We have NEVER been able to take a family Christmas picture with all 4 of us in the picture! I was determined to take one this year. Mj is always frustrated, complains, and acts out whenever we try to do it. We tried several times and took no less than 60 pictures. The result was the few that you see below.
Our family picture is my Christmas gift to myself. Something that many people take for granted, and has almost been impossible to do, has finally happened! I’m thankful to God for allowing Mj to cooperate just enough to get a picture 🙌🏽. I wish all of you Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas. #merrychristmas #happyholidays #autismfamily #hedidntwanttobuthetookapic #jesusisthereasonfortheseason #lovemyfamily #mygift #memoriesinthemaking❤️.
Family Selfies 💙
We recently went to the movies to see Teen Titans Go. MJ is a bit obsessed with the TV show: He watches and records all of the episodes all day every day, so we knew that he would definitely want to go see this movie. We planned to see it over a month ago when we first saw the previews for it. We have been to a few movies over the years with MJ. This visit however, was different. We have never seen MJ so hyper and excited to see a movie. He basically made a scene at the concession stand because he thought we were going to be late to the movie. He kept yelling, “Hurry up, hurry up we’re going to miss the movie.” (Even though we had plenty of time) Once we got seated he put on his headphones and watched the previews while eating popcorn. The movie started, MJ started talking, and he didn’t stop! He literally talked loudly throughout the entire film…even yelling at some points. Usually he does talk a little bit but this time it was almost as if he couldn’t help himself. I was so relieved that there were only two other families in there with us. At one point MJ was literally jumping up and down and throwing his body from side to side while in his seat (insert shocked face here). I was literally waiting for someone to get up and complain but they never did. All in all the kids had a great time and enjoyed the movie. Hubby was half asleep and I was stressed out throughout the entire movie (sigh). I needed about 2 hours to recover from this outing but am happy that MJ And his sister enjoyed themselves.
Tried to take a decent pic of them before the movie started. It just didn’t work out lol.
I wanted to give you all a short video of MJ at Music Therapy 🎶. I love that he truly enjoys going and I never have to force him out of the house 😁. This children’s ability Center has been amazing!
Some weeks back I wrote about visiting a new facility that MJ can go to for various activities. In order for him to be able to participate, we had to do a parent tour, 2 intake sessions, one with MJ and one without, and fill out lots of paperwork. Last week, I was finally able to have him participate in a Social Games class. I was a little nervous when I was taking him because I didn’t fully know what to expect and I wanted him to be in a good mood for the first session. I prepared him for it by explaining that he would be meeting new people, playing games, and having fun. He had no idea that therapy would be going on while he plays. Being the overprotective mom that I am (sorry, not sorry), I asked if I could observe just for a few minutes to make sure that he was okay (in my mind I still see him as the 5-year old that used to run into oncoming traffic). They nicely told me that I could do that towards the end of the session. While waiting, a fellow autism mom showed me the parent observation room! I ran for the chance to see what he was doing. All I saw was pure JOY on MJ’s face. He was so happy playing the game. I was relieved that he wasn’t just fine, he was laughing and being silly. When the session was over he was so talkative! Telling me that he played games, had fun and “I want to come back next week!”
Just yesterday I took Morgan to a sibling support group. There were about 15 kids there. They talked, played games, made hot chocolate, had snacks, did arts and crafts, and were sent home with a bag full of goodies. I cannot begin to express how thrilled and thankful I am for this new program. They not only serve the child with special needs, they serve the entire family.
While rummaging through old files, I found this old picture of MJ. I had to gather paperwork in order to take him to the intake meeting at the new facility. My heart jumped when I came across the paperwork for Mj’s first evaluation at three years old. It brought back so many memories of how I felt at that time. I was scared, confused, angry, overwhelmed and lonely. At that same time I was hopeful and I just knew I loved and wanted to help my little boy. I call it a “hurricane of emotions.” My feelings were like a whirlwind, tossing back-and-forth and around. I sat for a moment- sitting, thinking, reflecting, about the years that have gone by. I am still on a mission to continue helping my son. At times I am still scared and even overwhelmed, but I am so thankful for how far MJ has come. So thankful that he is a happy child. So thankful that he has friends. So thankful that I see him becoming a little more independent as time passes. The intake meeting went very well. They described all of the clubs and activities that they had to offer, as well as offerings for my daughter! As for today, there is no “hurricane of emotions.” I am hopeful…let’s see what’s in store.
MJ 8 years old
Due to the Social Skills group that MJ is attending, I found out about additional activities that I could sign MJ up for through another company. I already know one parent who has her son there and she absolutely loves it. The awesome thing is that it’s literally 10 minutes away from my home ( look at God)! I decided to go to a parent meeting/tour to check out the facility. The director literally said everything any special needs parent would want to hear. All the parents there looked like kids in a candy store! We were hanging on her every word. She spoke about the fact that our kids will always be accepted there. She emphasized the training that all of the therapists and employees have. She talked about the fact that they have sleepovers for our kids, birthday parties for our kids, girls and boys night out (basically everything our kids are usually not invited to or just don’t have the opportunities to do). They have art classes, lego clubs, drama classes, and music therapy among many other things! I was really impressed with the huge playground they had and the on-site house for teaching life skills. My next step is to complete the intake with MJ. I am hoping to do that within the next two weeks! I am hopeful and totally looking forward to this.
This picture shows some of the wonderful therapists that work with MJ every week during his social skills group. He is making great progress and really looks forward to going (which I believe is partly because they are all beautiful)! I notice that he is initiating conversation more and his conversations are more reciprocal instead of sounding like an interview lol. We have seven more weeks in the program and we are excited to see what more he learns.
This past week MJ had homework for his Social Skills group. He had to call someone from the class and give information about himself. He also had to remember to ask the classmate about himself. I was very nervous about the call because MJ’s processing time is sometimes slow. There have been times when we’ll ask him a question and he’ll answer it in about 5 minutes. That is a long time to wait for simple answers. Anyhow, When he made the call he said, “hello” then looked at me and said, “what do I say next!” It was so difficult not to tell him exactly what to say! Prior to the phone call, I did write one question down that he could ask his classmate. I pointed to the question and he said, “what did you do today?” After that, they had a conversation on the phone. It was exciting to see him go back and forth in conversation on his own. Through the conversation, he found out that his classmate enjoyed swimming just like he did. They were on the phone for about 5 minutes which was actually great for his first time speaking to this person. With continued practice, we are hoping that this becomes easier for him.
Recently I received an email that outlined a social skills group for kids of different ages. In the past, We have found that our insurance never covered these types of programs/therapy. It was always thousands of dollars per year for this type of therapy. As MJ is getting older, we are finding that it is crucial for him to receive additional help in this area. As it stands, MJ believes EVERYONE is nice and EVERYONE is his friend. He needs help with learning what a “real” friend is, what an acquaintance is, and how to have reciprocal communication with people. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that our insurance did cover it! The sessions are for an hour and a half, once per week. MJ works on various skills with kids in his age group. He even has homework that will help reinforce the skills that he learns during the group. We just had our first session and so far he did great! He seemed to enjoy it and wants to go back! I am praying that this is beneficial for him and that he can take these skills and use them in his life.
Recently MJ said something that we’ve never heard before. One night on the way to bed he said, “But Brian has a watch and I don’t.” I immediately said, “OK MJ do you want a watch?” His reply was, “yes!” This may not seem like a big deal to most people but it is for us. MJ rarely shows interest in material things and in a weird way his sudden interest in a watch made us happy. I decided to email his teacher and inquire about his friend’s watch. This was the reply from his teacher:
“That is so funny. He has a digital watch that lights up. He has more than one watch. Each one of them have a character theme. Marcus gave this same friend his blue Autism Awareness wristband. This means that they are officially “Best Friends” from what they told me. Just to let you know Marcus is starting to dance and sing more…lol.”
I have been looking for his wristband for over a week. I had no idea that he gave it to his friend. According to his teacher’s response, it sounds as though he and “Brian” are really great friends. The fact that he is singing and dancing at school is completely hilarious to me. Singing, we are accustomed to seeing him do but he very rarely dances at home! I wish that there was some way for me to “spy” on him while he is at school. I would love to see how he socially behaves in that environment. The “school MJ” is apparently a bit different than the “home MJ.”