Sharing recipes, crafts and frugal living, the challenges and triumphs of parenting a neurotypical child and a child on the Autism Spectrum. Yoga Instructor said goodbye to her nightly glass of Chardonnay to give up habits that were not serving her purpose in life! The CocktailMom name remains, however with a new focus on healthy and authentic living.


Greenbelt Patch: Opening a Window into Music

When you have a child of the Autism Spectrum it’s hard to avoid becoming consumed by comparing your child with typically developing children. IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings don’t help, you sit around a table with professionals working with your child on a daily basis at school and discuss the ways in which your child is developing and meeting goals for his age, almost all of his goals are goals that come naturally for other children.

For example one of the goals on my son’s IEP is to have a back and forth conversation with a peer without prompting. That doesn’t seem like much, I know, but recently when my son, L, had a friend over and I heard them playing in his room I stood out of eyesight to count how many times they had a back and forth conversation- five times! I had to resist the urge to go in there and give him a huge hug and tell him “You did it!” because he’d just look at me with a confused face, “Did what?”. Instead I quietly celebrated in the hallway while tears made their way down my face, and then emailed and texted everyone who would understand what a huge accomplishment this was for my son.
This past week L ran out of the school building with a huge smile on his face holding something in his hand that resembled a magic wand in a carrying case. It was the recorder that we ordered in the beginning of the school year, I completely forgot about it but apparently L never did. He has an amazing memory, most children on the Autism Spectrum do. When L was two years old he couldn’t form sentences to have a conversation yet he had our entire bookshelf of children’s books memorized and would recite lines from the books to answer questions in real life. He did this with movies and television shows as well, after watching a television show or movie only once he had it memorized and would play with his Thomas the Train by reenacting the show he just watched.
L was waving the blue case over his head. “Look Mom! Look it’s my new instrument!” Once we arrived home he immediately took the recorder out of the case and demonstrated how to wear the safety string around his neck so he doesn’t drop it and then began teaching himself how each note is played by the little book of sheet music the teacher handed out. I assumed they had gone over all of this in class. I should let you know that when in music class my son wears noise reduction headphones and often begs his aide to take him out of the class because the noise is too loud. Yet here he was so excited about learning to play an instrument.
I checked my email while he went over his sheet music and enjoyed the little notes being played behind me.
“Mom do you want to hear my notes?”
“Of course I do buddy.”
When I turned my attention to him I noticed the sheet music didn’t indicate what note he was playing. In order to play the song he had to be able to read music.
“L what note is this?”, pointing to the F on the treble clef.
“And what about this one?”


Greenbelt Patch: Kids on the Autism Spectrum: Bike Riding

Milestones that are met by our children are documented and recorded—our child’s pediatrician informs us of when those milestones typically happen based on recorded data that coincides with a particular age.  Baby should be rolling over at six months old, walking at around one, at three years old should be able to speak in multi-word sentences and by four years old should ride a tricycle.
Every parent has expectations of their children crossing milestones around the same age that they themselves crossed that milestone.
Loosing teeth.
Grandparents are called to confirm, “Do you remember when I lost my first tooth?”
I grew up in a bicycling family; our family would go on week long bicycling trips while other families went to Disney World. As an adult I want to share my love of bicycle riding with my children. But it’s a milestone for my child, L, who is on the Autism Spectrum that doesn’t come easy.
Like other parents I tried the scooter bike when he was three years old. While the other three-year-olds scooted by, our experience resulted in meltdown after meltdown. The meltdowns by children on the Autism Spectrum are worse than a meltdown by a neurotypical child; there is a lack of communication and there is no compromising.
Needless to say, we gave up on the scooter. 


End of the School Year with Autism

When I look back on the course of our time at Logan's elementary school, I'm amazed at how far we have come. It has not been an easy road, there have been many struggles over the years. There were several meetings during the kindergarten and first grade years where I felt like the mama lion protecting my child.

This year has been different.

I don't know if it's because Logan is older and his understanding of the world has grown along with his understanding of himself and his needs. Or if it's because we have a team of staff who really work hard to help him be successful. We also have a new principal that actually listens to the parents and really hears their concerns. As a mom to a kid on the Autism Spectrum I am extremely thankful for that.

Every school year is different and though I am proud of Logan's accomplishments (honor roll all year long!) I have a bit of anxiety about the next school year. Not knowing who will be his teacher, will it be a good match? Will the teacher have compassion? Will the teacher really try and teach him or let him slip by?

I'll be honest this year has been nice, I haven't had to yell or threaten to bring in a lawyer (both things I have had to do in the past). Logan's teachers this year were engaged in his learning and open to ideas to help him adapt to the classroom environment. I am forever thankful!

I had one wish.

Logan spent every recess walking around the parameter of the playground imagining in his mind. I don't know if anyone ever came up to him and invited him to play. I would ask him everyday after school, "who did you play with at recess?" And everyday the same answer. It breaks my heart to think of him alone in the world without a friend.

In the very beginning of our Autism journey I was sitting in the waiting room with my younger son, Zane, while Logan was attending his bi-weekly speech therapy appointment. A veteran Autism mom looked at us and said "you gave your son with Autism the greatest gift by having another child."
At the time I didn't really understand what she meant by that, but now I do. Logan will always have Zane as a friend and a brother. Even on those days when Zane annoys him and won't stop talking...he can count on Zane to be in his corner.

I didn't understand it then, but I do now.
He does have a friend, it's his brother.


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