Sayonara, 2015

As 2015 and winter break come to a close, I am grateful for the past two weeks off work. Seventh graders were driving me bat-shit crazy, and I spent the week leading up to break telling them, “It’s not you. It’s me. We should see other people. We need a break.” My husband usually has more time off between Christmas and New Year’s, but not this year. We were still able to enjoy family staycation time. We made at least three trips to the mall for last-minute Christmas shopping, and the boys took in all the lights, reindeer, puddle jumping, and train rides their little brains could handle.


Thing 1 has gotten much better about responding to questions with “yes” or “no” appropriately this fall. His behavior therapist hit that hard in their ABA sessions. When the Short Pump Express chuffed by, Thing 1 erupted into words asking and answering his own questions: “Go train? Yes! Train? Yes!” We rode–twice. Those little victories are amazing to witness, when you can see his eyes light up, everything click, and break through those communication barriers.

The husband and I managed a couple day dates thanks to the grandparents babysitting. On Christmas Eve, we drove to Veritas Winery to pick up my wine club bottles and a bottle of bubbly Scintilla for New Year’s toasting. I love Veritas wines, especially the Viognier and Merlot. I also love that the Veritas management allows people to bring outside food to the winery and picnic on the grounds. That’s what the husband and I did. We brought crackers, sausage, cheese, and enjoyed a glass of Scintilla on the veranda. We hit Blue Mountain Brewery afterwards for a tasting flight, and worked off that pretzel and beer by walking around my college alma mater.




Christmas Day was not about fanfare. My kids do not like to open presents, they do not show excitement over Santa, and they definitely do not want to eat what’s served for Christmas dinner. Thing 3 was the first kid awake and thought all presents were for him. Santa brought him a shopping cart filled with fake fruits and veggies, which he’s pushed around the house nonstop for the past week. Thing 2 got launchers for his Thomas trains that make the trains race. And Thing 1 got an I.O.U. Lame, but the Target gift card we ordered using our Chase rewards to buy him an iPod never arrived. Santa’s gift is still in the mail, but Thing 1 did not seem to notice or mind. He instead showed Thing 2 how to work the train launcher.





December has been unusually wet and mild in Virginia. We’ve had soggy days and temperatures in the 70’s. When it wasn’t raining, I took the boys to the playground, and we took the grandparents to the zoo one afternoon. These boys needs lots of fresh air and space to run.



As last year ended, we felt tired and frustrated. We hated Thing 1’s school and the administration, Thing 2 was on a downward spiral of not sleeping and outrageously erratic behavior, and we had an infant. In the words of Jim Gaffigan, “Imagine you’re drowning. And someone hands you a baby.” We are still tired, but the year improved. Thing 1 had a great year with less meltdowns, more communication, and he is truly a delightful kid. Thing 2 is not sleeping, but we’re on the road to answers. Thing 3 is moving into terrible-two’s territory. They are all happy. We wish our friends and family the same health and happiness in 2016.


Autism Gift Guide


Buying for certain people at Christmas can be difficult.  Choosing gifts for the nonverbal child who doesn’t ask for anything…nearly impossible.  Since we want to make the holidays special for our children, here are some ideas that have been on my mind, and some toys my kids love.

  • Gifts that develop gross motor skills and compliment the hard work our kids do in occupational and physical therapies are great.  My oldest struggles with pedaling a traditional bicycle, so we bought him a Go Glider last year.  Radio Flyer’s Ziggle intrigues me…and I saw this Spin ‘N Saucer in Target and thought it would be a stimming fantasy come true.
  • I love the IKEA MULA series.  Inexpensive and durable, trust me.
  • I always think about getting my kids sensory items, like a weighted blanket or sensory swing.  If you’re crafty and can sew, I’m sure there are DIY patterns available.  I’m not crafty, so I use my credit card.  I like this Taco Swing, and I found these weighted blankets offered in different sizes that can also be personalized. (I don’t own, nor have we tried, either of these).
  • Every year, Toys R Us offers a Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids.  I think it’s worth mentioning here…If your child is 8 but enjoys playing with toys intended for a 2 year old, so what?  We want to encourage functional play and meet our children on their level.  Don’t be hung up on what your child “should” be doing.
  • Lego sets.  I have yet to meet an autistic kid who doesn’t love Lego.
  • Ask your child’s teacher what your son or daughter enjoys playing with in class, or ask the speech therapist, occupational therapist, or behavior therapist for suggestions.  Thanks to our son’s teachers, we found out he LOVES Boggle Jr. and Don’t Break the Ice.
  • We often ask for iTunes gift cards for adding new apps and music.  The iPad can be a lifesaver many days.

This year, Santa is bringing my oldest a Lego set and Thomas & Friends DVD; middle child is getting a Radio Flyer Ziggle and Chuggington DVD, and the baby is getting a Baby Einstein Gift Set.  We’ll sprinkle reindeer food on the front lawn on Christmas Eve and leave cookies and milk for Santa, even if my kids don’t completely understand why.  They do know that cookies are awesome, and that’s enough for me.

For additional ideas and resources, please check out:

Autism Consortium

National Autism Resources

Ten Toys that Speak to Autism

Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism