Anyone familiar with an autistic person knows about the spectrum. Our claims on the spectrum are perseverating (insist, pursue to the limit, redundant), oppositional-ism (180 no matter what), emotionally hypersensitivity (perceptive, intuitive, visceral). Not easy to find direction, let alone guide. As in my previous post, all I can find to do is follow my own passion and try to include Kaleb.
Family and Friends
Well, I think we are on to something. Vintage Market Days this past weekend opened up a new world for both of us. So many friends and family came out to support… I think were also hoping to enjoy, but it was too hot and crowded for many. This was not foreseen and ended up beyond anyone’s control, so we all made the best of it. This made it even more meaningful to see so many supportive, positive friends and family. Sincere thanks to all of you who came on our account. I also met lots great people with a connection to autism in some way. Thank you to all who bought our crafts and have joined our blog. Having been a part of this event has made me a big fan of this particular VMD branch and the management of it. They were an incredible combination of professionalism and down to earth friendly, people.
Kaleb sold out of his trays the second day. This was a huge accomplishment for him. We had talked about how much he could potentially make, but tried to prepare him for not selling them all as well. Being ‘disabled’ all his life, he has never had that feeling of empowerment of earning his first decent paycheck. Even at the sheltered workshop, he earned a miniscule amount. Before this, money for Kaleb has always meant spending it on Itunes cards as soon as he gets it. Now that he has seen that he has income earning potential, he is aspiring higher. We opened a checking account for him, and he is saving for a new iphone. There will be more shows, so hopefully, aspiration will turn into artistic expression.
The “I sold them all!” smile
Like any kid, a parent has to expose them to activities, whether they ‘take to it’ or not. It’s true, success builds success. Several people asked me if Kaleb liked ‘woodworking’… I had to say not particularly, but he has discovered the feeling of accomplishment, of earning real money on his own and of self-empowerment. I think in time, he will come to love creativity as I do. He will grow in skill, and I am anticipating seeing just what he is capable of and how far he will take this. It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.
God knows how we are wired, and we are all unique. Some moms, given the challenge of an autistic child, can patiently, attentively nurture and educate their entire lives. I did my best, homeschooling Kaleb along with his two siblings. I was not a teacher at heart, but we made it through and all survived. So here we are . Kaleb is no longer a child and my view of him as finally shifted to seeing him as an adult. Other than moving to an unknown city with unknown programming- our farm is the best placement for him for the foreseeable future. So, what are we going to do? I know other moms of special needs kids who wrap their whole life around it, and I admire them tremendously, but a part of me dies inside when I think of mothering a six year old the rest of my life.
Through the years I’ve always worked hard, but have pretty much determined that I am most happy when I am creating. Specifically, making something beautiful out of old weathered materials. I loved the term ‘upcycle’ the first time I heard it. All I know about Kaleb is that he is content to stay in his room and stare at a screen. Birdhouses are small and easy. I’d made a few for around our farm… tried a craft show back in 2012 & people liked them, so I thought I’d try getting Kaleb involved. I Dedicated a couple of years letting him help me, but ran into problems with who gets the money. I do 90% of the work & he does the rest, but wants all of the sales money. Plus it hindered me from improving and expressing.
So this year, we found a simple product that he could make himself… all but the saw. He came alive. He was not interested in helping me with my projects, only wanted to do his own. What a joy it has been to see a glimpse of that ‘I can’t wait to get back to my project’ self-motivation! Staying with the job until he came to a stopping point… even tho I was ready to quit for the day. I’m seeing him delight in mixing and laying on bright colors, enjoying music as we work together.
At the same time we began that, I purposed to reform our diet & see how far we could go with total lifestyle change. Kaleb went to Melanie’s cooking classes, embraced the idea of cooking healthy, and gave whatever I made a try. His new fast food is quinoa & kale from Costco, and cabbage/sausage stir-fry. He will drink a green smoothie and live on powerballs if I make them. So much of that depends on me however, and I have become totally preoccupied as our craft show approaches. I’m a work in progress too though, and I am determined to make it second nature even when we are busy- eventually.
As far as being responsible for an adult with autism for the rest of my life, I am discovering that it doesn’t have to be my life all about Kaleb or I’m slacking- either I tend to him or myself… I’m finding that it’s okay to find my own joy in becoming what God made me to be right along with helping Kaleb find his way. Horsefeathers farm… the silly name that stuck since 2006 when Rebekah won the duckstamp contest… may grow into something for us. Even if we don’t make money, this upcoming craft show has been so much fun for us to prepare for- I would say, almost life-changing for Kaleb- it has been worth the effort already.
Back in the eighties I was in my twenties. I didn’t know anything about health- or cooking. I read a few books, I jogged, didn’t smoke- cigarettes… thought I was doing okay. I had my first baby at 29- emergency c-section. This poor kid suffered a heart defect, multiple ear infections and multiple rounds of antibiotics. I raised him on peanut butter and jelly- and apple juice. I even let him ‘cry it out’ according to my parenting classes. I was so ignorant. This video kind of set me back a bit. Please parents, or potential parents- listen.
25 And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the canker-worm, and the caterpillar, and the palmer-worm, my great army which I sent among you.
26 And ye shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and shall praise the name of Jehovah your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you; and my people shall never be put to shame.
27 And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am Jehovah your God, and there is none else; and my people shall never be put to shame.
~ I am praying the above scripture ~
Here it is 2016. Kaleb is 26 years old. We are embarking on a recovery effort for him.
A week or so ago, he was puking his guts out, miserable, willing to try a new lifestyle. I ‘just happened’ to be working with a friend Melanie on her website. She encouraged me to reread Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter I have since read his new book Brain Maker. We are doing our best to eliminate wheat and are adding probiotic. Melanie also happens to have a master’s degree in education specializing in special needs… go figure…
If this article goes out to any young parent of a potentially ASD child…which is about 1 in 50 now- all I can say is that prevention is worth every bit of effort. And I believe most of this could have been prevented.