Is there an adult around here?

Some days I feel like I have it all together (there are fewer of those these days) and some days I just have to embrace that life is messy. And I’m a big (hot) mess.

I was up with both Olive and Willow multiple times in the night and early morning and succumbed to the Starbucks drive thru on the way back from school drop off. After going through my mental to-do list I realized I STILL hadn’t returned Olive’s overdue library books. And I mean we had checked them out in September (and renewed every four weeks). When I went online to check them, I realized we’d been charged over $50 in fines. At first , I assumed my last renewal request hadn’t gone through and after mentally kicking myself I went ahead and paid the fine and then immediately packed up the car to return the books (Really, enough was enough already. Why did I require eight months to read “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie”?). The truth was that one of the books had gotten into Olive’s destructive hands and I was ashamed to have to return it as I had never damaged a library book before. I feared “tsk tsk-ing” and eye rolls almost as much as having to pay for the book (which probably would’ve been $20 and now I’d paid $54 in fines).

After leaving two books in the drop box and going to pay for the third, the librarian scanned the book and told me that I’d already been charged for it as it had been marked as lost so it was my book now. I thanked her and apologized up and down and then headed back out to finish errands before preschool was over. It wasn’t until I got home later that I realized that the $54 wasn’t fines, because I’d kept the books for SO long, they assumed they were lost (because I mean really, eight months of renewals to read Disney Pixar’s 5 Minute Bedtime Stories is a little excessive). Which essentially means I’d paid for three books and returned two of them.

Fast forward to lunch time at home while I’m trying to call the library about the books and I’m also trying to put PJ Masks on for the eighth time for Olive, all while Olive is screaming for “LUNCHEMS!!!” (Lunchables). Also because my iPhone’s screen is cracked (because if I’ve spent eight months not returning library books, I’ve also spent two months not getting my iPhone screen fixed). Which is why I couldn’t bring up the buttons I needed to pick “option 3” and talk to a library staff person. I finally lost it and started yelling expletives at the phone all while punching buttons on the remote and trying to tap on the iPhone screen.

That’s when I hear Olive yell, “GAWD! FUUUUUUUUUUXXXXX!”

“Olive, I’m so sorry mommy said bad words but please don’t say them.”

“GAWD!!! FUUUUUUUXXX!”

And then I look down at my phone and realized we were leaving the library a voicemail. And because the screen wasn’t cooperating, I didn’t have the option to delete it.

Today has been a rough day, but I’ve learned a few things.

  1. Do not try to adult without at least four hours of consecutive sleep.
  2. At least Olive learned new swear words AFTER preschool.
  3. Don’t hold onto library books so many times the library assumes you lost them or are dead.
  4. Don’t wait so long to get your phone fixed that all the apps on the phone work except for the phone itself.
  5. If you accidentally leave a random voicemail that is just a ranting adult screaming expletives and a toddler that swears like a sailor they WILL refund you for the books you returned when you call back without asking too many questions.look-me-adulting.jpg

One in Sixty-Eight

Olive has autism.

You know when you say the thing out loud you don’t really want to say, because if you say it out loud, it’s real?

I realize that is a ridiculous sentiment. Its real regardless of whether I say the words out loud or not.

I took Olive to the developmental pediatrician on April 12th. It took me three months to book the appointment so I should’ve been full of anticipation and nervous but I wasn’t. I don’t know if its because it was the day after her birthday and a few days before her birthday party so I just had too much going on or I honestly just didn’t think anything would come out of the appointment.

But after watching and playing with Olive for two and a half hours and talking about some of the things he’d noticed, the pediatrician said that the developmental and speech delays we’d experienced were part of a larger issue and he felt confident that she was on the spectrum. I suddenly felt like I was underwater, hearing everything he said afterwards from a distance. Everything around me grew incredibly silent and remarkably loud all at the same time. My throat closed up and my stomach dropped as I watched her happily play dinosaurs and crash cars as if everything were just the same. Because it wasn’t her world that was just turned upside down, it was mine.

I had to ask him to repeat everything he said at least four times. He said that although it’s an early diagnosis, he thought she was probably High Functioning (HFA) and the form of treatment would be fifteen hours a week of intensive early intervention therapy in the form of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). Kids that receive this therapy before the age of five have the best prognosis, but in terms of the “big picture” he couldn’t say what her life would be like. A lot would depend on how she responded to therapy. Come back for a follow up appointment in six months.

I spent a lot of time over the next week being confused, sad, and angry. I’ve spent a lot of time talking with other people who have children or relatives on the spectrum as well as people who work with autistic children and young adults. They said that its normal to go through a “grieving process” with this diagnosis for the life you thought your child would have. The hardest part is not knowing what this diagnosis will mean for her life. Will she be able to have a career? A marriage? A mortgage? Adult (Frankly, I question this in myself on a daily basis)? At this point, we just don’t know. I know Olive will have the life she wants to lead, whatever life that may look like. Because we will do everything it takes to give her the tools to carve the life she wants for herself. Just like any other parent without a child on the spectrum.

Part of what bothered me initially with this diagnosis is that it felt that the very things that I loved about my daughter: her quirkiness, her mannerisms, her love of building, the way she repeats phrases in answer to a  question, the way she crashes her cars and knocks down block towers, her love of spinning, her haphazard way of walking and running, basically all the things that I felt made her unique and beautiful were now symptoms of a disorder. I’ve had to spend a lot of time since April 12th reminding this part of myself that my daughter is that same little girl she was on April 11th and every day before it. No diagnosis will change her or define her.

Since I’m not one to NOT share, I’ve of course been fairly open about our experiences the last month and our journey in general with her evaluations and therapy treatments for developmental delays with family, friends, and acquaintances. I will continue to share this journey through my blog because I want to help any one I can if possible and frankly, it is cathartic for me as I process everything I learn on this very new road we are on. I will also share what I try to advise any one that has questions about how and why we sought out a pediatric developmental evaluation to begin with and what to look for. If you think for any reason, that something is “not right” or “off,” speak up. You are always your child’s best advocate. It’s always best to get treatment early than to spend time secretly wondering if there is something bigger going on apart from a quirky toddler who is very strong willed. Who just happens to be very good at building towers and lining up trains. Who knows ALL of their alphabet, numbers, colors and shapes but couldn’t tell you without six months of speech therapy at the age of two. There’s a reason why autism is a spectrum; no one child with autism looks the same or has the same symptoms. One in sixty-eight children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and it is believed that one in forty-eight actually may be on the spectrum, but so many still go undiagnosed. Please don’t be afraid of autism. It has many faces and this one is my favorite.

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