Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sensory Friendly Films

Have you heard of these?

AMC Theaters have beautifully dedicated a 10 am showing of new family releases to those who may have a bit more trouble sitting still or being quiet during a typical showing.
There are no previews to sit through; you go straight to the good stuff.
You can bring your own snacks for those on specific diets.
The house lights are up a bit and the sound is turned slightly down for those with sensory issues.

But best of all, the theater is full of families like my own and we respectfully don't 'shh!' when someone has the urge to yell out. We don't give them the evil eye when one child has a full blown tantrum in her father's arms. And we tell the Mom whose had to scoot past us four times to not apologize for having to chase down her little guy again.

Going to the movies has always been one of the preferred outings for our of the few that we always felt sure M would tolerate. About six months ago, something changed and M is no longer able to sit quietly in a theater, no matter how much of his beloved popcorn we have on hand for him.

The other half is out of town this weekend and when that happens, I am truly at a loss as to what activities I can handle with both kids by myself. I had heard about these sensory films but never attended one since the nearest theater is about 30 miles away.

I decided to suck it up and make the trek to the theater, hoping the effort would not be wasted. It wasn't! M had a few 'moments,' but even those seemed to be lessened. A sensory-friendly setting and a less worried Mama were the winning combination that allowed us to successfully enjoy the entire 'Shrek Forever' movie without the help of the other half, and without having to leave early. Hurray for Sensory Friendly Films and hurray for AMC Theaters!

*Note to self: When you do have success like we did this morning, try not to push it by taking the kids shopping afterward.

One trip to AMC Theaters = success.
One trip to World Market afterward = colossal failure. Point noted.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My New Religion

Can sea glass hunting be considered a religion? And if so, can the beach be considered a church? Because if they can, sign me up! I'm ready to join!

Thank you all for your responses on my last post about sea glass. I have to admit that I wrote that way too late at night with a deadline looming and a definite loss for subject matter or writing ability. I have simply been drawing blanks when it comes to ideas of what to write about because I feel like I am just saying the same ol' thing over and over again...and who wants to read that crap each day?!

I am currently on hour three of a six-hour stint of total and complete me-ness. M is at school, and the other half and B are back on the mother ship. (For my mother ship friends, I did come to town quite briefly to say goodbye to my great uncle who is ailing. Would've called, but we were a comedy of errors in that B got a puke bug and vomited in the in-laws van, M soaked-and I mean SOAKED-through an overnight diaper all over my mother-in-law's mattress, and the other half sustained some sort of heel injury during a soccer game and ended up on crutches. It was an interesting trip and I was quite ready to come home!)

I dropped M at school this morning and excitedly drove straight to my secret sea glass spot. I realize it's not entirely a secret, but on weekdays it seems that way to me, and that makes me giddy beyond belief. I discovered that if I go south instead of north on my beach, I get to be daring and rebellious and leap from slippery rock to slippery rock to a part of the coast most don't realize you can access. The seals are in pupping season and are lounging on the rocks out in the water and I am cautious and respectful of their presence. Last week even with my awareness, I suddenly came upon three small seals...what appeared to be a Mom and two pups. (Though I believe they generally only have one pup at a time??) They were the color of sand, not the typical gray-black of the harbor seals we generally see,(the adults) and the mother and one of the two pups were clearly languishing. I stepped back so as to not cause them any further stress, but I admit that I could not walk entirely away very quickly; I felt this connection to this threesome and thought for a long pause about the odd beauty of the scene and the bonds of mother and child. The second pup that did not seem to be in bad shape kept looking at me, as though it felt comforted by my presence. I cried for these three seals and cursed nature for their demise...or was I cursing nature for my own feelings of loss? Probably both.

Fast forward one week later to today...I wondered if I'd come upon the three seals again or if the tide would have washed them away. As I walked closer to the same rock I saw them near last, I noticed one small figure lying in the sand and assumed it to be the remains of one of the pups. As I got closer, I recognized it to be the one that was strongest...and it raised its head and yawned the most adorable seal was alive!! But how was it alive? Who was caring for it? I am most aware that seal pups are often left on the beach while their mothers forage in the sea. But I'd been so sure that this pup was with the larger seal I'd seen last week. I considered whether I should call marine rescue or not and continued on my way down the beach. Quite a ways down I could hear the other seals calling to one another and turned to see a large, beautiful female make its way to the pup. I'd see on my walk back that she had in fact moved her baby a bit closer to the rock for added concealment. I ended my morning with two rare pieces of glass: one bright pink and one yellow with a fleur de lis, and a feeling of happiness to know that the baby seal was being cared for after all. It was the most beautiful kind of morning I could have asked for!

*Please note that I know not to bother this pup in any way so as to not truly make its mother abandon it!!*

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sea Glass

I posted the following over at Hopeful Parents today. Please be sure to check out this great community...and become a fan on facebook too!

I recently took up a new hobby and as odd as it sounds, I find it just about as fulfilling as any other hobby I've test driven through the years. It perfectly fits where I am in life and my need for something calming. The best part about it is that it is fulfilling both with and without my family, and is one of the very few activities we can count on M being okay with us doing together as a family.

We are fortunate to live in a beautiful, coastal town. Less than a mile from our home is the biggest sensory-happy sandbox a little guy like M could ever ask for. So instead of worrying about whether or not we'll be bothering other people at a movie theater or having to cut short a visit to a local museum, we can safely and happily load up a blanket and a bucket and head to the beach for hours.

M is quite happy plopping down as soon as he gets to the sand, leaving me to comb the beach for gems that-before the sea churns them about for years, decades, or if you're lucky, a century-were simply considered littered pieces of glass.

I was fortunate to have 90 minutes of solace to myself last week when I went sea glass hunting It was heaven!

As I tuned out the rest of the world and focused on the sand, I thought of how much symbolism there is in this new hobby I have chosen. It sounds perfectly cheesy; sort of like those posters you can by at Michael's that say 'Everything I needed to learn I learned in Kindergarten.' But they're there, and they fit with the new normal I am living as a parent of a child with severe special needs.

So without further ado, may I present to you "Everything I need to know about parenting a child with autism I learned from sea glass hunting:"

1. Often the best glass can be found after a tumultuous storm at sea.

2. Sometimes you can't see the best piece of glass even when it's right in front of you.

3. Even though your eyes tell you that you aren't actually looking at a piece of sea glass, sometimes your brain won't believe it until you walk over to it, touch it, see it closely.

4. The biggest pieces of sea glass are found in the most remote beaches where others don't dare to walk.

5. You can rarely find sea glass until the tides are low.

6. When you find that rare piece in red or cobalt blue, it makes you want to keep looking all that much more.

7. Even the seemingly smallest pieces of sea glass can be made into something beautiful.

8. Not everyone understands why you would want to spend so much time searching for something they don't see value in.

9. Those that do get it are wonderfully special friends.

10. Sea glass hunting does not require any words.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I have been in my own self-imposed blogless world. I haven't read any blogs. I haven't written for any blogs. I feel flat. Not the kind of flat Matt Stephens said I was when I secretly listened in on a three-way call as his friend asked him if he liked me in the 8th grade. (I've bloomed Matt! I've finally bloomed!)

But the kind of flat where there's not a whole lot of emotion pulsating through your body and you're just sort of floating through your days not really caring about them one way or another.

This isn't actually the worst thing in the world either. It sort of clears my head from all the intense worrying and sadness to take a moment to think about how I can move to the other side: joy and living. Or 'L-I-V-I-N' as a certain Dazed and Confused character so profoundly spelled it.

My friend, R, came to visit in January and one thing she said to me has replayed in my head at least a hundred times sine she left...she told me that she was worried about me most because I didn't seem to get any pleasure out of life. It stung at first to hear those words; but it stung because she was dead on with her observation.

For those of you who know me best, I have always lived life and had as much fun as I could. I think fun Debbie is still within me some place. She likes to make appearances on increasingly rare occasions. (Get me to a karaoke bar and watch me go!) So how do we as mothers--forget the special needs component--get some of that pleasure back into our lives? Please share your thoughts in the comments section. I need the inspiration.

I have more to say, but I think this is an appropriate place to stop.