Hot sausage & mustard!!! If you don’t recognize this, they are the lyrics from a song from Oliver. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
We look happy in this photo, don’t we? That’s because it’s before we’ve entered the restaurant! Going out to eat should be fun, don’t you think? A celebration of sorts. But for us, it rarely is…. We were on the Perfect Chicken Finger Caper! Applebee’s chicken fingers are no good…. Various other restaurants’ chicken fingers were no good…. The only thing that passes muster for him are McDonald’s chicken nuggets.
Let me set the scene…. Imagine a warm spring night in Florida. The atmosphere is festive – there’s a band playing in the distance – there are twinkle lights all around – and we are looking forward to a delicious meal and full-bodied glass of wine. We are on March Break in Sandestin, Florida and we’re taking out my parents to thank them for the occasional babysitting that they did while we were there (so Brian and I (he’s the spousal unit) could enjoy the occasional meal out alone and round of golf).
We are fortuitously seated at the back of the restaurant in a semi-private room. Did they see us coming? Do they know something we do? haha We get drinks and look at the menu. We ask about the kids’ menu. The waiter explains that they use only the finest, organic chicken, which is then hand-breaded. They have a gourmet, homemade chutney to go with. We order the chicken fingers, plain spaghetti (no butter), and please, please, don’t add any garnishes to the plate or the game is up!!! We ordered something slightly fancier for ourselves and my parents….
When the food came, you guessed it!!!! Not only is there the fancy chutney stuff, but a SPRIG OF PARSLEY on the plate!!!! “THIS IS YUCKY!!!!” yells Henry. I think the patrons at the far end of the Intrawest village heard him. So — we are onto Plan B. There is always a Plan B. Brian and I eat in shifts – and we doggy-bag most of the dinner to take home.
Henry eats Cheerios when we get back to the condo…. and is happy as a pig in s–t….
Henry did not sleep through the night until he was 3 1/2. He would not nap unless he was in motion, either in a car, stroller or rocking chair. When he did wake up from a nap, he would cry for at least half an hour. He did not like to be swaddled and refused to wear mittens when he could throw them off. He did not feel pain, nor was he bothered by the heat (or seemingly, the cold). He had fevers often but would NOT take medication. Transitions were hard. He had special sensitivities to smell and sound, so a nice little Disney movie outing was a fantasy. Forget about a trip to the specialty cheese store (or God forbid, the fish store)…. He was very particular about certain things, like how the hat went on his Woody doll. Add to the fact that he did not acquire speech until he was 5. So why the title, mypuzzledlife? Can you imagine trying to figure out your child’s needs and wants under these circumstances?
The symbol for autism is a puzzle piece. I think it is particularly apt… Unfortunately, when babies are born, they do not come with a manual. Figuring them out is a wonderful journey. But when your child is autistic, there are a lot of pieces that are harder to figure out.
My mom and sister used to love putting together jigsaw puzzles over the holidays. I didn’t seem to have the patience to do it when I was younger – if a piece didn’t fit, I would try to pound it into place, and then failing that, would lose interest and move on. Henry is the most challenging, sometimes frustrating and wondrous puzzle I have ever worked on. When one piece falls into place, there appears a bigger, more spectacular picture to behold.
Those of us who have children on the spectrum are continually working on our puzzle. What does your puzzle look like?
Henry is biting me again and I don’t know what to do about it. Now, before you think this is a “Fifty Shades” kind of adventure, let me give you a little more information…. Henry is my son, and he is 3 years old at this juncture. And to throw a fly into the ointment, you need to know that Henry is autistic, but we don’t know this yet.
So, onto the biting. He’s bit me a couple of times before. When his older brother John did this (once), I took his little hand, slapped it, and very emphatically said, “NO!” That was the end of that. I had tried this with Henry with no success. So, this time, I searched the memory banks and remembered that somewhere I had read this if you bite your child back (lightly… don’t get excited), they will understand that it hurts and they won’t do it anymore. So, I bite his chubby little hand…. He stepped back, lowered his head and rammed me in the pelvis! Direct hit!!
I don’t remember ever reading a chapter in any of the parenting books on kids that don’t respond to what you consider a reasonable response to a situation. I was trying to navigate through very strange waters without a compass.
There is a happy ending to this story. Henry is now 18 years old, has been accepted into college and is set (and excited) to leave in the fall. I hope that our story will help many of you out there who are confused, worried or a little desperate.