Behind starburst eyes

Active Participation; his way

Shoulders slightly hunched as he plucks at his pant strings. Sitting on the only chair in the room, he watches the other children dancing. It would be a sad picture of a child excluded, until you look at his face. He’s not forced to sit on the sidelines as it first appears. He’s focused intently on watching their dancing. He’s breaking down the flow and movements of limbs and core into pieces he can then re-create at home. In private he’ll try each move. If he’s stuck he’ll ask his brother for help. Even then, he’ll ask him to do them over and over until he’s sure he’s figured out the “how” to each one…Then he’ll dance. Joyfully, with abandon he’ll dance, for himself, and for all those he loves he’ll ask: “Wanna see my cool dude moves?” But first he’ll watch. I’m thankful our local YMCA accepts him as he is. I’m grateful they respect his ways, and understand his need to watch first. I’m glad they understand that for Mr. N watching IS active participation for him.¬†It’s his way, and they smile at him and tell him he can join in with the actual dancing when he’s ready.

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Banana Bread and Kesha’s Timber

I was cooking a batch of banana bread french toast (I make a bunch at a time to freeze. Then for breakfasts I can pop a few in the toaster, add a bit of fruit and yogurt and voila perfect for mornings I’m tired but want the kids to eat well without much cooking on my part) As I was making the last pan of them Kesha’s Timber came on the radio. There’s part that says “swing your partner round and round” and I couldn’t resist, so I grabbed Mr. C and we started to dosado round the living room. As our laughter rang through the house, Miss. G quickly rushed towards us, arms outstretched wanting to join, wanting to be a part of the laughter and love and fun being had. Of course we smiled and took her little hands in ours and started to simply dance in odd disjointed circles about the living room. Mr. N excitedly asked if he could join in as well, and so our circle got larger again, and we all laughed as we danced gleefully about the living room, our hands as intertwined as our hearts and our energies.

The last pan full of banana bread french toast were darker than I normally cook them as I’d left them on in my haste to enjoy the moment with the wee ones. I think if anything they’ll taste even better than usual for all the love that filled the house as they were left unattended on the stove, and if they don’t well that’s what maple syrup is for ūüėČ

 

P.S Banana bread french toast is just using an epic banana bread recipe like this one and substituting slices of it for plain bread to make french toast, an easy twist to a family favorite.

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Colored water and when to join in…

I did some of my Yule shopping on eBay this year. One of the things that I bought was an add-on for the bathroom faucet. See I’ve tried many things to encourage the children to brush their teeth, but it tends to go the same “I don’t wanna” route each time. When I saw the add on that goes onto your faucet and lights up different colors as the water sprays through I couldn’t resist. Perhaps, just perhaps this might be what gets them to brush without a fuss. Well dear readers I’m thrilled to announce that it did indeed work! (At least so far while there’s still the novelty¬†of it lol)

Water Glow LED Faucet Light with Temperature Sensor + Three Optional Colors

Tonight was my step-daughter’s Winter Holidays concert. It was extremely crowded in the gymnasium where it was taking place, parking was also highly entertaining, the closest we could find was 2 blocks from the school, and of course we didn’t bring the stroller. (We didn’t want to take up too much room inside the gym) We walked to the school, and there wasn’t even really standing room left when we got there. Eventually a person left the second row and so I quickly sat down with Mr.¬†N on my lap. He yelled “Hi” several times when Miss. B got up on stage and she was thrilled, smiling and waving back to him. She looked lovely in her white dress with black trim, and so happy as she sang with a bright smile upon her face. Once she was done there was to be one song sung by another class and then it would be Miss. D’s class’ turn. I tried to tell Mr. N this, but he didn’t understand. He was upset and I whispered to him to look at the kids standing on the risers singing. He cried out “I wan Daaaaddy!” ¬†I shouldn’t have believed him,¬† I of all people should know better,¬†should have known it was a ploy, alas I didn’t. Since my husband was only a couple of feet away holding Miss G, I put him down as I told him¬†it was okay to go see daddy. But go see his daddy he did NOT!

Instead he ran towards the kids singing, and got up on the risers, looked at all the kids, and then jumped off. (He’s just learnt how to jump so he’s keen to do it all the time right now) I frantically motioned for my husband, who quickly passed me Miss. G so he could try and convince Mr. N to get off the risers they were using in conjunction with the stage. As he crouched down beside the riser whisper-shouting “come here Turkey” (His nickname since he was born on Thanksgiving) Mr. N got back on and ran right through the back row of them. I watched as children balanced precariously on the back riser while trying to give Mr. N the room to run smiling past them. All the while those lovely children tried to keep singing the song they’d worked so hard on, and several parents and teachers alike tried not to laugh at the antics of my boy. Dearest husband finally got Mr. N and the show continued on without a hitch after that. Miss. D was lovely and sang with great joy as well, and Mr. N was pleased to watch her as well. Ahh yes this is our life unscripted ūüôā

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“Our Story” Brochure

This is the tri-fold brochure that I created about my boys for various organizations¬†to use at their events to promote Autism Awareness. ūüėÄ

Corbin and Nolans Story Tri fold brochure-page-001

 

Corbin and Nolans Story Tri fold brochure-page-002

Organizations that currently use this brochure:

Rockin’ & Ridin’ for Autism

Autism Canada

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Dance as a type of stimming

Two days ago during a wonderful conversation with a developmental service worker student at Grandview Children’s Center we ended up speaking about how much I felt dance had helped C.

Dance has helped his confidence, and it’s given him a sense of belonging because of being on a team. But it’s given him more than even that. C used to stim allot and I never stopped him. I felt that he was doing what he needed to feel okay and that mattered more to me than other people’s opinions.

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I do a lot of¬†looking at his behaviors and thinking about potentially “socially acceptable” behaviors that are similar. I do that because I want to give him as many¬†choices as I can for him to have¬†in regards to how he wishes to interact with the world around him. So when I looked at dance I noticed how someone with a natural affinity to what the world might view as random movement could be utilized wonderfully in various styles of dance. I also figured that at bare minimum he’d have an additional social skill in his repertoire. At best my theory that he’d utilize it when he needed a form of stimming that would be deemed more socially acceptable than straight out hand flapping or rocking would be accurate.

About 3 months into his lessons I noticed that he wasn’t flapping his hands or twirling or rocking as often. Instead he was randomly breakdancing. Now I would LOVE for society to stop being so darn judgmental (and I’m working on helping to increase not just awareness but more importantly acceptance) However, until that day comes I still want my sons to have options. NOT on how “to be fake to fit in” but on various alternatives that are just as physically, and emotionally satisfying to them as their original choices.

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Why you ask? Doesn’t that mean I’m full of it when I say that I love my boys just as they are? NOPE It means that it is my job as their mother to give them every available tool I can¬†think of so that THEY can choose which¬†actions they wish to¬†utilize in any setting they find themselves in.

See never once have I suggested my sons stop stimming in public, ever! Because I understand that it helps them and all I want is happy children so why not let them be themselves! I have however asked my eldest why he’s chosen to dance instead of twirling or flapping his hands and he said to me “Dance is controlled movement. I can get my energy out more and it feels even better in my whole body than the other stuff I used to do” You can see it when he dances too, I wrote previously about how something seems to click within him while he’s on a dance floor and it’s a thing of beauty to watch. (That post is here)

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I told “D” that I was sad that Grandview had music therapy but NOT dance therapy and after she’d listened to me ramble on and on about my boys, and about all I just wrote about above, she said she was going to look into research about dance as a form of therapy for Autism. (Not to “CURE” because I find that word so darn offensive about Autism. But that’s another long expletive laden post) But if what my son says is accurate for other children in addition to himself than this could potentially help many other children to have something else to choose from. NOT because their original stimming was wrong, but because I think we should all have options that we get to choose from as to which one works best for us and for each of the myriad of situations we will eventually find ourselves in. By exposing children to various options while keeping our opinions to ourselves (Unless that opinion is the fantastic one of “Each person has a right to be happy, if _____ is your bliss than¬†as your ______ support you in your choices”) I think it’s giving our children more options to choose what they truly want to do in whatever situation they find themselves in. That my dear readers is¬†freedom. Freedom to be and¬†feel and¬†behave in whatever ways are their¬†bliss. That freedom allows them to thrive¬†and soar and there’s nothing more beautiful to watch than someone soaring free,¬†being true to themselves and loving every moment of it.

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Time will tell the follow up

Well I spoke with the owner of the dance studio. Indeed one of the staff did tell “B” that C was Autistic.

Apparently C was having issues in class, he was running around, stimming and not focusing. Well normally when a child is running around, and not focusing while another dancer is showing their moves said child is gently repremanded for their poor choice and the lack of care for the other dancer that it shows the dancer. C was not chastised. He was allowed because the dance instructor felt that he was having a great deal of difficulty that day and they were being kind to him by not holding him to the same standard of expected behavior that the rest of the students were held to.

This upset “B” greatly, and I totally understand how it would! So when “B” went to talk with them about why it was that way for C but not anyone else it was then that “B” was told about C being Autistic.

I was not there, I do not know how C was feeling/dealing with feeling at the time. I know when I spoke to him he mentioned that he’d been having a very hard time dealing with trying to sit still while the other dancers showed their routines to the class. I can NOT judge what happened in regards to the instructor allowing C to have a different standard of behavior than the rest, all I know is that a) I truly believe the instructor did what they felt was best with care in their heart for my son. And b) I saw less enthusiasm from “B” about seeing C at the dance competiton than I was hoping to see. Could have been because of the competition itself, I don’t know. Again, only time will tell. But for C’s sake I hope that his friend can see past the word Autism and see that C is still the same boy he liked before.¬†

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The start of C’s love of breakdancing

I¬†wrote about what it was like to watch C do a freestyle piece at the battle, (found here) but I haven’t written about all the stuff that occurred prior to that. When he was about 3 years old, I started to put him into various activities for fun, socialization, and for the varied experiences that each activity would give him. He’s been in Lacrosse, Karate, Gymnastics, Soccer, Swimming Lessons, Tap dancing, and Hip Hop dance lessons through our local community centres.

He liked Hip Hop dance lessons a great deal. He said he wanted to learn more, but the class offered through the community centre was a basic class, and he’d just finished it. So I decided to look for a dance studio that taught hip hop.

Right before I started checking out dance studios for a hip hop class for him we went to an event hosted at our local art gallery called: First Fridays. Each month on the first friday of the month they host a free, open to everyone event where they showcase different types of art including music.

The one we went to that night had a group called the Geek Freaks. They were a dance group that did breakdancing among other styles and it was love at first sight for him. He was super excited watching them, and when the announcer said that anyone that wanted to could come up and dance, well of course C went up. From that moment on he was adamant that he wanted to learn how to breakdance.

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I looked into various studios that were local to us and happened to find out that one of the members of Geek Freaks taught at a studio only a kilometre away from us. That settled it for C, that was the studio he was going to go to. Ironically enough he wasn’t taught by the guy from Geek Freaks due to his age but an instructor by the name of Michael. Out of all the programs I’ve enrolled him in, never have I been as thankful for not just the program itself but also the instructor that taught it. To be fair, C’s had some fantastic instructors prior to this, but there’s just something about Michael (or Bboy¬†Tricky Troublez as he’s called in the breakdancing scene) that is unmatched. C is in his second year of lessons with him, and it’s been one of the best things to occur in his life. Michael teaches him more than just the physical moves, he’s helped to instill a sense of confidence within C that nothing can touch. He’s someone my son looks up to, and for my darling Anarchist that’s quite a feat! (I LOVINGLY call him my Anarchist because he’s always asking “why” he needs to listen to rules, or grown-ups in general. He doesn’t do it in an angry or violent manner, just an honestly curious one about why he needs to do ____ just because an adult says he should.)

Michael “gets him”. He’s patient, and calm with all of his students including C. He works with them to develop their own personal styles and strengths while helping them to improve in the areas they are not naturally strong in. He breaks down each move piece by piece to help all the kids he teaches. I’ve heard the saying before “Those that can’t do; Teach” But that’s not Michael, he’s a fantastic break dancer himself, and can still be found regularly at various competitions competing himself.

Tomorrow morning C will be officially¬†competing at a dance competition with a breakdance solo that Michael has choreographed¬†and taught him. I know he’ll shine, in part because this is his passion, and because he’s had such an amazing teacher to help him learn how to turn his passion into action. ūüėÄ

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Time will tell

It is now officially Autism Awareness Day. The world is becoming more and more aware, heck even the Eiffel Tower is going to be lit up blue for it. But as I read on a Face book page (I forget who’s it was, Sorry!) Awareness is not the same as acceptance. I want more than just awareness, I want acceptance.

My son’s friend at dance is now aware that he has Autism. I know this because yesterday a very morose child got in my vehicle after dance practice. After several questions about if he was weird or bad for having Autism, what exactly causes Autism, he finally told me. “B” knows I’m Autistic.” I asked him how he felt and his answer hurt “I don’t want anyone to know. When they know they look at me like I’m a freak and they treat me different. They don’t want to be friends with me anymore.” Oh how my heart broke because of his honesty. I asked how he knew that “B” knew, and was told that “B” said “I know you’re Autistic, “L” told me”

Now only time will tell if “B” will still want to be friends with my son. Only time will show if he can be more than just aware, if he can be accepting that C is still the same child he told his mom was one of his best friends last week (I overheard him and wanted to shout from the rooftops but refrained, mind you just barely and only because I’m far to clumsy to be climbing onto rooftops safely)
Now as for this adult who to be clear was not myself, C’s dad, nor any member of my family. But was in fact someone that worked at the dance company (according to C’s recounting of “B”s story which of course means I will most certainly be having a discussion with said adult tomorrow)

Why did this adult feel the need to disclose this information? How on earth was this helpful? I’m not bothered that people know about C being Autistic, it’s a part of him. It’s not going away. I can give him coping mechanisms, and tips, teach him societal norms, and how to read body language but he’ll always be Autistic. His brain is simply hard-wired a specific way and while I might be able to teach him how to “blend in” should he choose to want to do that; an apple is an apple no matter if you paint it orange. I’m bothered that C didn’t get the chance to choose for this boy, this child he was trying to form a friendship with at dance to know, because sadly he’s right. People do often look at him differently and I can’t blame him for wanting to be judged based on himself and not on someone’s misinformed preconceived notions of what a specific label means about a person.

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He danced while I cried…

Tonight I cried while he danced. He looked like poetry in motion as music became movement. As fast as the bass that was pulsating through the speakers, his feet became a blur as they almost flew across the floor and through the air.

I watched and I knew in my heart this right here right now, was what he was born to do. It wasn’t just the ease with which he watched another contender and added their moves to his own freestyle piece. It was so much more than that. It was the way his eyes glowed with certainty, for he KNEW what to do. He “gets” how to translate music into movement. For all the confusion he still has in various social settings, put him on a stage or dance floor and crank up the tunes and watch the joy and sense of rightness that glows from within him.

Sweat soaked and muscles burning from exertion¬†and still his smile illuminates his own starburst eyes that are so much like my own. It’s almost like the combination of music and movement unlocks some secret special place within him, and you can almost physically see everything “clicking” inside his mind for him. Like the movement pushes the confusion and anxiety that often plague¬†him completely out of his mind. While the music pulsing causes synapses¬†after synapses to occur in places that didn’t communicate properly with each other prior to that moment. For those few minutes on stage you can see how centered within himself, and whole¬†he truly is, and it’s more beautiful than words can describe.
It’s his version of “therapy” for in those moments on stage he feels joy and acceptance in who he is. There, right there,¬†my boy who has been judged for not being able to stay still, for randomly twirling or flapping his hands when he’s having a sensory overload¬†is judged on how well he can move,

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