My Story: A Single Mom While Raising An Autistic Child

I never thought divorce was in my future. I never did. Here I am now. However, I realize I have been taking care of my son now for quite some time, so it doesn’t feel any different. The only aspect out of the ordinary is that we aren’t living together, and I don’t have the love I did before.  Parenting is challenging, period, but it is especially hard when you are co-parenting or being a single mother.

We try to co-parent, but it has been tough. It’s hard to communicate and enforce parenting skills for both of us, especially with an autistic kid. I want to talk more; it is so difficult for all three of us now to be on the same page. What I have come to realize is that we are all human and need to all take care of one another and be adults. Put all the other stuff to the side and parent. Even though we try to co-parent as much as possible, there are still a ton of struggles and elements that are hard as a single parent.


I love my son, would do anything for him, and always will, period. It has been tough trying to manage and juggle his therapy, life, a business, and adulting. You truly start to see all we take for granted. I have learned how to accept things for what they are and do it myself. I can do everything myself and do not need anyone.

When I knew were going through a divorce, I told my son’s school and asked them to watch for clues that he needed help or wasn’t behaving properly. But he seemed to adjust okay, so we didn’t have to worry about that too much. The main focus is making sure we all communicate.

We are on a schedule and pattern; we keep the flow of things going smoothly. I make sure that we all know the importance of our routine. My son is a very structured person, so when something is off, he can sense it and needs preparation for that change.

We use visuals whenever possible. We started using a chart that shows if our boy is going with dad or mom or school. This measure has been such a big factor in helping us all. I make sure to tell him we are going to daddy’s soon, so it helps him mentally and emotionally prepare for it.

Since he is nonverbal, we must always use a lot of sign language. He is smart and understands so much. If you ask questions, he can respond with a yes or no or with what he wants. He has a strong understanding, and we keep learning and growing. I incorporate at home what he learns at his school so that we keep increasing his progress.  

If you are nearly a single mother, know that you are not alone. Know that you can handle whatever life might throw at you, from all the issues in the house to kid troubles to work problems. You have it all under control and can do amazing things.

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The Best Autism Parenting Books

Being a parent is no easy job, especially when you have an autistic kid. I really enjoy reading the different books that are about autism parenting books. These are all fantastic books that will help you develop a better relationship with your child.

  1. Positive Parenting for Autism: Powerful Strategies to Help Your Child Overcome Challenges and Thrive
  2. Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism 
  3. Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew: Updated and Expanded Edition 
  4. A Parent’s Guide to High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder, Second Edition: How to Meet the Challenges and Help Your Child Thrive 
  5. Autism Spectrum Disorder (revised): The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism 
  6. Autism Breakthrough: The Groundbreaking Method That Has Helped Families All Over the World 

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The Best Victory Yet – Autism Parenting

I am going to GET REAL honest here. Parenting is hard; you have heard me say this time and time again. There were times when I doubted myself. There were times I laid on the bathroom floor and cried and begged God to help me. Life has thrown curve balls at me for some time now.

I had an emotional day the other day. I literally cried most of the day in between sales calls. Why? Because Antonio had some new assessments and evaluations. For some reason, my anxiety was through the roof. I had to hurry up and leave so I could have a panic attack in my car before driving home. I had to take a deep breath and think of God during this time. 

Why a panic attack?

Because at that moment in time nothing else mattered but Antonio. I used to pray so hard to God to make Antonio talk. I hated the word autism at first. I hated life. But since making changes in our lives, we saw the progress that we needed. That is what I should have been praying for instead of speaking. He can follow directions and listen and imitate; the list goes on and on. They told us that he’s 40 months old, but developmentally he’s at 30 months old. This moment is when my panic attack kicked in. Hearing that was like a victory dance! We are finally catching up, we aren’t slowing down, and he’s doing amazzzing. Some could argue with this, but going dairy and gluten-free has been the best decision ever. I’m forever happy and grateful for our health insurance and aba team.

I had the hardest time adapting to these obstacles of being an autistic child’s mother. But I had to do what I had to do. I would cry and beg everyone for any help. I didn’t know what to do about any of it. All that needed doing was to get him some therapy and patience, and it would all fix itself in time.

Due to the many obstacles in life, I have changed a lot. I have started journaling, having a better schedule, allowing family time, less screen time, more kid activities, more physical activity, going to church, and self-care. Because all of this does matter, you cannot be by your children all day every day. It will DRAIN you and your life out. Trust me on this. All we can do is pray and know that time will get us through anything!

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Get Motivated and Take Care of You

You know the gyms are packed, everyone is trying to become a better fitness person this year.  Everyone is trying to eat better. I am part of this group… but I began a little before the year started. I am dedicated and will do this for me. We all need to have a bit more self-care for ourselves. Exercise is my way of having self-care. It really helps with the brain and overall health and well-being.

I signed up for yoga and hip-hop classes at night now. I can put Antonio in daycare and have some fun while he plays with others too. It has been so great to be able to let loose before the end of the night. People sometimes like to work out in the mornings, but I do not.  

I signed Antonio up for soccer. At first, I was so hesitant because he has autism and I didn’t know how this would go. I worried about him following instructions and if he would like it. But I need to let him go more and stop babying him so much. I know he can do this just fine, and I am happy to have him in this new class. He loved gymnastics before, but I know soccer is just as fun and a little more fitting for a boy. 😉

I am loving the results of being able to have fun, work out, and feel good. There is so much to self-care, this is just one component.

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Autism Truths – Getting an Independent Child

When I first found out my son was autistic, I felt like I sheltered him. Even like I found excuses for him not to do something. I doubted myself and my son. I kept coming up with excuses for why I couldn’t communicate with him. Once my son started to interact and listen, I felt like I could let go a little bit. Maybe my son could be independent. One day, I realized I want my kid to be independent. I had to make changes so he could.

As a kid with autism, I want my kid to be independent. It’s OK for him to be independent, it’s OK for him not to be as social as he needs to be. This justification is all called acceptance but really and truly it’s OK because I am independent. I am an introvert. I believe we don’t need to be social all the time, and I don’t think that we must be extroverts. My son is OK being the way that he is. I’m happy and proud that he can amuse himself and be independent. I don’t want my son to rely on anybody but himself. Each day, I have to let go a little bit more and more.

What do I mean by him being independent?

He now has chores and commands that I’ve given him. I ask him to take his coat off and hang it up or to take his backpack and put it away. Simple tasks requests from me, and he does them. I allow him to do gymnastics and soccer with very little help now. He can pick up his toys and put them away when asked. I ask him to wash his hands, and he can understand. We are working on doing more chores around the house such as putting his dishes away, putting his clothes away, and putting his food away.

I have loved watching him gain his independence.

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12 of The Best Gluten-Free Foods

Since going gluten-free, we have lost weight and haven’t felt so down. I don’t really know how to describe it, but we don’t feel so consumed. We don’t eat as much because when you give your body what it needs, you feel better. Like, you eat sugar, you are going to want more. I haven’t had real unnatural sugar or candy of any kind in quite some time. We notice the difference immensely. We went out of town for a conference a few weeks ago, and let’s just say we couldn’t even keep their food down because our bodies have adjusted SO MUCH to eating healthily. It is amazing how much a diet can change you mentally, physically, and emotionally. Catch up on why we hopped on this journey.

It’s important to always look at the ingredients. In general, when determining whether a food product is made using gluten-containing ingredients, you are looking for six keywords: wheat, barley, rye, oats, malt, and brewer’s yeast.

I want you also to note that you can still eat bread, tortillas, etc. You merely need to make sure you are eating the right types.

Here are 12 of the best gluten-free foods:

Be careful what you look for in products. If you see any of these, the goods contain gluten:

  1. Triticum vulgare (wheat)
  2. Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
  3. Hordeum vulgare (barley)
  4. Secale cereale (rye)
  5. Triticum spelta (spelt, a form of wheat)

Read more about what foods have gluten in them here – https://celiac.org/gluten-free-living/what-is-gluten/sources-of-gluten/

We decided to go gluten-free to be healthier, and to try out some ideas behind autism. We are sharing our journey as time goes on, and this is still fairly new to us. Gluten-free so far has treated us well.

glutenfree

 

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Tips to Help Your Autistic Child Survive the Holidays

Parties are always a hard time for an autistic child. I know my son gets overwhelmed for festivities or in large groups. He will start to stim and be “in his world.” Plus, he will not interact with anyone, and people wonder what is wrong with him or why he doesn’t say “hi” to them.

I wanted others to understand that it is okay, and here are some great tips to cope.

  1. Prepare Your Child: Keep your child updated. Let them know months before and the time leading up to the party. Reiterate to them weeks and days prior so that they understand and can ready themselves for the celebrations. I let my son use his ‘calendar planner.’
  2. Choose a Familiar Venue: This step might be tough, but try to make it as easy as possible. We live out of town, but still visit grandma and grandpa’s home often. Let your child know if they need to travel (like we do), how long it will take to get there, and where it will be taking place. Help them prepare by stating “remember when we went here.”  I let my son play on his ipad.
  3. Limit the Number of Guests: This point may also be difficult to do, but know that you need to have a list and let your family/friends know that if they can limit the number of attendees, it might benefit your child better. Help your child be ready for the guests by saying, “remember your cousin, Billy.”
  4. Stick to Your Party End Time: Keep festivities short and sweet. Too much party time can cause your child overstimulation or aggression. I always tell my son we have x minutes, and we will be going home at x time. This acknowledgment allows him to enjoy himself before we leave. Reassuring any child with autism is always the best measure so that they can cope before the action happens.
  5. Maintain Your Schedule: Having a schedule at a celebration can happen. Try to keep eating on track. Bring some snacks or a meal so that your child doesn’t get upset if necessary.

All of these factors might be hard to accomplish, but try to prepare your child as much as you can. Sticking to this checklist can improve and brace them mentally.

austim holidays

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Autism: Positive Parenting Makes the Difference

Life has a tendency to throw a lot at us. We all are going through some obstacle at one point or another and manage to pull it all together. I see this more and more everyday. When my son was diagnosed with autism, I felt lost and sorry for us. I wanted people to feel sorry for us. I felt like I was alone and no one else could understand.

Then, I started to notice so many people, moms included, going through their own struggles. I witnessed people going through infertility and felt bad for them. I observed moms who’s kids had been sick or in ICU after birth. We all face some hardship in our lives and should not compare each person’s problems. Every issue is so different and unique that we can’t say “oh she doesnt understand what I am going through or even care.”

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People tell me all the time I am so positive. Well, why should we be negative? I try to make the best of a situation whenever I can and stop being so hard on myself and those around me. The truth is that I am so hard on people sometimes. I am so hard on Antonio’s teachers.. my parents.. my husband… even Antonio. All because we can’t get him to talk or make the progress that he needs. So what do I do? I take my frustration out on someone else by being rude, mean, or just thinking I know it all (but I don’t).

Recently, I wasn’t happy with Antonio’s progress. I decided to take matters into my own hands. I literally hold him like a baby and let him watch my lips while I make different noises or sounds. Next, I allow him to imitate me to get the results that I want. I thought, “it can’t be that hard. Why aren’t they doing it at his speech?”

But there is one difference here… I am his mom. I am able to give him that comfort and love. I am his best friend. I am his go to person. He tried so hard to do all the things that I was doing. He made good progress. I again was wondering why they couldn’t get anywhere with him? I knew it was because I had the advantage of being his mom.

The other element I add is to be loud… and I make sure to really be annoying trying to get him to talk. I am silly and loud all the time. I don’t care if people look at us or laugh, etc. It is what works for us. I narrate situations constantly so he can understand and at least try to communicate whenever possible.

See, we all have some challenge and are all hard on one another. Just live in the moment and get excited when some small success happens. When Antonio made the same noise back, I gave hugs and kisses and he was super happy and smiling. Who cares about blaming someone. At the end of the day, we are all trying and have the same goal.

Shop Autism Things:

 

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Parenting is Scary and it Doesn’t Get Easier

They say having a kid changes your whole life and we can never prepare for parenthood. We can raise our kids to be the best or the smartest, but the truth is that once they grow up, they are out of our hands.

My son is only three years old, but I worry about everything. Lately, I couldn’t help but wonder what will come about when he is a teenager or even an adult. Will he understand all the situations he encounters? It is a tough world out there and we try so hard to make sure that they are prepared the best.

How do we prevent our kid from danger or wrong decisions? How do we let them learn and be the best? How do we explain all the rights and wrongs? How do we instruct them on dangerous aspects? How do we teach them about sex? I mean, let’s be honest.

All these questions run through my head. Though we have enough time before we have to worry about these topics, I want to be prepared as a parent when the time comes. I know one thing, being a parent means we go with the flow and surprise ourselves a lot because we know more than we think we do!

Truthfully, we as parents can only do our best. Once our children become adults, we hope that we have taught them everything they need to know to be successful when out on their own in the big, wide world.

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  1. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
  2. The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind
  3. The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children

 

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Mom Thoughts About a Nonverbal Child

I wonder all the time, literally all the time, if talking will make it all better?? By that I mean would life be “easier?” Would speaking make our bond even stronger? Would we have better communication? I ponder so many things all day. I wish that I had the answers and the easy way out, but I don’t.

Talking will make everything else go away, right?? That’s what I think. His autism will just be gone and we can be “normal.” But, it will always be there; it will just present itself less and less. Hence why it is so important he gets all the help he can now rather than later.

If he can talk, he can do what other kids are doing and can truly try new things, right? Does that even matter? Will that really help? These are my thoughts… constantly… as I try to fill my head with answers and wonder what ‘talking’ will actually accomplish.

What if he’s able to start talking but doesn’t want to and would rather throw tantrums? Because, let’s be honest, such is the toddler life. Nothing else can be done. But then he talks back and a whole new issue arises, right?

Will he still stim if he can talk? Will he follow directions? What would it be like if he could speak? What really does being verbal achieve?!?

There’s more to it than just talking — that’s what I have to keep telling myself.

It’s a two way communication street. He has to understand and talk in order for it to be successful.

Let’s just live in the moment and focus on what’s in front of us. Let’s stop comparing and questioning. Let’s enjoy those snuggles and giggles that he still loves and hold on to each a little tighter because one day he will be older, he will get a bit embarrassed, and I won’t be able to get those hugs.

Shop some of our favorite autism activities.

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  1. Stages Learning Materials Language Builder Emotion Picture Cards Expressions, Conversation, and Situation Photo Cards for Autism Education, ABA Therapy
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  3. Stages Learning Materials Language Builder Picture Noun Flash Cards Photo Vocabulary Autism Learning Products for ABA Therapy and Speech Articulation

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