Monday, April 8, 2013

The Beginning of our Journey with ASD

I shared my love letter to ASD in my Facebook wall and the response was just awesome. People who I haven't talked or seen in ages were liking and sending me words of encouragement, support, and admiration. I shared Milo's diagnosis not to gain likes or display my brilliant mothering skills (insert evil laugh here), but to raise awareness one person at a time. I am now inspired to write again. This blog has now a defined purpose, which is to share our journey with autism. I am not an expert on autism or motherhood, but I am expert when it comes to Milo.

I know there are already tons of personal blogs out there telling stories of autism and how they are coping. I'm not promising that mine will be different, but you've seen one person with autism and you've only seen one person with it. People under the spectrum are all wired differently. What applies to Milo is not necessary applicable to other persons with autism (PWA) and vice versa.

To every journey, there is a beginning and this is how ours started:

Milo looked like a "normal" kid. He liked (and still likes) Jollibee, sang the ABC, counted one to ten, identified objects, etc. etc. But, he liked to play alone, got frustrated when his toys are disturbed, slept at 4 o'clock in the morning, liked wearing his same green shirt everyday. He knew his ABCs well that he can recite it ZYX. He counted to ten in English, Tagalog, Ilocano, and Spanish. He read simple words, added large sums of numbers, knew the colors of the rainbows and their respective shades, operated the computer, etc. etc. All this he did excellently before he was four. He didn't like sudden loud sounds or he wasn't looking in your eyes when he talks to you. He ignores you when you call him. He was not your typical boy and it didn't raise alarm for us. We just let him be.

Before he started nursery last June 2012, I was already scouting for professionals who assess children for giftedness. I wanted him assessed so I can properly guide him and not for anything else. If it, indeed, turns out he is a math genius, well and good, but, if not, still well and good.

He started nursery that June without an assessment as the earliest schedule we could book was in October and I was looking as early as April. By July, Milo's language teacher wanted to talk me and I was nervous. What could've my kid done? Has he misbehaved too much in school? I went right away and his teacher told me that:
  1. When Milo's done with his seatwork, he'd hum;
  2. He'd also go to the the toys shelf and play by himself;
  3. He writes very "madiin";
  4. He's not very sociable; and
  5. He reads very well, but unable to totally grasp the concept of what he has read.
Milo's teacher advised me to have him assessed and right there then and then, I already knew that she was referring to another kind of assessment, not for giftedness, but for his quirkiness. I said OK right away and his class adviser was rather surprised with my cooperation. Why would I delay something that could probably help me understand my child more? Up to this day, I do not regret saying "yes".

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Love Letter to ASD

Dear Autism Spectrum Disorder,

You've been with us for over six months now and I haven't formally welcomed you for I was secretly wishing that you would go away. I guess you fell in love with Milo, my little man, that you decided to stay. Since I cannot force you to leave, I'm welcoming you as a part of the family. I don't hate you, but I don't actually like you either. I don't like you because I don't totally understand you. Yet. Even with all the research and reading I've done, I still cannot fathom your entirety. I don't like you because you're pricey. You're expensive to maintain, but I'm thankful I have my mom and sister to help me with my Milo's occupational therapies and comprehension lessons. If not for your complexity and expenses, I might even fall in love with you for you have made my little man wonderfully special. Without you, Milo would just be another boy. You blessed him with another kind of giftedness. You gave me the opportunity to realize that I have more love, patience, and understanding to give than I realized.

Thank you for the gift of love for numbers. As early as three years old, he was adding large numbers while reading them properly. He can count from 1-10 in seven languages and up to a hundred in four languages. He did all these by himself by watching videos on YouTube. Yes, he knows how to operate gadgets and search the web. I let him without restrictions because I know he is not interested in sex and violence.

Thank you for the gift of reading. If I remember correctly, he was able to read short words even before he turned three. I was amazed and did not realize that it was already you. I only thought that he was a smart kid. He is a smart kid. Without a doubt. However, his therapists are working on his comprehension skills. While he can read like an 8-year old, they worry that he is unable to grasp the context of what he is reading. I'm not worried at all because I am confident that he understands. You only have to be patient with him.

Thank you for the gift of photographic memory. He remembers when I scold him. Even the shirt I was wearing. He remembers all the birthdays of the members of our household. From his lolo to our kasambahays. He remembers who owns what shirt or shoes. He remembers passwords. He remembers that good and bad that you have done to him. If you want something remembered, you should tell it to him and he would keep in in his memory. I just wish that we he grows up, he'll remember all the love and happiness we shared with him.

Thank you for the gift of words. I understand that other persons in the spectrum are non-verbal and they are unable to say "Mommy". I have now more appreciation of the words he says because I know someone, somewhere, is longing to hear "Mommy".

Thank you for the gift of touch. Some persons in the spectrum are sensitive to touch, but not Milo. You can hug him. Kiss him. Cuddle him. Tickle him. There are moments when he doesn't want to be touched, but it's very minimal. Every moment spent with my little man is truly magical.

Thank you for the gift of social interaction. Surprisingly, Milo has learned to socialize and make friends. His classmates adore him because he is effortlessly funny.

Thank you for the gift of emotion. While he truly does not understand all of it, he knows happiness and sadness. He knows laughter and tears. Someday, I know, he will fall in love. 

For the record, I am not romanticizing my relationship with you. Since it looks like we'll be spending a lifetime together, we might as well be partners. However, it doesn't mean that you will define my son.  He is Milo. The boy who I love with all my being and NOT the boy with autism. He is Milo and you are autism. Let him be my little man and I'll let you to be you.

Since you are now a part of our family, you go by our rules. First, we will not use autism as an excuse to get special treatment. Next, we will be cooperative at all times. I know you need your therapies to keep you at bay and I will see to it that you get these. In return, you promise to behave at all times. Lastly, we will not let others put us down. I will not allow people bullying us or pitying us. I will stand up for you and for my son.

People should understand that you are not a disease. You are a condition that needs extra love, a lot of patience and understanding, and tons of acceptance. I have all of that to give you because I love my son to infinity and beyond.

Milo is just four. You have a lifetime of togetherness. You are a challenge and not a roadblock. You are both a blessing and a curse. But I am confident that Milo will bring out the best in the both of you. Again, welcome to our family and let's make the most out of this journey.

With extra love, a lot of patience and understanding, and tons of acceptance,

Milo's Mommy

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 Goals

I've stop making new year's resolutions a few years ago. I cannot keep them. So, in exchange of resolutions, I've made goals. To differentiate a resolution from a goal, according to, " If there is a specific achievement it's a goal, but permanent changes to your life are resolutions since you keep doing them every day and not just until a specific achievement is reached."

For 2013, I have set seven goals. One for each day of the week.

Meatless Mondays
Tubig Tuesdays

Workout Wednesdays

Thankful Thursdays
Finances Friday
Sama-sama Saturdays
Simba Sundays
My goals are no brainers. but it doesn't mean that they are easy to achieve. They are very doable, but would take some effort on my part. I'm a carnivore and a Coke drinker, so a day without meat or Coke is difficult for me. Working out is also difficult for me. Some goals are easier than the others.  I could do this. I will do this. Wish me luck, though.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hello, 2013!!!


It's officially 2013 on my side of the world. Cheers to better days ahead!

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