Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I'm antsy.  I feel like I can't sit still, but I have no choice.

You see, I broke my damned toe last week.  Not just the pinky toe, mind you, which bears less weight, but one of my middle toes, which makes walking an interesting experience.

What do you do for a broken toe, you might ask?  Well, relatively little.  I'm taping it to the adjacent good toe to stabilize it.  I'm taking some painkillers.  I'm elevating it (when I can) and icing it to keep the swelling down.  I'm also forced to rest, take it easy, and lay off the running for a few weeks.

Yes, you heard me right.  Me, for whom running is like breathing, is grounded for a month or more.  It is so incredibly frustrating, too.  Now, I know that running isn't in the cards.  Believe me, I feel the pain when I do something as simple as change the tape out - when the toe isn't being stabilized, it hurts! - so I can imagine that running is probably going to hurt, too.

Yet, there's that looming date in the future - Thanksgiving Day.  The day of the half-marathon.  My training schedule is tight, and I really can't afford to lose several weeks.  It's going to put me back by a lot.

Mostly, I don't like the feeling of not being able to do things for myself.  Sure, I can hobble along okay, but I'm limited in how long I can be on my feet and what kinds of activities I can do.  I am not really a sedentary kind of gal, so being limited on my activities really sucks.

Also, taping my toe has proven to be a bit problematic.  For those of you who have been readers for a while, you probably know that one of Jack's big texture turn-offs is stickers and Band-Aids.  In fact, just the sight of these items causes him to cry.  Woe to Brian or I for wearing a Band-Aid.  Even more woe to us if Jack is the one who needs a bandage.  So, each time he sees my mummified toe, he freaks out a little.  He screamed the first time I saw me taping my toe, so now I do it behind closed doors.

Besides this, there are the usual issues that one has being laid-up while tending to a 3-year old - NT or special needs.

Luckily, I've been able to do a couple of days of cross-training - zero impact to my feet, of course - this week to try to start rehabbing myself back.  It's not a lot, but it makes me feel like I'm doing something - like my training hasn't completely come to a standstill.  I may have moped that first week where I couldn't do anything, but I felt a bit of relief at being able to do some kind of workout, no matter how small.

You know, sometimes our lives take detours.  I am working towards a goal - a dream - of running a half-marathon and, eventually, a full 26.2.  I broke my toe.  It was a bit of a speed bump, but one that I can overcome.

Kinda sounds like a metaphor for having a child with special needs, doesn't it?  Our lives took a detour with our kids, but sometimes we just have to improvise.  So things aren't the way you imagined.  Not unlike with my broken toe, maybe you can cross-train instead of run.  It's not what you expected - you thought you'd be running 10 miles this week - but it's still a step in the right direction.

Here's hoping that with a bit of gentle rehab, I'll be back on track in no time.  Detour or no detour, I'll get there...slowly.

Monday, July 30, 2012

If It Only Came Naturally...

I'm over at the SPD Blogger Network today!

With the school year just a mere 2 weeks away, we're once again facing the challenges of addressing feeding issues while Jack is at school.  So, what do we do?

We move forward, my friends.  We move forward.  Check out my post at the SPD Blogger Network by clicking the link below:


Take a look over there and show them (and me!) some support!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Six Years

Six years.  Has it been that long?

The reality is that Brian and I actually were dating longer than that - 7 years - before we got married.  So, we've been an item for 13 years.  Crazy.

I almost have hesitated to even acknowledge our anniversary, and I'll tell you why.  Luck isn't on our side.  The past two anniversaries have each been spent at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta - a wonderful hospital, for sure, but not where you'd choose to spend an anniversary (or any other day, really).

Two years ago, when Jack was about a year and a half old, our dog Champ - who has since passed away - had bitten Jack on the ear and he needed stitches.  So, our several hours in the emergency room that day led us to cancel our anniversary date that night, and with good reason - our kid was still hopped up on sedatives.

Last year, Jack was scheduled for an endoscopy and a pH study at the beginning of August.  Imagine my surprise when - one week out - they call to tell me that the surgery has been moved up to the end of July and our anniversary.  I acted shocked, but I knew that rescheduling would mean that the procedure would be delayed for several weeks.  So, we spent that anniversary in the hospital in a surgical recovery room rocking our sweet baby and drying his tears as he was connected to so many wires and IVs that it simply broke my heart to look at his little arms and legs.

You can see where I would be wary.  I only just made a reservation for dinner for us, because I was certain that the second I did, some calamity would befall Jack.  Luckily, it hasn't happened so far.

We're actually going to go out for a nice dinner - fondue.  One of my favorites.  I like fondue, because it is a long meal, so it forces us to not rush through it.  We have to sit and actually enjoy each other's company.  Crazy idea, huh?  Probably necessary, though.

It seems strange.  We were teenagers when we started dating.  Now, we've both got grey hair.  I still think he's pretty cute, though.

We've been through college together - though not at the same school.  We've witnessed the beginnings of each other's careers and the end of mine.  We've been together through getting first apartments, getting our first shared apartment (which was much nicer than where I lived before!), and getting a house.  We've seen the joy of the birth of our first child and the heartache when we learned that he had autism.  We've been through IFSP meetings, IEP meetings, and evaluation after evaluation after evaluation.  We've heard grim things about our son and we've learned to look for the positive in each step.

Still, it's unreal.  Six years.  Six years and I can say with all honesty that he's still my best friend.

Happy Anniversary to my husband - and I guess, by default, to myself!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Five Rings

Every four years, the world comes together in a display of unity known as the Summer Olympics.  The Games are touching our lives in many ways in the Reinventing household...

We have a little known tradition in the Reinventing household in which we eat food associated with the host country while we watch the Opening Ceremonies.  Bejing 2008 was a good year - I can put away some Chinese food.  I did cry for about 40 minutes straight until Brian confirmed that the Chinese food did not contain MSG (I was 8 weeks pregnant with Jack).  We broke with tradition for the Vancouver 2010 games, but I couldn't really think of any food that was uniquely Canadian.

For the 2012 games in London, we're having Welsh Rarebit - it's a beer and cheddar fondue that is super easy, delicious, and amazing - as well as Butterbeer.  I tried to convince my husband that the Wizarding World doesn't participate in the Olympics (didn't he see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire?!?  It's the Quidditch World Cup...), but we're still having Butterbeer.  I actually found a recipe on Pinterest - of course - so we'll see how it turns out!  It was either that or I was going to be forced into making Treacle Tart.  He's also thinking that J.K. Rowling will light the Olympic cauldron.  I tend to disagree...

I'm looking forward to the Olympics.  As a child, I remember devouring every moment of the coverage that was shown on TV.  I'm trying to introduce some vocabulary to Jack through the sports and the actions that the athletes are performing.  I'll point out on the commercials - Look, Jack, he's swimming.  He's swimming in a pool! - I'm not sure how much of it he's absorbing, but I'll keep going with it.

Jack does have a program on his iPad that introduces some vocabulary to him through a tracing game.  One of the objects he has to trace is a diamond, which then becomes a picture of a baseball field, and the iPad gives a verbal prompt of "Baseball Field".  As Jack's been doing actual labeling the past few months - yay for labeling and that little bit of sweet progress! - each time he sees an Olympic commercial with a tennis court or soccer game, he yells "Baseball Field!"  So, if you're a soccer player or tennis star, you play on a baseball field according to Jack.

Finally, with the approach of the world coming together in the spirit of friendly athletic competition, I will say that I have taken myself out of the realm of athletic endeavors temporarily.  This past Saturday night, I was walking through my living room - foolishly thinking that I had no use for overhead lighting - and my foot made contact with Jack's trampoline at a high velocity.  The result?  A broken toe.  So, I'm spending my days not running and, more importantly, not training for the half-marathon.  I'm going stir crazy.  I want to run!  Instead, my toes are taped together and I've got an ice pack on them.  I'll be watching the Olympic marathon from the comfort of my couch - pumped full of painkillers - as I long to have my feet hit the pavement.

So, as they say in The Hunger Games, "May the odds be ever in your favor!"  Good luck, Team USA! I hope that all of you enjoy your Opening Ceremonies!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

One Giant Leap

And I did try to get a picture to show you all, but
jumping - for Jack - is a full-body, arm-flapping experience
and as such produces a picture that is all blur.  So, enjoy
my poor representation of a person jumping.
My baby did something for the first time this week, something that was the product of over 16 months of OT and PT and a bunch of hard work on the part of Jack, his therapy team, and us.  It may not have been much - a centimeter, really - but he did it.

Approaching the ripe old age of 3.5 years old, my sweet boy jumped for the first time.  Not just pushing up on his toes, but full-on getting-both-legs-off-the-ground-by-bending-his-knees-and-breaking-the-bonds-of-gravity jumping.

What makes that small leap a giant one for Jack is all that went into it.  First, there were the hours of physical therapy to help strengthen his legs.  Then, add to that all of the occupational therapy which, along with physical therapy, has helped Jack with his motor planning and coordination.  With Jack, jumping was more than just having the strength to get himself off the ground.  It was his brain figuring out how to coordinate all of his movements in order to make that leap.

Think about it.  When you jump, you really don't have to think through the steps, but if you take the time to watch yourself jump, there's a lot involved.  You bend down slightly to give your legs the leverage.  Then, you push up as your feet both leave the ground at the same time.  Finally, your feet have to work together to break your fall, all as your body has to remain upright.  It's a lot for one body to do, yet most of us seem to do it in one fluid, effortless motion.

For Jack, movement has been anything but fluid and effortless, which is why it is a delight to see his little body take flight, even if those first leaps are barely high enough to clear the edge of a rug.

It's a reminder of just how far he's come.  He's made leaps and bounds of progress - literally! - despite what any standardized tests might say.  Even as the gap between him and his same-aged peers may widen, we have come so far from where we were just 16 months ago.  The progress we see is more tangible than that, with increased smiles, less vomiting, and even jumping.  Jumping, people!  My son is jumping!

Now, if you'll excuse me...I'm so happy that I think I'll jump right along with him, just for the delight of getting to witness the spectacle with my own eyes one more time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Consider Your Words

My friends, how I wish that people could simply consider their words prior to speaking them.  If we could all take a moment to think - what will this accomplish and will it hurt anyone? - I truly believe that we could eliminate much of the discord in our lives.

But alas, controversy creates ratings, particularly amongst the "talking heads" of the media.

Yesterday, Joe Scarborough of MSNBC speculated that the shooter at the Aurora, CO movie theater might have been "on the autism scale" (to read and view Scarborough's statements, click --> here <--).

As the mother of a beautiful child on the autism spectrum, I have a few things I'd like to say to Mr. Scarborough, just to set the record straight.  I tried to find a way to send this to him, but I couldn't find a "mail to" link on his webpage (if you know of one, let me know!).  Instead, I'm writing it as an open letter.  Here goes...


Mr. Scarborough,

I am the mother of a beautiful and amazing 3-year old little boy who has autism.  As I understand it, you are not too unlike myself - you are also an autism parent - which is why I was appalled to hear about your comments on your MSNBC show Monday morning.  I know that the pull for ratings is strong, but I would like to point out to you the potential harm you inflicted, not only on my child, but also on your own.

I truly hope you realize what you assumed in your statements.  You said that you just knew that the perpetrator of the horrific crimes in Aurora, CO had to be someone "young, white male, from an affluent neighborhood, disconnected from society".  You then go on to say "Most of it has to do with mental health.  You have these people who are, I believe, probably on the autism scale."

Then, you go on to say this - "I don't know if that's the case here, but it happens more often than not.  People that can walk around in society, they can function on college campuses, they can even excel on college campuses, but they are socially disconnected."

I must ask - as a parent, how would you feel if someone else said the above statements in reference to your son?

You do my child, other autistic children like him, and yours a disservice through perpetuating stereotypes.  First, you perpetuate the stereotype that all people on the autism spectrum are male, Caucasian, and fairly well-off.  That is simply not true.  While 4 out of 5 children on the autism spectrum is male, it is thought that girls are very underrepresented when it comes to actually getting adequately diagnosed.  Also, autism does not favor one race/ethnicity over another.  Autism affects every community.  Assuming that every geeky white guy is on the autism spectrum - not scale - does a disservice to everyone.

Second, autism is not a mental health condition.  It is a developmental disability.  You should know this - the brains of children on the autism spectrum develop differently.  Autism affects almost all aspects of the way affected children develop.  What you speak of - autism and mental illness - are two different things.

Also, claiming that the issue is about mental health or autism (either way) is unfair to both groups.  The vast majority of individuals with a mental illness do not commit violent crimes.  The vast majority of violent criminals do not suffer from mental illness.  Like with so many things, it is a small percentage of individuals who meet your criteria, and they should not be allowed to represent the whole group of individuals with mental illness.

Autistic individuals are actually far more likely to be victims of crime than they are to be the perpetrators.  In fact, the statistics on the percentage of autistic people who will be the victims of either a violent crime or sexually-based crime during their lifetimes are frightening.

Finally, there is your assumption of the autistic individual as "socially disconnected".  There are many people on the autism spectrum who want to have friends, but simply don't know how.  The disconnect comes not from the autistic person themselves, but from their inability to interpret the social cues that the rest of us do so easily.  It is that - along with prejudices that you have perpetuated in your statements - which causes their isolation.  It is the NT among us who shy away from people who are "different" which causes social isolation.  

The thought that autistic people are incapable of feeling and of forming relationships is archaic and harmful.  It perpetuates stereotypes.

Even my son - who many would consider extremely socially challenged and delayed - is not a cold, unfeeling robot.  He smiles.  He finds joy in life.  He delights in his interests.  His laugh is infectious.  That, to me, doesn't seem like someone who is cold and unfeeling.  He struggles to connect with adults and, to a greater degree, peers, but he is a dynamic, wonderful individual.

Sociopathy is not a symptom of autism.  Insinuating that a person who commits such a heinous crime as this is likely autistic only serves to cause people to fear autistic individuals.  As a father, would you want people to look upon your child with fear?

More than this, what will your son think of you when he hears your speculation?  What message does that send to your child?

I'm not asking for an apology.  Instead, I ask that you educate yourself about autism and about what autistic people are truly like.  I'd like to see you invite guests on your show who are on the autism spectrum themselves so that you and your viewers can see just how amazing these individuals - including your own child - truly are.

In conclusion, I'd like you to look at the above picture of my son.  This is not the face of a monster.  It is the face of an angel.


Jeanie - "Reinventing Mommy" - a mother of a beautiful little boy with autism


Update:  Joe Scarborough issued what is - in my opinion - a poor attempt at an apology today, in which he seemed to go on the defensive and missed the point of so many in the autism community.  Obviously, the advocacy on behalf of our children must continue.  We can't allow anyone with access to a TV camera and a Twitter account to use their words so carelessly.  We have to remind everyone that their words have an impact on the lives of thousands of adults and children.

See Scarborough's half-assed (because there's no better way to put it) attempt at an "apology" by clicking below:


Monday, July 23, 2012


It is so sad that life these days seems permeated with tragic events.  I don't remember my childhood being punctuated with various mass shootings, bombings, and other devastation, though I imagine that they existed in some form or another.

These days, with our 24-hour news cycles, it seems that events - like last week's movie theater shootings - can take on a life of their own.  The news will fill with stories of survival and stories of tragedy, but what bothers me most is the semi-celebrity we seem to paint on the perpetrators of such crimes.  These people seem to rise to infamy on the wave of constant discussion and exposure though the news.

Then, I have to ask about the children.  I'm not talking about children affected; I'm talking about the children toddling through our homes.

With Jack, it is so difficult to determine just what he does - or doesn't - understand.  I tell people all the time that he may be wandering around, not making eye contact, and acting like the last thing he is doing is paying attention to you, but he is.  How much of what he hears he processes appropriately, well, that's another story.

I know other parents of children Jack's age who have to field questions about these events.  It is in these times that I count my lucky stars that I don't, because I really don't know what I'd say.

Instead of dwelling on the specifics, I imagine that I would remark that there are some not-so-nice people in this world.  I think that I would really want to apologize to Jack for not giving him a more just world, one in which bad things don't happen to good people.

Thankfully, I'm not at the point where I have to do make those explanations and answer questions.  I do, however, tend to keep the news off more during periods of tragedy, not for lack of compassion for the victims, but so that I control that which Jack sees.  Since we don't know what he can and cannot understand - like so many parents with kids on the spectrum - I err on the side of caution and keep his exposure to such events to a minimum, like I would do for any other child.

As a mother, I will say that I felt pain for the other mothers who were waking up on Friday morning to realize that their children never came home the previous night.  Those mothers who would, rightfully so, have their thoughts wander to a place of fear and worry only to have those very thoughts confirmed.  It serves to just remind us - like I said last week - that we are so fortunate to have our children here with us each and every day, regardless of their challenges and disabilities.  While there may be frustrating aspects about our day and moments in which I think I can't handle anymore, I have to stop and admit that the one thing I absolutely can't handle would be waking up the next morning and not having my angel's sweet face to greet me when I open his bedroom door.  There are many parents who had to wake to that very reality.

It makes you realize what is important in life.  So, hug your children a little tighter.  Count your blessings.  And pray for those who lost their children and who didn't get to wake to their babies presence - be those babies 5 or 50 - this morning.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Only Human

Hello everyone, and happy Friday!  Counting down the hours until the weekend is officially here...

Today I'm over at Hopeful Parents, and I'm getting very real and very honest about an uncomfortable situation for many of us special needs parents - being around NT children.  So, kick off your shoes, get a lovely beverage (it's 5 o'clock somewhere, right?), and join us over there at the link below:


Much love, my friends, and have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fear and Feeding

Today I'm featured over at the SPD Blogger Network!  Check out my post on the unwelcome dinner guest we've been hosting since Jack was born - fear.  That's right - we're talking about feeding again.

Check my post out at the link below:


...and if you haven't checked out SPD Blogger Network, you should really take a look around!  It's a great group of mamas (and dads!) talking about their sensational kids and all that goes along with them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Not the Worst Thing

This is the autism I want the world
to see.  I don't put pictures of meltdowns
up - I don't take them, really - because
I want the world to see this side
of autism.  This isn't anything to
Autism mamas - and dads - what would you say if someone told you that their greatest fear was that their child ended up like yours, that their child would get diagnosed with autism?

I actually engaged someone in an argument about this.  For that, I'm a bit ashamed, because I'm not one for arguing, except when it comes to the world's perception of my son.

In my opinion, this is a case of facts and faking it.

First, to the facts.  There are, in fact, much worse things than a child having autism.  This isn't to diminish the impact of autism on families or our communities by any means.  It doesn't mean that your autism is easy.  I know that autism isn't easy in our house.  No matter how high functioning your child is, autism is never easy.  

However, there are things worse than a child having autism.  What if your child had an incurable fatal condition?  Yes, that would be worse.  That would be my greatest fear.  While I live with autism every day and that, in and of itself, takes the a bit of the fear off of the situation, the one thing I fear more than anything else is losing my child.  I think that most people can agree with that.  So, yes, there are worse things than autism.

In fact, I've had discussions with Dr. DP about this very thing.  He's voiced his views to me on the importance of continuing immunizations on schedule with Jack because of the risks of contracting illnesses from the other children who might also not be getting immunizations.  I've largely agreed and continue to vaccinate my son because, as I've told Dr. DP, I'd rather have an autistic child than no child at all.

I think that no matter how low functioning your child is, everyone can agree with me that you'd gladly take all of that if the alternative was losing your child.  Having a child with autism is the loss of dreams and aspirations, but the physical loss of a child is that plus the loss of that beautiful person in your life altogether.

Now, I've also had people tell me that when someone says to me "My greatest fear is autism" that I should not say that there are worse things than autism.  Why?  Their rationale is that I would be diminishing someone's fear and invalidating it.  In a way, that's exactly what I'm trying to do - not invalidate it necessarily, but diminish it.

Second, there's faking it.  Yes, I have bad days.  This past Saturday was, in fact, a s#!&&y day.  It was a day of meltdowns and all sorts of nastiness.  Autism brings with it a lot of different crap that we deal with and have to learn to manage.  No one signs up to have an autistic child - it just kind of happens.  

However, when I have crappy days, I don't tend to broadcast every detail of that to the world.  Some days I'll put a snippet out there - like Jack gagged/vomited today, which was fun - but I don't include each and every instance.  That's because I feel like there's a fine line that we all must tread between being realistic and bringing despair on people.

Each time I write for this blog or another, I bear in mind who will be reading.  Sure, there will be those of you who have been in the trenches with me and just get it, but there will be others who are not in this same place.  There will be those who are new to this journey, who are scared and looking for someone they can relate to and understand.  There will also be those who are far removed from autism and for whom this may be their first or only exposure to the world of autism.  It is for those souls, as well as the battle-hardened mamas (and dads), that I record words not about despair and anguish, but about hope.  I highlight the good moments, even if they are only fractions of a minute long, because that's the autism I want people to take with them.

I want them to take the image of my angel laying alongside me on his bedroom floor.  I want them to take the vision of my baby - so overflowing with happiness that his arms flap as though he were to take flight.  I want them to remember each hard fought word, glance, and each milestone my boy reaches, because those are the moments worth remembering and living.

Sure, autism is hard.  We do have to highlight the struggles in order to bring awareness, but we also need to show the brilliance that exists.  We need to help people understand that autism isn't something worthy of being your greatest fear.  If we don't, we have people throwing autism around as an insult.  Or, we have mothers killing their infant children because they think they have autism (yes, that really has happened).

I've had people tell me that I shouldn't sugar-coat autism for people.  I don't think I'm doing that.  It's been implied that my own tales of hope aren't representative of the lowest functioning children.  Well, yes and no.  You'd be correct in saying that my experience isn't the same as anyone else's, but I'd argue that even in the lowest functioning children you will find the moments of magic and wonders of progress - no matter how small - if you only have the courage to look for it.

Believe me, I'd had to gain that courage myself.  Just today, I got a reevaluation report that reminded me of just how far we have to go.  Then, tonight as we were drawing his bath, Jack stood fixated on a timer I had running to time our dinner that was in the oven.  He stared smiling and giggling at the timer in a way that simply warmed my heart.  Was it purposeful?  Nope.  Functional?  Not a chance.  Dare I say...normal?  Heck no.  In fact, people would probably say that it's a red flag - fixating on an unusual household object and laughing at nothing.

But is it cute?  Sweet?  Precious to hear the music of my baby's laugh - one which he hasn't outgrown from his infancy?  Absolutely.

That is what I want people to think of when they start to fear autism.  It took practice.  A typical parent would look at that child, cracking up at the digital timer, and look with concern or annoyance.  I, on the other hand, changed my perspective and I see smile there in that big glaring red flag behavior.

We have to be mindful of these things.  I think it's the responsibility of us parents to portray what we want the world to see in our children.  I, for one, don't want anyone looking at my son and saying "Oh, please God, anything but that" when I can imagine no one else whom I would rather have walking at my side than my sweet angel.

I just refuse, for my sake and his, to let autism be the worst thing that has ever happened to me - my greatest fear.

Friday, July 13, 2012


All autism mamas have those stolen moments - the moments when our children don't notice our presence fully - in which we are able to get a brief chance at closeness.  For me, these moments are few and far between.  My boy is a whirling dervish of activity the majority of the day.  If I try to catch him, even to do something like change a diaper, he is a squirming ball of motion just waiting for release.  The times when his little body rests, even just for a minute, are rare.

In the evenings, I get a couple of these stolen moments.  One occurs when Jack is playing his iPad - a reward for the hard work of the day.  He is anything but still as he taps his feet and flaps his hands, but he is momentarily in one place.  As he stands engrossed in whatever game has caught his attention that evening, I rest my cheek on his head and breathe in sweet softness of his blond hair.  It's heavenly.

The second moment is my favorite.  Jack has outgrown his changing table, but hasn't outgrown needing  to be dressed or to have his diaper changed.  So, we've moved his diapering/dressing routine on to the floor.  He's still in the crib, but once he's in a bed we'll move the routine there.

Before naps or bedtime, I lay Jack's "Red" out on the floor.  What is "Red", you say?  Well, Red is a Halo SleepSack.  Yes, Jack still sleeps in Halo SleepSacks, and they actually make them in larger toddler sizes - and hopefully they'll continue to do so.  SleepSack is a mouthful for Jack, so we simply call it "Red".  He has another one as well, which is appropriately called "Blue".

When it's time for "more Red", I lay the SleepSack out on the floor.  Jack flops down on all fours and begins a routine that makes me cringe; he starts to bang his head on the floor.  Now, I would really be cringing if it weren't for the fact that his room has a plush layer of head-cushioning carpeting.  For the moment, there seems to be no harm in the head-banging, and given his past choices in head-banging surfaces - like hardwood flooring and tables - I'll take the carpet any day.

The head-banging lasts for a few moments, as does a strange ritual of breathing in the SleepSack and rubbing his face on the fabric, but then his body lays still on the Red.  I lay myself down on the floor at his side, inching every closer.  Slowly I proceed, for I know that a sudden movement will cause him to push me away or flee.  I creep over until I can place a hand on his back.  At first, I keep my hand still, afraid to alert him to my presence, but then I gently rub his back.  I take in as much of the perfection that is my angel before he decides it is too much.

You see, I hear parents complain about the way that their kids want to only sleep in Mommy and Daddy's big bed, and while I grant everyone the right to complain about the things that are troubling in their lives, I can't help but feel a twinge of jealousy.  Why?  Because I've never been able to get Jack to cuddle up with me or snuggle me.  How I'd love to be able to take a nap with him or let him stay in our room when he's sick or it's stormy outside, but he won't have it.  He won't lay down.  He doesn't want anyone that close.  He'd rather be alone.

When he lays on that Red, I get a few minutes of just laying next to my angel.  I embrace every opportunity I get for any bit of closeness, because I know just how precious they are.  I lay there and wonder if he knows just how much I love him and how much I want to be a part of his world.  I await the day that he lets me cuddle just a little longer, or lets me hug him, or that he calls for me to not leave as I close his bedroom door.

Until then, the stolen moments will have to do.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

We're Doing Okay

It's that time of the year again - a time in which we gather up documents and our magnetic letters for the short trip to Jack's developmental pediatrician.

Now, I know I've said this before, but we really have the best developmental pediatrician on the planet. Seriously.  I know of no other doctor who devotes so much time (an hour, people!) just for follow-up visits.  Dr. DP listens to every concern, every triumph, and every thought that races forth in my haste to remember all of the highs and lows of the last 6 months.

So, why the hell do I feel my anxiety rise before each visit?

Maybe it's like a kind of PTSD.  I've felt it before when I have gone into the building where Jack had his BCW evaluations.  Those were the first evaluations Jack ever had, and it was there that we heard for the first time just how serious our baby's developmental delays really were.  Each time I go back in that building, I feel my heart race and my throat tighten - almost as if I'm hearing the news all over again.

I guess that the same goes for Dr. DP's office.  Really, it's the most inviting doctor's office I've ever been in.  With a staff of just 3, including himself, Dr. DP's office resides in a residential neighborhood in a house not unlike what you or I would live in ourselves.  The waiting room has a fireplace (not functional, of course).  The floors are a lovely hardwood, covered with rugs.  The waiting room has all manner of toys meant to inspire and facilitate Floortime interactions.  It is quiet and cozy.  It feels like home.

It makes it strange that my anxiety rises so in this place of relative comfort, but so it is and, in all likelihood, so it will always be.  I suppose that this place in which I first hear those words - "Your son is on the autism spectrum" - will always bear ghosts of that past memory, no matter how much I try to put it aside.

As with all Dr. DP visits, we reflect on the past 6 months and all that came to bear.  Here is a sampling of what we saw and experienced since our last visit:

  • Jack started special needs preschool
  • Jack started school therapies - including speech, OT, and PT
  • Jack went to ESY
  • Jack's private therapies all increased to twice-weekly, with the exception of PT
  • Jack started a special needs music class
  • Jack's vomiting greatly decreased (woo-hoo!)
  • Jack's eye contact has really improved
Plus, there are the millions - okay, that may be an exaggeration, but mothers are natural braggarts - of little victories that we experience here and there.

The visit was, as always, a pleasant experience in the end.  Dr. DP was very pleased with the level of therapy Jack is receiving right now as well as the school services he is receiving.  He felt that we needed to place a renewed focus on an aspect of Floortime that seems to be eluding Jack - moving from very cause-and-effect play into functional play.  For that, he recommended that we return to Dr. Psych for a consultation as to how we can bolster our Floortime home program.

What was amazing was that Jack, for the first time since we began seeing Dr. DP almost 16 months ago, actually looked his doctor in the eye.  Not just fleeting eye contact, mind you, but a look that brought a brief connection between my boy and his physician.  It brought a smile to the man's face, to which he said "What a boy!"

I agree, Dr. DP.  What a boy!  I'm his mother, so again I'm a bit biased.

What was so nice was to hear someone's reassurance that I am doing everything I should be doing for my boy.  When you have a child with a developmental disability, as a parent you feel lost in the maze.  There simply is no protocol for treating kids on the autism spectrum.  We all have to wing it as we go, tweaking programs until something sticks.  

You constantly question yourself.  What should I do?  Where do I go?  How am I going to afford all of this?  Which therapy do I choose?  What should I fight for with the school system?  

To hear someone tell me "You're doing a good job" is nothing short of a tremendous relief.  I'm on the right path.  What we're doing is having an effect.  We're on our way.  

It also gives me confidence as a mother.  My decisions haven't been bad.  I have chosen wisely.  Perhaps, I do know what's best for my child.  I know that Dr. DP will keep close watch on Jack, seeing him every 6 months, so I don't have to fear too greatly that the future will be completely unguided.

We left with recommendations on safety and sleep - always big issues in our house - and an appointment card with another follow-up scheduled for 6 months from now.  Mostly, I left with my boy in my arms - the most wonderful place for him to be - and the knowledge that I've not only survived the past 16 months, but that I've actually done okay at raising my autistic son so far.  

We're doing okay at this whole special needs parenting thing.  That may change intermittently as the years progress and my baby grows and we tweak and troubleshoot and perfect our methods, but for the time-being, we're doing okay.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Rockets' Red Glare

And the rockets' red glare
The bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night
That our flag was still there.

~ The Star-Spangled Banner


The Fourth of July.  In the Reinventing house, it is a day of revelry, celebration, running, and family.  It is also a day for remembering just what it means to be an American.  My brother-in-law is in the military.  It's important to remember - to always remember - that our freedom is not free; it came with a price and the sacrifice of many.

After I went for my little run down Peachtree Rd. that morning, I came home to one of my favorites - my husband's Baby Back Ribs made with his delicious homemade rub.  My boy was doing okay with the change in routine.  After all, his therapists deserve time off for the holiday, so we had a rare therapy-free day.

In years past, our Fourth of July celebrations have been, like most holidays in our house, pretty low-key.  We attempt to both celebrate and keep the world running as normally as possible for our boy, who simply doesn't handle the deviation from the norm.

In one way, we are very lucky.  Our house is within viewing distance of the big local fireworks extravaganza.  While other families have to camp out hours ahead of time and battle for a select few parking spots, we simply walk out our front door and place a couple of chairs in our front lawn to take in the show.  The neighbors a couple of doors down put on a mini-fireworks display to entertain the neighborhood children in the hour prior to the main event, which makes our corner of the neighborhood and cul-de-sac the "in" place to be.

Previously, we have never attempted to have Jack join us for the fireworks viewing outside.  First, there are the kids.  There are kids everywhere.  Generally, this isn't a situation that Jack handles well.  We could stay in our front yard to escape that, though.

Second, there is the obvious - the fireworks themselves.  Now, Jack is actually a kid who likes visual stimulation.  He tends to get very distracted and, at times, "zoned out" while visually stimming, but it never drives him over the edge.  The only visual stimulation he doesn't like is overhead lighting.  He'd live in a dark house if we'd allow it.  So, I think that the colors and lighting of the fireworks might actually appeal to him.  It would be the noise that would do him in.  The booming would make him cower, scream, and shake.

A typical year, therefore, involved us putting Jack to bed prior to the fireworks.  If he was asleep, they wouldn't wake him up.  We would then sneak outside to the front yard, armed with the baby monitor, and watch the show without our baby's company.

With headphones, many things are
This year, we had a new weapon - the headphones.  You see, I had been able to do two unthinkable things in the previous week - taking Jack to a birthday party (for another special needs friend of his, which was a good place to attempt to take him) and to Trader Joe's (which always causes meltdowns).  Both were possible with the addition - or, rather, reintroduction - of this item to our sensory toolkit.

Armed with headphones, a small backpack, and a favorite Bob Marley CD, we thought we would attempt the impossible.  A lot has changed in the past year.  He's now 3 (almost 3.5!), and he's been in OT for almost a year and a half.  We know why Jack reacts the way he does and we have some strategies for handling it (or at least attempting to handle it).

It was worth a go.

That is, until our boy ran out of gas.  I could tell that he was struggling to keep it together all night.  He was really self-absorbed - wanting to do nothing but play his iPad.  He didn't want us to have lights on when we ate.  He seemed anxious.  Finally, around 8 PM, Jack had enough and was no longer able to hold it together.  Normally, this wouldn't have been too late for him, but he wasn't able to deal with the schedule change any longer.  So, we conceded this year and put our boy to bed.

As my angel lay peacefully sleeping in his crib, we went outside and watched the fireworks.  Looking down the street, I saw my neighbor's son - an energetic boy just a couple of months younger than Jack - as he ran around with the neighborhood kids reveling in the delight of the holiday.  He gleefully shouted - in complete sentences! - to the others as each sparkly firework erupted in the night sky.  I felt a pang of jealousy.

Then, as I sat in my yard, I remembered that my boy is on his own timetable - his own developmental path.  While I may long for my son to be a part of the magical gang of children that inhabits his street - the children he doesn't know even exist - it is enough for me to revel in the fact that we thought it even possible to consider the possibility that Jack could sit in his front yard and watch the fireworks.  A year ago, would we have even considered it?  I think not.

It's okay for Jack to be his own person.  It's okay for him to not see the fireworks for years to come.  It's okay that he doesn't play with the other children.  The only person it matters to is me, but he is happy doing without these things.  He doesn't feel like he's missing out, rather, he prefers it.

As I watched that firework display, my legs sore from my race, with a monitor in hand, I felt some solace in the knowledge that there is always next year.  We can - we will - try again next Independence Day.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Collaboration and a Full Heart

I know that Friday's post was a short one, but I felt that it was effective.  It needed to be said.  Autism needed to become more than a word.  It needed to become a face.  A person.  A life.

The response I got was overwhelming.  Simply overwhelming.  The people who have opened up to me about their children, their lives, and their autism have been inspiring.  I've received such encouragement from each of you.  And for that, I have to say thank you.  Thank you for sharing.  Thank you for giving autism a face and a name.  Thank you for taking the stigma, fear, and mystery out of autism.  For while I can post a single post about what autism looks like in my family, it is each of you - each one of you - who band together with me that truly gives autism a human voice.

The result has been a collaboration of many different voices - each unique, yet similar in our love for our children and desire to educate the world about them.

Please, take a look at our collaboration - What Autistic Looks Like - by clicking --> here <--.

I invite you to take a look at what these wonderful, courageous parents have put together.  It is their voices that are the triumph here, but most of all, it is about our children.

If you would like to join us and post a tribute to your children, to show the world just what autism looks like to you, please contact me through my Facebook page (click --> here <--) to be a part of this exciting collaboration.

For what it's worth, the pressure has created some change.  50 Cent did in fact apologize, though many find the apology somewhat lacking.

Thus, I believe that the advocacy will never end.  No matter where our children are on the spectrum - high or low functioning, or somewhere in between - we cannot rest until the world knows that autism doesn't fall into a nice neat mold of what society perceives it to be.  Autism is beautiful children and adults who have a myriad of abilities and disabilities.  There is no one behavior that every autistic person has.  There is no one "look".  There is no one thing that you can point to in our kids to say, "That makes that person autistic".

We each live with a different autism at home.  We each face struggles.  We each face challenges.  We each see triumphs, no matter how small.  We need to continue to band together to dispel the misconceptions about our kids and to ensure that each and every one of them has a brilliant, open, and fulfilling future.

Much love, my friends.  Thank you for sharing your lives with me.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

I'm over at the SPD Blogger Network today!  Go over there and check out my post!  I'm talking about how the good times are difficult to enjoy, as I find myself waiting for it to all come crashing down.



Friday, July 6, 2012

What Autistic Looks Like

Today's post was going to be about any number of things - the change in locale for our weekly aquatic PT sessions, the fireworks that weren't (big surprise), or any other number of musings from my mind - but it's not.  Instead, it's going to be much shorter, but not for lack of things to say.  It's because the message is short, but needs to be said.

Some of you who are a part of the autism community may have heard about rapper 50 Cent's tweets, in which he insulted a Twitter follower with the following:

"i just saw your picture fool you look autistic"

As if that wasn't enough, he went on to say that he didn't want "no special ed kids" on his timeline.

Holly Robinson Peete, actress and autism super-mama, fired back an open letter response that really says it all.  Brilliantly.  The result?  50 Cent removed the Tweets; however, he never once apologized for the insensitivity.  In my opinion, that's a pretty crappy way to use your star power and influence over millions (in the neighborhood of 8 million Twitter followers, to be exact).

As we all know, autism mamas don't mess around.  We are sleep-deprived, love our children fiercely, and are well accustomed to a fight.  My son is autistic.  He is in special education.  He is not something that should be thrown around as an insult to someone else.  He is the most incredible person in the world - and I am so incredibly proud of everything he has accomplished despite the odds.

Instead of a rant or rave, I just wanted to show the world what autistic looks like.  Our autism looks like this, and I believe this speaks louder than any words I could articulate:

Autistic looks like this beautiful face.

Autistic looks like this - pure joy radiating from my angel.

This is what autistic looks like.  It looks adorable, amazing, and precious.

This is why we all need to continue to share what autism looks like, because clearly there are so many who remain uneducated as to the absolute beauty and joy that resides in each of our children.

Please share with the world - what does autistic look like to you?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Peachtree

July 4th, 2012, 7:44 AM:  I'm standing amongst throngs of strangers.  I scan the crowd.  Not a familiar face in sight.  In many ways, this gives me solace.  This morning isn't about autism.  It isn't about someone else.  It isn't about awareness, or therapy, or the myriad of injustices this world has to offer.  This morning is about me and the 6.2 miles of pavement in between me and my destination.

I raise my face to the sky.  In a rare show of weather's mercy, there was a break in the oppressive heat wave just days before, punctuated by a bit of rain the night before, leaving the skies a bit overcast and the temperature downright pleasant.  The air is clear and I breathe it in deeply.

There is a peace I feel in these moments.  As I close my eyes, I feel a sort of clarity.  There is nothing in the world except for me, this road, and my destination.  This is somewhere that I have wanted to be for years and have never actually undertook.  

I am standing at the starting line of the 2012 AJC Peachtree Road Race - my first Peachtree Road Race.

I look ahead and see the mass of runners begin to move forward.  At first, the crowd is so thick that the only progress to be made is by walking, but within seconds the individuals disperse and I am afforded the room to begin to run.  I feel the slight rise of the mat under my feet and know that my race has officially begun.  The clock is ticking.

Not that the time matters to me.

As with any distance run, the first mile seems to be the hardest for me.  It is in those moments that I begin to doubt my aspirations and undertaking.  What have I done?  Why did I commit to this?  Why did I think I could do this run?  Will I make it?

I keep going, knowing the doubt is temporary.  Like with every other run, I always finish.

Soon enough, I see it - the sign rising about the crowd of spectators that indicates progress.  Mile 1.  I've made it a full mile.  If I did that mile, surely I can do more.  My confidence rises and I don a smile.  

As Mile 1 gets further behind me, I begin to take in the surroundings.  Really, the Peachtree is a lovely run.  There are spectators - Lord, are there spectators! - cheering, ringing cowbells, and simply standing there in a solid wall of support.  

Then, there is the city itself.  The city which has been been my home for most of my life.  The city that has always been a part of my soul.  I see the buildings, restaurants, and the familiar places that always remind me that I'm home.  I love the city of Atlanta and can simply never imagine living anywhere else.  It's a part of who I am, and like an old friend, she accompanies me on this run.

Mile 2.  I'm a third of the way through.

The run itself - which winds down Atlanta's iconic Peachtree Rd., down towards Juniper, and finally culminates just outside of the city's beautiful Piedmont Park - is very pleasant indeed.  There is only one stretch, just past Peachtree Battle, where there is a sharper increase in elevation.  Mile 3.  I'm at that point right now.  For the first time during the race, I feel the back of my calves begin to tighten.  Uphill is always the hardest, but I've run on steeper grades than this.  I can do it.  I know I can.

I run through several water sprays and grab cups of water whenever they are offered.  I take a brief gulp of each before dumping the rest over my head.  I will make this.  Surely, I see the hill crest just ahead.  I feel a new invigoration in my step, knowing that on the other side of this landmark the terrain will begin to slope downhill.  

Mile 4.  And it does, for I've learned both through running and autism that every uphill battle results in an easier downhill slope.

I'm entering Midtown.  The buildings ride on every side of me, becoming pillars to human innovation and urban development.  The quieter neighborhoods surrender to modern residences, high-rises, and streets shaded by the ever increasing height of the architecture.  The High Museum of Art appears at my right.  This very neighborhood was my home during my time at Georgia State.  Running along its streets is comforting, as though I'm being cradled by my former home.

Mile 5.  As I enter the last mile plus of the course, the crowds begin to thicken on either side.  They shout to us.  You can do it!  You're almost there!  Just around the bend, and you'll get your t-shirt.  It's infectious.  Pain, soreness, and the heat begins to melt away.  There is nothing but the cheering crowds and the road.  The excitement spreads and the runners begin to cheer as well.  I pass a man who is struggling on the course, but several other runners encourage him as they pass.  Keep going!  You're almost there!  I add to the encouragement.  You're doing great!  Keep it up!

Soon, I see the turn off of Juniper towards Piedmont Park.  I'm nearly there.  I feel my pace increase.  My feet are being carried by adrenaline and the sheer excitement of the crowds and runners alike.  It's electrifying.  I pass under a pedestrian bridge with several race photographers looking at the runners below.  They tell us to smile, and we oblige.  I raise my hands in the air in a cheer as I pass underneath.

A few more minutes pass with my feet flying across the road before I see it.  The finish line.  It rises like a gateway before me.  My pace picks up again.  I'm taking off in a full sprint towards that gateway.  I'm nearly there and the smile on my face has never been bigger.  I feel the mats under my feet that signal the official end of my race.  The accomplishment overwhelms me.  I pump my fists up in the air and yell out a cheer at my finish.  I did it.  I am there.

I wind through the crowds, grab my t-shirt and bottle of water, and I begin the walk back towards the MARTA station.  Even though I got routed towards a station a bit farther than the one I wanted, I reveled in the walk.  The past year plus has been a whirlwind of emotions, struggles, and triumphs, but here I am having finished a 10K.  I've also, with the help of others, fought for my boy.  I've gotten him what he needed through BCW.  I've gotten him the Katie Beckett Deeming Waiver.  I've gotten him what he needed at school.  All of this because I've worked harder and fought more than I ever thought I could.

So has he.

It was a catharsis of so many emotions over the past year, but here on this course, I felt pride.  Everyone speaks of how far Jack has come - as do I - but I had to acknowledge to myself that I had come so far, too. 

As I entered the station, into the labyrinth of tunnels and trains that used to be my primary mode of transportation in college, I looked back at where I had just come from that morning.  Other runners were continuing their trek down the streets of Atlanta.  I smiled and vowed to myself - I'll be back next year.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mercury Rising

I have lived my entire life in the Southeast.  I was born in Florida and raised in Atlanta, which has always my home with the exception of a brief 1-year interlude in the city of Charleston, SC.  I am well acquainted with the scorching summer heat that helps my home gain the name of "Hotlanta".

I have lived here 30 years.  30 years, people, but I have never experienced a heat wave quite like what we are experiencing now.  In fact, watching the news today, the all-time high in Atlanta was recorded in 1980 at 104 degrees.  Yet, the mercury is rising and the we are expected to blast that high temperature out of the water today with a high of 106 degrees.

Now, hot in my city is 98-100 degrees.  It is those days in which we consider the weather miserable.  Rarely does the mercury touch 100-101.  It never gets to 106.  Never.  The result is a city that is paralyzed as if there were a blizzard outside our front doors.  We are all retreating to the shelter of our homes and, for those of us so fortunate, to our hard-working air conditioners, which are - from the barrage of panicked Facebook statuses I'm seeing - dropping like flies under the strain of the extreme heat.

It's a good thing ours was replaced a couple of years ago.

My family, for the most part, has always lived in the Deep South.  My mother was born in deep South Georgia.  My grandmother still lives there.  My other grandparents have retreated to the sanctuary of Florida, but even they spent good portions of their lives in the very heart of Georgia.

It is days like today that I wonder what the hell they did before air conditioning.  It's a well-known fact that Georgia remained a sparsely populated state until the advent of air conditioning, which suddenly made the South seem not just inhabitable, but downright pleasant.

Not today, though.

I swear that the heat affects people mentally.  Many of us slump onto our couches, surround ourselves in darkness, and find it difficult to move without exerting great effort.  It is mid-day, and most Saturdays I would hear a hum of lawnmowers and various yard equipment throughout the neighborhood.  Today, the neighborhood remains silent, though in reality it has been so hot and dry that the grass isn't growing anyway.

My boy doesn't mind the envelope of darkness and seems to revel in the constant spinning of the fans, but the lack of movement is getting to him.  Normally on Saturdays, we would go to the pool or the park.  With temperatures in the mid-100s, the park is out of the question, but at that temperature, the pool really is as well.  Jack does not drink water very well, so hydration is a concern.  I had to make the executive decision to move our activities indoors for the day.

It has made Saturday, which is normally difficult at best, a bit of a nightmare.

Really, even though Jack can't verbalize it nor do I think he's really even fully aware of it, I'm sure that the heat is getting to him, too.  It brings out the crazy in all of us.  It makes us want to lay on our ceramic tile and soak up every bit of coolness we can.

I really think that besides being so sensitive to sound, texture, and movement, our kids are more sensitive to environmental changes, too.  I am fairly confident that Jack is more sensitive to barometric pressure changes (like those associated with storms) than the average person.  He seems rather unaware of cold weather (he never shivers or acts cold), but I do believe that heat affects him more.  He seems to fatigue so easily as it is that I'm sure that the heat affects him in ways that he can't identify or understand.  As it is, he can't identify what sensory input he needs in certain situations, nor can he identify hunger, thirst, or toileting needs, so it makes sense that heat would boggle his senses, too.

So we sit, indoors, and wait for the heat wave to pass.  I am hoping that the mercury rises no more and that we are able to resume some resemblance of summer normalcy in the next several days.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Becoming a Habit

I like this habit.
I recently read somewhere that it takes 3 weeks for a new behavior to become a habit.  Now, whoever wrote that obviously wasn't referring to kids on the spectrum, as they tend to either take 1 day to form a habit - and always for the undesirable behaviors - or 3 months to conform to the behaviors that we so desire to see.  However, for the neurotypical (or slightly less than NT) among us, it takes approximately 3 weeks, which is why you see gym attendance drop towards the end of January each year.

It's been several months since I got back into running.  I kept with it through those rough first few weeks and it has become a habit, which got me thinking - what other habits could I develop?

Well, there are the less-than-desirable ones, like consuming a third of a package of Oreos during times of stress.  There are others that are good habits.  For example, taking prenatal vitamins during my pregnancy with Jack has led me to take my daily multivitamins religiously.  On the same note, being pregnant with Jack led me to drink much more water, a habit that I keep to this day as I consume nearly 2 L of water each day.  I also stopped drinking sodas that didn't contain all-natural ingredients (i.e. no caffeine or artificial sweeteners) during my pregnancy, and while I allow myself an occasional "regular" soda, I still tend towards the all-natural ones, which are so expensive that we rarely keep soda in our house, opting for tea, milk, and water instead.  Brian grumbles a bit about that, but I think that living an almost soda-free life is a very good habit, and I really don't miss soda one bit.  Soda will be one of the absolute last things I'll let Jack drink.  He'll be well into his adolescence before I'll allow him to try a soda.

So, I'm going to take a nod from Jack's special instructor and enact a little ABA on myself.  I'm going to try to add more good habits into my life.  The question is - what should I try?

In all honesty, I'm horrible at following a diet.  I've tried several, but can't ever stick with it.  I like food way too much.  I think the other problem with diets relates back to the 3-week rule - it takes 3 weeks to form a new habit, but it's hard to change all of your eating habits at once.  Going on a diet does just that; it overhauls your whole way of eating.  So, what if I tried to incorporate one healthier eating habit at a time?  For example, I LOVE dessert.  I mean, I have an unnatural love for dessert.  This time of year, my vice is ice cream, so I decided to switch to frozen yogurt.

Guess what, I discovered that Publix frozen yogurt - particularly the Key Lime Pie flavor - rocks my face.  Holy crap!  I never knew what I was missing!

I also would love to strength-train more, but I just never have started.  No better time than the present!

I think a few soul habits would be good, too, like giving a compliment a day or acknowledging one wonderful thing that my baby boy does daily (which will be easy because he's just that awesome).

I think this is a good idea for all of us moms, not just the special needs ones.  We all have such busy lives filled with managing the chaos that is our kids and our families, so it is difficult to do things for ourselves at times.  However, if we commit to change one thing - just one thing - about our daily routine for 3 weeks, it will become a habit that we'll no longer have to put the energy into thinking about anymore.  Then, we can each move on to the next good habit.  Doesn't sound too hard, does it?

So go forth mamas and start some good habits!  You never know just how much a small daily act might change your outlook, your overall health, or your life.