A family's story

Posts tagged ‘Halloween’

Thankful Thursdays–Vol.2, Issue 1

Last year I tried to do a “Thankful Thursday” post each Thursday of November. I am going to do the same this year…because, well, I have a LOT to be thankful for this year. To start, I am incredibly thankful for our 2012 Halloween experience. It was such a good day that I really don’t know where to begin.

Hmm….well, Tate decided a week ago that he was going to be a spider. Like I said in my prior post, it was ironic, in that he is fascinated/repulsed by spiders. On Tuesday night I readied his costume for school. I pinned his spider legs onto a gray and black hoodie. He was skeptical, and kept telling me that he didn’t need the costume. I reassured him that his friends would all be dressing up, too. He perked up a bit with that. I told him that Jake would wear a costume in his classroom. He allowed me to put the spider-hoodie in a bag and set it next to his backpack.

That night, we talked, again, about the Halloween party at school. I did a rough social story about his party, and the games that would be played, and the snacks, and the costumes. I made sure to include that he would be with his mainstream class, and that there would be 21 (too much, mommy!!) kids, and how if he got “scared” or “nervous” or “tired” he could go back to his homeroom. He seemed ok, and he slept through the night…until 4:30 am…but hey, that’s better than where we’ve been!

Tate made it very clear to me when he woke up on Halloween morning that he was going to school, there was no ABA that day, and that he would be a spider at school. I was NOT invited. “You stay home, Mommy.” I assured him that I would not be at his party. I did let him know I would be at school. I was working in Jake’s classroom during his party. He was indifferent, but didn’t panic, so I took that as a good sign.

Jake was super excited about Halloween. He was up at 4:30 am with Tate. I heard them chattering in Jake’s room. He talked non-stop when he finally emerged from his room at the approved 6 am time. He was also really excited that I’d be in his classroom later in the day. He gets a bit more scattered when his excitement levels are high. He couldn’t find his shoes…but he found both of his library books. He didn’t remember to zip his backpack, but he remembered to bring mittens in case his hands got cold at recess. We managed to get him out of the door in one piece!!

I was able to get stuff done around the house in order to prepare for Halloween. I finished up my party items for Jake’s class and loaded them into the van, with a little help from my main man, Cole. Then I did some pick-up and clean up around the house in preparation for a few neighbors and Hubz’s parents’ visit later that day. I was feeling accomplished..and not very rushed, which eased my anxiety about Tate at school for the entire day. With a party. And lots of sugar. And excitement. And 20 other first graders. Oy!

Once I got to the school, there was a flurry of activity as all of the moms (and a few dads) got ready to celebrate Halloween. The other room moms and I got the classroom mostly set up, and then we went to watch the school costume parade. I was a little worried that Tate would not be ok with seeing me at the parade, but I was wrong. He waved and said hi. He smiled. And he was wearing his costume!!! Jake smiled for me as I took his picture. He said hi, and I was so relieved that I still was semi-cool..and he wasn’t embarrassed to see me.

The party went well in Jake’s room. Third graders are a lot of fun–when you have to entertain them on a limited basis. They played games, enjoyed some crafts, made hilarious faces with our mystery boxes…and enjoyed some sugary goodness, thanks to a bunch of very generous parents! After the party was over, Jake and I walked to Tate’s classroom to get him. He was all smiles. His teacher told me how great he did at the party. He didn’t have to leave once. He kept his spider hoodie on the entire time. He participated in games. He laughed. He was happy. I got teary…she understood.

We came home to Hubz and Cole. Hubz had some chili simmering in the crockpot. The house smelled great..and I was on cloud 9 after making it through the 3rd grade party AND hearing about Tate’s great day at school. The boys had some great down time. We let them watch a little tv, and they had some decent snacks. They just got to be..and they needed it.

At about 4:30, Hubz took the boys outside to play with the neighbor kids. They were getting their excitement out before we embarked on our trick-or-treat adventure. A few minutes later they clamored back into the house to get their costumes. Tate was a little resistant (he’d already worn his costume that day), but he did put on his coat with the spider legs. Cole had a last minute costume change to Buzz Lightyear (his best friend at preschool was Buzz, and that totally sealed the deal for Cole to change his mind–thankfully we had the costume from when Jake was younger). Jake put on his Hawkeye gear–and proudly carried his bow and arrow! They even let me take their pictures on the front porch…and I had a couple that were actually acceptable enough to post on Facebook–whoohoo!!

My boys went trick-or-treating with the neighbors. They did great. Tate wore his costume. And rang a few doorbells. And said, “Trick-or-treat!”. And said, “thank you!”. He kept up. He had fun. He “got” the concept. Now, his bucket of candy will sit on the counter where it will be picked over by his brothers and me…he isn’t a big candy fan…and he doesn’t live for Halloween…but he got to be a part of something with his brothers and the neighbors, and he knew it. And he loved it. And it made me all teary-eyed to think that our little guy is so, totally progressing….and proving even us wrong, sometimes. I wasn’t sure he could do it…but he did. He got tired. He sat on the sidewalk a few times. He sometimes even just walked up to the door, but didn’t trick-or-treat because it would get to be too much….but he did it. And he did it well.

As the night came to a close, I think my boys did great. We bathed the younger two to help them calm down for bed. And to bed they went…where they stayed until 6 am today. Minor miracle.

So, yeah….a LOT to be thankful for yesterday…and every day.

 Tate and a classmate parade around the school.

 Jake stopping to smile at the camera–love that kid’s smile.

 Bye, mommy! See you later!

 My Itsy-Bitsy-Spider, Buzz Lightyear, and Hawkeye

 Look at my muscles!! (I love the expression on Jake’s face…”Um, dude, please…”



Halloween Hoe-down

Saturday afternoon we attended a Halloween party at my sister’s friend’s farm. They had plenty of activities planned, and the majority of the party sounded like it was going to be outside. Outside and not crowded. We were game!! In fact, I talked the party up so well to Tate and Cole that Jake decided that he didn’t want to go on his Haunted Hike for Cub Scouts. Hubz and Jake joined us for our Halloween Hoe-down!

We scrambled to assemble our costumes Friday night and Saturday morning. My Katniss costume came together fairly well. I had everything except a bow and arrow. Hubz decided to wear my big, fuzzy pink bathrobe with the Werewolf mask from Jake’s original costume. We had a shower cap and he became the Big Bad Wolf as Grandma. Except that his mask totally, absolutely, without-a-doubt freaked out all 3 of our children. So he pulled it up on his head…and instead looked eerily like my grandmother. Jake was Hawkeye from The Avengers. He is bummed that come Wednesday he has to leave his bow and arrow at home…but the “no weapon” rule definitely applies to his accessories. Cole was a shark. YESSSSS!!! He tried on the Spiderman costume, but it was a little big, and the built-in muscles drove him nuts. I am sooo glad that it worked out this way..and I didn’t have to do ANYTHING.

What about Tate?! Well, I’ll have you know that Tate chose a costume idea..and I made it..and he wore it. Oh yes he did. For realz! When asked by 3 different therapists last week, Tate proclaimed that he was going to be a spider. The irony, here, is outstanding. See, Tate has a love-hate relationship with arachnids. He is fascinated and repulsed by these 8 legged critters. However, that is what he said he wanted to be. I found some black fuzzy socks at Target, stuffed them with crafter’s stuffing, pinned them onto the black side of his jacket, and voila! We had a spider. He even wore his Spiderman shirt. I think we found the perfect costume for him…because he can “dress up” without really having to dress up. Oh, and watching his 4 extra pinned-on appendages?! Hil-arious!

We arrived at the party around 4:15. It truly was in.the.middle.of.nowhere. Jake didn’t believe Auntie K when she said that it was a really small town…with one stoplight. Being the suburban boys they are, our boys marveled at the real, live livestock. Mommy, they have sheep! And goats! And chickens!!! Cole was mesmerized by the tractors. That’s right…there were TWO of them. Oh, it was Hope boy heaven!!

The boys made themselves at home…took off their shoes, and bee-lined to the playroom. They were having fun, and were being appropriate, so I socialized a bit with the other party-goers that I knew. I was shocked that they didn’t know who I was dressed as for Halloween. Of course, neither of them had read nor seen The Hunger Games. Sheesh! After some small talk, we rounded up the kiddoes to go outside for a tractor ride.

It was fairly chilly. Tate’s nose began to run immediately upon entering the chilly air. It didn’t stop him, though. He played on the swingset for a bit. From there, the boys ran to join the other children at a kid-size hay maze. Tate was apprehensive about going in, but after some reassurance from Mom, Dad, and Auntie K, he ran in. I was a bit nervous..would he freak out at a dead end? Would the hay be too itchy? Would it be too dank and smelly? I waited. He popped his head up at one point, and I headed in. Hubz and my sister, K, laughed at me, as I had to crawl on my hands and knees…and not 2 moments after I entered, Tate came bounding out of there, all smiles and giggles. Joke was on me!!

After that, we climbed aboard the hay ride. My boys loved watching the tractor. Jake was the safety expert, making sure nothing came apart. (I know he was anxious about it…but he played it fairly cool. We got to go down the field to the little hill that had been scattered with pumpkins. Each of the children got to choose a pumpkin. Jake found his first…he climbed to the top of the hill to get it. Cole chose a small pumpkin near the base of the hill. Tate was a hoot to watch. He haphazardly climbed the hill, found a pumpkin, looked it over, deemed it unworthy and threw it to the side. He climbed up a bit higher and found his prized pumpkin. He handed it to Hubz for safekeeping. We boarded the ride once more, my boys choosing to sit to watch the tractor in action. From the field, we drove to the neighboring house to trick-or-treat at grandma’s. (It was really the farm owner’s grandma!) The kids got treat bags…and they were the first (yes, Tate, too) to shout, “Happy Halloween, Grandma!!!” It was awesome.

After the hay ride we went back inside the house. The house was an old-fashioned farm house. It was small-ish, but the ceilings were so high that it felt bigger than it really was. They did a chili pot luck for dinner. There were also hot dogs. Jake had made up his stubborn little mind that he was not eating dinner there. So he didn’t. Tate was not hungry, so I didn’t push it. Cole sat and socialized with the other kids, chowing down on a hot dog and chips. Then he followed his brothers into the playroom. Hubz and I ate some dinner with Auntie K, periodically checking in on the boys, who were all playing very well.

More than once there was some high-pitched whining. I would perk up, run to check, only to realize that it wasn’t Tate. It was another little boy. Each. Time. He was younger than Tate, but reminded me of him in many, many ways. First, he had ringlet curls all around his head. Oh, how I miss Tater’s curls…but he hates them, so we keep them cropped. Plus,  now they are more waves than ringlets. Second, the inappropriate playing. He didn’t play with anything as it should be…except for a slice of pretend pizza, which he latched onto and would not give up.  Third, the whining…he was dysregulated. I knew it. Hubz knew it. Auntie K knew it. The parents…well, they seemed to be in a state of denial, which we all were at one time.  The little boy didn’t talk much, and he preferred adult company to that of other children. He especially enjoyed coming over to me and my sister.

I was torn. I didn’t know whether to say anything or not. I mean, how does one tell people they don’t know that, “Oh, your son reminds me so much of my son. Especially his behaviors. He gets dysregulated, too. He also prefers adults. He also struggles socially.” The parents just kept insisting that their son was shy…and maybe that was it…but, well, yeah. I never quite know whether I should throw out the big “A” or not in these circumstances. I mean, maybe it was just an off night…except that it seemed like it wasn’t. It seemed like this was fairly common. Especially so because his older brother said, “Ugh…he’s doing it again.” I have heard that phrase before…

Anyway, we were all getting tired, so we decided to pack it up. The boys helped pick up the toys in the play room. Then we thanked the hosts and headed home. No tears. No tantrums. No stress. It was a good night–especially when each of the boys exclaimed that they loved the Pumpkins! Tractor! Hay ride! Candy!

Nights like Saturday remind me of where we were only a few short years ago…and how far we’ve come. Nights like Saturday give me hope that it will continue to get easier…and that we’ll continue to be able to participate in activities like typical families do. As long as we go at our own pace and do it in our way, we will get there!!

Halloween, Tate Style

Tate woke up early yesterday and the first words out of his mouth were, “No Halloween today.” Oh. Boy.

Since it was 4:30 in the morning and I wasn’t quite functioning, I told him we’d talk later. After an hour and a shower, I was in a better frame of mind. We talked about the day ahead, and we talked about the fact that he did not have to wear a costume or go trick-or-treating. He relaxed, the flapping stopped, and he went downstairs.

I decided to approach the topic of a costume. His teacher was allowing the students to dress up for the day. The ghost I had fashioned out of a white sheet? No go. The scarecrow idea he had after reading a Halloween book with one of his therapists? Uh-uh. Ben10 from Jake’s collection? Fuggetaboutit. Spiderman? Too yuck (according to Tate.). I was just about to give up when I asked if he wanted to wear pj’s. We had a winner!! He didn’t even have to brush his hair…and we threw his duckie blankie in his backpack…and he was set.

After school he insisted on wearing clothes. So we changed him. When trick-or-treating started, he waited by the front door and announced the arrival of guests coming to the door. I asked, Hubz asked, even Jake asked if he wanted to go out for TOT’ing. No, no thank you. (At least he was polite!)

Hubz put Cole’s puppy costume on him, and I helped Jake wiggle into his Heatblast costume. They were ready. The neighbors came over, and we asked one last time. Too late, though, because Tate the Great was already outside, candy bucket in hand. Depending on who you ask, he went as himself or a surly teenager who doesn’t need a costume.

I was beaming as my little Tater-tot merrily went from house to house. He eagerly walked up, knocked on the door, said, “trick-or-treat”, and said “thank you” each time. He kept up with his older brother and the 2 neighbor kids for about 90% of the night. He waited, HOLDING MY HAND, when he was done. No whining, no flapping, no pacing. So, so proud of my boy.

What started out as a shaky day ended well…and gives me a glimmer of hope for easier times to come.

Halloween…Autism style

It’s October. The leaves are coming down, the weather is changing, and no one can escape the abundance of Halloween decor at home, school, and in every single store we visit.

When the month began, we started discussing Halloween. Hubz and I talked about pumpkins, scarecrows, jack-o-lanterns, and trick-or-treating. Jake talked about candy (of course), and spooky decorations, and dressing up. One of Tate’s ABA therapists began reading books and started a social story for him.

A few days into October, Jake declared that he was going to be Heat Blast from BEN 10. (Visit Cartoon Network for more info.) Done! Easy! Cole is going to be a puppy dog or a goldfish…depending on which hand-me-down fits him best. Then it came to Tate. What did he want to be? Did he even get the concept?

Me: Taters, what do you want to be for Halloween?
Tate: Ghost.
Me: well, ghosts are definitely a part of Halloween. Are you sure you don’t want to be something else? SpiderMan? Wubbzy? An Imagination Mover?
Tate: No, ghost. White. Ghost.
Me: Ookaayyyy, ghost it is.

How the heck do I make my kid, the one who can’t stand ANYTHING on his face/head a ghost?! So I thought and thought…and figured that I could get a sheet, cut a hole in it and he can be a ghost..I would paint his face white…it could work.

On Sunday I asked him again…
Me: Tate, do you still want to be a ghost for Halloween?
Tate: No. No want be ghost, either.
Me (insert internal groan): Ok, what do you want to be? What costume would you like?
Tate: Me, I am Tate.

Soooo, my little man is NOT getting the concept. Hubz says to let him go as himself. Really?! Kids are SUPPOSED to want to dress up. It’s FUN! But, again, Tate is supposed to do a lot of things that other kids do…and that doesn’t happen, either. He totally marches to the beat of a different drummer….So, the neighbors may see my 5 y.o. roaming the streets with his ghost bucket in tow, dressed as…himself. Maybe I will let him dress himself that day! (You know, have some fun with it…)

In the meantime, as his teacher, ABA therapists, and speech therapists discuss the Halloween season, I will be feverishly planning a Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D costume…just in case my Taters decides to go as a ghost, or Spiderman, or Imagination Mover….

Life, and Halloween, are never dull when you’re living in “the spectrum”.

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