Life With Max: A Family Affair
Alicia Hendley is the mom of four (including a squishy little boy who just so happens to have autism), as well as a writer and autism advocate. Her first book (A Subtle Thing) was published in 2010, and her second book (TYPE) was published in 2013. Her memoir, When Autism Comes to Roost: A Family's Journey from Denial to Acceptance, will be published in the fall, 2015 (http://www.bridgeross.com/autism.html). Alicia is married to local journalist Joel Rubinoff. She has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
I used to be an avid biker. As a kid, I loved riding my bike down the gentle hill my house was at the bottom of. As I grew, I would travel through the streets of KW on my bike, processing big thoughts, little thoughts, no thoughts. I loved biking, and spent my first few pay cheques at Dairy Queen as a teen buying a "speed bike". Biking was my present, my future. For a few years, it was bliss.
But then. When I was 20, a dear friend was killed, biking after work. As in, one moment this beautiful…
Sometimes your autistic child amazes you, surpassing your expectations. Sometimes he (or she) makes you weep (in a good way). And sometimes, just like any other child, they make you do both.
A few days ago I was home alone in the evening with Max (age 8 and autistic) and Sam (age 6 and neurotypical). My husband Joel was out for a well-deserved swim, as it was my night to put the boys to bed. As I herded them up the stairs, I suddenly felt lightheaded and realized I was going to faint. Not an…
Last Saturday I had what I would consider my most frightening experience as a mother (given that my eldest is nineteen, that's saying a lot). The week before, Sam (age 5) had been fighting off a bout of pneumonia, a nasty bug, but caught early enough that he could recover at home on antibiotics.
Then came last Saturday. Max (age 7) had woken up with a fever, not a big surprise, given that he and his little brother are inseparable. Max lounged on the sofa all morning, watching cartoons while in…
There's been a big gap since I last wrote on the blog. A major reason for this is that I was hospitalized for almost two months, due to my mood disorder and related medication changes. The hospitalization was completely unexpected for both me and my family; as a result, none of my children were at all prepared for my abrupt absence. While the reasons for my absence may be unique to me, a parent having a sudden health crisis in a family with an autistic child is likely not. Keeping that in mind,…
Part and parcel of Max's autism is anxiety, an unpredictable entity which goes into hiding for days at a time, only to let its presence be known loudly and indisputably, like a lion suddenly awakened.
Take this morning. Maxie woke up excited about what the day would bring (a special, little-brother-free trip to see the latest SpongeBob SquarePants movie with his dad). Given that being excited means having heightened emotions, it should be no surprise that such joy can easily tip into anxiety.
This week has been a tough one for Max. Not continuously tough, necessarily, but tough nonetheless. Most mornings he's woken up in a fragile mood, ready to "growl" or cry if anything (or anyone) doesn't go as expected. The hardest mornings resulted in lengthy "silly" fits, in which Max became so dysregulated I feared he'd choke on what little breakfast he managed to eat. Having a week of tough mornings (which also means a week of late days to school, something Max hates having happen) isn't…
It's that time of year again in our household, the month in which we attempt to squeeze our wedding anniversary, my birthday, Hanukkah, and Christmas all within thirty-one days. And, during the last several years, unwelcome visitors have also have demanded to be added to our already crammed December mix: those dreaded winter illnesses.
Having a kid or grownup get sick during this go-go-go month has become a given for our family, but never an appreciated one. Often said illness is…
Sam and I were having what he calls a "private conversation". With his elder sister Meg out with a friend, and with Daddy and Max gone on an errand, the time was ripe for such a talk. Often, these private conversations focus upon how Sammy's kindergarten friend Ella is now his girlfriend because she said she was, or how he's getting sick of having me put cucumber slices in his lunch box ("Why again, Mommy?"), or if I think he might be placed on Santa's "naughty list" this week because he…
It was 2002. SpongeBob SquarePants, Pokémon, The Fairly OddParents, and The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius were all the rage on TV, Rescue Heroes, Bratz, Polly Pocket, and anything Yu-Gi-Oh! were the hottest toys, and the name Harry Potter was known across the globe. It was 2002, and my 6-year-old son, Daniel, was entering grade one. It was 2002, and, for the first time, I experienced what it is like when one of your children is bullied.
Daniel has always had a gentleness to him, but…
September is on the horizon, and with it comes wave after wave of change for my family. Daniel, my heir apparent, is about to leave home to begin college in another city. Now 18, he's the baby/little boy/adolescent/young man who, by his mere existence, forced me to learn how to parent. Next in line is Meg, who is going to begin high school in a week, an event she's been gearing up for since she was about ten. Change is also coming for four-year-old Sam, who is more than ready to finally dip his…
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