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Blue, Baby, Blue


Today, April 2, is World Autism Day, and I realized that although I have an autistic child, it’s not something I talk about very often. I realized that it’s unfortunate because I do reach a lot of people who could benefit from knowing that they’re not alone. The isolation of having a special needs child was–and continues to be–the worst part of it.

So to all of you out there reading this: you’re not alone.


Ben’s first birthday party was the hugest blow-out affair he was certain never to remember. The day was complete with everything a one year old could care less about: hula girl pinata, keg of light beer (for added class, of course), hamburgers and the attendance of pretty much everyone I’d ever met. It was a massive, ebullient celebration. I felt was giving the universe the finger while celebrating the fact that despite the year behind us, despite our rocky beginning we’d made it. While it was just the two of us, we were all that we needed.

We’d done it. Ben and I, together, we had done it.

While I was busily trying to forget that the road ahead wasn’t likely to be an easy one, for that day, for that one single day, I was finally able to forget about all of our problems and focus my attentions on celebrating the life of a little boy who had now been through one entire rotation of our planet. I was so, so proud of both of us.

He, of course, couldn’t have cared less about the party, the guests, or the massive three foot long cake that triumphantly proclaimed “Happy First Birthday, Benner!” Even the sprawling pile of presents couldn’t entice Ben away from the game he had been intently playing, which involved spinning a frisbee on the hardwood floor.

While I didn’t understand exactly what he was doing, he looked contented enough, spinning and spinning the disc around and around, so I just let him be and watched him from afar. Over and over he would put the disc on end only to push it over and watch as it spun lopsidedly around the floor. While I didn’t mind the game itself, I hated the blank look that he got on his face while he did it.

I tried to write it off as intense concentration but it looked as though he was a robot whose circuits had misfired, leaving him vacant-eyed and slack-jawed. He appeared near-catatonia and I often wondered if, while in this fugue state, he were deaf as well as strange. There seemed, at times, to be no rousing him.

The concentration and intensity he displayed at one year of age spinning that damn disc reminded me very much of the way my parents’ neurotic German Shepard would worry a bone. With freakishly intense concentration bordering, in my opinion, on obsession. He was bound and determined to make that gaily colored plastic disc do something incredibly specific, but whatever that was eluded me entirely.

Anything and everything that could spin, I had learned, was a source of pleasure for Ben. From perusing the ceiling fans at the hardware store to laying down in his crib for hours on end while his mobile swung lazily above him, if it spun, it made him happy. Or at least, it soothed the savage beast within him, which was as close to true bliss as I had seen my son. But whenever the spinning of the frisbee didn’t meet expectations, he would freak the hell out and have what I now called “a meltdown.”

Meltdowns were, I presumed, what the parenting books described as a temper-tantrum. Since he was my firstborn, I had no idea that these freak-out sessions were far, far more involved than a typical tantrum ever could be. His emotions swam in him like swirling mercury, just barely below the surface, readily pulled up and out in a moment, like a sudden storm cloud.

Sometimes they would spring up when his hand gestures didn’t suffice, because I simply didn’t understand what my little non-verbal one was trying to tell me. Other times, it was because an inanimate object wouldn’t do exactly what it was that he’d wanted it desperately to do. But most of all, they were unpredictable.

On the day of his birthday party he was eventually coaxed away from his intricate game sans meltdown by the promise of cake. That delicious sugary confection was easily the highlight of the party for him. I strapped him into his never-used high chair—at one year of age, my son wouldn’t even entertain the idea of foods other than those on his White Food Only (oatmeal, graham crackers and saltines) diet—where he looked immediately uncertain.

Was this crazy woman going to try and feed him again? I could see the hesitation and near panic written on his chubby-cheeked face. After a particularly rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday,” in which we singers were so off-key that poor Ben winced when we began and looked pained while we sang horribly, I cut into his massive, sugared monstrosity of a cake.

I plunked the first piece of cake down in front of him, wondering if he’d dare touch the squishy texture of it and the next thing I knew, he was shoving fistful of chocolate cake into his gaping maw with a speed I didn’t know he could muster. The chocolate cake was a smash hit. Score one for sugar! I inwardly rallied, happy that something about my son appeared to be normal.

On and on, he shoveled cake into his mouth, most often missing his target entirely. I began to notice that the frosting and cake bits were making their ways dangerously close to his eyes, and as I pictured an ER trip where I had to explain why my one year old was now blind from frosting and cake bits to the eyes. I promptly swooped him out of his highchair and had to hose him down to remove the chocolate, which was stuck in places I didn’t know cake could possibly go.

After the party died down and all the gifts were opened (primarily by the adults) I noticed that Ben was gifted a copy of a Baby Einstein DVD called The Planets. After some hemming and hawing on my part since reading that the American Academy of Pediatrics was strongly opposed to allowing children that young to watch television, one day as I was trying to do some homework quietly, I popped it in the DVD player.

I figured that the American Academy of Pediatrics didn’t have the issue of trying to finish a ten page research paper on the use of secret police (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit) during the division of East and West Germany during the 1980’s while entertaining a toddler and that they could take their ever-loving standards and shove them where the sun don’t shine. And if they didn’t care for that answer, they could always come over and babysit for me.

Even though he’d occasionally caught a Sesame Street rerun on the boob tube, I’d never seen the look on his small face peering out from his dark brown bangs before once the television screen began to fill with beautiful orbs and lilting melodies. It took me a couple of minutes to properly identify it. Ben looked, to my shock, as close to happy as I’d ever seen him.

The thirty minute movie captivated him and he danced wildly to the music, flapped his arms at the pictures of the planets, while even occasionally smiling. My own son was smiling! I was utterly stupefied. Even the spinning, which soothed him immensely, didn’t have the same sort of emotional response that watching this video did. It’s safe to say that not one single thing in his young life had ever evoked such a response. Nothing.

I mulled this development over as the show played on, my paper forgotten entirely.

People–even his own wonderful, doting and gorgeous mother–Ben could have cared less about, a reaction that I had expected a full 16 years later from him. As a teen, I understood this, as a baby, then a toddler, I was flabbergasted. I’d thought that all babies were programmed at birth to like people.

Especially their mothers, whom, my psychology texts advised, could soothe them by mere scent alone. My own son, however, could have cared less if I lived and breathed, providing someone was around to fill his sippy cups and bowls of oatmeal. He was not, as I feared, turning out to be much of a people person. His need for socialization and interaction was simply non-existent.

Which was hard for me to accept since I had been known to both talk paint off walls and feel suffocated without the telephone affixed to my ear. To each their own, I told myself over and over. Not everyone has the desperate need to be as social as you are, Becky.

After the thirty minute DVD returned to the menu, filling the room with a loop from Holst’s Mars Suite, he indicated through a series of hand-gestures–as he rarely opened his mouth to speak–that he’d like to watch the video again. Still shocked and amazed by this new side of my son, I carefully depressed the play button and watched his reaction closely.

Once again, as the movie began and the heavenly bodies were depicted on the screen, he was enraptured. For all of the soothing and comforting that he would not accept from us, this movie seemed to do it all and more. I’d never seen my mute, strange son so happy and contented in his entire life.

Over and over we’d watch this DVD until I probably could have acted the entire feature out by myself without the slightest bit of prompting. Although I frequently had fantasies about slaying the DVD in a ritual bonfire once hearing the opening chimey music made me break out into a cold sweat, but he never tired of it. Ever. I couldn’t believe the devotion to which he watched this video. I’d honestly never seen anything like it in all of my life.

Day after day, viewing after dreaded viewing Ben soaked it all in, soon able to not only name the nine planets by heart, but then learning the names of their moons. I followed his lead and ran with the whole obsession. It seemed the prudent thing to do. One afternoon, away from school for a blessed moment, I took this pint-sized toddler to the bookstore to pick out a book of his choosing. He found a copy of an encyclopedia of the planets, designed for high school kids and became immediately enamored.

Before bed we read it, between viewings of his DVD we read it, we read it until the spine cracked and the pages were well worn, and he absorbed every single piece of information inside it’s cracked covers.

While his compatriots in the proverbial sandbox were learning what sound a doggie makes (woof, woof, for those not in the know), Ben was learning to differentiate and name the moons of Jupiter, all sixty-three of them and had become able to identify each and every one, no matter how blurry and out of focus the picture was.

His favorite was Io, but Ganymede was a close second. He would spend hours and hours constructing elaborate solar systems with all of his toys, and would try his best to get the distances between them as accurate as possible when working with Little People and balls.

It was quite the uncanny concentration and devotion for someone who was not even two years old. I don’t need to tell you that this was at the same age when I learned how to eat my own boogers and how best to fart on the dog without making her run away.

The depth of his knowledge was both freakish and amazing; awesome and terrible at the same time.

It appeared as though finally, finally something was able to provide the comfort for Ben that no one else could give him. While the planets was certainly not the teddy bear of soft blankie that I’d have imagined, it was something and it was his.

At night, he’d curl up in his crib with his tousled brown hair mussed and in his face, holding his encyclopedia of the planets and for a moment, watching him, I tried desperately forget my sadness that it wasn’t me who was comforting him.

Sometimes I’d cry, standing above his crib and looking down on his sweet face, hurting badly from the rejection. Other times, I’d just smile, proud of my son. My brilliant little son.

The prodigy I’d always wanted to be.

Despite how thrilled I was at my son proving to be a veritable baby genius, I knew that I would have to at least attempt to broaden his limited horizons, and my first stop to try and do so was to take him to the zoo.

Kids, I thought, were supposed to like zoos, and in the name of opening up Ben’s horizons and exposing him to different things, I thought that the zoo might be just the ticket into his head. If he didn’t like the piddly animals we had at home, perhaps the more exotic animals would do the trick. What kid doesn’t like cool exotic animals? I asked myself stupidly before we trundled off to the zoo.

The answer to that one was stunningly simple: my kid. MY kid didn’t like the zoo. Having eschewed the stroller nearly a year before because, I suppose, he was too cool for it, we walked around, me peering into all of the cages and trying to point out various types of cats, birds and reptiles, all to no avail.

Ben was far more interested in the gravel beneath our feet, where he’d occasionally drop down and, if I wasn’t quick enough to swoop him back up, shove some into his mouth. I couldn’t get the kid to eat anything outside of his White Stuff Only diet, and yet here he was, eating rocks.

After about an hour or so, we were both hot, dusty and crabby, so we set a course for home. The stimulation of all of the people and the different location had taken it’s toll on poor Ben, who screamed and screamed for half of the ride home until he fell into a fitful sleep. Okay, so the zoo was a bust.

No big loss.

My next stop on my Let’s Introduce My Kid To More Stuff train was the aquarium. I assumed that since Ben was a huge fan of motion and dancing (even if he did dance with the grace his momma gave him. By which I mean none whatsoever) he’d get a huge charge out of seeing all of the fish swimming to and fro.

While he did humor me for about an hour, it appeared that I was not going to be raising an ichthyologist. Instead, he made an elaborate approximation of the solar system with his popcorn in the cafeteria and after I caught him licking the shiny linoleum, I decided that it was probably time to take him home again.

Once again, the stimulation from the throngs of people and all of the bright lights proved to be too much for wee Ben, who screamed so loudly that I actually pulled over to the side of the highway and removed his clothes to make sure he wasn’t being pinched by a savage button or a rouge tag. No button, no pinching, no dreaded tags, just an overstimulated child.

The last stop on my crazy train to have my child visit all of the wonderful kid-friendly attractions in the area was the Adler Planetarium, easily one of the most beautiful buildings on the shoreline of Chicago.

While to some, this might have been the logical FIRST stop on my Open My Child’s Horizons Up tour, but you have to remember, it was likely that he knew more than any of the exhibits would be able to teach him. It was likely that he knew more than most of the guest speakers that lectured there. So, I wasn’t certain if this would really be up to his insanely high standards.

Turns out that all my worrying was for naught because the minute we made it through those doors, Ben was in heaven. My normally non-verbal son toddled happily between the models of each of the planets, his diaper poking out of the top of his jeans rattling off the names of the planets properly.

His moment of pure and unadulterated ecstasy came when he found a huge poster that showed detailed pictures of most of the moons of Jupiter.

While I couldn’t imagine looking at anything more boring than this, for some reason, this brought him intense joy. It appeared that it didn’t matter how dumbed down the exhibits were for my one year old son, The Adler was a hit, and I immediately signed us up for a year membership. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?

Relieved that we had finally found some common ground where we could stand firmly together, after several hours, I dragged him out of there and home again. Once he hit his cow-print car seat, he fell instantly asleep and was snoring before I reached the tollway.

Maybe I couldn’t give him everything I’d wanted, maybe I’d never be the what comforted him, but for that small moment in time, we were at peace with one another. I’d accepted him on his own level and while I’m not certain that he accepted me on mine, I like to imagine that he did.

My own heart would be broken over and over again many times by my first son, but for a moment in time, it soared.

I had finally–FINALLY–done right by him.

posted under Or Maybe Jupiter
83 Comments to

“Blue, Baby, Blue”

  1. On April 2nd, 2010 at 9:49 am Lucy Says:

    Beautiful post. My nephew has autism and the way my sister fights for and loves her child is truly inspiring. So are you.

  2. On April 2nd, 2010 at 10:13 am §omewhat Ordinary Says:

    This is a beautiful post! We have a very good family friend whose son is autistic. As a child she fought so hard for him in a time when autisim wasn’t recognized as it is today. We vacationed with them every year and I remember him being in love with weather in the way Ben is with planets. He just turned 30 in February, lives on his own hundreds of miles from his family, has a bachlors and masters in meteorology, a career, a girlfriend, and he actually speaks nationally about autism. I believe his mom has so much to do with how well he thrives today! You are an incredible mom and Ben is lucky you have his back!

  3. On April 2nd, 2010 at 9:31 am Miss Grace Says:

    Becky this post is lovely. You continue to do right by Ben, by all of your children.

  4. On April 2nd, 2010 at 9:41 am ender Says:

    Ben is so incredibly lucky to have you.

    I’ve got the goofiest grin on my face reading this beautiful post.

  5. On April 2nd, 2010 at 9:47 am domestic extraordinaire Says:

    Wow. I felt like I was with you, holding your hand throughout that whole time.

    My nephew was recently diagnosed with SPD at the age of 9. He has always been different, but my favorite nephew. I liked his predictability if you stuck with what he liked to do and with his 5 different foods that he liked to eat.

    Today I am wearing blue in honor of him and your son and all the other awesome kids out there in the autism spectrum.

    ((hugs)) and thank you for sharing.

  6. On April 2nd, 2010 at 9:49 am Becky Mochaface Says:

    Such a beautiful post.

  7. On April 2nd, 2010 at 9:50 am Jen Says:

    This is so familiar to me. I’ve been trying to get help for my EIGHT year old since he was two. I’m just now starting to get the help we need. The spinning, the food issues, the sensory issues. A mother knows. We don’t have anything official yet but I know that once part of the mystery is solved and I’m able to work with him instead of being frustrated, we will be so much happier.

  8. On April 2nd, 2010 at 10:52 am Mrslala Says:

    Beautiful post Becky. I love that you are able to celebrate the victories and the fact that your son IS, in fact, a genius. Having an autistic child is not an easy road, but then…parenting hardly ever is, is it? Keep up the good work mamma.

  9. On April 2nd, 2010 at 10:57 am Titanium Says:

    Tears running down my face, here. Thank you for this, Becky.

    The whole world should read this. And then read it again.

  10. On April 2nd, 2010 at 9:58 am Nancy P Says:

    Well this is simply a beautiful post.

  11. On April 2nd, 2010 at 10:59 am linlah Says:

    A beautifully inspiring post.

  12. On April 2nd, 2010 at 9:59 am James Says:

    i know how that is me my self I’m high functioning autistic Im better now but when i was younger i was obsessed with game boys and computers i beat the game boy super mario at 2

  13. On April 2nd, 2010 at 9:59 am Jenni Williams Says:

    You did right by him and your other kids always. It’s a crazy road we are on. We just have to hold on as tight as we can and keep going. I posted a couple weeks ago about how hard autism can be, but also about how much sweeter the victories are. It’s def not a cake walk, but I wouldnt change him for anything.

  14. On April 2nd, 2010 at 10:05 am Ashley Says:

    Oh, love. Never doubt that you’ve always done right by him. You never quit trying, and that’s more important than anything. He loves you, and you love him, and everything responds to love. 🙂

  15. On April 2nd, 2010 at 10:07 am staciet Says:

    A beautiful post, Becky. Your love for Ben shines through. He is one lucky guy to have you for a mom. Much love to you today and always…

  16. On April 2nd, 2010 at 10:10 am Aimee @ Ain't Yo Mama's Blog Says:

    Becky, this is a beautiful post and an inspiration to other moms (and dads) out there. What you are doing is what every parent should do with their children, whether they have Autism or not – discover the things that they love, learn about what fascinates them, and nurture and encourage your kids to seek out and engage with the things that interests (and sometimes comforts) them the most.


  17. On April 2nd, 2010 at 11:10 am Elly Lou Says:

    You’re a force of nature. The end.

  18. On April 2nd, 2010 at 10:13 am kimmad Says:

    Great post, Becky. Just found out my 5 year old son has Asperger’s, so I can relate. Especially to the meltdowns. We’re all doing the best we can, with as much love as possible.

  19. On April 2nd, 2010 at 10:18 am Karen Says:

    Great story. It reminds me very much of my cousin’s experience with her son. You are very brave to admit feeling rejected and hurt from time to time. Too many people just show the “perfect”, but you always keep it real.

  20. On April 2nd, 2010 at 10:18 am Kerry Says:

    Really beautiful post! My son is 6 and non-verbal. I don’t blog a ton about Autism either. Sometimes you have to read between the lines when I write about him.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  21. On April 2nd, 2010 at 10:21 am Suzy Voices Says:

    This was so beautiful. Ben sounds like such an awesome kid. I watched a video yesterday on TED of an autistic woman who was lecturing on how the world needs ALL types of thinkers. And how a lot of the schools (especially in the midwest) just don’t know how to properly educate and engage children who are on the spectrum. She said you’ve got to find out what interests them, and go with it. So, you’re obviously doing that! Hopefully Ben has good teachers helping him as well!

  22. On April 2nd, 2010 at 11:50 am katryn Says:

    i think you may be talking about temple grandin – awesome person, very inspirational and pragmatic

  23. On April 2nd, 2010 at 11:31 am magpie Says:

    What a wonderful mama you are.

  24. On April 2nd, 2010 at 10:38 am Stefanie Says:

    Your honest emotions and beautiful writing are moving. Thank you for sharing this story.

  25. On April 2nd, 2010 at 10:42 am Anna Says:

    Beautiful. This truly moved me.

  26. On April 2nd, 2010 at 11:26 am Kelly Says:

    You are one amazing Momma. Ben, Alex, and Mimi, are 3 of the luckiest kids. The things you write for them are so beautiful.

  27. On April 2nd, 2010 at 11:26 am injaynesworld Says:

    You do have an amazing platform and with it the opportunity to touch lives and even influence them. This is Becky writing at her best. More, please…

  28. On April 2nd, 2010 at 11:33 am a Says:

    Very sweet, Becky.

    I know that as you face challenges throughout Ben’s life, you’ll be glad you have this to look back on. In this, you “get” a son who may remain otherwise somewhat aloof. Much luck in the years ahead.

  29. On April 2nd, 2010 at 12:36 pm Alexandra Says:

    This needs to go beyond being a post, to being a book.

    You’re right: you reach so many people. So many people need to see they’re not alone.

    I say, try to get this out from blog to book.

    There are so many parents who just withdraw, and dont’ know what to do, and just think it’ll all settle down as their child grows older.

    Fantastic writing. Absolutely riveting.

  30. On April 2nd, 2010 at 11:39 am Denise Says:

    That was one of the best posts ever!!!!!!! You are an awesome mother. You also have a pretty good sense of humor too!

  31. On April 2nd, 2010 at 11:50 am Brooke Says:

    Absolutely lovely post! I can’t imagine the range of emotions you have as Ben’s mother, but he couldn’t be more lucky to have you.

  32. On April 2nd, 2010 at 11:51 am TerryBerry Says:

    My friend sent this blog to me and I am so grateful that she did. I have a four year old son named Parker. He also has Autism. I can relate to this story so much. My son is nonverbal other than simple sporadic words. He has the obsession with movies. But this story has pushed my decision to buy him a fish tank. He has always loved them. We took him to the Aquarium last year but I think all of the people and the trip was too much for him. But I would like to encourage other activities more. He also enjoys painting which makes me smile being an artist myself. Great writing, thanks so much for sharing.

  33. On April 2nd, 2010 at 1:12 pm Lexi Says:

    Ah, the white-food diet. We’ve got that one around here, too, except not oatmeal…because it’s “too sticky” and we can’t.have.that, unless of course it’s syrup on waffles (One can always make an exception for sugar. It’s one of life’s rules.)

    Thanks for the story. There are so many of us who’ve been there, but fewer who can express it so beautifully.

  34. On April 2nd, 2010 at 12:15 pm Krissa Says:

    That was so beautiful and well written. Your son is one lucky little man, weather he ever realizes it or not. And you are one devoted mom of a very, very bright little boy. Savant?

  35. On April 2nd, 2010 at 12:25 pm Cyndi Says:

    It’s so awesome to read posts like this! I love how you kept and keep working to find the things that he responds to. He isn’t just differently abled, he’s uniquely enabled and he’s blessed to have a mom that knows it. 🙂

  36. On April 2nd, 2010 at 12:46 pm Mwa Says:

    Lovely post. I know from very close-by how hard it is with a child with autism (my sister has it). This was a very loving way to describe the pain and fear.

  37. On April 2nd, 2010 at 1:09 pm Liz Says:

    This is an excellent post… I know you’re trying to get into writing professionally and, imho, writing with this kind of emotion is exactly what will make you successful.

  38. On April 2nd, 2010 at 1:09 pm Emily (Apron Strings) Says:

    Beautiful, Becky. Just beautiful. {wipes tears from eyes}

  39. On April 2nd, 2010 at 1:14 pm Betty M Says:

    You do each other proud – you and Ben.

  40. On April 2nd, 2010 at 1:17 pm Sam Says:

    Proving once again that some of the most important heroes are the unsung ones. Like moms of kids with autism. Like you. Keep writing, and being your son’s hero.

  41. On April 2nd, 2010 at 1:32 pm Rebecca Says:

    Sixty years ago children who excelled in one subject as Ben does, were called experts in their field. Think of all the famous composers, artists, and Einstein himself. They were all called strange because nobody understood them, not because they were in fact strange.

    Today kids who excel at one subject are called strange and are put into special education and that makes me mad. Why can’t we truly make our educational system fit the needs of the child.

    Ben will grow up and do amazing things. Any one year old who has mastered the knowledge Ben has mastered is destined to do amazing things.

  42. On April 2nd, 2010 at 1:36 pm pattypunker Says:

    so touching! ben is full of the awesome just like you. he is so lucky to have such a loving, caring, giving, insightful, and understanding mom. this is my idea of a miracle!

  43. On April 2nd, 2010 at 2:08 pm Delicia Says:

    Beautiful post. I don’t have any family members or friends dealing with this challenge, so I really didn’t realize the extent to which this affects everything. Thanks for a bit of eye opening, I think you have amazing courage and tenacity, and lots of love for that little boy.

  44. On April 2nd, 2010 at 3:18 pm uberVU - social comments Says:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by mommywantsvodka: My post for World Autism Day:

  45. On April 2nd, 2010 at 3:36 pm Kristy Says:

    I truly enjoyed reading this post. Beautifully written and touching. I have the pleasure and joy of working with children with autism at work. Blessings to you!

  46. On April 2nd, 2010 at 2:51 pm KYouell Says:

    I almost didn’t follow the link in your tweet to read this because I’m a bitch. I have a son with Down syndrome that has had 2 open heart surgeries and all I hear about is autism, autism, autism. What about my kid, huh? Like I said, I’m a bitch.

    Thanks for bringing me back to Earth. We’re all mamas, all trying to do the best we can by our kids. I think I needed to read this more than the people that aren’t dealing with anything or feel they are all alone with their kid with autism.

    Mamas Unite! We need each other.

  47. On April 2nd, 2010 at 3:00 pm Brooke Says:

    As much as I love it when you are my funny, profane Aunt Becky designing witty Easter cards, I love it just as much when you are brilliant.

    This post is brilliant. 🙂

  48. On April 2nd, 2010 at 3:24 pm kalakly Says:

    I’ve missed this from you Becky. Not that I don’t mind LMAO at your other posts,but still, I missed this side of you.
    It’s a tribute to you as a mom and to your son as a unique little boy. He may be a mystery, but how lucky for him that his mom is a super sleuth.


  49. On April 2nd, 2010 at 3:28 pm Dana Says:

    ceiling fans at the hardware store

    When Cam was little an inconsolable, we’d head to Home Depot and hang out in the ceiling fan aisle until he could sooth himself and recover from whatever catastrophe it was that brought us to that point.

    Like you, I was a single mom – this was the only child I had ever spent time with. This all seemed “normal” to me.

    After 14 years, I realize that he isn’t “normal” – he is extraordinary – and although the trials and tribulations have seemed insurmountable at times, I wouldn’t trade them for anything!

  50. On April 2nd, 2010 at 3:57 pm Kristin Says:

    What a beautiful tribute. I saw a story last night on ABC news that made me think of you and every other parent of an autistic child I know. It was about a software company in Denmark that hires only autistic people. The company founder has an autistic son and he wanted to prove to people that autistic people had the ability to have a career.

  51. On April 2nd, 2010 at 4:15 pm Kim - In Search of Me in Mommy Says:

    beautiful! beautiful! thanks.

  52. On April 2nd, 2010 at 4:17 pm KYouell Says:

    What Kristin said makes me wonder, when I see the statistic that there is 80% unemployment for people with developmental disabilities are they including autism spectrum disorders in their definition of “developmental disabilities”? Because I’ve heard of other parents of kids with Down syndrome making extra efforts to hire people with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities to help counter society-at-large’s reluctance to hire our kids. Just wondering now if autism, etc. is included in this umbrella? I had assumed it wasn’t and that these kids wouldn’t necessarily have problems getting jobs as adults. Sorry for my ignorance, trying to learn!

  53. On April 2nd, 2010 at 6:11 pm moonspun Says:

    He is a very lucky kid to have a mom like you.
    I saw this very cool thing on the news about a software company (in Germany, maybe) who hired autistic adults who were considered un-hirable to test software. He had an autistic son itself. It was a great story.

  54. On April 2nd, 2010 at 5:14 pm Melissa Says:

    The Benner couldnt have picked a better mom, and while he may not be able to show it, you know he knows it!

  55. On April 2nd, 2010 at 5:18 pm Jessica Says:

    Beautiful! My daughter is Deaf and has an ASD. I understand completely the things you wrote of. Thanks for sharing with all of us!

  56. On April 2nd, 2010 at 7:22 pm The Only Girl Says:

    Great post Becky! I’d be interested to hear more about Ben and his autism.

    My Eldest also had a Baby Einstein DVD. Although not Autistic, he was what I can only describe as very, very challenging and incredibly high maintenance. He watched that damn thing over and over and over. Daily. Like you mentioned, those precious 30 minutes of peace was what gave me the strength to make it through each day.

    Truly – I credit that video for likely saving my life. Or at least my sanity.

  57. On April 2nd, 2010 at 7:47 pm Jo-Ann Says:

    Although my son has ADHD I read this and so much of it is my life.

    Thank you

  58. On April 2nd, 2010 at 7:26 pm Collette Says:

    What a beautiful post! It’s been awhile since I have been here & it looks awesome.
    When you get a chance, stop by my blog & pick up a little something I left for you! (((HUGS)))

  59. On April 2nd, 2010 at 8:29 pm Susan (woo222) Says:

    This is awesome. YOU are awesome. Ben is awesome. This is beautiful.

  60. On April 2nd, 2010 at 8:25 pm MommaKiss Says:


    God Love You and Your kids.

    That is ALL!

  61. On April 2nd, 2010 at 10:09 pm Chibi Jeebs Says:

    Amazing. Thank you for sharing this with us. <3

  62. On April 3rd, 2010 at 12:50 am GingerB Says:

    Oh Becky, the pain, the fear, the love. It all shines through. Come over and read mine about CP awareness day from a couple weeks ago. Like you, I ended my post with hope and gratitude, I hope.

  63. On April 3rd, 2010 at 6:06 am MamaCas Says:

    Lovely post. He’s very lucky to have you to guide him.

  64. On April 3rd, 2010 at 8:00 am Jennifer Says:

    Very cool post. I couldn’t quit reading. Thanks for sharing that.

  65. On April 3rd, 2010 at 9:35 am kate Says:

    Lovely. What a gift that you have one another.

    Also? Your blog is all done up. I’ve been absent the blog world for ages, but you are one of my first stops back. I love your blog’s new dress and updo. She looks lovely. Clinton and Stacey would be so pleased.

  66. On April 3rd, 2010 at 12:24 pm Angie the Anti-Theist Says:

    Beautifully written as always, Aunt Becky. May I also say that it is the FIRST time I have ever understood why some people insist on telling me my special needs yet very social boy is autistic! (He’s not; he’s been tested a gajillion times, and continues to be tested every 6 months.) I finally see what other symptoms they were putting together that I wasn’t – his concentration on a task, near deafness when engrossed in something, and extreme sensitivity to over stimulation. In his case, it’s speech and social delays that do not appear to be on the autism spectrum (although, if he is, we’ll catch it, thank you very-much well-wishing busy-body moms on the playground!) He’s more like your second son in one respect though, which is that I am his favorite person in the world. I can’t imagine the heartache you suffered, not being able to access Ben’s feelings in the same way. You are, as always, a fantastic mother. Much love <3

  67. On April 3rd, 2010 at 12:37 pm Agape Says:

    What a beautifully written, well executed post. I can’t fathom how challenging it is to raise an autistic child, each requiring such specialized needs. I just caught a doc. last night on HBO about autisim and was moved to tears. I commend all that you do, all that you try and thank you for not giving up on Ben. You are magnificent Aunt Becky.

  68. On April 3rd, 2010 at 9:00 pm subWOW Says:

    It’s amazing how you are able to tell your stories with so much sense of humor. You have strong and beautiful spirits. You are doing right by your boy.

  69. On April 3rd, 2010 at 11:41 pm Matt Nelson Says:

    Funny, sad, touching.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  70. On April 4th, 2010 at 12:36 am Jim Says:

    Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing this with your readers. It felt as if you were telling the story of my three year old son who has autism. It helps to know that we aren’t out here alone. I hope you continue to share this side of your life with us too!

  71. On April 4th, 2010 at 12:36 am Jim Says:

    Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing this with your readers. It felt as if you were telling the story of my three year old son who has autism. It helps to know that we aren’t out here alone. I hope you continue to share this side of your life with us too!

  72. On April 4th, 2010 at 10:37 am Shin Ae Says:

    I loved the last line, Becky. My children are not autistic, but I think those times when we give all we can to provide for one of our children’s needs, well, we get to see who we really are. Or maybe we get to be something a little better. Anyway…thank you for telling this story.

  73. On April 4th, 2010 at 9:55 am Sadie at heyMamas Says:

    Wow, what a beautifully written post. And by the sound of it you are doing an awesome job.

    Sadie at heyMamas

  74. On April 4th, 2010 at 5:36 pm Kate Says:

    This whole story made me cry. I don’t know why… probably because you describe my David in there so perfectly (even down to licking floors).

    I’ve got 4 (maybe 5… waiting on Joshua’s eval results) spectrum kids and I don’t often write about them, either, but if I did, I’d cover much of the same ground you just did.

    It’s hard, it’s beautiful in many ways, it’s a road too many are traveling down now. Thanks for sharing your journey with the rest of us.

  75. On April 4th, 2010 at 8:21 pm 6512 and growing Says:

    Thank you for sharing some of this story. You continue to amaze me.

  76. On April 5th, 2010 at 8:11 am Ed Says:

    Apropos of almost nothing, if you have a few minutes, go to and search for Temple Grandin. She gave such an amazing speech on the value brought to society by those in the autistic spectrum. Turns out most of the world’s greatest achievers were, to some degree, autistic. And what separated the Einsteins of the world from those who ended up in institutions was someone who accepted them and believed in them. So as hard as it may seem sometimes, you’re doing exactly the right thing and one day the world will thank you for it.

  77. On April 5th, 2010 at 11:34 am Mommy on the Spot Says:

    This is an amazing post! Thanks for sharing your story.

  78. On April 5th, 2010 at 1:24 pm Nancy from Fear and Parenting in Las Vegas Says:

    Great post. Amazing story. Thanks for sharing the insights into your son’s mind and your challenges as a mom. Beautifully told.

  79. On April 5th, 2010 at 6:44 pm Zakary Says:

    Shit, Becks, this rocks my brain.


  80. On April 5th, 2010 at 7:34 pm Cricket Says:

    Wow, could you have struck any more chords for me? I can’t believe I had forgotten Baby Einstein. That which played day and night from age 1 to 5 for my daughter. And while for us it was not planets, we had fish to keep us company, and later pigs. Screaming in the cow print car seat? Been there. Sleeping with books (of pigs and fish)? Been there. Eating rocks and not looking at or playing with the other little kids she was supposed to be playing with? Yup.

    She is 6 1/2 now, and it was actually really nice to read your post and remember. I never in a million years thought I would say that.

  81. On April 6th, 2010 at 9:07 am Dora Says:

    Beautiful post. You are full of the awesome mommyness!

  82. On April 6th, 2010 at 10:43 am Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Aww, thank you. It was hard to share this one.

  83. On April 7th, 2010 at 6:40 am Kendra Says:

    That was beautiful, Becky. I can’t imagine the frustration that must go with having a young autistic child–trying so hard to figure out why they do what they do. But you hit on something vitally important there. Autistic or not, kids aren’t going to be who we think they ought to be or who we expected them to be. For all their own reasons, they’re going to be themselves. And sometimes it’s hard to find ways to honor and celebrate that. But it’s worth it for when it really works.

    Ben sounds like a pretty amazing kid.

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