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.

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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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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? ­čśŤ

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Domestically Impared

I absolutely adore being a stay at home mom. It is by far the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I’m good with wiping noses and bottoms. Tantrums suck, but they happen.

Am I a good mom? Eh, overall I do ok.

A good wife? I try.

But a domestic goddess I am not.

My perfect housekeeping gene is broken. I’m domestically impaired. I keep a decently clean house, but I will never have my home on the cover of Good Housekeeping.

It is okay. I have other talents. I’ve made peace with the toys on the floor. (One day my children will call when their foot is impaled by a Lego one of their kids left out… And I’ll smile.) I’m not going to fret over my bookshelf being jumbled. (It will just get jumbled again.)

If you are a domestic goddess, I applaud you. I’m glad you are using your talent. Keep on scrubbing and changing decorations to fit the seasons and creating elaborate lunch box dioramas for your kids’ lunches. (That is what you do, right?)

This post is for the rest of us. For those who don’t care about “Tablescapes” or “Perfect Parsnip Soup”.

I submit for approval from my domestically challenged sisters my idea for a new magazine: Mediocre Housekeeping.
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Article ideas:

How to Avoid Your Home Looking Like an Episode of Hoarders

Best Deodorants: When you haven’t had a shower in three days and may be harboring cereal fugitives in your hair

Strategies for Peeing Alone: A guide to getting 5 minutes a day to urinate in peace

How to Have Adequate “Adult Time” When the Baby Will Wake Any Minute: It won’t knock his socks off, but it’ll do.

I am covered in sleeping kids and I have to pee. What now?

Surviving the Tantrum: When your child collapses in the bread aisle.

How many days can I wear these yoga pants before I need to wash them?

Where are Max and Ruby’s parents? An investigation.

A Guide to Period Panties

Breastfeeding Etiquette: Just deal with it or look away.

Getting three kids and a dog into the car

Where do all the socks go?

Yep… I’d read that magazine.

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The ‘Good’ Baby

It happens so often. In grocery stores and malls and parks everywhere. People asking the question that brings prickly stress and annoyance to my soul.

“Is he/she a good baby?”

What does that even mean?!

Please stop asking new moms this question. Just don’t.

Every baby is a good baby.

A baby who sleeps through the night from 4 weeks does not possess more ‘goodness’ than a baby with colic who barely sleeps for the first year.

They are babies. Innocent. Perfect. Beautiful.

There is no such thing as a bad baby.

Some babies are, however, easier than others. It doesn’t make them good.

Some are clingy or have high needs. Being difficult doesn’t make them bad.

Please, I beg you, don’t ask it. It is inappropriate and can make new moms feel awkward. A mom with a high needs baby already has seeds of insecurity about their abilities. Questions like this only help that insecurity grow.

Don’t ask if they’re sleeping through the night yet. Or if they are on an eating schedule.

Ask them how they’re doing.

Ask them if you can do anything to help them out.

Ask if you can pray for them or with them about anything.

Or just tell them what a great job they’re doing.

New moms are incredibly strong and incredibly fragile. They are precious like their sweet babes. Let’s build them up. Growing healthy moms benefits us all. Their weary, beautiful hands are shaping the next generation.

With love,
Mama Miller

P.S.  Baby F is doing well. He eats when he eats. He sleeps when he sleeps. He smiles and he cries. He gives great snuggles. He, like all babies, is a good baby.

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Jumping Ship

A beautiful thing happened this afternoon.

I was gearing up for my usual battle of getting K to stay still and quiet enough for me to get E to nap… while nursing Baby F, of course.

Easy peasy, right? *There is sarcasm here if you can’t feel it emanating from your computer screen. I understand some suffer from insufficient sarcasm receptors.*

My weapon of choice today was popping Aladdin in the DVD player. E curled up with me on the couch while I nursed the baby and K settled into the chair.

By the time the movie was over, E was out. K announced I was boring because I said he had to be quiet, so he retreated to his room.

He actually fell asleep!

Husband called on his break just after I got the baby down for a nap.

“Hey honey, what are you up to?”

“I’m basking in the quietness… ”

“WHERE ARE YOU?!”

I am fairly certain he feared that I had jumped ship. The idea of me hoping into the TARDIS with a Time Lord seemed more likely than all three kids being quiet at the same time in the middle of the afternoon.

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My Daredevil

Today E tried to scale her brother’s tall dresser.

Husband and I nearly had a heart attack. Most of our big furniture is secured to the wall, but she managed to find the one piece that wasn’t.

This isn’t new for us.

She is fearless.

She climbs and jumps and falls. K is more cautious in nature, but not her.

I’m not sure anything could have prepared me for raising this girl.

Husband and I were cautious kids. We were rule followers. We colored in the lines. I never dreamed that I would have to worry about my toddler scaling the fireplace or running and falling 100 times a day.

I am constantly in awe of her spunk and bravery. She lights up the room with her smile. I want to raise a strong woman, but I also want us all to survive her childhood.

I once saw parenthood described as watching your heart walk around outside of your body. I understand that now.

I’m not sure what my goal is with this post. I think I just needed to put it into words- the worrisome balancing act that is parenting the strong willed, fearless child.

My brain says I need to foster her independence.

My heart wants to wrap her in bubble wrap.  

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Cheers

Don’t worry friends- my absence this week is due to juggling three children, not anxiety.

We’ve had a very busy couple of weeks.

I have my moments where I feel like I am tied to my chair nursing, serving as a pillow, and kissing booboos.

Some days I am Super Mom. I handle three kids with ease.

Some days, like today, are hard.

Some days you get to nurse the baby while the toddler throws the mother of all tantrums on your lap and the four year old whines about juice.

But you drink some coffee, put on your big girl panties, and press on.

Let’s toast to our big girl panties.

Here is to pressing on.

Here is to sore boobs and marathon nursing sessions.

Here is to kissing booboos and administering imaginary bandaids.

Here is to making it through the tantrums.

Here is to snuggles and bedtime stories.

Here is to tomorrow being a new day with a fresh beginning.

Here is to their childhood being a compilation of moments that can’t be ruined by an occasional rough day (or week).

I hope you will raise your glasses, coffee mugs, sippy cups, or back-washed beverages in celebration of the beautiful monotonous journey that is parenthood.

Laugh at yourself. Take lots of pictures. Cry when you need to.

We can do this.

Tonight I am going to breathe in new baby, drink some hot tea, and remember why all the hard moments are worth it.

Hint: It’s these sweet little souls.

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