Accepting and Understanding Different

If you ever get a chance to hang with Finley, you may notice that she sometimes "looks" at you peripherally. Particularly when the situation is intense. Doctors have asked us to work with Finley to "let us see her eyes" to help facilitate communication. And this has always bothered me. I fight it every time I hear it. What I want to do instead is ask her, "Finley are you hearing what I am saying?" Because that is what matters most - is she able to listen in that moment. Sure, common social rules dictate that eye contact is a non-verbal form of … [Read more...]

She is Finley

"Mom why does my brain get so much fear when my food is different? I like chocolate, but I can’t eat this chocolate pudding because my nose freaks out with the wrong smell of the weird chocolate." We have always been open and direct with Finley about differences. All of our kids really. Whether it pertained to them or others. And while I have no issue with labels, I also know the power they can have - both good and bad - so I prefer to explain things in detail without relying so much on the label part. For our family, getting any health … [Read more...]

Autism Parenting: “Clean Our Village”

They are all over my house right now. Little clumps of garbage taped to my walls. Last weekend while out on a walk, my six-year-old daughter Finley found some trash. It kind of freaked her out because she was worried that if left there other people could be poisoned by it. She decided we had to do something. "Mom, we have to go clean our village." But she became anxious. What if we touch the litter, get germs, and die? If it can hurt the earth and others by being left out, how do we pick it up without being harmed? She has always … [Read more...]

What I Learned from Autism

You know how sometimes a child will scream and cry? Maybe even become defiant. Perhaps they kick or hit and run away. On the surface it looks like misbehavior. It might seem bewildering to you. The reason why may seem insignificant. But it isn't any of those things when the person is autistic. Here are a few moments when Finley responded in one or all of the above ways. But she was acting that way out of defense to sensory overload and/or change, not to misbehave. Her mind required small accommodations or extra prep time and explanations in … [Read more...]

Only One Thing You Need to Know

I wrote this almost a year ago. We had just found out about Finley being autistic. I don’t know that I would use the exact same words and phrasing when referring to autism now. At the time it felt separate from her somehow. I don’t see it that way anymore. While I don’t think she is defined by her autism, I do understand that it is her neurological filter. ASD isn’t episodic like depression, where one is depressed for a time and then not. I also have a far more objective and accepting view. Autism just….is. When moments are hard, then … [Read more...]

Autimism: Autism Teaches

Scroll down for our giveaway for iPad Mini, Nexus 7 tablet, gift cards and goodies. Transitions, even simple ones like going downstairs, can be a real challenge. It is possible to get completely stuck in a moment, especially when your brain’s signals are crossed. It’s like a traffic jam of information. It might require making repetitive clicking noises with your tongue. Or flopping around on the floor until someone can help you calm your body with a big bear hug. Your brain tells you that there are strong needs that HAVE to be met to go … [Read more...]

Our Autism Adventure Begins

This post was written in May of 2013. It is a recount of the prior year as we attempted to find out why my daughter was having such a difficult time. When I read this I can recall the anger, confusion, and fear I felt. But there is so much distance between those emotions and how I feel now. Those feelings have been replaced with knowledge, understanding, and a sense of security. We have come a long way since then. She has been officially diagnosed with autism by a panel of experts (no anxiety or ADHD.) She is succeeding in ways we didn’t think … [Read more...]

My Shaynanigans

My name is Shayla and I hail from the Pacific Northwest. I am mom to an army of three girls, ages five, two, and one. My oldest was diagnosed with autism last year. Her name is Finley. She is Miss Observant. Peanut butter connoisseur. Crafter. Dinosaur aficionado. Lover of swings, bubbles, and sand. Genuine and honest. Avid reader. She is my little warrior and every day she teaches me something new. It is her story I want to share. Our journey with her as we embark down the path of autism. And I want to do so honestly. That means with the … [Read more...]