I’ll Never Stop Trying

As some of you may know, Griffin has been having a really hard time with people that smoke. He just couldn’t seem to understand why someone would have that habit when they knew it was harmful to their health and to other people.

We tried everything from sharing that smoking is a habit, just like his cursing. We also shared that people he knows and loves have smoked at one time and that he knows people that still do smoke.

He was able to give love and understanding to the people he knew but walking past a smoker he didn’t know was a whole other thing. He would make a gagging gesture or whisper in my ear that they were idiots.

We tried positive re-enforcement. I told him to squeeze my hand or tell me he loves me when we saw a smoker. These suggestions worked for a minute but then he was back to reacting in a negative way.

One of our family mantras is “We’ll never stop trying.” Four of Griffin’s great-grandparents smoked. Even though he never met any of them I was inspired to tell him to think of smokers this way, “Griffin, what if every time you see a smoker it’s one of your great-grandparents saying “Hello” and reminding you to be kind?” Griffin loved the idea and now when we walk by a smoker he asks “Is that Grandpa Fernando? Is that Grandma Zonie? That’s Grandma Kay saying hello! Is that Papa Clem?”

It’s a wacky way to remember our grandparents but I know they’re in on it and are getting a big chuckle out of it.

We’ll Never Stop Trying and have angels helping us along the way 🙂

There’s Always Room For A New Friend In Griffin’s World

One of the first things I’m asked when I mention Griffin is homeschooled is “Aren’t you worried about his socialization?” or “How does he socialize?” I understand the questions and wanted to share an example of one of the many opportunities Griffin has had to socialize and connect with others.

This is a thank you card he made for Al, a window cleaner who works in our neighborhood. The two have talked about how they both are writers and artists. Al always speaks words of positivity and the knowing that Griffin is going to do great things in this word.

With Griffin’s permission I wanted to share the thank you card he wrote for Al. I love the positivity Griffin includes in his card for Al.

Mom, You’re The Best Mom A 14 Year Old Could Ask For

This past week Griffin was expressing to me how he feels like he doesn’t have anything just for himself in regards to technology. He doesn’t have a cell phone and his computer and video game time is very limited and monitored.

The conversation started because he wanted to keep his portable DVD player in his room. This seems innocent enough but with Griffin limits are really important.

“Mom, you know how you’ve said how you feel like you don’t have anything just for yourself? That’s how I feel when it comes to technology.”

“Griffin, I really understand what you’re talking about. Let’s figure this out together.”

“Mom, thank you for understanding and talking with me about this. You’re the best mom a 14 year old could ask for.”

“Griffin it’s because you calmly spoke to me about how you felt. You were so mature, I really appreciate that.”

This was a great moment for both of us. Griffin realized that I had heard him and that I wanted to work with him to find a solution. And I was reminded of how far he’s come and that he’s ready for more independence.

Despite that fact that he drives me crazy, Griffin is the best 14 year old this mom could ask for 🙂

Flexibility= A Teaching Moment For G and a New Ukulele For Me!

The other week we were at an appointment near our house. We rode the train there but it was such a beautiful day that I suggested we walk home. Griffin was fine with that and away we went.

As we walked we passed a music shop and Griffin asked if we could go in. I was feeling tired and sweating like a champ but I said “yes” and in we went. As we looked around I noticed a sheet that was promoting a contest to win a ukulele. All you had to do was sign your name and leave your email to enter the contest. There were no other names on it so I wasn’t sure if it was still going on but I signed my name anyway.

We left shortly after and I didn’t give winning the ukulele another thought.

The following evening I received a message that I had won the ukulele. This was just the boost I needed to get back to playing. I haven’t been playing my ukulele for awhile for many reasons, more on that to come later.

Flexibility is a challenge for Griffin. As with many moments we encounter, I took this as an opportunity to share with Griffin the importance of being flexible.

I told Griffin that if he hadn’t have been flexible with walking instead of taking the train, we wouldn’t have walked pass the music shop. If I hadn’t been flexible about going into the shop and instead just went straight home I wouldn’t have seen the contest to win a new ukulele and I wouldn’t have had the chance to win it.

A lot of change is happening for us this coming fall. I hope that not only Griffin can be flexible but that I can be as well. I hope that we can trust in the changes and in ourselves.

You Just Never Know

This morning as I was riding the bus to an appointment, I noticed a young man get on the bus. Closely behind him was a woman who appeared to be his therapist or aide.

The two of them approached me and the woman directed the young man to sit next to me. At one point he asked her what their stop was. She gave him a clue that the stop started with an “R” and then he said Roosevelt which just happened to be the stop I was also getting off at. I glanced over at her and gave her a smile.

I immediately started tearing up. I was thinking about Griffin and the work his therapists do with him, including working on taking the bus and train. I was thinking of this boy’s parents, imagining all that we had in common. How many nights had they stayed awake wondering if their child would be independent? How many nights had they stayed awake worrying if they would be able to find amazing people to work with their son, people that would treat him with the respect and patience he deserved?

I thought about this young man, trying to navigate the world. What does the world sound and look like to him? I thought about how he was learning to ride a bus, a skill that many people often take for granted.

I thought about this therapist and the work she was doing. As they started to get off the bus she showed him how to pull the wire down to signal to the bus driver that they wanted to get off. She then showed him how to push on the doors so they would open. She was very patient with him.

As we got off the bus I wanted to say something but I was going in a different direction. If I had had the chance I would have shared some of my story with her and I would have thanked her for doing the job she was doing.

This moment reminded me that you never know what someone else is going through. You never know just how much you might have in common with them. I’m grateful to have had this reminder today.

I Wish Things Could Be Less Complicated

There are some days, like today, when it really hits me. I wish it didn’t have to be so complicated.

In an effort to better understand Griffin and his behaviors his therapist wants me to fill out this sheet every time a behavior occurs. I’m to list what happens before the behavior, the behavior, and then whatever consequence he has after the behavior. This all makes perfect sense. I’m just trying to sort through my feelings of guilt, self-doubt, and just plain exhaustion. I’m trying to embrace where we’re at in this moment.

I wouldn’t change Griffin for the world. I just wish I was better at being his mom. I wish it could be easier, even for a moment. I wish I didn’t live in fear and self-doubt. I wish I knew that it would all work out.

I Got A Call From Griffin’s Camp

I got a call from Griffin’s camp this morning. I didn’t answer because I didn’t recognize the number, so they left a message saying to call them back. I immediately panicked thinking he was hurt or that he was having a meltdown. Turns out he had just forgotten to tell me he needed money to go to the movies. I almost started crying when the counselor told me. I’ve never been happier to drop what I was doing to go and bring him the money he needed. It reminded me of this song I wrote that was inspired by the calls I would get when Griffin was in traditional school. I wanted to re-share it with all of you.

Life Imitating Art, Sort Of

The other day Griffin was watching “Full House”, one of his favorite shows. The episode was about Michele and how she started to become embarrassed when Danny would kiss her when he dropped her off at school.

I thought “Geez what is she 6 or 7?” That seemed too young to be embarrassed by your parent kissing you in public.

Fast forward to today. Tom walked with me to drop Griffin off at camp. Griffin picked up his camp shirt that every camper must wear when going on a field trip. As soon as Griffin put the shirt on I noticed a hair on him and tried to remove it. It was at the same time that we were walking over to Griffin’s group. Griffin wanted to introduce Tom to his new camp friends. We stood there for a moment but Griffin couldn’t find the two friends. Tom then motioned to me to leave.

We said our goodbyes and then on his own Griffin gave each of us a kiss and hug.

As we walked back home Tom suggested that maybe I should think about how I am with Griffin when he’s around his friends. “What do you mean?” I asked thinking it was about the kiss. “He wanted to kiss us, who cares what anyone thinks.” “No Missy, I’m not talking about that. You started fixing his hair. I know Griffin isn’t aware or even cares but we should both start thinking about things like that, how we still baby him without meaning to” Tom explained.

Even if it’s not easy to hear, I always appreciate it when Tom see’s things I might not. I immediately understood what he was saying and started obsessing over if his friends saw me doing that and if they would tease him. “No I don’t think they noticed, that’s why I signaled for you to say goodbye” Tom answered.

As Griffin gets older it definitely is becoming more of a challenge figuring out where I fit in. He’s so affectionate and isn’t easily aware of things that might potentially be embarrassing for a teenager.

As his mom, since he might not pull away when it comes to certain situations, I find myself having to, which is really difficult.

I’m going to try to be more aware of how I interact with Griffin and stop myself when I reach for his hair. I have to remind myself that independence is what it’s all about not what his hair looks like.

But the kisses, well as long as he’s the one wanting to give them and doesn’t care what others think, well those we’ll keep.

Something So Simple

Today when I pick Griffin up from camp I will also be picking up one of his friends. The two of them will come back to our house and Griffin’s friend will stay and have dinner with us.

Why am I telling you this, what’s the big deal?

Well even though Griffin is a teenager and a very sweet kid, this has never happened. Sure we’ve gotten together with family friends in the past but this simple act of me picking Griffin and his friend up and then having his friend stay over for dinner is something that has never happened. It’s wonderful and a cause for us to celebrate.

It’s moments like this, moments that I’m sure I would take for granted if our lives were different, that have me beaming with joy.

A simple moment is never simple in our family and for that I am truly grateful!

Griffin Leading The Way

Today is the first day of camp for Griffin. A few days before he started I told him that I was going to miss him and he replied “You’re going to have to not get attached to me.” Um, too late.

When Griffin woke up this morning he told me he had a great idea. “When it’s time for me to introduce myself at camp, I’m going to tell everyone about my ASD. I’m going to let them know that if they have any questions they can ask me.” I reminded him that it was up to him to decide if and when he wanted to share this information. And that I thought it was wonderful that he decided to share this part of himself with people he was meeting for the first time.

I also reminded him that his Aspergers wasn’t an excuse to not do things. That his Aspergers allows him to see and experience the world differently than others do. That it helps explain his needs and that he can do anything anyone else can do, he just may need help and tools.

I’m proud of Griffin for being confident in who he is and for wanting to help others understand ASD. The light in his eyes reminds me that for us sharing our story is what we are meant to do. Griffin is choosing for himself to be an advocate and educator. I couldn’t be prouder!