What a summer! Wait it’s back to school already?


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Well it’s been a very, very long time since I have written in Mateo’s Story. We have done a lot this Summer and the kids have already put in two weeks of school! That is just crazy right? Remember when Summer was like 3 months long and we were actually excited to get back to school? Two months of Summer just isn’t enough!

I am truly amazed and inspired by Mateo. He has grown up so much in the past year, even in the past few months. He has physically grown, I have bought him all new clothes and shoes. He picked out two pairs of Vans that are covered in his two favorite foods, pepperoni pizza and cheeseburgers.  I think he’s pretty much the coolest kid ever.

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He has also really matured over the past few months. He has become more independent and now makes himself a snack when he’s hungry which is ALWAYS peanut butter and honey in a tortilla and a chocolate milk to drink. He has been great about doing his homework so far and seems to really enjoy school this year. Which is the complete opposite of the beginning of last year, thank goodness for that! He really likes his new teacher and is lucky enough to still have all of this close friends in class with him again this year.

As I watch him grow up I feel so proud of him. I always think about that sweet little three year old boy starting preschool with the other kids his age and he hardly had any words. Now he independently marches himself all the way across school to the gym every morning. He doesn’t want an escort any more from his parents or even his sister like he had last year. This year he does it alone.

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With each year as he gains a little more independence, a little more courage, and I begin to think about his future. I wonder if maybe he will go to college, maybe he will be on his own one day. But I try not to think too far ahead, it’s always been one day at a time. One behavior at a time, one challenge at a time, one hurdle at a time. The future is not a place that parents with children of Autism like to visit. It is filled with too many unknowns, too much worry, too much stress. I like to focus on the growth, the accomplishments and the present.

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I feel like I need to summarize our summer and what Mateo enjoyed the most. He would tell you the State Fair. That’s always his answer, which cracks me up, maybe it’s because it’s always the last hurrah before they go back to school. It was over 100 degrees that day and we were all sweating on hot asphalt and carnival rides, all of us were pretty miserable, but he will still tell you it was the best thing he did all summer. Maybe he forgets about the fun he had at Yosemite when we hiked all the way to the falls and the excitement of walking through a granite cave. Or maybe he forgot about the ghost town that we visited that how he enjoyed peaking into every dusty window to see what treasures were left behind. He also learned to swim, dive and jump of the diving board this summer. He has mastered his fear of putting his face in the water and taken on jumping right in! We went camping and to the beach with a huge group of friends. He had sleepovers, Pokemon Go adventures, Minecraft for hours on end and lots of time with his sister, dogs, family and friends. But I guess nothing tops that crazy hot day at the Fair! Well we did get to pet a Wallaby there, that is hard to beat!

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Posted in Family, Friends, It's Autism, Minecraft | 2 Comments

My Pet Snow Wolf Part 2 a story by Mateo


Mateo loved everyone’s comments on Facebook yesterday about his story.  He was so excited to write part two.  For this assignment he had to incorporate skyscrapers.  I am so impressed with how he creatively wove it into his story.  I am also so impressed with his dialogue running throughout.

My Pet Snow Wolf Part 2

Bluebird has a dream of a Halloween house they were going to. Bluebird woke up ands scream “huuuuuu huh Hu Hu” bluebirds dad said “are you ok?” bluebird said “it was a nightmare” his dad said “just making sure everythings fine!”. Porkchop ran into the room and got nervious. Bluebirds dad said “porkchop what are you doing?”. Bluebird ran out of the room because he realized they were going to skyscrapers in tahoe. Porkchop was coming with them fanilly. They went to tahoe mountains because the snow skyscrapers were only in the tahoe mountains. Porkchop got excited real fast. Porkchop was in the back seat. They made it! Just in time. Bluebird saw a bunch of skyscrapers. Bluebird said “dad theres some skyscrapers? His dad said “I just wanted to tell you something” bluebird said “like what?”. His dad said “you nevered had a mom?” bluebird said “well who cares about moms?”. Bluebird continue “im just happy were not going to houns anymore!”. Aftur the skyscrapers they went home and relaxed there. The end part 3 coming soon.

He is becoming quite the story teller.  Maya response to the story was “Hey Dad, I think it’s time you have THE talk with Mateo” in regards to the no Mom part.

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My Pet Snow Wolf : a story by Mateo


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Mateo in Tahoe

I have a blog post I have been working on for the past two weeks- I still need to rework it a bit and add photos… It’s about the New Year. Well shoot- we are almost done with January and it’s still not posted.

But I have something much more exciting today! This is a story written 100% by Mateo for a writing assignment.  Writing has always been extremely hard for Mateo.  But typing on the computer has made things so much easier. And getting one or two lines out is very difficult at times.  But he did this amazing story yesterday and I am so very proud of him and all of his accomplishments! So here on Mateo’s Story is really Mateo’s Story, written on my birthday January, 19!

My Pet Snow Wolf
by Mateo

There was this city called allaya the snow city. Allaya will be in tahoe. There was a little kid called buburd he had a snow wolf pet called Porkchop. Porkchop like to drink lemonade so buburd and his family gives him dog lemonade. But in 2015… buburd had an argument to his dad.  His dad said “well, don’t the signs says no wolfs aloud” and buburd said “well porkchop is coming with us anyway”. Porkchop just stared and buburd and his dad. Buburds dad said “porkchop can’t come with us hes a wolf hes not aloud he`ll bite everyone” buburd just stared just for a secod but his dad said “what is that supost to mean?” he got confused buburd said “its supposed to mean im mad at you”.  His dad said “ok we need to go we don’t have enough time agrewing with eachother” they went without Porkchop they were going to the houns. The houns is pretty boring but in tahoe. There no pets allowed buburds dad said “see I toad you no pets allowed that’s also means no wolfs aloud” Bluebird said “that doesn’t make any sence s”. They went into the houns and they just sit down in the chair and wait for their turn. Buburd said “hu why isn’t porkchop here with us this is so boring” his dad just got to the station the needed to go to because it was there turn. At home porkchop peed in the snow because he was bored and he had an idea he decided to go to houns because he missed buburds family. Porkchop surprised everyone the mayor said “GET THIS WOLF OUT OF HERE” buburd said “that’s my pet you’re messing with my pet” the mayor said “WELL GET HIM OUT!” the mayor threw him out. The place closed down because they needed a clean up. He peed again. The end of part 1.

I can’t wait for part 2! How about you?

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And back to school we go!


The new school year brings a huge amount of anxiety for Mateo. This year was one of the harder ones. He is going into 4th grade and a whole new classroom and a brand new teacher. He keeps the same class for two years and the past two years he had one of our favorite teachers, so it was hard to let that go.

He will have all new classmates who won’t really understand why he flaps his hands sometimes, clears his throat and may not understand their questions.  It’s scary and beyond nerve-wracking for him.

He is starting this year off with a substitute because his long term teacher is currently on Maternity leave. His Special Ed teacher is also on Maternity leave so he won’t have her here either. So the stress of this year was taking it’s toll as we prepared for today for us all.

He was reluctant to leave his laptop behind, but did really well when I gave him a 5 minute warning. His only protests were against my first day photo pictures that I insisted on taking. But I got this adorable one after much coaxing.

All ready for 4th grade!

All ready for 4th grade!

We did a preview of his classroom on Friday, he was happy to see that his best friend was sitting next to him (we will see how long that lasts). And his other friends from his last class were surrounding his seat. His substitute was quite nice and Mateo seemed to really enjoy meeting her and his permanent teacher as well.

He sat in line very quietly waiting to be dismissed to class. His eyes looked down, he seemed anxious and a little sad. I kneeled down and squeezed his shoulder and told him that today was a short day and Nini and Pop (his grandparents) were going to be picking him up. I got almost a smile from him, and then it was time for him to go off to his first day of 4th grade.

After school I nervously called him, expecting him to be negative or non-responsive when talking to me about his day. But the opposite happened. He excitedly told me about his day, and how he played with his best friend at recess and that his teacher was very nice, and even that he was going to have to move seats on Friday. I was so happy to hear all of the positives!!

When I got home I read his homework which was a very funny letter to his teacher about himself. He wrote about how his favorite part of class is working on the computer and his favorite time of the school day is when it’s time to go home.  Got to love this kid’s honesty.

Here’s to an amazing 2015-2016 school year for everyone! Fingers crossed things continue this well!

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School good-byes


As the school year is winding down and we are wrapping up our IEPs and all happily awaiting a summer schedule without the stress of excessive homework (believe it or not my kids still get homework over the summer!), tears and arguing over not finishing a video before school, and the never ending hunt for the vanishing belt. I feel like it’s a wonderful time to reflect on this school year and truly how far Mateo has come.

We did have some struggles this year. His teacher left on Maternity leave and after a string of subs Mateo was beyond frustrated, well to be honest we all were. His life was in a state of flux. Never knowing who would be showing up to class and it left him with increased anxiety and of course behaviors in class. His grades slipped in some places and we all felt pretty miserable for a while.

But things made an amazing turn and there was some amazing progression. Mateo has always really struggled with writing. Hand-writing is difficult for him, it takes all of his concentration and his fine motor just never quite can catch up to his mind. So the task of writing a few simple sentences would take all of his energy and patience. But this year after we told them about how well he types on the computer, the school allowed him to begin doing his homework and story writing on the laptop.

His writing blossomed. His stories became detailed and amazing. He even earned a Writer’s Award. I couldn’t be more proud of him! Something he dreaded is now something he really enjoys.

Over the past two years Mateo has had an amazing team of incredible instructors who have helped him thrive and grow and be so successful. I adore his teacher, we have had four incredible years with her between both of my kids and I am going to miss her immensely. Her kindness and understanding always provided Mateo with a safe place and a school family that has helped him grow into the incredible kid he is.

And we don’t know what we would do without his amazing Special Education Specialist! This was her time with Mateo and she has brought out a lot in him. Her compassion for him shows so much in her decisions that she makes, she always has his best interest at heart.

His speech pathologist is also incredible and has been working with him for a long time. She even started a Lego Club to help the kids communicate and work together! I am truly blown away by my school and the real passion they have for helping our kids. They truly care about his success and are always available to answer my questions. We have emailed at midnight and at 6am before, so I know my kids are always on their minds.

Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for all that you do for my kids! I just want you to know how much I appreciate it all and I know how hard you all work!

Mrs B- we are going to miss you sooooo much!!! You were such a gift to both of my children, and I will never forget all that you have done!

I am pretty nervous about 4th grade next year! It’s going to be a huge change, but knowing I have an amazing school does help alleviate a bit of the stress. We are definitely ready for long days by the pool and lots of summer adventures.

Our first day at the pool this season!

Our first day at the pool this season!

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Happy 9th Birthday Mateo!


Dear Mateo,

I can’t believe that you are 9 today!! Years go by faster and faster and moments are truly to be treasured. Every year I like to write you Birthday messages and hope that one day you will look back and enjoy reading them. I think every year I write this, but you have truly come so far in 9 years.

Mateo at 3 years old.

 

When you were three years old you had the schedule that most adults have. 40 hours a week of work, including one on one therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and preschool. While most kids just had a few hours of preschool and naps, you worked very, very hard. It was very frustrating for you at times, we demanded so much from you, but you really conquered it all and blew everyone away with your progress.

Hanging out in Midtown

Hanging out in Midtown

With each year you have grown into a more incredible young boy, and have shown me what’s really imporant in this world and for that I am so grateful. You have taught me the importance of taking the time to see the world from another person’s perspective. I have learned how every person has something to say, whether or not they have the words to say it, and that the real importance is taking the time to listen and to understand.

You amaze me every day. You have such strong determination and always know what you want. Whether it’s the glass of chocolate milk or the latest Resource Mod for Minecraft you know what you want and you figure out a way to get it. I know that this will get you so far in life, whatever path you choose to go down. And I want you to know whatever you decide that you will always have your dad, sister and me standing by you.

You brighten every day with your laugh and hilarious personality. I am amazed by the incredible things you create in Minecraft and how you share them with the world on YouTube. You are a very smart and funny kid that really impacts every person he meets.

Love that smile!

Love that smile!

We have a really fun summer planned, and I look forward to so many wonderful times we will share this year. I hope that you are as happy as you make me! Thanks for being my awesome buddy, I could not be more proud of you!

Love,
Mom

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Autism Acceptance and Understanding for Mateo


I read a post on Facebook that said, wouldn’t it be nice if we celebrated Individuals with Autism in April instead of just making it about Awareness. I loved that idea, I have always tried to make Mateo’s Story about celebrating him and all of his accomplishments. April has been Autism Awareness month for quite a while, and during this time I have seen some horrible write ups in the past about Autism and some incredible ones. I would like to see a lot more of the empowering and encouraging ones. But Autism Awareness should really be Autism Acceptance and Understanding, not just about numbers and figures but about the individuals.

I know that Autism is not about puzzle pieces of bright colors, or rainbows. A blue light doesn’t truly represent the struggles a person with Autism face or the battles we take with school districts, insurance companies and doctors to get the support and services needed. It is hard to find anything to truly represents the person and their family, but we need a starting point. We need a way to build our community to include our friends and neighbors, the strangers we come into contact with every day and the people making the hiring decisions. A bridge to bring us all together in understanding Autism and Neuro-diversity.

Mateo and two of our amazing friends!

Mateo and two of our amazing friends!

Autism is not a disease. I do not have Autism so I cannot give a viewpoint of anything other than a mother of one incredible kid who has Autism. I wouldn’t change one thing about my son, but I would love for the world to better understand him and the difficulties that he faces each day when he goes out into the world. I would love for others to better understand so that they can stand up for him against the cruel people in this world, that may bully or taunt him. Statistically speaking children with Autism have a much higher rate of bullying. I want as he grows up that he finds a peace with his diagnosis and for him to know that I will always be here for him on his journey.

Mateo was diagnosed with Autism at around 2 1/2 years old, although we suspected it before his second birthday. He was always a very intelligent little guy with few words. He figured out the DVD player by the age of 18 months. He’s always been drawn to technology and building things. He loved building amazing designs with his train tracks around the house as he played with his Thomas the Train set, and he was always very imaginative. Today he builds amazing worlds in Minecraft where his love for building and technology have helped him to be very advanced for his age on the computer.

Mateo in Gamer Mode

Mateo in Gamer Mode

His neurologist actually didn’t believe us when we told him how Mateo liked to play pretend since that’s generally not a trait of Autism. I learned early on not to follow those lists of Autistic Traits. Autistic traits seem to come and go for Mateo and every person with Autism have very unique characteristics. Some are verbal, others aren’t. Some people have a lot of self-stimulatory behavior like Mateo does, others do not. Some are wonderful at Math others at Art. Although every individual on the Autistic Spectrum have very different needs, but there are many similarities across the board. Most have sensory issues where bright lights, loud sounds, too many people talking in one room can cause anxiety and stress. Their filter is very different as well as how they process everything around them.

My wish for Mateo is happiness, what we want for all of our children, and a world that accepts him for the person he is. A world that is understands that his uniqueness is also his beauty. That he can get overwhelmed at times and you may need to slow down when you speak to him.  He doesn’t need to look you in the eye to indicate he is listening to you, he is absorbing each word. That as he grows up and needs a job that his quirks don’t indicate his abilities, that you can look past those to see all that he can offer. That his lack of words do not mean he is not listening to every word being said. Quite the opposite, he hears and understands it all. He is sensitive and his feelings get hurt very easily and his biggest desire is to not stand out or be excluded. He wants to fit in, and doesn’t understand why you may not have the same likes and interests that he does.

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From the Autism Unveiled Project an individual with Autism wrote, “Autism is my destiny. Destiny is to seek – not to fight against. We may call the same word ‘destiny’ as ‘luck’ or ‘fate’. If autism is my path, let me walk it well, let me understand my life walking my path,”

What a powerful statement. I wish for Mateo to find his path wherever it leads him and know that we are here supporting him on his journey. That he finds to accept his Autism within himself. I will always  be here to advocate for him along his journey, and to help him find that voice to eventually advocate for himself. I also hope that through Mateo’s Story we bring a little more understanding about individuals with Autism and with that we eventually bring Acceptance and Inclusion.

Posted in Autism Awareness Month, World Autism Awareness Day | Leave a comment