Mama Miller Parenting

Passionate parenting and homemaking.

A Rainbow of Acceptance: A Newby Mom’s Guide to Autism Acceptance Month

PicsArt_1459380615307This April is my first Autism Acceptance Month with a diagnosed ASD kiddo. Through several awesome Facebook support groups I have learned so much about the rich and beautiful spectrum of autism. I’ve grown as a mom and gained insight into my own childhood.

Something that stood out to me though was the somewhat confusing number of campaigns and colors for Autism Awareness/Acceptance. So this is the basic guide I’ve made through my research. I’m having trouble linking to various things, so please look these up and do research for yourself. Knowledge is power.

The Puzzle Piece- This is one of the first symbols for Autism. It dates back to 1963 and was chosen because of the “puzzling” nature of autism. It originally had an image of a crying child in it to show the sorrow autism caused. It has been updated to colorful primary hues. Some support this symbol as a way of showing that autistic people deserve to “fit” in society and that we are all part of the greater picture. Others avoid it because of the past connotations that autistic people are like a puzzle piece that doesn’t fit or that they are somehow missing pieces needed to be a whole person.

Light it up Blue- This campaign is sponsored by Autism Speaks and is often represented by a blue puzzle piece. This one tends to lean more towards awareness than true acceptance. They are criticized by many autistic people because of their views on the causes of autism and that it should be cured.

Red Instead/Walk in Red- In response to the backlash against Autism Speaks and Light It Up Blue, this movement was founded. It encourages people to seek autism acceptance and education and to chose red instead of blue.

Tone It Down Taupe- This is similar to Red Instead. It was founded by autistic women in hopes of giving an alternative to Autism Speaks and the blue puzzle piece. They encourage people to tone it down and focus on education and acceptance.

Autism Doesn’t Make Me Blue (Gold)- This is another alternative campaign. Au is the periodic symbol for gold. So this plays on the “Au” in Autism.

Rainbow Infinity Symbol/Color the World- The rainbow symbolizes the vast spectrum of autism. And the infinity sign symbolizes the greater Neurodiversity Movement. (This is my personal favorite because I adore the concept of neurodiversity.)

I hope this helps you navigate this month and what it means. No matter how you choose to color your world, please use this month to educate yourself and others on the beauty of the spectrum. Please research any charity or organization you want to support. Ask yourself if they are really bettering the world for autistic peoples? Are they seeking awareness of an “illness” or acceptance of those with a neurodivergent brain?

Again, I am new on my knowledge journey and this is just a basic overview of my research. If you have anything to add or useful links, please feel free to comment with them!

With Love,

Cori “Mama” Miller

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Professor,Wildling, and Goofball

I’ve decided to give the kids more interesting designations than just their first initial for the blog. So I’m doing a little update here on each kiddo.

It has been a wild month, but we are making it. Sometimes we choose personal mental health over being social. Sometimes we have rough days. But as always, life finds a way. We are so blessed by these three little souls.

Professor

K, our little professor, will be 7 in June. He was recently diagnosed with high functioning autism, ADHD, and anxiety. His diagnosis has given us the means to finally get the school on board with helping him. I’m hoping we can soon get an IEP and some services.

It is hard to give words to the emotions of this month. I don’t mourn the diagnosis, but the lost time. I feel bad that he struggled to fit in last year and we didn’t realize he was having sensory issues. I am beyond blessed by his teacher this year. She has done a few modifications without the IEP in place that have made a huge difference for him.

He continues to amaze me with his depths of knowledge. He can understand things far beyond his years, but can’t remember where he left his shoes or how he managed to lose his socks during school.

Usually he isn’t snuggly like the other two, but sometimes he asks if he can rest with me for a bit. My heart soars as he leans into me and we just exist together for a bit.

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Wildling

Oh, sweet E… Our wild child. Her latest interest has been in cooking. She will gladly help me make dinner or bake a cake. She also likes to get into the spice cabinet and do “science” in the bathroom. She loves to sing and gets perturbed if someone tries to sing along to her song.

She is by far my most challenging child. I adore her. Parenting her is a constant battle between reigning her in and allowing her to be herself. I don’t worry much about people pushing her around as she gets older. She is going to give them hell.

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Goofball

Baby F isn’t a baby anymore! He is now a spunky two year old. (When did that happen?!)

He recently had his second set of tubes put in. All the early ear infections have his speech a bit delayed. He talks a lot, but doesn’t enunciate his beginning and ending sounds. Speech has been fun for him. He really likes Miss Julie.

This kid is so funny and sweet. He loves to snuggle and give kisses. And then occasionally he is replaced by a toddler changeling and wails and gnashes his little teeth. Oh, toddlerhood.

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Well, for now I am going to help Daddy Miller get our small humans in bed. I have a Professor in my lap.

Love,

Cori “Mama” Miller

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It’s a pen.

Well friends,

We continue along on our journey for an official diagnosis for K. It is going well and we have an awesome developmental pediatrician. So far we are definitely looking at High Functioning Autism and possible ADHD.

On Wednesday we did academic and IQ testing. We weren’t at all surprised to learn he is one smart kiddo. His reading skills are especially developed.

During the IQ testing there was a section of verbal riddles.

“They have buttons. You hold it in your hand. You use it to solve math problems.”

“Pen!”

“Good try, but not what I was looking for.”

He grabs the pen he’d just used to do a math assessment off the table.

“Look! It has clicky buttons. I hold it. I do math with it.”

“That is clever, but not what I was looking for.”

“Oh. A calculator then. But pen is still right.”

I love the way his mind works.

Things I’ve learned so far:

*Sometimes advocating for your child means being mean or pushy with the school. (His teacher is awesome, but the admins were dragging on some things. We are finally getting a 504 in place to officially allow him some of the modifications his teacher already does. And after his IQ testing, his teacher pushed for him to get to do some advanced math with the GT teacher once a week.)

*Some of his most endearing personality traits are also part of his autism. I adore his speech patterns and his creativity. I love the way his mind works.

*Helping him will be a balance of teaching him “normal” social skills and teaching those around him that “normal” is often overrated.

*Sometimes people get so caught up in not labeling kids, but we are all labeled to an extent. I’d rather him be labeled Autistic (a medical condition) than just be labeled a problem kid because he has a hard time staying focused.

*The more I learn about it, the more I see things in my own personality and childhood. I don’t know that I’m necessarily autistic as well, but K did get some of his personality from me.

*ADHD surprised me because I’ve never considered him hyper. But it does make sense with trouble focusing on tasks. But I love that the doctor said no medication for now. ADHD does not have to mean automatically being medicated. It may be needed down the road, but for now we are redirecting and eliminating sensory overload.

*The extra attention for K means a very needy E. This week has her wanting to be in my lap all the time. So I’m trying to balance time between each of them.

That’s all I’ve got for now!

Love,

Cori “Mama” Miller

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My Child Is Not Broken: surviving the testing process for Asperger’s

We announced to family and friends today that our oldest is starting testing for Asperger’s Syndrome (also called High Functioning Autism).

Our K has always had a quirky, beautiful personality. As a toddler he sounded like a tiny professor. He had an advanced vocabulary and an obsession for machines and astronomy. We also noticed that he was very sensitive. He had an extreme hatred for the vacuum and for group singing (the birthday song especially). I would have to set up pretend scenarios to get his cooperation with basic tasks.

“Ok Mighty Machine Boy, I need you to go move five toy cars the toy box garage.”

As he has gotten into school we noticed that his verbal and reading skills were much higher than his motor skills. Writing was hard. He isn’t as coordinated in PE.

We’ve worked extensively with his teacher this year to find what works well for him. She is amazing. She knows how to earn his cooperation. She knows that schedule changes and fire drills are difficult for him. This process and this school year have been immeasurably better because of her.

So here we are now. After a therapy evaluation and visits with his pediatrician we have come to realize many of these things are markers for Asperger’s.

This month we will have three appointments to do various testing and he will have a genetic screening. We should have a diagnosis by March. We are very fortunate to have found a developmental pediatrician that can see us so quickly. Many people wait months and months to get in to one.

Things you need to know about this process:

  1. My child is not broken and diagnosis will not “fix” him. Getting the diagnosis will help us be the best parents we can be for him. It will also allow the school to grant certain modifications to help him reach his maximum learning potential.
  2. Please do not feel sorry for us or offer condolences. Again, he is NOT broken. This diagnosis does not change who he is. My child is still beautiful and amazing. His brain is just wired a little differently. A diagnosis of Autism is not something to mourn.
  3. Please continue to laugh with us and appreciate the beautiful soul he is. Pray for him to continue to feel loved and to hold up well during the testing process. He may want to tell you about it. He might not. Just love him.
  4. Please let us parent. We are doing the best we can and it can be hard to balance disciple with not overwhelming him. We are working with his pediatrician, developmental pediatrician, and therapist. What worked for you as a parent may, and probably will, be very different for us. We know our child and how to approach him.
  5. We love and appreciate our family and friends, but will be very busy in the coming month. Getting a diagnosis is a process and we are exhausted. If we forget to call you back, please know that it isn’t a purposeful slight.

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This is a shirt we recently got him while explaining all of this. It represents our current journey with him. Neurodiversity means that some special souls have brains that are wired a bit differently from the rest of us. Our differences help keep the world beautiful.

Love Always,

Cori “Mama” Miller

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When Fun Mom Gets Broken

“I’m going to do something special for my kids today. It will be great. I’m totally a fun mom.”

Famous last words…

I decided to do something fun with my kids this afternoon. My oldest got out early for his last day of school before winter break. I’m not sure what malfunctioned in my brain to make me think it was a good idea to kick off two busy weeks of togetherness with a trip to the Golden Arches.

Whatever virus infected my brain must have been in the water today. I swear half the local populous also decided to visit the land of fries and McJunk. It was a madhouse.

I got the kids inside and seated while I tried to order our lunch. F would not stay at the table. He was fixated on the Christmas tree in the middle of the place. K and E kept trying to sneak away to a table with a computer touchscreen game (that was already inhabited by people).

Oh, and there was a older lady in a motorized scooter that wouldn’t leave us alone. We’ll call her Grammy Creeper.

So, I feel for Grammy Creeper. I really do. She seemed lonely. I don’t mind chatting with people or letting them talk to my kids. However, she earned her new moniker with her desire to mother my kiddos.

I was trying to dole out questionable chicken and French fries and Grammy rolls on over to our table. She started telling me how to set up their food. F wanted down and she grabbed his toy, knocking a container of ranch dressing on the floor in the process, and told him he couldn’t have his toy if he didn’t eat.

I was floored… She took my two year old’s toy. My two year old who just woke up was not pleased with this. She also told E that she would use her mean grandma voice and then went on about her 11 grandbabies.

At that point I was conflicted between my desire to be kind and my desire to ask her to go away. She just kept coming by our table. It was so awkward.

So now we are eating quickly and trying to get out of there. We are almost out the door and E had to potty. While she is pottying, K finds an open computer. F goes to the Christmas tree again.

I finally got all three kids back to the car.

“I am still hungry. I want an ice cream.”

-_-

I’m sure a scene like this has played out for every mom everywhere. Those days that your “fun days” are anything but fun. Days when crafts end up looking like poo or everyone turns into a whiny mess.

I remember my grandpa telling us, “We’re going to have fun dammit!”

Just know sweet mamas, some days our inner fun mom gets broken. You can’t help tantrums or crowds or people with boundary issues. Some days you cut bait and quit while your ahead.

I had planned to go to Target after our lunch. Nope. We came home and decided watch movies. Now this is fun.

-Cori “Mama” Miller

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Kindness Challenge

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As a Christian I am called to show kindness to others. We are told to bless others and take care of the orphans and widows.

I am infinitely fortunate to be married to one of the most giving and kind men I know. He has a heart for the homeless. I love that he is teaching our children to give when they can and to pray for others.

Now I am officially challenging you to go out and spread some kindness. Whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, Atheist, or anything in between: go out and do something. Our world can use a little more kindness.

  • Leave baggies of change on vending machines (especially in hospitals)
  • Pay for the person behind you when you get coffee or fast food
  • Keep large ziplocks of toiletries and food to hand to the homeless
  • Make cards to send our troops
  • Collect school supplies for local teachers
  • Leave baggies of change on machines at the laundromat
  • Have a pizza delivered to a friend having a rough day
  • Purchase a gift card and hand it to someone in the grocery store
  • Give a big tip to your waiter/waitress
  • Donate toys or do an angel tree
  • Take socks and toiletries to a shelter

And some ideas that don’t cost anything:

  • Offer to watch a parent’s kids so they can go shopping or wrap presents
  • Volunteer time at an animal shelter
  • Offer to walk an elderly neighbor’s dog
  • Spend some time at a nursing home
  • Offer to read to kids at the library
  • Donate (gently used, good condition) clothing to a shelter
  • Be a nice person

Go out there and do something! Don’t take pictures and toot your own horn. Just spread some kindness. Find little ways every day to bless those around you.

Love,

Cori “Mama” Miller

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Let It Go

We took the kids to the mall today for some holiday shopping. ThinkGeek opened a store. It is completely magical.

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Magical

After dividing and conquering our shopping, we all met back up by the Penny’s elevator. E had finally grown tired of annoying K and decided to play matchmaker. She really really wanted Poppy to kiss Nana. Nana and Poppy love each other, but didn’t really want to give into the demands of a wild 4 year old in the middle of Penny’s.

 

“Poppy! Give Nana a flower! Kiss her Poppy!”

There was a man waiting with us. He witnessed all of this. E’s pleas continued until the elevator opened. We all file in and Poppy told E, “Let it go!”

And then K bursts into song. Yes, that song. Loudly. On the elevator. So so loud.

I’d feel bad about the man who actually thought getting into an elevator with my three kids was a good idea, but he seemed to get a good laugh out of it.

– Cori “Mama” Miller

 

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A New Life

It has been far too long.

Since I last wrote life has gone on, but also changed. Somewhere along the way I let depression take my voice. Every time I started to write, a whisper in my mind would say, “Why bother?”

But life doesn’t stop when you are battling depression. Postpartum depression and PMDD don’t make your babies stop growing any faster. They don’t slow down the steady cadence of time.

So here we are almost two years later. I’m still fighting to regain myself. Some days are better than others. Overall I am happy. I still have the best husband ever and three beautiful kiddos.

Our New Normal

So an update on life…

I’m now 30. I kind of thought I’d feel more adult-y at this point. Growing up is a much slower process than I’d ever imagined… Until I hang around teenagers. Then I feel all sorts of adult.

We have lived in “the old house” for two years now. We still have our rescue dog, Miri. I’m a stay at home mom.

K is now 6 and in the first grade. He is completely obsessed with Minecraft and Star Wars. He is still the funniest kid ever. He has an amazing teacher who really does well with his quirkiness.

E is 4 and still our fearless, sometimes vexingly so, child. She plays guitar and loves to sing. (In this case “plays guitar” means she stands on a chair while furiously strumming her little pink guitar and singing made up songs.)

Baby F is now a hybrid toddler/zombie/dinosaur. He enjoys roaring at people and trying to eat their brains. He has remained significantly more petite than his giant siblings. He is my little buddy.

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Life with three kids is still an entirely new beast from having 1 or 2. I will never “just run into the store” ever again. A trip now involves one of those behemoth carts that has the turning radius of an AT-AT. It also involves threats on screen time and frequently repeating “don’t touch that” and “come back here”.

In fact I recently said the most mom thing I’ve ever uttered on a trip to the store. I looked up to find E chasing K down the aisle. I finally got them back to the cart. K told me E had started chasing him.

I actually heard the phrase, “I don’t care who started it. I’m finishing it.” Then I realized that it has come from me. I said that.

I’m pretty sure my mom must have felt a disturbance in the force and shed a single proud tear.

So that is where I am for now. I’m momming it up and doing the best I can with my own little circus.

-Cori “Mama” Miller

If you or someone you know is suffering from postpartum depression or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, please don’t stay silent or let them go it alone. Talking to others and reaching out for help is so so important. 

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Types of nap waking…

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Nap-time is a glorious hour in any parent’s day. A much earned break from constant noise and demands. And they are so cute while they’re sleeping.

Unfortunately, not all naps are created equally. How your child acts when they wake up can greatly vary from nap to nap. So, here is my handy guide to the types of nap waking you may experience…

1. The Cuddler
This is when your waking child becomes a snuggle bunny as they wake. Hugs and kisses abound. It is like a unicorn frolicked through to fart happiness on their dreams. This is probably the best waking mood.

2. The Grump
If your child wakes in a foul mood and closely resembles you when you haven’t had your morning coffee, you have a grump. Everything you say will be met with grunts and nothing will please them.

3. The Crier
This is like a grump doing a Niagara Falls impression. Every you do will lead to tears. A sibling looks at them? Tears. You give them the juice they asked for? Tears. The sky is blue? Tears. Everything will be tragic.

4. The Cyclone
Do they wake and immediately tear into a frenzy of motion that could rival Speedy Gonzales on uppers? Is there copious amounts of spinning, twirling, jumping, climbing, and/or running? Fits of laughter over jokes that only they get?

5. The Jekyll/Hyde or Bipolar Baby
This one hits all the above waking types within the span of five minutes. Crying and clinging. Kisses and hugs. Yelling and tantrums. Spinning and giggling. And repeat.

6. The Up All Night
Sometimes parenting comes with horrible, hard choices. No, I’m not talking about vaccinations, car seats, or schooling. The ultimate conundrum happens when they fight napping too long. Perhaps you had an event or were out. Maybe they are just wired. Either way it is past the time frame they can nap without being up too late after. Do you suffer through several more hours of craziness and tantrums until it is late enough for an early bedtime, or let them nap and risk being up all night? Don’t be fooled, it is a no-win situation.

7. The Power Napper
Another classic no-win situation. It can happen anywhere; in the car, out and about, or even at home. Your child napped, but only for about five minutes. This does not bode well for you. This gives them a temporary energy boost, but not enough rest to be mood stabilizing in the long run. Avoiding this is the reason parents will sometimes read a book in the car to keep from waking the child by moving them into the house. It is why you will bribe your four year old with candy not to touch or even look at your two year old while they sleep. It is why you will contemplate peeing on yourself rather than risking moving them off your lap to go to the restroom.

I’m not saying I have any sound advice on any of these, but it is fun to give them a name. Super helpful, right? 😛

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Happy Holidays!

A few fun nuggets from the past week…

E tripped (shocking right?) and got a big knot on her head. K overheard me telling Nana that she had a “goose egg”. When he woke up the next morning he told her to show Daddy her “goose brains”.

E has developed a massive love of rubbing Baby F’s head. She also wants to make him dance with her. He just gives her wide eyed stares of startled wonder.

K’s conversation with one of Nana’s coworkers today:
“Are you a good big brother?”

“Well, I don’t change diapers. Mommy and Daddy have to change those.”

“I bet you are still a good big brother. Do you show them the ropes?”

“Um, actually I don’t know how to jump rope very good yet.”

Anyway friends: Merry Christmas!

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