Thursday, 13 October 2016

It Takes A Village

"Your son meets the criteria for a diagnosis of autism."

The words still sting a bit.

It's been two weeks since my husband and I sat in the office following Little C's assessment.

It was a surprise, and it wasn't a surprise.
It was definitely surreal, hearing those words spoken.
It was definitely emotional.
It was definitely hard to hear.

To be honest, C was a total rockstar at the assessment. I was (and still am) so very proud of him. He immediately took to the team and seemed to have fun. He showed off all his skills - pretend play, talking, letters, colours, shapes, fine motor, gross motor, puzzles, matching, and so much more. Sometimes he did more than I expected, and sometimes I knew he could do better, but that's okay. It was a long day, and he can't be 100% all the time.

Honestly, the best part of the day was that I got to sit back and watch. I couldn't interject or clarify anything for him, so I had to just sit, and watch in amazement. It made me realize just how far he's come in the past year. This time last year, we were just starting to work with a Speech Language Pathologist. Since then, there have been so many changes in him. A year ago, he couldn't say any words. Now he has many, many words, and his vocabulary grows every day. He also seems to understand EVERYTHING.  A year ago, he couldn't sit still for 2 minutes and now he can sit through a 30 minute SLP session, with very little complaining. He is making much better eye contact, and although it takes him a little while to warm up to new places and faces, he is much more friendly with new people.

In the end, the diagnosis was made. He has autism. We had a feeling it would come, but it was still hard to hear. Sitting in that room and listening to the psychologist, I couldn't seem to process what I was hearing. In the weeks leading up to the assessment, I found myself saying to my husband, "We have to be prepared for the chance that he could be diagnosed." We had talked a lot about how it didn't really change anything. C would still be the same awesome kid. We'd still be the luckiest parents to have him as our son. And we would still work on what he needed to work on, just as we always have. Still. It was hard to hear the words. The assessment team was very nice and very supportive and gave us time to process, let it sink in a little, and talk it out with them.

We made it clear that C is so much more than a label, and we wouldn't use it as an excuse. We'll keep working, just as we have up to this point. He is a loving, funny, smart little boy, and I would never wish him to be any different than he is.  This new word is just one small piece of him.

I'm a firm believer that in the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." With this diagnosis, our village has grown. That's comforting to realize, when there are so many things I'm not sure of. It's nice to know we're not alone.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Finally, Fall!

It's officially fall! My absolute favourite season. Cozy clothes, warm drinks, colourful leaves, crisp air. I love it all.

I've been working WAY too hard lately. In addition to the craziness of a new school year, with a new position, I have been doing some busy volunteer work and also decided to take on a little side project. Needless to say, it's been a bit crazy.  There hasn't been nearly enough fun in my life, so I thought I'd make a little list of things I would like to do this fall. Hopefully, I can figure out a way to make them all happen!

1.  Go apple picking
2.  Decorate our yard for fall
3.  Carve pumpkins
4.  Enjoy a walk in the park, to enjoy the fall colours
5.  Take a drive up to Fredericton, stopping at all the farm stands
6.  Make pickles
7.  Visit Kings Landing
8.  When September is over, make pumpkin cookies
9.  Find a Halloween costume for C.
10.  Plan something special for C's 3rd birthday!
11.  Jump in puddles
12.  Get some fall candles from Bath & Body Works
13.  Make some Halloween Crafts
14.  Take fun fall photos
15.  Host Thanksgiving Day dinner!
16.  Go to the Moncton Zoo
17.  Thanksgiving crafts!
18.  Fall Nature Hunt / I Spy Walk
19.  Make Applesauce
20.  Sit back, relax, and breathe.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

"Ma" - It's Music to My Ears

I can't get enough of it! Little C  has started calling me "Ma" all the time. When I see him in the morning, he grins and yells, "Ma!" People continue to tell me how much I will eventually tire of hearing him, but I still can't imagine that day! Each syllable is like music to my ears, especially when he says, "Ma." Some days I tear up just listening to him. I'm so proud of my little guy!

He's come such a long way since April, when he only had one word that he would use regularly. Now, he's starting to string words together, like "Pwease Ma!", "Eed Pwease" (read please), and "Ma, D" (Ma, I'm done!) He also says his alphabet all by himself and has about 20 other words. His expressive language is exploding!

We have two weeks until his assessment with the developmental clinic, and I'm nervous. I shouldn't be, and am not afraid of what they actually say, but I am afraid that they won't see what I see. I mean, how can they? These strangers only get to see him for a few hours, in a little room at the hospital. C can be shy, so what if they don't see his personality? What if they don't see the boy who loves to joke and kid around, climb, slide, swing, and explore? Will he say the alphabet for them or read a book? Will he eagerly participate and stay focused for as long as he does with his speech language therapist?

Honestly, I don't know. Maybe he will, maybe he won't. At the end of the day, I know the truth. My husband knows the truth. So do the people who are close to him. We know how awesome his is, and that won't change. Maybe at the end of the day he'll have a label attached to him, and maybe not. That's the part I'm not actually worried about. I just want them to see him like we do. To me, he's perfect, and every time I hear him say, "Ma!" I know that I'm right.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Sugar Update

I've been off sugar for 12 days. Well, 12 minus 2 days.  With the Cancer Society's Sugar Free September, friends and family can purchase a "Golden Ticket," so you can have a treat. I had two golden tickets last week, which was pretty "sweet." I got to enjoy a couple of oatmeal cookies and a salted caramel mocha from Starbucks.

So, how is it? I can honestly say, that I'm doing okay. I think I'm lucky that I don't put sugar in my tea or coffee and had already gotten rid of most sugary drinks like juice and pop from my diet. I've also never been one for artificial sweeteners and quit them a long time ago. I do have a major addiction to cupcakes, cookies, and any other baked good laced with sugar.

Am I noticing anything positive? Lots! Fewer headaches, more energy, better quality sleep, better outlook, less frustration, clearer head, and stress is much easier to manage.

I've learned three things so far:

1. Sugar is in everything. I am really shocked when I read labels! I now find myself randomly looking at labels to see if sugar is listed... and it usually is, in some form or another. Even more shocking is how high it appears in the ingredient list. It's kind of scary how much sugar you can eat when you don't even think you're eating sweet foods.

2. I snacked a lot. Without giving myself the option of anything sugary, I find myself asking myself if I'm really hungry. Most often, the answer is no. I've always been a mindless sugar-obsessed snacker, so this has been a pretty big revelation for me.

3. Quitting sugar has had a measurable affect my health. In 12 days, I've lost 5 pounds. This is pretty major for me, because it takes me a long time to lose weight. Never more than a pound a week, when I'm really trying.

4. My husband eats a LOT of sugar. This may be even more scary for me. I don't think he can quit it either. Something will have to change. For him, for me, and for our son. Any advice on how I can help that happen?

I have another 18 days to go, and I think I can do it. After that time, I may start integrating some sugar back into my diet, but I definitely don't want to go back to the way things were. I feel healthier, happier, rested, and don't want that changing!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

September Challenge: Sugar Free!

I'm going sugar free! I'm not sure if I should end that with an exclamation point. I guess I have strong feelings about it. I'm scared! I think I have a genuine addiction to sugar. My sweet tooth doesn't quit. Seriously. You'll never hear me say, "Wow, that's too sweet to finish." When others are saying that, I'm usually licking the last few crumbs off my plate. Needless to say, I think this is a good challenge for me.

I had been thinking about trying to cut out a few things, like sweets, to help me get rid of some bad habits. Then, one day last week, I saw that the Canadian Cancer Society was hosting "Sugar Free September." I thought it was perfect timing, and provided me with some accountability. You sign up to take on the challenge of going sugar-free for 30 days to help raise funds for the Cancer Society. Sugar free means no cookies, candies, and sugar filled coffee. You see, our diets are filled with added sugar, which can lead to weight gain, which increases the risk of cancer.

So, how serious is this? Well, I don't have to avoid ALL sugar, just ADDED sugar. To do this, I have to read the ingredient lists. If it has sugar (glucose, sucrose, fructose, fake sugar) I can't have it. Healthy foods that contain sugar are fine. So, I can eat an apple, but I can't have an apple with caramel dip. The website helps you figure out what's in and out:

What's in?

  • Water
  • Tea and Coffee (no sugar added)
  • Sugar-free breakfast foods
  • homemade dressings
  • Fresh fruit, nuts and seeds
  • Plain or greek-style yogurt

What's out?
  • Baked goods, desserts, candies, sweets
  • Coffee or tea with sugar
  • Sugary condiments and savory sauces
  • Commercial, processed cereals
  • Sugary drinks

I decided to do this for my health and to raise a little money for one of my favourite charities. Honestly, I would really like to overcome my addiction to sugar. I've been trying to cut back for about a week, to get myself prepared. I avoided the baked goods in the staff room, which was tough. I have also been eating more fruit.

At this point, I'm on day 3 of being sugar free, and I have to say, it's tough! I have learned that everything has added sugar in it - even mayonnaise! If I get nothing else out of this, I have learned to look a little closer at the labels on food.

It's been hard to eat modified versions of some of my go-to foods. I typically have oatmeal for breakfast a few times a week, and it's hard to not add a little maple syrup, like I normally do. I tried blueberries one day and natural peanut butter the next, but it just wasn't the same. I think, by the end of the month, if I could eat oatmeal with just a few blueberries or a spoonful of peanut butter added to it, and I like it, I will call it a win. That will be my test.

Now, I need to go online and find some sugar free snack ideas... so I don't go and get a piece of chocolate from the kitchen!

If you want to give me a little encouragement, you can sponsor my attempt to go sugar free in September! Or, better still, JOIN me!! Try going sugar free and let me know what you learn from the experience.