Trampoline fun…

I did a thing today. The girls and I went to a birthday party for a friend of theirs. I don’t take Courtney to many birthday parties outside of family ones. It’s usually too different, too loud and we usually have a therapy at the time of party. This time I decided to bite the bullet and try. AND…it was a huge success!!! Courtney had a field day running and jumping with no care in the world and Alyssa made a new friend!

The innocence of sleep…

I love watching them sleep. They are so innocent looking. They are at peace. Their sensory system is at rest, no anxiety, no frustrations. Just sleeping. I wish I could make their world as peaceful when they are awake. I wish I could protect them from the noises that set them off, the fears that they have, and the things that worry them.

I may not be able to protect them through it all my I will certainly love them through it all. And then at bedtime when they fall asleep, I’ll watch the innocence.

The clock

I go through phases where the clock is an obsession of mine. It’s all I can think of. I check it all day long.

These phases usually coincide with how my girls are doing. If one is struggling, the clock becomes my obsession. I sit at school wondering what they are doing at that moment in time.

How are they doing?

Are they happy?

Are they calm?

Are they listening?

Is my phone going ring soon because something is wrong?

No matter how crazy it is in my own classroom, I still obsess. I still check. I still worry.

I count down the minutes until 2:15 pm. At that time I breathe a sigh of relief. They did it. They made it through the day. No calls, no emails.

Sometimes, like right now, the clock is my worst enemy.

Continued struggles…

At what point does “she’s adjusting” become “I think there’s a bigger issue”? How many weeks into the school year before we say something bigger is going on? How do you help a little girl who gets so anxious when you ask her why she is sad or nervous that all she can say, is “I don’t want to talk about it”?

I said to my older sister recently, “I can do autism. I know how to help someone with Autism. Anxiety? I can’t do anxiety. I don’t know how to help someone with anxiety.

It’s been over a month and Alyssa has done nothing but struggle at school. Daily reports of crying, anxious moments, refusing to let anyone help her calm down. It’s been heartbreaking to receive these updates.

504 plan has been put in place. Modifications and support are now a part of her day. Still the struggle continues. Today I channeled into my mama bear mode after getting some advice from others and called the school and made some requests that hopefully will help us dig deeper into what’s going on. Hopefully soon we can find the right supports that she needs to help 1st grade be as fun and successful as it should be.

The hidden voice…

I was sitting next to Alyssa on my bed as she was trying to fall asleep. She suddenly turns to me and says, “mommy, I think courtney is hiding her voice. When she was a baby she had a voice. Remember she sang, Let it Go?”

I knew exactly what she meant by her singing. Alyssa has seen the video. Alyssa has heard us talk about how Courtney could say some words and then stopped. So when she said that I acknowledged her beautiful theory.

She continued to say that maybe some day her voice won’t be hiding anymore.

I decided to take the moment to ask her if Courtney’s autism makes her mad or sad. She responded beautifully, “mad and a little sad. Just a little sad. I still love her though.”

What deep thoughts for a little 6 year old.

Tough start…

Miss Alyssa has had a rough start to 1st grade. This week I got an email from her teacher, who she also had last year, that Alyssa’s anxiety is very high at school. High to the point where Alyssa is struggling focusing and crying on and off throughout the day. That email came the beginning of the week and she continued to struggle all week. I have seen an increase in her anxiety at home too but not to the extent her teacher is seeing.

It breaks my heart to hear she is struggling. I am so grateful for her teacher who has a special relationship with her and is helping to make sure she gets the supports she needs.

Alyssa has what is called a 504 plan at school. It is similar to an IEP as it helps give accommodations and support to children with special needs but don’t necessarily need special education services. In Alyssa’s case her 504 plan was for accommodations that needed to be put in place because of her severe food allergies and asthma. We are currently going through the re-evaluation process to add anxiety to the plan in hopes to add some additional supports to help her be successful at school. We meet next Tuesday. I’m hoping as a team we can come up with a plan to help her get through this rough patch.

9 years old…

Dear Courtney,

Today you are 9. 9 years old! Where has the time gone? I remember vividly your dad and I going out to dinner the night before you were born. We were celebrating the last night being just the two of us. We sat there so excited but naive about what was to come the next day when I was scheduled to be induced.

Yes, we were ready to be parents. But we were ready to be parents of this little girl who was going to follow this set path they talk about in parenting books. A little girl who was going to meet milestones on time. A little girl who would get some bumps and bruises but easy to clean up with a first aide kit. That night we sat there ready to be parents, but we were not ready for the path you were about to bring us on.

Though we may not have been ready, we quickly learned one important thing would get us through the path you have lead us on….love.

Oh, Courtney, the journey you have brought us on these past 9 years. A journey full of adventures that brought us heart ache and joy, tears and laughter, fear and excitement. Some adventures I never even imagined we would go on that first day I held you in my arms. Most of these adventures have been far from easy but every single one of them I would go on with you again because each one of them have made me so proud to be your mom.

Your Grandma Beej painted this beautiful Winnie The Pooh picture with my favorite quote on it for your nursery before you were born. It reads, “As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was about to happen.”

You are 9 now and there are still so many adventures to go. No matter the adventure, you keep being the beautiful little girl that you are.

We love you more than words can say. Happy 9th Birthday, Courtney Cathryn!

Communication!

Courtney was trying to ask me for a certain video. She kept saying peppa pig but she would just hand it back to me when she couldn’t find what she was looking for. She then started saying something else. At first I had no clue (of course talker was dead). I started making it out that she was saying some word than “tree”. So pear tree came to mind so I looked up 12 days of Christmas. She still wasn’t satisfied. So then she started going back and forth saying “Peppa pig” and “pear tree”. So finally I typed in “Peppa pig 12 days of Christmas”. We found her video!!!!!

Back to School letters to my girls…

Dear Courtney,

This week you are back to school. 3rd Grade! I can’t believe it. Where has the time gone? Wasn’t it only yesterday that you were in preschool? I will never forget when you started preschool several years back. I was so nervous.

How would you react to school?

Would the teachers know how to meet your needs?

Would the teachers keep you safe?

Would you make friends?

Of course, you quickly showed me I had nothing to worry about. Now here you are, going in to 3rd grade and you have done nothing but prove to us you can handle any challenge, which there have been several, thrown your way. For a little girl who needs consistency, you’ve shown us you can still persevere when the consistency isn’t there. You have gone through so many changes over the years.

4 teacher changes.

2 different schools.

4 changes in principals.

Changes in a district philosophy that put you in a blended preschool.

A new program.

And let’s not forget Covid!

Yes, you rocked each of those obstacles!

Oh Courtney, but wait, things are changing up on you again this year. When you go to school this week you will be greeted by another new principal, a new assistant principal, and another new teacher. But don’t you worry, Daddy and I have spoken up. We made sure that they knew that though you have shown you can get through changes, it is time to make sure you start getting some consistency.

We also made sure all these new people knew everything about you before you walk through those doors this week.

We told them about your headphones.

We told them about your struggles with bathrooms and water.

We told them about your love for animals and books.

We shared with them that sometimes your fingers forget they aren’t for pinching, your mouth is not for biting others and your nails are not for scratching.

We told them about your adorable giggle but also let them know to watch out for those pinching fingers as they enjoy the giggles.

Most importantly we told them that you are a smart and beautiful girl that is hard not to fall in love with the moment you meet her.

Oh Courtney, things may be different when you walk through those doors this week but one thing has remained consistent. Your daddy and I are behind you all the way. Cheering you on and loving you with all our heart!

Dear Alyssa,

Do you Remember when kindergarten ended and you cried for 3 days because you will no longer have that teacher? When Daddy and I told you recently that your kindergarten teacher was now teaching 1st grade and you would have her, I could hear you suddenly become anxiety free about starting 1st grade. Guess what? I had anxiety too about you starting first grade and that disappeared when I heard who your teacher was too.

You are such an incredible, smart, brave and beautiful little girl. I know last year was tough at times as your anxiety took over for a while. You powered through it like a champ. Don’t worry, I will still make sure you get all the support you need to make this a successful year too. Though your worries may big, your smile and love for life is bigger.

I also want you to know Daddy and I think you are an amazing sister. I’m sure it is not easy having to play the big sister role when you are the little sister. I know it is not an easy job, but no one else is as perfect for her as you.

So to my 1st grade, keep loving life, working hard and most of all keep being you! I love you to the moon and back.

Have a fantastic year girls!

Love, Mommy

The looks…

I knew one day this would happen. I knew one day her loud squeals, the jumping up and down, the diaper peaking out of the pants would no longer pass as she’s just a toddler.

I’m noticing more looks from others. People staring at her as she passes by. People looking at the headphones while she’s in a pool, I even recently heard another child call her weird.

This summer I started noticing it. This summer I realized that others are now able to tell something is different about her.

Of course this makes me sad. I’m not sad that she appears different than others. Im sad for her. I’m sad that others stare because she acts different. I’m sad that our world is still at the stage where acting different means they need to be stared at. I’m sad that acting different automatically means weird.

But with every look and stare, I stop and think how brave she is to live each day in a world that’s still trying to understand her and others like her.