a little background

hi, my name is mandy and I have two amazing little boys. My oldest son, Ty, has been diagnosed with autism (which is what you will read most about in this blog); I also have Tripp, who is an amazing little brother to Ty (who you will also hear alot about). I was encouraged to start this blog to document our journey through life and life with autism... my world has been rocked in last few years and i have responded in good ways and bad ... but Jesus has gotten me through all of it...





i hope i can be an encouragement to you, and for the friends and family that will read this - maybe this will keep you posted indepth on what Ty is learning! :) and the adventures of Tripp too





thank you for reading, and if you have any questions, comments or smart remarks; feel free to post them.



Thursday, September 8, 2016

The ugly truth ...

  Life is crazy. There are times that we think we have it all planned out and know where we will be in the next 10 years. We lay out our hopes and dreams for our families, jobs, vacations and think we have it all figured out. We say those "I'll never...." statements and are adamant that we know what we will and will not do with our lives.... and then life happens. I could compare it to the Olympics. Michael Phelps for example, if he were to show up at the starting block for a medal winning race and instead of diving in and swimming hard as he has trained to do, he jumps in and does a canon ball, makes a huge splash and then attempts to catch up with the pack after he's made waves and caused a scene in the pool.  The reaction from the crowd would probably be confusion, a little laughter from some, others would be outraged (I mean he's trained his whole life for this, what is he doing?!), and others would just gawk and stare because they can't believe what they just saw, then you'd have those few that continue to cheer for him because he's Michael Phelps if there's anyone that can do a canon ball and still win the race then it's him, right?!


  Well, that's kind of like my life right now. Everything has changed. Divorce sucks, it's ugly, hurtful and a mess and it changes you. It doesn't matter how peaceful anyone tries to be. It's a mess. It always will be. It effects everyone around you - your kids, friends, family, etc.  It puts a strain on relationships with everyone in your life even when you try for it not to. It's as if I have "done a canon ball in the pool at an Olympic race" and just shook the world around me.  When the news got out about our divorce some people were outraged, some just gawked and stared, a few saw it coming and then I've had those that have just continued to cheer - not that they are advocates for divorce but that they know that life happens and they can see the hope in the future. 


  I've seen on facebook some people who post their divorce selfies with their former spouse and a copy of their divorce, kind of like a newly married couple will do with their marriage license but instead it's with their judgment for divorce. Smiling? Happy? Thumbs up? When I see things like that I think "yeah right, that's not possible". As we started this process I thought "we can do this peaceful and with as little damage to the kids and still maintain a good healthy co-parenting relationship" and that is still my goal but it's not easy. I've learned a lot in the last year. I'm surrounded by an amazing group of friends that have supported me in so many ways and I couldn't have made it through this without them and Jesus of course. They have seen me cry, talked to me for hours, been angry with me, sad with me, mad with me, mad for me, when I couldn't fight for myself they fought for me and they have made me laugh, oh how they have made me laugh! I wouldn't trade any of them for anything in this world! They are my tribe and my people! I love them more than I know how to tell them!


   As of August 11th our divorce was final. We haven't lived in the same house since February but it took 6 insane months for it to be final. I remember letting my friends know that it was done and they all asked me "are you ok?" my answer was yes - there have been lots of emotions in this process and they have seen me at my worst but on that day for whatever reason it was a relief for it to be done. I won't give all the crazy details because honestly I don't want my kids to have ill feelings towards either of their parents and one day they may read this. I know that they still may hear through others stories of what happened as they get older. Some stories will be true and others will be completely made up and they will have questions and I pray I will have graceful answers. Answers that don't tear down who their daddy is to them. Answers that support their relationship with their dad and can somehow show them that this was just another part of life. I hope somehow I will be able to show them love and grace in the midst of the madness of divorce. I want my boys to know that their parents love and support them and even though life didn't work out how we had planned that it's not their fault and that we did everything we could to be good parents. In the end it's all about Jesus anyway. Just because we divorced doesn't mean that I am not suppose to show grace as Jesus would (not that it's easy, but that is my goal).


   Well, let me switch gears for a min and brag on my sweet boys! School has started and they are doing great! They are both riding the bus to school (this was a challenge for me because I have always taken them to school, but after a lot of thought, research, prayer and meetings with teachers and drivers - they are riding the bus to school! and they absolutely love it!). Ty is always excited when he sees the bus coming, he starts giggling and pointing and hugging me as if I have taken him to Disney world lol. The first day he got on the bus he ran up those stairs and never looked back. He and Tripp ride different buses because Ty's bus has fewer seats, seat belts if needed to keep him in his seat and a bus monitor to help him while he's riding. Tripp has done amazing on the bus as well, he comes home telling me all about his friends on the bus and how many stops they make, etc. I think it has given them both some independence and they are loving it.


  We have changed Ty's meds again and now he is on less meds at night! He's been doing really well lately and it is so amazing to watch him grow. We are still attempting potty training, he wears pull-ups and will point to his pull-up if he needs to go to the bathroom sometimes. He likes to just point to his pull-up to get my attention and make me stop what I'm doing so we can go in the bathroom sit on the potty and then immediately stand up without even attempting to use the bathroom. So we have been working on that. He's been doing really well at school. His teacher told me about him sitting in the hall waiting for the bell to ring before they went into the class room and his friend (a girl) was sitting next to him and when the bell rang he jumped up and then leaned down to gently help her up. He also gave this same friend his pencils (if you know Ty, that's a big deal because he likes to carry things with him and it's usually two of something well on that day it was pencils and he's bad about teasing people and acting like he will give you his toy or pencils but then taking them right back) well on this day for whatever reason he gave her his pencils and let her keep them! If you ask him about her he just grins from ear to ear it's really sweet to see him interact with his classmates and form those bonds with his peers.


  We started Ty buddy's at church last Sunday and it went really well! Ty had a helper that took him to Sunday school and then into big church during the singing, sat with him during the children's story and then took him to children's church! It was so amazing to see him interacting and doing all the "normal" things on Sunday and I can't thank my church enough for being such a big part of his life! I have had a lot of people comment on how well Ty has been doing lately and especially at church. He's been listening better and interacting more and it really just warms my heart to see others see that in him! I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for us this year!


Well thanks for reading I know it was a bunch and kind of scattered! love yall and thank you for all the love and support throughout this year and this whole process of our new normal.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Why?

I know I write a lot of posts about wanting Ty to be able to talk. I pray every day for God to give him the words he needs to communicate in this world. To give him the ability to speak and not have to face this frustration and aggravation of people not understanding what he wants or needs. I pray for Him to give him a spirit of peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control (those are things we are promised? right?). There are days that I see the positive side and I see how lucky I am that he is here and he is healthy and for the most part a happy boy who navigates and figures out how to communicate with those around him without saying a word and I am amazed at his ability to use what he's been given and teach those of us around him what he needs or wants. But there are bad days, there are days when I cry uncontrollably because I can't fix it. I don't always know exactly what's going on. I've gotten really good at guessing and reading him. For the most part I can tell if he's trying me or if there's really something wrong. But to be completely honest sometimes I just don't know. I don't know if he's crying because he's not getting his way or if he's upset or hurting and just can't tell me. I don't know if he's mad because I told him he couldn't do something or if he's mad because he was trying to tell me something else and I didn't understand. There's a lot of I don't knows when your child is considered and "labeled" nonverbal. If I'm honest there's a lot of days I just hate that word "nonverbal" because he's not completely, he speaks some words, he yells, he communicates. He just doesn't do it like everyone else. He has his own language that we are desperately trying to figure out. I understand by textbook definition it's just a "diagnosis" but it doesn't mean I have to like it. There are days I get mad at God. I tell him how I know He can fix this. I know He can settle Ty's anxieties and frustrations and help him have self-control instead of impulsive behavior. I know He is able to do all things. He tells us this. So I ask him, often times out of anger, why won't you let him speak when you are the one that can give him words. You can make the deaf hear, you can make the lame walk, you can heal the sick and raise the dead! I know you can allow him to speak and communicate in a way that we would all understand. In a way that he wouldn't be upset or frustrated because no one understands. So why not?! I get mad and upset and cry and then get frustrated and wonder who am I to ask and demand these things from God? Right ?


A new school year is starting. Luckily the boys and I live in the school district for North Pike this year so no fight there. But as Ty enters 3rd grade and Tripp enters 2nd grade I just wonder. I see kids Ty's age and I wonder and am a bit envious of what they have. I don't mean to be. I wonder a lot. What would Ty and Tripp's relationship look like? How would they be different? Would Tripp look to him more and talk to him about life the way he does with his other friends and cousins that can talk? How would they be different?  What will this school year entail? How will Ty progress? I know that he will progress, he's smart, loving, happy and healthy. But what about the days he struggles to let others know what's going on inside? When will we be able to understand and know? I don't have the answers. I have faith that he will speak. I have faith that he will always grow and learn. I have faith that we are slowly making our way towards potty training and normal daily self help activities and doing those independently. Feeding himself, getting dressed, brushing his teeth, bathing, etc. I have faith that one day he will be an independent thriving young man. Guess I'm saying, yes I know we are lucky, he's amazing, Tripp is an amazing little brother, he's growing, he's healthy, he's here. Doesn't mean that I don't yearn for the day to hear him speak.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Baseball

Oh how I love baseball! Since before the boys were here I looked forward to the day they would start playing baseball and I prayed that they would love the game! Ha, crazy I know but I just wanted them to have as much fun playing and learning the game as I did when I was their age. Lucky for me, right now they both love it. Tripp told me he would rather practice than play a game because they always have fun at practice. He had some of the best coaches any parent could ask for! They took so much time with each of the kids and did their best to push and challenge the boys to become the best they could be and still have fun. The thing I love the most about Tripp's coaches was how they still kept Jesus in the center of the game. He would tell them how he just wanted them to do their best, win or lose, and at the end of every practice and every game he would pray with them. The prayer isn't what kept Jesus in the center but their character and love for each of the kids was evident in everything they did, drills, games, constructive criticism .... everything they poured into these kids came from loving God first and it was great for us to be a part of that!


Ty started his third Miracle League season this year and he had 3 buddies! The league had so many volunteers this year that they had to turn some of them away. I am so happy that we are able to be a part of something so amazing! Ty hit the ball on his own (off the tee) at his first at bat and Addie(the lady that keeps everything going for miracle league) went nuts! Last year we were almost there with batting off the tee but he still would need assistance and this year he just walked up to the tee and hit the ball! Now every time after that was not the same, he still would need assistance some and sometimes he wanted two bats, or a phone and a bat, book and a bat, etc ... but he did hit the ball and run more this year than he has in the last two! We are still working on base running and fielding, he tends to just want his buddies and then friends to just chase him or carry him and when it's time to be in the field he wants to be in the other teams dugout, but he has had a blast! His three buddies have been pretty amazing, they are all high school students and have some of the biggest hearts. They have gotten to know Ty and do their best to keep him engaged in the game and when he just wants to take a break then they take one with him! It amazes me to see these students care so much about a boy they just met. They will never know how much this momma really appreciates them and the time they take to spend their Saturdays with the Miracle League. All of the volunteers are so good and happy to be there. Since Ty is such a runner and pretty social on the field, he gets attention from more than just his buddies and without hesitation each of the kids stop and figure out what it is he's asking and will either chase him or come sit and watch a video on the phone and even hand over their phone just because he's asked for it and wants to look at pictures. It's just really awesome to watch. It's amazing to see them interact without any training of any kind and to just play. When Ty throws himself on the ground and falls down because he can't run the bases with two bats, his buddies just roll with it, they pick him up and carry him around the bases or they chase him to make him want to run or tickle him to make him laugh but never once have they thrown their hands up to say "I don't know what to do" and that in itself is just awesome!


It reminds me of the love of God and how no matter what we do, no matter how we act or react. He never throws His hands up .... instead he loves, encourages, disciplines and guides us.


So thank you Miracle League, thank you volunteers, Thank you to all of our supporters! ya'll are truly amazing!









































Thursday, March 10, 2016

sleepless nights

So for 8 years we have been accustomed to no sleep ... Ty was always waking up in the night, multiple times, and keeping everyone else awake too. Then I attempted keeping both boys in the same room, in the same bed with a baby gate up and I was across the hall. Still sleepless nights. Tripp would wake up multiple times in the night to go to the bathroom, when Tripp was up Ty would get up and vice versa. Today I can tell you that the boys have had more sleep in the last month than any of us have in the last 8 years! They started out in the new house in the same room and separate beds. Well that didn't work. Ty kept keeping Tripp up all night, as I started to move Ty's bed into the other room he let me know real quick that he wasn't happy about it. I asked him if he was upset about me moving his bed and he quickly shook his head yes.(I was so pumped about the quick and clear communication!) So I had a heart to heart and told him this was his last chance. He did better that night. However, the next night he didn't - he was up and down flipping on lights and attempting to open the gate. So I bought a gate that used hardware to go into the wall and moved his bed, still not sure if this was going to work?! Bedtime came around and Ty went with me to tuck Tripp in and say his prayers and then I put Ty in his bed, tucked him in said his prayers and closed the gate. I sat quietly in the living room where I could see both rooms and just waited. Ty came to the gate a few times to see if I was there and finally put himself back in bed and went to sleep. Each night got easier and easier. For 8 years our bedtime routine has been: sit in the room until the boys fall asleep, then sneak out like a ninja and hope you don't step too heavy, breathe too loud, stand up too loud .... the list goes on... I'm sure you think I'm kidding, but there have been many nights that the simple motion of moving from a sitting position to standing could wake a child from a deep snore?! So for me to walk in each of the boys rooms and simply tuck them in and walk out and call it a night - I felt like I won the lottery! Seriously, I was in disbelief and I'm pretty sure I pinched myself just to make sure it wasn't a dream. There are still nights here and there that the boys may wake up a little early or need me in the night but not every night! I have even had to go in and wake them up the next morning - that has maybe only happened once in the last 8 years?! It's the little things that turn into big things that make me smile and make me think.


It makes me think of how much God does for us. Those times when we don't think He's anywhere near us. We run around kicking and screaming and crying because we think He doesn't care, He just left me here by myself, He put this gate up so I can't get out, Why, WHY, WHY?!  He's really in the next room waiting, allowing you to grow, allowing you to learn how to control those fears and emotions that want to run rampant in your soul. If we could just trust Him, know He is on guard and know that when it's time He will come to the door and open that gate. Not on our terms and not while we are in the middle of a raging fit .... but when He's ready.



Tuesday, December 29, 2015

change

So it's been a crazy few months and I haven't had the time or the energy to make a post but I think it's time to...
Ty is doing pretty good - we are trying to figure out his medication and lots of trial and error right now but bottom line - he's still not sleeping through the night and is having some panic attacks here and there and seems to be anxious a lot of the time. He has been pretty defiant at times both at home and in the classroom. We are hoping to start using an AAC device for communication once school starts back in January. We have been using a laminated sheet with the words and "buttons" on it that mimic the screen for the AAC device to practice at home and they use it at school. He has done really well with this and we are hoping the device will just further his communication skills!
The trip to TN was lots of fun, the boys and I broke the drive up into two days just because I wasn't sure how well they would do traveling for 9 hours. They slept all the way to the hotel the first night and then Ty slept most of the way to Pigeon forge and we hit the ground running. I only had a day and half to spend with them because our Christmas Cantata was that Sunday and I had to get back but we packed in as much as we could in that time. We ate at the Apple Barn, shopped, shopped, shopped and shopped. Then we hit up a go-kart track and once the rest of the family made it to TN we met them at the cabin around 8 or 9 that night. The next morning we went to the go-kart tracks again at Tripp's request. He rode his little heart out with uncle Matt and uncle Josh and we played some video games at the arcade. Ty loved the arcade, there were a few games that he really liked. One was a giant fruit ninja game where you slice the fruit on a giant touch screen and get points and tickets for high scores. Then he loved the games where you drop your tokens in and watch them spin round and round but his favorite was probably skeeball. He didn't play by the rules but he kept coming back to it and pointing at the coin slot for us to pay and play lol. We also got to go to the Wonderworks indoor park which was really fun. Ty loved playing on the giant light bright board and the giant video game you get to stomp on the characters (kind of like wac-a-mole) those were probably his favorites... he did try and steel the basketballs from the basketball shoot but we were able to redirect and keep moving. All in all he had an awesome day and I was real impressed with how well he handled all the hustle and bustle of the road trip and then hopping from one thing to the next in town. Maybe I'll be brave enough to try a bigger theme park soon? Who knows? Tripp was an awesome little brother as always and I think if he could have rode go-karts all day he would have! He loved getting up and hitting the town, shopping, and just going ... he never wanted to stop.
Sam came up Saturday and finished out the trip with the boys and they got into all kinds of things and then on the ride home Ty didn't do so well... he had a rough time but they made it home safe and sound! And now for Christmas!






So I'm sure this won't go over well with some and others may have seen it coming and some of you just might not care - so feel free to stop reading here lol ...


Life in our home is about to change, Sam and I are getting a divorce and trying to keep things as normal as we can for the boys in the process. No need for details here on why and what happened ... and really it doesn't matter... bottom line is things just didn't work out. But my hope and main concern are these two boys and to keep them happy and healthy even in the midst of something like this. How does that work? I don't really know? Prayers and more prayers would probably be the best thing I could ask for. We plan to keep the boys in North Pike and at our church ... will things be awkward?? ... yeah I'm sure... but we are pretty used to awkward... this isn't something I ever thought I'd do and it was most definitely on my list of things "I won't do" but it's crazy how things change and you can't really say what you will and won't do and you sure can't judge someone for decisions they make because you don't know what they went through or may be going through that brought them to that point. So another life lesson learned and I'm just praying we can be better parents for the boys and still show them the love and grace of Jesus in the middle of the madness... So why say that here on Ty's blog? Well because it's a part of our life and our journey and it probably has something to do with his behavior issues and we just need prayer: prayers for wisdom and guidance and communication even when it's hard because at the end of the day it's not about me or sam and to just love us through this transition time and finding our new normal ... I love ya'll ... and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What if you fly ...

I used to dread birthday parties, they would give me the shakes, because there were so many unknowns. Obviously we knew the person who invited us but what about all the other people? I would almost work myself up over all the little things so much that I would get a headache just thinking about all of the what if's. What if a kid picks on Ty? What if he has an accident? What if he accidentally hurts another child because he is just like a bull in an china shop sometimes? What if he slips away and runs off? What if someone stares at us and I say something inappropriate? I could go on and on but I'll stop here.

This year we have branched out and even attended a few 'outside of the family' birthday parties. Just this past weekend we went to a birthday party at a gym and the boys had a blast! When we arrived Ty went a little crazy with some doors but we were able to redirect him. Once we were in the party room he found some balloons and was thoroughly entertained with two balloons and a corner mirror. Tripp gets quiet in large groups with adults and kids and so he was over by the birthday boy not sure if he should put on his mask (it was a super hero party) or just leave it, he eventually decided to wear his captain america mask once the party got going. As we sat at the table visiting with everyone, this little girl came up to us and said "Hey Ty, Ty hey buddy". Ty was very busy in the mirror with his balloons but he did stop to recognize the little girl and just grunted and danced with his balloons. The little girl started talking to me and told me she went to school with Ty and that last year she used to take kids to his class and Ty would slam the door in her face. She said it so matter of fact and I kind of laughed and told her I was sorry he slammed the door. I explained how he loves to watch doors and he really loves to run. Her eyes got big and she said "oh I sure know that! We don't let him out the door when we take things to Mrs Raybon's class". I talked with her for a little while longer and then Ty decided he would join the conversation. He started jabbering and "talking" to her, showing her his balloon and she was just so sweet to him. I even heard her say "yeah that's right, tell me about it" almost in a motherly tone. My heart was so full in these moments. We left the party room and headed out to the gym area and this sweet little girl walked with us and wanted Ty to play with her. Ty discovered the jump from the top of the foam pit and wouldn't do anything else! He saw a boy scale the wall for a higher jump and immediately made his way over there, turned and looked at sam, pointed to the jump and said "EH!" As in Hey put me up there lol. I could constantly hear that girl saying "Ty hey look at this, there's a trampoline over here" "hey Ty, look a slide, do you wanna come with me" "Ty check this out" .... it was so sweet. Made my day to see just a friend from school who knows him and wanted to play. Tripp started off playing with Ty but he was real unsure about that big jump into the foam pit. So it took him a while to finally do it, and he was off with the boys running, jumping, scaling walls.... just doing whatever and coming back often to check on his bro and then finally making the jump off the ledge. When it was time to go, neither of the boys were ready and Ty fussed at first but he was pretty worn out so it wasn't a big fight.

So I guess all of that to say, birthday parties aren't that bad anymore. Yes some fears will always be there but if you go through life wondering "what if" and not doing something just because you're scared. Well then you will never do anything... there's a quote that says:

What if i fall? Oh, but darling, what if you fly?! - erin hanson

Ty was fearless on that foam pit jump... I have a few blurry pictures of him falling just flat out, face first-belly flop, into the foam. Not a care in the world and so excited. It makes me think of how brave he is, how willing he is to just fall, arms wide open, grinning and squealing with excitement... and how he can just fly .... That's exactly how we should be, we should be willing to let it all go and just fall face first into the arms of Jesus.... These boys of mine teach me something new every day, I don't know what I would do without them. Thanks for reading :) love y'all!
Here are a few blurry shots of Ty falling into the pit and a few of Tripp and that sweet little girl who played with Ty:












Monday, September 21, 2015

just a little outing and an update

So, me and the boys went to Apple Bees for lunch (bc we had a gift card) on sunday. We sat in a booth, all on the same side, and throughout lunch Ty was pretty active ... he wasn't terrible just jumpy and laughing and did get obsessed with a few things here and there - like a picture on the wall that had a basketball, he just kept trying to take it down, luckily it was screwed in pretty good! Ha! I wrestled him a few times to get him to turn back around in his seat all while still trying to give Tripp attention etc. Tripp kept himself occupied with his kids menu games and he and I had some mad games of tick-tack-toe going on in between me feeding and wrestling with Ty.... Well as we were wrapping up lunch this man comes and sits in the open side of our booth and then tells us that he likes to acknowledge when he goes out to eat and sees well behaved kids, and told us how sweet the boys had been through lunch and then gave the boys $6 to split between them. As we walked out we gave him and his wife a Ty bracelet and Tripp thanked them one more time and Ty told them "bye".... it was definitely unexpected ... I probably wouldn't have said Ty was "well behaved" that day but this man did, so maybe I need to not stress so much over all the little things and just let them be kids .... and to encourage both of them in the good behavior that they do show. Tripp is such a big helper, he does so much and thinks about a lot of things most 6 year olds wouldn't have to think about ... it was just really kinda crazy to get that kind of acknowledgement from a complete stranger.

Update on Ty:
We have started Ty on a new medication and the doctor said it will take a couple of weeks before it really gets in his system. So far there has been no change. He's been very defiant lately and throwing tantrums and even at times hitting. The last time we tried medication we went through 2 or 3 before just taking a break from it all and he ended up balancing out on his own and listening more, behaving, etc. As school started back and we got more into the everyday routine his behavior just became worse and worse so that's why we decided to give medication another try. We may end up trying a few different things before we know what med and what dosage works for him. But I'm hoping and praying we get the right one that still lets Ty be Ty and just takes away a lot of his anxiety and defiantness (if that's a word?). We will see. Prayers are much appreciated in all of this.