Saturday, November 19, 2011


Little Bitty actually sleeps in his own bed these days (that was a several-years-long process) but he likes for me to stay with him until he falls asleep. On the rare days that I try to just tuck him in and not climb in next to him, he reminds me, "you wan' to sweep wif me." He's just too cute, and I know I'm going to miss this time when he's older (I already do with Cuddlebug and Bearhug) so I just go with it :).

Anyway, so tonight I was laying there next to him, waiting for him to go to sleep when he reached over and put his little arm around me, patted me on the back and said, "I wuv you."

Heart MELT!!!!

It is SOOO rare for him to say that out of the blue like that, every now and then he says it back when I tell him (which of course I tell him all the time, his response is usually a smile).

I hugged him and told him, "you are SO sweet!"

To which he responded, "I DO wook sweet!"

I couldn't help but laugh because it was so cute the way he said it (reminded me of when Bearhug used to respond to my telling him he was cute by saying, "I AM cute!" lol).

Not sure how to interpret my laugh, he asked me, "aww you jus' kidding?" (he asks that because we joke a lot at our house and he knows that laughter is a cue that someone is kidding).

"No, I'm not kidding. You ARE sweet."

He smiled and rolled over, snuggling in his blankies.

He's sleeping now, I definitely wanted to write this down right away because it's one of those happy moments that I want to always remember in detail :).

Backyard photo session

We took the boys to have their pictures done (we haven't done that in two years, because it is such an ordeal).

Despite talking with the photographer ahead of time to give them a heads up about the boys' issues and the fact that it generally takes some extra time and patience to get some decent pictures of them, it didn't go so well.

She tried, but made it kind of a chore and the boys ended up having an "off" day and weren't being particularly cooperative.

I decided to try taking some myself instead. I have friends who do their own photo sessions with their kids around town and was inspired by their pictures. I knew we probably couldn't anything so elaborate as actually go somewhere to take pictures, but we have some pretty trees out behind our house so I figured that would work with minimal time and effort (not that I mind spending the time, but I'm trying to work with the boys' attention span which is especially short for stuff like pictures).

Cuddlebug and Bearhug really don't do well with "posing" for pictures, they are constantly in motion. I typically use the "continuous shooting" mode on my camera to take several shots in a row as they are doing their thing, and hope that one of them turns out with decent focus, nice expressions and looking in the general direction of the camera (you might be surprised how often they are looking at the sky or everywhere BUT the camera!).

Narrowed down from the MANY that I actually took, here are a few of my favorites :).



...and some of the sillier ones, lol :). I love the pure joy in their faces, and that they have so much fun together.

In exchange for their cooperation, I agreed to take a picture of Rex too :).

Bearhug and Cuddlebug weren't up for doing pictures together with Bitty, so I did his separately. He refused to wear his white shirt (I got them all matching shirts for pictures and thought the white looked good with the colorful trees in the background) so I let him wear what he had on rather than push my luck. It was at least a nice shirt that he'd worn to school, and not one of his Thomas shirts with the chewed up neckline...

He is a little more mellow (at least when he's by himself) so I didn't need to shoot rapid-fire to get these. I did try to say funny things to get a more natural smile (his "cheese" grin is cute but intense, lol).

I have a lot to learn about photography (both taking pictures and editing them), but these guys are my motivation to keep trying :). I really like the fall colors, but the evergreen trees nearby made a nice background too, I'm thinking I might try to get some pictures of all three of them by those trees to send out for Christmas :).


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sibling stuff and autism

Things have been a little rough these last few months on the sibling front. Cuddlebug and Bearhug are quick to get frustrated with Little Bitty, and for his part, Bitty has a tendency to "egg on" their frustration at times.

Some of their frustration is legitimate. They don't understand why he often doesn't seem to listen to any of us and just goes about doing whatever he wants. He often has little regard for consequences as he doesn't always make the connection to his behavior. They don't understand why he ignores them when they try to teach him things, or why he asks them the same questions over and over (and over).

Some of it is just typical sibling stuff - like most little brothers he wants to be like them and do the things that they do. At the same time, many of his interests are "immature" from their perspective and they love giving him a hard time about liking Mickey Mouse or Olivia (not that he cares).

Although his pretend play skills were a long time in coming, he has developed quite a knack for incorporating pretend into his daily life, even if most of it is scripted. For example, when he needs something he'll say, "Eveebuddy say, 'Oh TOOO-DLES!' Oh TOOO-DLES! We nee' some MOUSKETOOLS!!" Just like on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (one of his latest favorites).

Meanwhile Bearhug, and especially Cuddlebug, are not particularly fond of pretending in general, with few exceptions. One of which is their dinosaur pillow-pets, they have created an entire mythology / history around where their dinosaurs come from and actually the two pillow pets often represent a whole collection of dinosaurs (but of course we can only ever see one of them at a time) :). They are constantly harping on Bitty that Mickey Mouse isn't real, there's no such thing as Mouseketools, etc.

If Bitty happens to say something that isn't 100% technically accurate, they will correct him to no end, which he readily ignores and that only makes them more ornery. They get upset with me if I don't continually correct him. I try to remind them that he is only 6... that he likes to pretend and that he doesn't understand as much as they do.

And let's face it, the frustration isn't all undeserved. Bitty tends to get physical with them (he can be a bit of a bully, and has no regard for the fact that they're twice his size), and he screeches loudly anytime they do anything he doesn't like (or if he even THINKS they're going to do something he doesn't like). Sometimes when they are actually trying to help him with something he just screams at them.

We've talked about the fact that he has autism, just like we've talked with them about their autism. One time when I reminded them of that and said something along the lines of "kind of like both of you" and they got indignant with me, "NOT like US!!" I tried to explain that it affects everyone a little differently and that he is more affected by it than they are but they were skeptical.

I didn't bring it up again, mostly I just remind them when they complain about how he's not doing this or that, that we're working on it and that it takes time. They love to point out that they were doing XYZ (fill in the blank) when they were his age, at which point I acknowledge that yes, they were further along at his age in some ways, but that everyone learns in their own time.

Fast forward to more recently... and I overheard this conversation in the back of the car:

Cuddlebug: "'Bitty' has WAAAYYY more autism than us!"
Bearhug: "yeah, but everyone has a little bit of autism."
Cuddlebug: "yeah, we told 'P' that she has autism too because everyone has a little bit of autism but she didn't believe us."

LOL. I asked where they heard that and they said Ms. D. told them. I told them she's right, everyone does have "a little bit of autism" in some ways, but that not everyone knows that, so people may not always believe them if they try to tell them that. I didn't discourage them from talking about it with other kids though, I want them to feel comfortable and open about doing that so they can advocate for themselves as they get older.

Anyway, I've been struggling with how to handle this. I want Cuddlebug and Bearhug to feel comfortable expressing their frustration rather than keeping it all inside. I don't discourage them from expressing their frustration (to a point) because I worry that may only lead to resentment. At the same time it hurts to see them so hard on him and him so indifferent. I want them to all be close, but I know I can't force it and need to let them develop their relationship in their own way.

Dh had another talk with them the other day and it seems to have maybe clicked this time. Leave it to him to find a way to explain the same thing I've been trying to tell them in a way that apparently makes more sense :). He told them that because of Bitty's developmental delays (pretty sure he didn't use that exact term) that Bitty's behavior and understanding of a lot of things is more like a 4-yr-old. So he's "like a 4-yr-old in a 6-yr-old body." THAT made sense to them, and they repeated it back to me when I got home (dh had already given me a heads up about their conversation).

While I'm not sure I love the idea of them going around telling people their little brother is a 4-yr-old in a 6-yr-old body, and I'm not sure how Bitty feels about that (or if he understands it, because I'm sure he's heard it now that his brothers have repeated it several times) the concept does seem to be helping in terms of his brothers being more patient and understanding toward him.

We'll see how it goes.

I'd love to hear any ideas you may have. How have you explained autism to your children from a sibling perspective, especially if you have kids who fall into different "areas" of the spectrum?


Sunday, November 13, 2011


Just a few brief updates from the past few weeks, mostly from FB / Twitter, to keep them all in one place:

when we took the boys to the store last weekend CB & BH were complaining LOUDLY about all the Christmas decorations being out and wanting to know why there weren't big Thanksgiving displays. Cuddlebug just shook his head and told me, "I guess Thanksgiving just isn't what it used to be" LOL

21 yrs ago tonight I went on a 1st date with my secret crush... pretty sure it's not a secret anymore :)
that would be dh, in case it wasn't obvious ;)

I'd like to thank the shampoo company for featuring the word "body" in big letters on the bottle... Bitty noticed tonight at bathtime and before I could stop him was using it to wash his body. I tried to show him it's for HAIR not body but oddly enough, the word "hair" is nowhere to be found on the bottle, not even the fine print. References to volume, style, shine, and of course BODY, but not one mention of "hair." Good luck convincing him that's what it's for... he probably questions whether Mom can read at this point... (sigh)
grateful for pretend play skills - had to remind myself of that as Bitty was engrossed in re-enacting Garfield and Looney Tunes today at church... not the appropriate time or place, especially since he kept loudly announcing his intention to live in a trash can (Garfield episode with an alley cat) but the desire and ability to engage in pretend at all was a long time coming! :)

told Bitty he should wear pants today b/c it's getting chilly out, he didn't believe me so I said it's November, that means it's winter, and big brothers were quick to correct me, the first day of winter is in December. sigh. technically they are right of course.
thankful for dh, he is the best! ♥

today I am thankful for teachers who "get" autism and go out of their way to help our boys

I am thankful for my family, they are my life! I am thankful for the Savior and His atonement. thankful that I am mostly resisting the leftover Halloween candy so far (I said MOSTLY, lol)

Costumes are done, boys are happy, it was SO worth the effort to see them so excited! Now it's naptime for me :)

Just got to cuddle with Cuddlebug on the couch for a few min, so glad he's not too old for that... happy tears :)

overheard a little boy ask Bitty his name at the park today. It took him a second but he actually answered him with no prompting from me (yay!)... and with his real name (double yay!). of course a second later he changed his mind and told the boy his name was Mickey (latest fav character is Mickey Mouse, lol).

we saw a family of 4 deer this morning :)
Bearhug: "I think the moral of the story 'Don't Cry Wolf' is don't live in a place near where there are wolves..." hehe
proud of Bitty, he's been struggling at school lately but he had a good day today

battle of the pants going better this year... battle of the coats? not so much :/
only a little over a week to finish sewing Bearhug's Halloween costume... ack! hopefully will get a lot done this weekend.

asked Bearhug to come upstairs... instead Cuddlebug appeared, told me BH was busy killing zombies (game) so he came instead. lol

Helping Bitty make booklets on PowerPoint... he loves it :)

Bearhug: "I read that 'Zombie survival guide' and now my heart is beating very rapidly!" I love the way he phrases things :). Guess he found it on the bookshelf and read a little bit of it. I assured him zombies aren't real and he asked, "how do YOU know?!"

(he and Cuddlebug have since read more of the book and Cuddlebug informed me, "It's saving our lives!" I guess they'll be ready in the event of a zombie apocalypse...)

dh said ppl keep asking him if he's on twitter so they can follow him. his response "I don't get twitter...follow me where?" ROFL

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I realize I'm a day late for Veterans Day, but every day is a good day to honor those who serve, or have served, in our military.

I saw this video a while back and have been looking for it, finally found it on YouTube and wanted to share it here.

I'm proud to be the daughter of a veteran, as well as the daughter-in-law of a veteran. I'm thankful for their examples of courage and sacrifice, as well as the examples of other family members, to share with my sons.

To all those who have or are serving, and to their families, THANK YOU for all you do. Thank you for making freedom possible. Please know that you are remembered and appreciated.

The scene where the girl is running to hug her dad as he returns home chokes me up every time... Dad, I hope you see this and know that I love you!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Language barrier & school struggles

We had teacher conferences last month. All in all, it went well, especially for Cuddlebug and Bearhug. They are working really hard and doing great - all A's and B's (mostly A's!) :) and they are thriving in their accelerated classes.

Bitty is also working really hard but he is struggling more with school this year than he has in the past. I'm grateful that his teachers "get" autism and understand the source of his difficulty is language related and not cognitive or attention related.

His teacher shared her concern that he is really struggling with anything that requires verbal explanations or verbal interaction. It's something we've been aware of for long time (obviously), but in 1st grade there is more of a need for language skills to be able to keep up with the class. His teachers have all noted that he is very bright and catches on quickly with anything that is not language-intensive.

The best analogy I can think of is someone who is going to school in a foreign country, and they aren't exactly fluent in the native language... they have the added challenge of trying to keep up with conversations and translate instructions so they can understand what is expected.

That's pretty much where Bitty is at. The good news is, he is not being disruptive or having behavior issues when he runs into difficulty following what the class is doing. The not-so-good news is, he is basically zoning out when that happens. They're working with him to raise his hand and ask questions when he doesn't understand something, but often he just tunes out and ends up either not responding, repeating back the question, or saying "I don't know" when asked a question (the "I don't know is fairly new, he's been working on that as a more appropriate response than repeating back the question since last year).

He comes home with a daily communication sheet with the day broken out into the various activities and subjects that they work on every day and feedback on how he did during each. There's a 4-point scale, with 1 meaning he was able to work independently or with minimal reminders and 4 meaning he need LOTS of reminders to follow instructions and stay on task. He started out getting mostly 1's and 2's but as the school year progressed we started to see more and more 3's, and then 4's.

His teachers often write in the comments that his behavior is fine, it's just a matter of not seeming to understand what is expected or not being able to appropriately respond to questions (eg. answer questions about a book they read during reading time). He tends to do better earlier in the day (but not always) so I think to some extent it just takes a lot of effort and his capacity to put forth that level of effort starts to wear thin as the day goes on. But beyond that I have come to believe that there are situations where he truly does not understand what is being taught due to the language barrier.

He has started asking us on a regular basis what words mean. It's great that he can do that now but I am sometimes surprised by the words he asks about, having assumed he already knew them. And I find it difficult sometimes to explain what one word means without having to define it with another word he doesn't understand. When you think about it, in order to understand the dictionary you have to be starting from a basic understanding of the language.

Anyway, so dh and I discussed and decided that since we know that both his regular ed and resource teacher are well aware of the issue and are working with him on it, we'd see how he did over the next few weeks and if things didn't improve we'd approach them to see if we may need to consider adjusting his level of support.

Well, we didn't end up needing to suggest that, his resource teacher called me last week to say that she and his speech teacher wanted to schedule an IEP review to consider increasing his services at school to better meet his needs.

This is why I love our school - we've been fortunate that most of the teachers we've worked with over the years so far understand autism and they are proactive about meeting students' needs. (it's also a big part of why I'm nervous about the transition to middle school next year - a whole new environment, but keeping our fingers crossed).

We're scheduled to meet next Monday, I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, we're working with him at home also and trying to use visuals and hands-on learning as much as possible. That's nothing new as all of our kids learn better that way, but we're kind of in new territory with Bitty as his delays are more pronounced. Suggestions welcome.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Quotes & silly conversations of the week


Little Bitty: "Dude, iss cold ou'side!"
me: "Did you just call me dude?"
Bitty: "yeah"


Cuddlebug (complaining about having to go to bed): "but I'm not even tired!"
dh: "when you're an adult, you can stay up as late as you want... are you an adult?"
Cuddlebug (slouching with a grin): "I'm not even 11 yet!"


Bearhug (hearing Cuddlebug calling him from the other room): "I'm busy! Mom, tell 'Cuddlebug' I'm busy."
me: "Why don't you tell him?"
Bearhug: "because I'm busy..."
I game him a look
Bearhug: "...I AM!"
(busy playing video games, lol)

So I went to tell Cuddlebug that Bearhug was busy.
Cuddlebug (also playing video games): "Tell him I made a great fort and the creepers can't get me!"
me: "Bearhug, Cuddlebug made a cool fort."
Bearhug: "tell him I made a magna-coil!"

Sigh... really?! so I told him and then managed to disappear before I could be asked to play carrier pigeon again.


We were saying bedtime prayers and it was Cuddlebug's turn to pray. After he finished, Bearhug asked if he could say one too, so of course we said yes.

Bearhug: "P.S. we hope me and Cuddlebug's fears go away. Amen."

(their 5th grade class did a language unit on the Greek origin of words, with a whole list of phobias as the vocabulary list and they have since "diagnosed" themselves with many of the phobias they learned about...).

dh: "P.S.?"

Bearhug: "yeah, Cuddlebug forgot that part."

dh: "P.S... Personal Secret"

I laughed, thinking he was making a joke, and then realized he was serious.

me: "Personal Secret?" hehe
dh: "yeah." (in his "what else would it be?" tone)
me: "that's not what P.S. means."
dh: "what does it mean then?"
me: "Post Script"
dh: "hehe Post Script, why would anyone say that?"
me: "because it goes after the end of a letter. Post. Script."

Bearhug: "then what does P.P.S. mean?"
me: "post-post-script."
Bearhug: "P.P.P.S.?"
yeah, you can see where that one's going... finally got him to stop and go to bed ;)

dh: "Nooo... it's a secret that people stick in at the end."
me: "hehe... it's not a secret anymore if they put it in a letter."
dh: "If that's what it means, why wouldn't they just go back and put it in the letter?"
me: "it's from when people didn't have word processing, if they forgot something they had to put a P.S. at the end and add it."
dh: "if that's true, then why do people still use it? that doesn't make sense! see, it's Personal Secret!"

LOL, I suppose there's some logic to that. Kind of reminds me of when he thought "liar liar pants on fire" was supposed to be "liar liar pacifier" (because you'd put a pacifier in their mouth to make them stop lying, of course). seriously he cracks me up!

To be fair I'm sure he has some of these on me, but conveniently I can't think of any at the moment. When and if he decides to write his own blog he can share and have a giggle at my silliness too :).


Friday, November 4, 2011

$1 and a dinosaur is ALL it will take to help a family in need!

I first saw this on Danette's S-O-S blog (not me, another Danette, lol) and felt compelled to do what I could to help. Circling back now to spread the word!

Visit OUR Journey Thru Autism for the details, here's an excerpt:

Kim Laing of of Dauphin County, PA has been a die hard autism advocate over the years. She has supported families with IEP development and through child study team meetings. She created Hoops Basketball, so kids with autism in her community would have an opportunity to play a sport while developing social skills. This is a woman who has selflessly given of herself over the years to support the autism community of which she is a part of.

Her 13 year old son has Autism.

Sadly, on October 12th, Kim and her family lost their home to a fire. Her husband, 2 sons and dog, Mikey made it out safely. Henson, their beloved cat, unfortunately did not survive. All personal belongings have been destroyed. They are currently residing in temporary housing.

Read the rest of their story and find out how you can help!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Creepy creepers and other spookiness


Every year dh gives me a hard time about waiting "until the last minute" to start making costumes. But every year, at least one of the boys changes their mind at the last minute, and that's why I wait. This year was no different.

When I asked back in September what they wanted to dress up as, Bearhug and Cuddlebug didn't want to dress up at all. Although Bearhug told me if anyone asked, he'd just tell them "I'm an alien pretending to be a human." lol

Bitty wanted to be Kirby. Then he changed it to Jigglypuff (a pokemon).

Somewhere in mid-October, Cuddlebug and Bearhug rec'd an invitation to a Halloween party hosted by their friend who lives in our cul-de-sac. The invitation specifically said costumes required so we tried to help the boys come up with ideas. Bearhug finally decided to be a black cat. Cuddlebug still didn't want a costume and said "I'll be a robber pretending to be a regular guy." Such creative non-costume ideas, haha. He eventually settled on being a "Rex-tamer" (Rex being his pillow-pet dinosaur) which basically involved putting a leash on Rex and taking him to the party.

As soon as Bitty heard that Bearhug was going to be a cat, he wanted to be a cat too. I reminded him he still had a cat costume from last year when he dressed up as Pilchard, and asked if he wanted to be Pilchard again. He said yes (which is awesome considering the effort that went into that costume!) Turns out it actually fits him better this year :).

And then about a week before Halloween, Cuddlebug decided he wanted to be a creeper.

What's a creeper, you ask? They're from a video game (of course), they walk like zombies, look kind of like swamp creatures, and blow stuff up. The boys discovered them while playing Roblox (they're really into Roblox at the moment).

I already had the pattern for Bearhug's cat costume so I used the same one for Cuddlebug's creeper costume, with some modifications :).

These were taken Saturday before the party (I had literally just finished the creeper costume when it was time to go). Cuddlebug wanted Rex in the pictures (with his "costume" of a red ribbon leash), but he left him at home rather than taking him to the party. :)

I'm not much on masks and wanted to put the creeper face on the costume chest, but Cuddlebug (who isn't much on pretend) was ADAMANT that the creeper face had to be on his face... so I made him a flap with the face that he could easily lift up out of the way.

These were taken on Halloween:

Had to get at least one picture with Cuddlebug's handsome face, sans creeper face :).

Bearhug and Cuddlebug took off running, they told me they did NOT want to trick-or-treat with Bitty so they were made a point of getting ahead of us.

Bitty tried to keep up, but I talked him into staying with me :). This was his second time trick-or-treating, and we made it to about half the neighborhood this time before he decided he was done. Which was great, because we ended up with WAY too much candy as it was.

Bitty was so cute, I kept trying to remind him to say "thank you" at each house by saying "what do you say?" and he'd say "trick or treat!" again, lol.

He also kept asking people "Do you hab M&M's? Do you hab pink Starburst?" and after the first guy offered the bowl so he could pick what he wanted, he kind of expected that at every house. We're still working on Halloween "etiquette" but all in all he did great and had a fun time :).

The boys were really wired yesterday though so it was nice to have a more "back to normal" day today :).

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I'm a mom of three boys on the autism spectrum, 11-yr-old identical twins and a 7-yr-old. My husband is a SAHD.


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