My Beautiful Puzzle

A Mother's Quest to Heal – Yet Accept – Her Son's Autism


From Darkness to Mother

darkness to motherby Amanda Hammond

There was this thing.
A spark.
A tiny dream.
A star.
A hope,
Or so it seemed,
So far.

That spark- it grew
Into a soul…
A soul that’s beauty
would finally

BAM like some sort of exploding flower
That started out ugly
but found it’s power.

I was that spark
locked away-
That tiny dream that could not play.

Or so it seemed.
I dared to dream.
Stepped into the sun
and finally beamed

I am a mother, a keeper, a healer.
I love with a vengeance. I live and I breathe him.

Fed by my own love for another,
I’ve come into my own
I am his mother.



He is not a Test Score

No… I repeat… NO!

My son is not a test score.

He is the blue eyes I love to stare into.

He is the love he sprinkles all over me in this kind of fairytale-ish prolific manner.

The most beautific, magnetic, wildly hilarious and equally precious

But otherwise indescribable explosion of life wrapped in a cherubic body called Dominic

Can not and will not be defined by any type of fancy schmancy test

Administered by someone who does not know him nor his superfantastic awesomeness.

Forgive my multitude of adjectives that I can’t contain for the life of me

When I think of my boy.

I write this more for me than for any of you, as I’m the one–

I AM the one, who gets caught up in the Test Scores.

Like they measure my care, my love, my warrior mom badassery?

Not a chance.

Like they measure his thoughts, his soul and quantify his future?

They never could.

Let go of the scores mama.

Know you do this like it’s your job, and you’d do it all over again because it’s HIM and you are YOU.

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What does success look like in the lives of a family affected by autism?

Let’s start with marriage of the parents.  Did you know that 80% of us are expected to divorce because of the stress autism causes?  80 freaking percent of us!  So to remain together, even if life isn’t a big bowl of plump red cherries is SUCCESS.  I can see the stress it puts on my marriage.  It would be so easy to throw in the towel at times and decide our differences can’t be worked through.  That our issues are insurmountable.  The truth is that we are extraordinarily different people… but maybe that is what makes our marriage worth keeping.  We are like positive and negative forces, pulled together to make this amazing kiddo who needs the crap out of us.  We have terrible days and lovely days and our love dims sometimes but it also burns bright like the sun just as often.  Maybe autism is keeping us together.  I don’t feel it to be a separating force, but it is an added stress.  If we had completely different ways of wanting to approach autism, it would absolutely divide us.  If we had arguments over the prices of treatment or even over what our child’s issues really are, that would divide us.  Right now, we are one the same page fighting for the same things.  We have minor disagreements at times, but nothing devastating.  Romance is truly smothered by autism, by stress, by all sorts of things.  That can divide us and it does do that on occasion.  I want to feel special still, cherished.  He’s tired, stressed, wants to zone out to the TV.  I get it, yet it hurts sometimes when the lights are dim and I can’t find any sparks.  We are persevering though and it is something to work on.  I am fully aware we are lucky to have what we do which is a very awesome friendship, a respect for each other’s opinions, a strong bond, and an ability to laugh together.  I think those things are ultimately what will get us through all of this and I really am looking forward to a time when the romance returns as well.  I’d love to hear about what you find to be challenging in your own marriages as well.  Those of you with awesome marriages– I’d love to hear what is working for you too!

What about the self-care of each parent as an individual?  If you are an autism parent, do you have a hard time making room for your own needs like exercising, eating well, taking your own vitamins, getting to the salon or the gym or getting some time to do a relaxing activity you love?  For me personally, my success line is a huge wad of scribbleness.  I am a scribble… a walking, breathing scribble face.  I am so focused on Dominic’s health that I feel too weary to worry about my own.  I have time to exercise yet I opt not to lately.  I have the food in the house to make healthy meals with, yet I order Pizza Hut and eat Skittles when I’m stressed out.  I have a stack of reading and coursework to go through to become a Realtor, but I chose to blog or watch TV instead.  It’s a lack of motivation overall to better myself.  I’m stuck right now and know it’s going to become a major problem if I don’t challenge myself to move forward.  What do you do to challenge yourself?  What works to inspire you, to light a fire cracker under your ass?  I’ve been living for my kiddo for a while now and I feel ready to live for myself but yet hesitant.

The health issues are next on my list of success markers.  Are we having less health issues than we did last year, two years ago?  Overall I’d say yes.  Dommy is having less rashes, aside from homeopathic detox-related splotches from time to time.  He has no ear infections.  No colds either.  His allergies to pollen are very easy to manage with homeopathy as well.  He still has a huge basket ball tummy from what I suspect to be yeast and parasites.  In time, homeopathy should address this and his belly should flatten to a more normal-looking state.  We’ve tried many things for his belly including a super-restrictive diet, antifungals and laxatives.  Nothing has really helped so far.

Autism stereotypy is up and down for Dominic.  By stereotypy I am referring to “stimming” which is a word I really dislike using.  Those on the spectrum usually engage in some sort of sensory stimulation like toe-walking, hand flapping, waving their hands around in their line of vision, chewing things, flipping paper, making repetitive noises and the list goes on ad infinitum.  This is the biggest area where I see that scribbly line of success where we see less of it, then more of it, then less, then more.  Right now we’re seeing an increase in some repetitive vocalizations which sound like little grunts or squeals.  He’s happy when he does these sounds, but they do set him apart a bit from another NT child of his age wouldn’t do noises like that  and would be more focused on speaking. This increase could be from adding rice back into his diet or it could be from homeopathic rewind in which the body reverts back to a previous state to work through a suppressed issue that the homeopathy is bring back to the surface.

Socializing has improved hugely because he can communicate much better.  Though he’s not to a point where he can do much conversing, he is in the beginnings of it.  He is good with greeting people now, especially his therapists and teachers and family members.  He’s even beginning to say hi to his friends at preschool.  He will go back and forth telling me “You’re a silly goose.”  and engages with people in a very sweet funny way.  He is trying hard to be in our world and is very successful at winning people over.

Language has been a straight shot forward for the most part… not much of a scribble, more like a sprint to the finish line.  He’s making great progress with both understanding language and being able to communicate his wants and needs effectively.  We are just so thrilled for him!!!!

He can joke around with us now.  It’s so funny when he imitates me and then laughs, though I”m guessing I won’t find this as funny when he masters a sardonic tone to go with it in a few years.  He’s able to do some great turn-taking with a little bit of help and really enjoys that.  Potty training is coming along nicely too.

We’ve had a year full of adventure, heartache, surprises, tears, love and hope.  We’ve lept forward and fell backwards but it has always been together.  That is what success is looking like for us right now.  Forward we shall go… scribbly as our line might be.

 “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” 
― Confucius

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My Friendships in Autism Land

ImageAutism and the ways in which we choose to address it can be equally isolating and uniting.  I’ve been united with so many like minded parents and that is truly a gift.  I made the most amazing friendship here and we can talk for hours about such rich, deep topics.  We are very very kindred spirits and I don’t remember ever feeling love for someone so quickly.  I felt like our friendship would be a permanent fixture in Autism Land.  A hand to hold on this adventure down the rabbit hole, someone to bounce treatment ideas off of and ways to prevent ASD if we ever got preggo again.  Jokes flew around of us getting pregnant at the same time.  Our hubbies like each other…. it was a match made in the stars.  That’s what I thought until just recently.

Some of the autism parents I am chummy with choose paths that are different that mine and I am fine with that.  I don’t expect everyone to feel or think like me.  Yet I feel this painful sense of loss right now while my, what I considered to be best friend, and I attempt to figure out how to maneuver through our relationship while we head down different paths of healing.  It should not be this hard but yet it is because of judgments being made.  My heart is feeling so heavy, like it might snap, because I can feel my friend resisting acceptance of my choice at this time for our family.  That’s the thing about friendships though, especially in autism land– We HAVE to be respectful of each other’s treatment choices and parenting styles.  We owe that to each other because we have enough adversity already.  Society already doesn’t trust my choices because I believe healing autism is possible and I also refuse to further expose my child to vaccines.  So for this lovely friend of mine to distance herself from me based on what type of healing we are choosing is really hard for me to swallow.  I feel deeply hurt and I don’t know if things will ever be the same.  It would be wonderful to be able to get her to feel things from my point of view and I’m sure she wishes she could do the same with me.

Friendships are not easy for me to make now that autism has such a huge presence on my plate, but once I’ve made one, it seems that they are even more difficult to lose.  Ouch.


Warrior Paint- A Poem about Overcoming Adversity

Squeeeshing paint, wiggly toes!
Paint all over belly and nose.
Something fabulous is born
The moment finger paint is worn.
Like warrior paint for my warrior child
Who rocks adversity with style.
Nothing stops his spirit, his joy
Autism is his worn out toy.
Tossed to the side to make room for more
Healing and happiness. So much is in store.
Warrior paint, it’s on our souls.
It helps us to walk those burning coals.
Adversity is not a jail and
Should we view it as such, we’ll fail.
Together with our Wonderchild,
We’ll live this life, so free! So Wild!