At 42 Degrees

At 42 Degrees

Thursday, May 21, 2015

When Isaac Graduates From Harvard,...

In 2030 or so when Isaac graduates from Harvard, he won't find the graduation ceremony so difficult to sit through because, no doubt, Isaac will be standing behind the podium giving the graduation address,...but in in the year 2015, Isaac's preschool graduation was a harder slog, and this multi-media representation of Isaac is the closest he came to genuine smile during the entire ordeal. 

In his own matchless style Isaac knows how to rock a mortarboard,
and YES,...this is how he marched, or rather ran into the gymnasium, full speed!

Isaac is not one to be shy about asserting his individuality among his peers.

Or checking to see if Mama and Daddy are possibly noticing his antics.

Post graduation pix,...note the uneaten cake at the reception.

Obligatory pictures for prosperity,...that face says it all. 

Oh dear,...must we wear this cap?

It's tough being a preschooler,...

But let's end on a happier note,...Isaac looking like he's about to crack a joke. 

So was preschool graduation a success? 
Deep breath and a sigh, before I type,...kinda.

Everyone was very excited that Isaac quasi-sat in his chair,
so thumbs up.
And I suppose, it is good that Isaac doesn't have stage fright,
as he elected himself to be a class representative and was quite vocal 
about the ceremony being, "ALL DONE!
Loudly said and emphatically sighed,
Lots of his classmates were in agreement.

The mortarboard was actually pulled down over Isaac's face for most of the ceremony,
and I'd post more pixs, but I couldn't figure out how to block out the other children,
and we respect their privacy,
but trust me, I've got some ADORABLE photos,
because as always Isaac is NEVER dull.

In fact Harvard should already book him for the class of 2030,
and YES, I fully expect our little guy to go to college. 
after all,
Isaac quasi-sat still for his preschool graduation ceremony,
and if that doesn't spell: H-O-P-E,
nothing will.

Until I post again,...may God bless and keep you!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Isaac Wore A Little Red Apron,...

Fun can be exhausting,...

And what fun Isaac had participating in an Autism charity fundraiser,...which was an Art Fest where individuals on the spectrum were invited to create works of art,...which will be auctioned off to support a local Autism charity that strives to support and encourage children with autism and their families too. 

Art and Crafts hasn't been a strength for Isaac,...we've tried, and keep trying, but to a small degree Apraxia also affects Isaac's grip, making color and painting more a therapy chore, than fun, and there is those pesky sensory issues,...soft and gooey is hard to avoid with glue and paint and play dough and such. 

So,...Isaac started out wearing a little red apron,...but we sadly didn't get a picture,...but that's Ok,
because after Isaac went around the room to the different tables with their different art mediums,
the first time, in that little red apron,...he was kinda, "Meh." 
and we were kinda disappointed, but not too surprised,
and we were like, "Oh well, we tried."
But when Isaac turned in his red apron, he automatically reached for a green,
and just so you know there was a rainbow of art colored aprons to choose from,
and Isaac was determined to wear them ALL!!!!

Isaac was also determined to do each table, again, and again, and again,
systematically going from table to table,
with bright and cheery, "HI!" 
which meant, "Hi, I am back! Where is my canvas?"
Delighted and very amused, the volunteers were real sports about getting out fresh materials.

A very creative artist, Isaac managed to create his creations
without actually touching any of his mediums.
Hand over hand, is a therapy tool, which Isaac skillfully employed,
putting his hand over ours to direct,
the paint,
and AVOID contact!!!

Bubble painting was a great interest to Isaac, he LOVES bubbles,
almost as much as he loves giving directions. 

When using a colored rubber balls for the tub painting,
Isaac was exacting that green balls, go in green paint,
red balls, red paint,
yellow balls, yellow paint,
purple balls,...well you get the picture,
of the picture Isaac was attempting to create.
Systematic Chaos,...could describe Isaac's artistic style.
By the time he was done, Isaac refined his unique system to a fine art,
as our little guy is very good at giving directions,
no matter how limited his speech. 

However as Isaac got more comfortable with his surroundings and
with the materials and volunteers,
he did try to go solo on a few projects,...

Try is the optimal word,...or a better description was Isaac gave it some thought.
and his conclusion is that our hands should get messy,
and his aprons could stay, 

Face painting was offered by a very skilled artist, and Isaac was INTRIGUED 
to see the children running around transformed into mermaids, and princesses,
and yes,...a few skulls were chosen by older youth,
Isaac thought it was all very interesting. 

Going on a hunch, while Isaac was occupied and the face painting booth empty,
I requested a butterfly on the back of my hand,
because Isaac likes butterflies and he likes to put stickers on me.

WOW,...what a good call!
Isaac took one look at that butterfly and RAN to the face painting booth,
 to choose a design. 
The shark was suppose to go on the face, and the flaming soccer ball on the legs,
but we knew neither would fly with Isaac's sensory inputs,
so we encouraged
and Isaac did great,
except when the artist used white paint,
he thought it was lotion, 
and had a mini-freak,
but the artist was super quick to blend in the white,
and Isaac recovered,
and was utterly delighted with his adorned arms. 

and YES, I wrote that in all-caps, because I would love to scream
it from the rooftops.
Our little guy was so brave to try something so very challenging. 

 And what fun we had admiring each other,...for about fifteen minutes,
then reality set in,
and Isaac was quite emphatic about getting, "ALL CLEAN!!!"
Thankfully the paint easy wiped off without a trace,
but we still have the photos,...undeniable proof. 

Appreciation was shown to the the budding artists
a treasure chest full of toys,
"Take your pick, Isaac."
What an extraordinary afternoon!!!

And there is more,
as there were EATS,
BBQ, chips, and Isaac's favorite: Diet Coke,

And gourmet popsicles too,
very refreshing for such a hot afternoon.
And of course, Isaac didn't eat his popsicle,
but LOOK,
Isaac is holding a popsicle,
and that's seems small, but it's a IMMENSE leap forward,
and perhaps one day Isaac will taste
a popsicle.
Nothing is impossible,
that was face paint, on Isaac's arm!!!!
Our little guy is growing and maturing and learning
so many things. 

Like paying it forward and helping others,....

And making friends,
Isaac is chary with his hugs and kisses,
even with family. 

But this afternoon, before we left, Isaac ran back into the art pavilion, 
"Hug," said Isaac offering hugs and kisses to the volunteers,
who were so patient with him and so encouraging of his artist endeavors. 

We're not going to forget the afternoon Isaac wore a little red apron,
and a little green apron,
and a little blue apron,
and a little orange apron,

Thank you to everyone who supports Autism charities,
your time and efforts,
make a difference,
for our child and our family!

Until I post again,...may God bless and keep you!

Friday, May 8, 2015

What I Didn't Know About Motherhood

Five years ago when Isaac was born, I felt confidently, and even over-confidently, I confess, that I had a handle on this motherhood game.  

After all, my oldest son was 21 years old, my youngest eighteen, from teething to toilet training to growth spurts to adolescence and even open-heart surgery when my oldest son was 10 months old, eons ago in the past century, and all the concerns in raising a child with a ‘heart-condition’ that needed monitoring, so I wasn’t a rookie. Or so I assumed, then Isaac was born, and everything I thought I knew about motherhood was thrown out the window, because in the face of Autism – realistic expectations, just don’t apply.

Beginning with a severe case of jaundice, which sent Isaac to the NICU for four days, and then two months of bilirubin lights, nothing was typical, or familiar – such as nursing your newborn wearing sunglasses, praying for sunny days in the depths of winter, and vaguely wondering why your precious baby wasn’t soulfully gazing into your eyes when he nursed, once those bright lights were no longer needed.

No patty-cake, no splashing in the bathtub, Isaac was very business-like and polite as a baby: “Do what you have to do, and get it over with” – said his expression during bath-time or when changing his diaper.  It was puzzling, especially since Isaac was clearly so bright – he smiled, he laughed, his expressive face, adorably communicated his needs and wants: food, cuddles, sleep, with giggles interspersed.

And when I say adorable, I do mean ADORABLE!!!

Walking for Isaac was early – eight months old, he crawled to the sofa, stood up and not walked, but ran, no joke, never had I seen such a physically active child, as my youngest son, as he explored the world through gross-motor movement. However, while walking and running and climbing were early – talking for Isaac wasn’t.  Such a bright little guy, Isaac could repeat many words, if he wanted to, but rarely did those words – cheerfully piped, ever reappear.

Strong willed? That wasn’t an unknown, hello my older sons, but Isaac’s level of mental endurance: was. Again, what I thought I knew about raising a toddler went out the window, even as the specter of those double AA’s appeared on our horizon.  In fact when the speech pathologist, gently told me that Isaac had Apraxia, I merely said, “Ok.” – because I had no idea what the motor-processing disorder entailed. Her assessment that Isaac should be flagged for Autism, was a little more worrisome, but again – Autism, to me, was just a word, I had no idea what its impact upon my son meant.

And in many ways I still don't.

Isaac's prognosis for the future is still a huge question mark.

Yet, we have a child with major communication difficulties, to raise,...and HOW at times is also a huge question mark. 

How to engage a child, who won’t engage? How to assess and nurse your child when they are sick, a HUGE and very scary difficulty - for him and us, and it all falls back on communication. How to communicate with a child, who doesn’t seem to attend to what you are saying? How to read to a child, who doesn’t seem to comprehend what you are saying?  Without comprehension, how can you tell your child – how much you love them? 

Well, the love has been easiest of all to overcome,...for these three remain: faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is LOVE. 

Most assuredly Isaac knows he's loved, after all we both survived days and nights of such adventures as the GREAT INSTANT COFFEE SPILL,....eesh it was a mess, our house smelt like Starbucks, but my little guy didn't understand,...what to do, but clean him up, offer kisses and hugs, and pray for wisdom to overcome such communication disconnects,...

Motherhood has highs and lows, this much I knew from raising my older sons. Also Motherhood is a journey and not every day is the pathway straight or smooth, this I understood, and this I could live with, but motherhood and Autism is a different journey: you are blind, your hands are bound, and your feet are hobbled, and you don’t know where you are going – at least at first.

Thank you special needs professionals who dedicate your lives to helping children with special needs – YOU are our guides, lighting our way – like fireflies in the darkness, you shine, illuminating the pathways enough for us to see.

Also, thankfully a mother’s heart is made of stern stuff, even when battered with bewilderment and despair, because no mother would even pretend not to be devastated to have their child endure disabilities – I know, I was, and cried buckets, and then dried my eyes and got to work.

Because, trust me, those bound hands, don’t stay bound long, there is nothing more determined than a determined mama, and I thought I knew about such determination, but Isaac takes everything to the next level.

Like, I never knew I could endure – years, not days, but years, like in over four years of sleep deviation, or begin a blog – open to the world, to share our son’s condition with all the joys and challenges.  I never thought, I’d have to deal with toileting issues, we’ve had to deal with, or nurse a child to the very end boundaries of toddlerhood. I never contemplated the thought, I would have to learn to communicate with my child, by alternative means, or wait so very long to hear him say, “Mama."

Let's not forget the puzzling sensory issues, which make birthday cake icky to a birthday boy. 

Again and again, I say these words, but for me, they ring so true: Isaac experiences the world in a different manner, and he makes sure YOU do, too.  Just tonight, two more Miracle League Buddies, discovered this truth for themselves, and for motherhood – it exponential.

 The joy is exponential as well, and duh, I should have known that, but this go-around with motherhood, keeps taking me by surprise. My youngest son dances through life, so patient dealing with my communication difficulties, because I can’t hear the music, he hears. I can only see that sunshine smile, and those dancing feet, fast and fleet, exuding sheer joy – because to Isaac, life is to be lived.

And as a mother, I thought I knew that, but life with Isaac is not academic: What You Need To Know About Motherhood, In Five Easy Steps. Life with Isaac is to be experienced. My youngest son, barely verbal, teaches me how to live each moment, even as we walk by faith, not by sight, because in many ways – we still don’t know where we are going, but we’re together, and per Isaac’s instructions, we don’t walk, we dance, and it is Isaac who unhobbles my feet and holds my hand during this journey. And it’s Ok, I can’t hear my son’s music, he can, and all I have to do is follow his lead.

This post would not be complete without a shout-out to my older sons, Teddy and Michael, it’s been such a blessing and joy to be a part of their lives to see them grow into such fantastic men. Isaac has good role-models.

Flip cap is Michael, the bearded one is Teddy

And yes, this journey with I.I. is different, and yes there is still so much to motherhood with a special needs child, I don’t know, but you know what? It’s Ok, the Lord is gracious, to help me figure this out, step by step, for my youngest son is challenged, but not incomplete: Isaac is Isaac, and to us, he’s more than a blessing – he’s a sacred trust. Truly it is such a privilege to love and care for this child who brings so much joy to our lives we can barely believe he is ours – Thank you, Lord, Thank you!!!

To every mother out there - Happy Mother's Day!!!

Until I post again,...may God bless and keep you!