I Am That Parent, and My Son Is That Kid

Prior to becoming a parent, I had visions of being a model parent with a model kid. People told me – and I believed them – that I’d be a great parent because I was quirky and fun. I expected to be the mom that my mother was to me: sometimes not my favorite person, but always there and up for a good game.

I would observe other parents with their kids. Oh, I’d do better than them. Why can’t they just control their children? That kid having a temper tantrum? Yeah, I would just talk to my kid and the problem would be averted. In my mind, all any kid ever needed was a good rational explanation. My kids would be perfect. Continue reading

Photos My Son Takes – Storming the Castles

I’ve posted a few times (like here, here, and here) about the photographs my son takes. They’re always amazing, to me at least. He takes photos of seemingly dull things and makes them exciting. We think of his photographs as a window into his perception of the world. No doubt he looks at things differently than we do, as he is on the autism spectrum. Continue reading

Reflections on the Special Olympics

Today my son competed in his first Special Olympics. I admit, I was trepidatious. I know my son is on the Autism spectrum, which is considered a disability. And I know the Special Olympics are for kids with disabilities. Still, my son is physically perfectly normal (albeit on the small side). I couldn’t help but feel that he shouldn’t be at the Special Olympics. I kind of felt bad about it.

Boy was I wrong. Continue reading

Photos My Son Takes

Every parent, of course, thinks that their child is the best and most brilliant at something. I’m no exception. Get ready, because I’m about to gush.

My son is an amazing kid. We have our struggles, as does everyone, but he has some particular issues given that he’s on the Autism spectrum and has ADHD. It often feels like it’s impossible to reach him and that he is incapable of expressing his feelings. Then this happens: Continue reading

Poultry, death, and life-lessons for the autistic

Yesterday morning, I went out to check on our chicks and let the adult hens out for their daily forage. This is part of the usual morning routine. I let the hens out of their coop, but they didn’t race out as they often do, and I didn’t hear the usual cheeping of the chicks coming from the chick’s run, so I peeked in. To my horror, I saw ten piles of feathers. I got closer and realized that I was looking at ten dead chicks, spread throughout the run. I’m not sure what sounds I made at that moment, but they were loud and distressed. I went back into the house and told the husband and son, trying not to completely freak out. They were both initially confused, then upset.

On one level, it seems kind of silly to be distraught about chickens. I mean, they’re just birds, right? People eat them. But, for one, we have been raising them for the last few months from hatchlings. They’re cute as hell, and many of them have developed recognizable personalities and some even had names. We’ve been completely responsible for their health and welfare. That they died – were killed – makes me feel like the ultimate in horrible parents.

Another reason to be distressed is that at least one of them ‘belonged’ to the boy. I don’t know if there were others that the boy was fond of but Ben, our only cockerel (soon to be a fabulous rooster), was selected by the boy and they had bonded as much as any person can bond with a non-mammalian species.

Still, this might not seem like much, but consider that my son has ‘high functioning’ autism. Because of his autism, the boy doesn’t express emotion very well. He can’t verbalize very well how he feels, so it’s a challenge to know what he’s thinking. I know he’s taking the chicks’ deaths hard, because he’s dwelling on it. It’s the major topic of conversation with him. He’s now very concerned about predators (we’re pretty sure an opossum got to the chicks). We have to be active to help him assign words to feelings, then teach him appropriate responses. We have to be sure we don’t over-react. We have to ensure that we respond appropriately. So what can we do?

Last night, the husband took the boy to a nearby farm to purchase some more chicks to show him the necessity of moving on. I took it on myself to dig a grave for the dead chicks. When they got home, we had a short but solemn ceremony to bury the chicks, in order to teach to boy how to respectfully mourn such a loss and get ‘closure’ (if there is such a thing). Hopefully all this will help him. At least, I think it helped my husband and I know it helped me.

Now we’ve got six new chicks that we are going to raise. Hopefully, there will be no hideous disasters like this again. Hopefully, the boy will grow from this. Hopefully, you all can gain a positive lesson from this as well.

Thanks for listening.