ya think?

Let me tell you this, had I given birth at my hospital while a HUGE superstar like Beyonce was there, I would’ve delivered my baby myself with a bedpan and a sheet. I’m 1,000 times certain I  would’ve been totally ignored. They ignored me most of the time anyway! Talk about ruining a special moment for you and your family. Who cares about your normal, boring baby when BEYONCE and JAYZ are birthing royalty down the hall. Seriously? You know I’m right.

The baby rumors continue to swill about and who knows what’s actually true. All I know is that kid is gonna hear the most unbelievably cool nursery rhymes ever.

What’s on my iPod? One Mom’s Confession

I made a joke on Facebook last week about not friending people’s kids. I said something to the effect of my subtle innuendos, jaded perspective and bad jokes would be lost on a child. I also joked about the upside, which would be I probably have the same taste in music as a 10-year-old. Well, until you get into my love of rap music. That should bump the median age up a notch.

Picture it.  A dorky mother of two be-bopping around suburbia in a black Mercedes mini SUV (for the mom who can’t park a Suburban) with this music blaring through the speakers. Yes, it’s as pathetic in real life as it reads on-screen. However, my elementary-aged kids think I’m super awesome, so I’ve got that going for me.

 
I’d also like to add that not only do I listen to these artists constantly, I know every word to every song (including rap) and have been known to poorly choreograph dance routines to said songs. I happen to be watching the 2011 American Music Awards right now and these folks are so not as cool as Phil Collins. And way too tall.

 

Here’s what’s on my iPod:

Maroon 5 with and without Gym Class Heroes
Brittney Spears
Justin Timberlake
Usher
Lady Gaga
Ke$ha
LMFAO (twice)
Flo Rida (also twice)
Black Eyed Peas
Kanye
Pitball (and lots of it)
Rihanna
Jason Derulo (Omg, I’m making myself  laugh now…)

My personal “explicit” faves inlcude:
DMX
Biggie
Ludacris
JayZ
Chamillionaire
50 Cent
Little Kim
Foxy Brown
Xhibit
Beastie Boys

My sad attempt at “cutting edge” includes:
Jessie J
Black Keys
Arcade Fire
Far East Movement
Nickelback

What makes me cheesy as heck:
Wham
Phil Collins (Sussudio, of course)
Michael Jackson
Prince
Duran Duran

As one of my besties would say,”SHAZAM!” What’s on your iPod? Is it even remotely as cheesy as my playlist? Go ahead, thrill me.

Why 4-Year-Olds Are Hilarious

“Look at me. I’m wearing daddy’s shoes and I’m naked.” Hysterical laughter errupts.

“Mom, when you wear your glasses, you look like a grandma.” Hysterical laughter.

“Mommy, listen to my new song. ‘I hate you. I hate daddy. I hate bugs. I hate turtles. I hate candy. I hate pillows.’ More hysterical laughter.

“Guess what, mommy? Butt. Pee.” Total giggle meltdown.

I have to admit, being four must be fun because everything is totally hilarious. The mind of my 4-year-old is so interesting and entertaining, it almost makes me jealous.

Sometimes he is actually very funny and seems to have inherited comedic timing, but sometimes what he says doesn’t seem funny at all. And it’s only his genuine reaction that makes it funny. He enjoys laughing at his own bad jokes almost as much as I like laughing at mine. That’s my boy. Tear.

I’m not the kind of mom that gets weepy as my kids get older, but I will miss this tender, silly and highly amusing age. I can only hope he’ll always have that fun-loving spirit and maybe when he gets older, he’ll laugh at my bad jokes too.

P.S. When I kissed him goodnight,  I asked him who is the funniest person he knows. He thought for a minute. “Me, mommy!” Of course.

autistic child on stage

My Son is an Elephant: Autism Takes Center Stage

 

autism takes the stage

My tall, skinny son looked rather comical in his worn, gray, jersey-knit bodysuit with his silly elephant nose made out of a dryer tube wrapped in silver electrical tape and a big pillow stuffed down the front of his outfit. He looked goofy and frumpy, which was exactly how he was supposed to look. The room was fully of excited children and glittery outfits – clown suits, ringmaster vests, acrobat leotards and funny props. And my son was a fat, gray elephant. I was very proud.

It was the annual kindergarten performance and I was a nervous wreck. I wasn’t worried about my son goofing up his lines, because he didn’t have any lines. I wasn’t worried about him making a mistake, because at that age, mistakes are pretty darn cute. I was worried about how he would handle the things I couldn’t anticipate. When you have an autistic child, you recognize the situations that may be uncomfortable or overwhelming, and you plan ahead to avoid them. If it’s going to be loud, you pack the soundproof headphones. If it’s going to be crowded, you go early to avoid crowds. The truth is, when you’re dealing with autism you just never know. And in this instance, I knew nothing.

My son and I practiced his little routine at home and I gave him verbal reassurance about the on-stage experience. No matter how much I prepped him, I realized he didn’t fully grasp what I was trying to convey. This is what autism is all about and this why it’s so tricky. The one thing I didn’t want him to experience on-stage was fear. It was impossible for me to imagine how he would process and handle the stage, the lights, the audience and the huge auditorium.

While I was pinning his bulky elephant costume closed, I kept telling him to have fun and not worry if he made a mistake. He smiled and said, “okay, mama!” I gave him a big hug and went to my seat in the second row. To many onlookers, I probably appeared to a normal, nervous, stage mom who secretly yearned for her child to steal the show. The reality of the situation couldn’t have been further from the truth.

The show was adorable and eventually, it was time for his act to perform. I could see the expression on his face as he stepped on-stage to the sea of faces looking back at him. He was scanning the unfamiliar faces for a familiar one – his mommy. As soon as he saw me waving at him, he waved back. I knew he would be fine. And he was. He sailed through his routine without a hitch. I was overcome with happiness, hope and of course, pride. My head was cheering, “He did it! He did it!” and then it happened…

All of the children, about 138 kiddos, gathered on-stage together for one final song. After the first few notes rang out, my son covered his ears and crouched down, putting his elbows on his knees. I panicked. My husband, who was sitting next to me, noticed too. We watched as he stood up and then resumed his position, blocking out his surroundings. It was too much and he was panicking. The lights, the noise, the camera flashes, the people, the stage. “Go help him!” I instinctively said to my husband, practically jumping out of my seat “No,” he said calmly, yet fearfully. “He’s handling it.”

The song seemed to last forever and while all of the other little faces sang happily and parents took tons of pictures, my son’s little face was hidden. It didn’t help that he was standing on the first row, front and center. On the bright side, as soon as the song ended he popped back up and smiled, enjoying the accolades from all of the parents. He didn’t cry, he didn’t run and he didn’t mentally checkout. He survived it in his own way. Yep, he handled it after all. What a star!

Read more about living with autism in my Advocate Mommy section.

 

Image: Mina Laben

Breast Milk Baby Doll: Let’s Hear Dad’s Perspective

breastfeeding doll MommyQ

If you haven’t heard the buzz about this new doll, I’ll break it down for you. Breast Milk Baby is a doll that allows little girls to simulate the act of breast-feeding. And as you can imagine, this toy is creating waves of controversy as it will soon be available in the US. So what’s the big deal about another doll? I mean, we already have plenty of dollies that eat, pee and poop. Well, it could be the vest with sensors to trigger nursing or the suckling sounds or the fact that little girl can loosely experience latching. Pick one. Here’s a recent article from ABC News.

Today, I spoke with FOX 7 about it and shared my thoughts as not only a mother, but a mother who happens to know a lot about baby products. I even posted something on Facebook about my impending interview, which created its own little swirl of debate. This is a controversial doll for many reasons. Instead of exploring the obvious, I thought it was far more interesting to hear reactions about the doll from dads. After all, dads shower their daughters with gifts. Will they buy Breast Milk Baby for their daughters? One dad added his two cents to my lively Facebook discussion by posting the following:

“Don’t want to drag another ‘party’ to the discussion unknowingly… But having had this very discussion today…. It’s not about sexuality or nourishment as much as it seems to be about the publicity of it. Should be private and between a mom and child, not public and out for display for everyone to share. I think public display kind of sensationalizes it. Back to the doll – is that the right WAY to send the message or teach our children? My girls will never own one of these, but you can bet they will know everything they want and need to about breastfeeding and discretion.”

Bravo, daddy! I think he illustrates great points and let’s face it, dads are an integral part of parenting, so why dismiss their feelings? Many dads seem to be annoyed by the doll, because they feel young girls don’t need to experience something reserved for grown women. It’s simply too much, too soon. Other dads think there is a shady sexual undertone that just makes them feel slightly ill. Loving daddies might not want to imagine their sweet little girls as mothers quite yet, especially with all of the valid fears of teenage pregnancies.

Weigh in, dads! What do you think about this doll? Will you buy it for your daughter?

Top 10 Most Annoying Things About The Voice

The Voice Winner

First of all, I’m a HUGE fan of the show. In fact, my husband and I both watched it religiously. We totally freaked out when we realized we missed a show last week. But with all of the fabulousness comes some unfabulousness. In honor of my love for this new show, I will point out its flaws. Just like I do with my husband. Think of it as constructive criticism, NBC.

# 10 – Carson Daly’s smug looks. He always smiles like he knows something really funny, but the rest of us aren’t in on the joke.  And it’s something like you have a piece of Arugula in your teeth and he’s secretly laughing at you, but he’s not gentleman enough to point it out, leaving you to look like a fool. He’s that kind of smug.

#9 – CeeLo without sunglasses. It’s just too weird to see his eyes. He looks much cooler with glasses, so there should be a rule about that. It’s like he’s a total rockstar with glasses and just a normal guy in strange outfits without them.

#8 – Twitter updates with Alison. I get the whole “let’s incorporate social media into a live to show to make it appear really live” idea, but it doesn’t work quite right. The room likes a telethon or something. To make it more cutting edge, they should talk about the bad tweets referencing Christina’s crimped hair or her big mouth or her intoxicating personality. Remember, what makes social media real is the fact that you can’t control it.

#7 – Not enough Adam Levine. This guy is a total babe in a bad boy/hottie/rockstar way. You now, like Carson wishes he could be. We need to have more one-on-one air time with him. Maybe NBC could do a “Deep Thoughts with Adam Levine” a couple of times per show. He just looks so adorable in his tight little shirts and tight cardigans and skinny jeans. More Adam, NBC. More. Adam.

#6 – Less theatrics on stage. I totally agree with Blake. Those goofball dancers are totally ridiculous and unnecessary. They’re incredibly distracting, just like the absence of CeeLo’s enormous watches. I did like the performance with Vicci and her drummers, but the shadow dancing is way too cheesy. I also thought the Mad Max-inspired duet with CeeLo and Vicci was like an explosion of Velveeta. Serious cheese.

#5 – Christina’s hair. One of my hilarious friends @WendiAarons tweeted this, “Christina Aguilera’s hair is so pretty. I wonder what it’s made from.”  That pretty much sums it up for me. The only thing worse than Christina’s awful hairdos was the stress her boobs must have been feeling, knowing they could be popping out on national TV at any moment. Those braids – the big one on side and the tiny one on the other – forced me into therapy. They looked like alien tendrils and now I have nightmares about them.

#4 – Too many bald women. If there had only been one, it would’ve been totally neat and hip. But with two beautiful bald-headed women battling it out, they kind of killed each others’ thunder. It’s like when my husband and I get ready to go out to dinner and inadvertently wear the same color, looking like the world’s dorkiest couple ever. I can tell him to go change, but Frenchie couldn’t tell Beverly to go grow some hair real quick.

#3 – The way Carson Daly holds a microphone. He looks like a creepy dude trying to choke a …uhm, er…wait a second. Sorry, already griped about him.

#2 – CeeLo without both watches. In addition to the sunglasses, he should have to wear two diamond encrusted watches at all times. I saw him with one on each wrist in one show, so it was distracting to see him without them. I was thinking,” Poor CeeLo. Is he having financial trouble? Where’s the other watch. Did he pawn it?  I’m worried about CeeLo, gosh darn it. Is he okay? CeeLo!?!”

#1 – Lack of a tacky trophy. With all of the glitter, sequins, shadow dancing, costumes and alien tendrils, there should’ve been a huge trophy presented to the winner. How do you know you’ve won something unless you get a crazy, horrific, worthless trophy in the shape of The Voice hand-with-microphone? The first thing that should go through your head after wining is, “Holy crap! I won!” The second is, “Where am I going to put this awful thing?”

In all honesty though, a huge congrats to Javier Colon. I honestly believe he has won the toughest singing competition ever. His duet with Stevie Nicks was epic. Dia Frampton is a stunning, unbelievable star too. My heartfelt congrats to them both! Until next season…