The dreaded day…1st day of high school

I’m writing this as I lay in my bed my eyes wet, and my heart physically aching. Today was rough. I knew it would be hard. I prepared myself for it, I thought I did. I went into today with a positive but realistic attitude.  But like everything with Kyle…even with all the preparation in the world, it’s still hard. And my mama heart is hurting. 

I went to bed last night full of anxiety mixed in with a little excitement. I had Kyle’s lunch packed. A note to his teacher all ready to go. The pictures of the bus and the new teachers out and ready to prep Kyle. I didn’t sleep much knowing the morning would be rough. But I was ready to power through it! 

I woke Kyle up bright and early at 5:30! He wasn’t excited but didn’t protest. We went through the normal morning routine and he didn’t put up any more of a fight than usual. After he was dressed and ready to go, we sat on the couch looking out the window waiting and talking about the bus. He nervously laughed and seemed to be ok. He even signed “please” when I mentioned the bus! I tried to hide my nervousness the best I could do so Kyle wouldn’t feed off my emotions-which he often does! I did a dang good job! 

The bus arrived right on time-6:21. James and I walked Kyle out who immediately ran to the back of the bus and into the street! 🙈 James corralled him back to the bus doors where I was meeting his bus aide, Janine. She is a lady around my moms age who was extremely nice which gave me comfort! The bus driver, Jorge had a big smile and “hi” to greet his new student who was less than enthusiastic about getting on that big bus (which was empty-Kyle was the first pick up). We somehow got Kyle up and in, where he took his shirt off and threw it out of the bus. 🙄 It took several attempts and bribery of candy to get it back on. Then came the seatbelt-everytime we buckled it, he unbuckled it. Once again bribery came into play along with Janine having to hold onto his hands.

As we struggled through getting Kyle settled I was talking him through all the steps and reassuring him he was fine. He motioned for my hand and for me to sit next to him several times. My heart broke every time. The look of panic in his eyes was almost enough for me to say, “Forget it! Come back inside! You never have to go to school!” But I know I can’t do that. And I was being so strong! So when he was calm enough I walked out of the bus. He began to cry and the bus drove off. It was so hard. So hard. 

I got back in and was able to keep it together. I paced back and forth in my house thinking about my baby boy who’s world has been rocked again and was scared and anxious. All I wanted do was make it stop for him. But I can’t do that. 

Kyles sweet teacher text me updates throughout the day that he was doing fine. She sent me a picture even! I have a friend who also works in a different classroom that sent me a picture too and sweet reassuring texts throughout the day. As the day progressed, I was feeling much better! I even thought wow! That wasnt horrible! He didn’t even throw up! I was excited and looked forward to seeing him get off the bus with his cute sideways grin! 

At 2:00, whitney and I were out front to greet Kyle and the bus! He was so excited to see us, and hopped out of the bus and ran inside to get his iPad! I talked with the bus aide, Janine for a few minutes outside. She said the bus ride to school was rough but not awful. She said he had a few hiccups at school but overall a good day. She reassured me that things would get better when he got to know them. I agreed and we said our good byes. 

Kyle was happily on his iPad and asked to eat (normal-he eats a snack after school). He ate his snack and drank some juice. I was on cloud nine! Thinking today was hard and tomorrow might be a little harder but this was do-able for sure! 

About 3:30, Kyle started crying upstairs and spitting a lot. Which is code for he’s gonna puke. He wandered downstairs still whining  😩 I asked him if he needed to throw up and he immediately went to the sink and vomited. This was not extremely unusual…except he didn’t have anything to be anxious about. He was upstairs. No one was here. It was fairly quiet. My mind started thinking, is he sick? Did he get heat exhaustion on the bus? What the heck. 

This went on for the better part of an hour. I began to realize he was having an anxiety attack. Nothing I did would calm him down. He began to pace. He started looking out the window and saying bye (I’m assuming to the bus). He kept throwing up. He asked for a bath where he still threw up. His anxiety was almost palpable.  At this point I started to cry. I couldn’t help my son. I can usually calm him down. I can usually talk him down from throwing up in an anxiety ridden situation. I can usually fix things when it comes to Kyle. I couldn’t fix this. I felt helpless. 

After the bath I got him dressed in shorts,  closed his curtains so it was dark and we both laid on his bed. He watched the Bee movie while I silently sobbed. I tried to comfort him by rubbing his arm like I usually do as I sniffled, but he clearly wasn’t relaxing. My mom was dropping Cody off and came up and saw my swollen eyes and told me she’d take over. Thankfully Kyle liked that idea and snuggled up to grandma. 

I walked into my room and crawled into my bed and continued to cry.  And that leads us to right now. As I lay here I am sad. Sad that I can’t make Kyle not hurt. I’m sad that I can’t make kyles life easier. I’m sad that in order for Kyle to get used to this new school he has to continue to go which means he has to continue to suffer. I am sad that he can’t catch a break and everything is so much harder for him. I’m sad that I can’t take the anxiety of new situations away. I’m so sad that my baby boy is suffering. If I could go through it all for him I would in a heart beat. 

There are many times that I’m ok with how “unfair” things are for Kyle. For me. Today is really hard to be ok with how unfair it is for us. I just want to make the pain go away for both of us. But I know I can’t do that. So instead, I’m gonna go somewhere quiet and pray hard, harder than I have before,  that the pain will lessen and that Kyle and I will have the strength to do this again tomorrow. I have to be hopeful, right? 

I’m dreaming of a white sandy beach vacation….

​This is pretty much what everyday looks and sounds like in the summer for one reason or another and it’s usually more than once a day, today’s adventure (I’m choosing to call it that even though adventures are supposed to be fun-at least in my mind-and this isn’t fun 😳)…Kyle has discovered our neighbor has an above ground pool (from standing on our upstairs balcony and peering into their yard-he’s so nosey! 😂) and has become obsessed with wanting to go over there. This isn’t possible for several reasons. But he doesn’t care to hear any of the reasons. So this meltdown 👆🏻started because he pulled out his swimsuit and pointed next door to tell me he wanted to go in their pool.  When he was told no he immediately started into meltdown mode, which was small but escalated quickly when he realized his iPad ran out of battery (this is like THE worst thing that could possibly happen). I closed his door, after handing him the back up iPad (which is not his preferred-who knows why, they both do the same thing 🤷🏻‍♀️) to hopefully let him calm himself down-only to open his door a few minutes later to find he peed himself in protest 😩. Awesome. But at least it wasn’t puke. So into the bathroom we went to get him cleaned up,  where he stripped down naked and flopped to the floor and refused to get up.  He cried and hit himself several times. Finally after a good 5 minutes of me telling him over and over to get up (trying really hard not to lose my patience cuz then he will never stand up) he stood up and walked into his room, still crying. He protested the whole time while I struggled to get him wiped down and dressed in clean clothes (trying to dress a 130+pound 13 year old who is NOT helping is not my favorite)! After 10 minutes, I’m sweating and he’s still pissed cuz he wants the iPad that isn’t charged. 🤦🏻‍♀️

Seriously, this happens multiple times a day in the summer and for all different reasons! 👎🏼 And sometimes he doesn’t even know why he’s melting down so there is no solution-which is definitely the most frustrating for both of us!  I know I have voiced several times my fear and anxiety about Kyle starting high school but I’m becoming more excited and relieved that summer school starts for him in 3 short days! He needs a school routine back, and I need a break (or a vacation)! I sure hope we both make it til then! 🤞🏼😬 Have I told you I hate summer?! 😬

It’s A Cruel, (Cruel ), Cruel Summer!

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Summer.  I hate summer.  There, I said it.  I know, HATE is a strong word but I feel strongly about my dislike for summer.  I didn’t always hate summer.  In fact as a kid, it was my favorite time of year.  I remember we always had a family vacation planned, trips to the beach often and we made a family trip to Raging Waters (a water park) every year!  I remember long days of having friends over jumping on the trampoline and sleep overs and just over all fun!  So naturally when I became a mom I had future plans for FUN summers filled with vacations, beach trips and a house full of my kids and their friends.  Well, my summers are definitely not like anything I imagined…and sometimes (well, pretty much every day ;)) I have to dig deep to smile and appreciate the summer days despite how different they are from what I wanted them to be.

Our summers aren’t filled with beach trips, sleep overs, and definitely no vacations planned!  Our summers are mostly spent at home with lots of playing in the hose and made up games in the back yard!  With a little drive through McDonalds here and there and a whole lot of meltdowns!  We TRY to make a beach trip or 2 if we are lucky, but going to the beach with Kyle is a lot of work and he only lasts maybe 2 hours-where the other kids want to stay all day!  And driving 2 hours to only stay 2 hours and then drive home 2 hours never sounds like a great idea!   A couple of summers ago, I got brave and paid Erika to come along with us on a trip to big bear with my family for 3 days.  It went ok but on day 2, I ended up in tears after a long day of dealing with meltdowns.  I swore I’d never do a family vacation  again-and I am still in that mindset! haha  Having other kids here adds more noise and isn’t in Kyle’s routine, more often than not resulting  in extra meltdowns, so sleepovers are rare and having a house full of extra kids doesn’t happen often.  Soooooo, that leaves my kids with not many options but somehow we have managed to survive every summer…and I have a feeling we will continue to survive!  My kids are champs, I can’t say that enough.

Sometimes, I find myself looking at social media becoming envious of my family and friends, as I see their amazing pictures of summer vacations, lake trips and beach trips or just their daily outings that they are experiencing with their families.  When Kyle was diagnosed all those years ago, I went through a grieving process (another blog post for another day).  Because when your child is diagnosed, you realize there are things in your life that you have to give up.  Summer is something I lost when I became Kyle’s mom.  So every time summer rolls around I find myself in a bit of a slump and have to pull myself up.  And sometimes that means I have to pretend to smile when I wanna go upstairs and cry about the summer I wish I could give my kids.  But that’s not an option so instead I am going to try to make the best of another summer and appreciate what we DO get to do as a family.

 

 

 

 

 

I think I’m on the spectrum too! 

Kyle will start his high school journey in just a few short weeks. I have had so much anxiety and too many sleepless nights leading up to this big transition! I have tried to mentally prepare myself for this change the last couple of years, but how can one really *really* be prepared for that first day when the bus pulls up to your house and you send your big 13 year old non verbal, anxiety ridden, autistic son on his way to a big different school.  With a different classroom,  a different teacher and different “aides”, and different classmates. And a completely different schedule.   How do I prepare my heart for that first day, that I know will ache if he starts to meltdown because things are much different than he knows? I’m not sure…I just hope I’ve done enough to prepare us both.

He has been at the same elementary school since preschool…that’s 10 years of the same. We have been so lucky with all those who have been a part of Kyle’s elementary years. We have formed lasting friendships and I know they care deeply for Kyle and his success.  This last year Kyle’s teacher and the principal (both whom I consider friends) both walked (and talked 😉 me through the process of transitioning to high school. They both came with me to tour the high schools and gave me their honest opinions. Then when it came time for Kyle’s transitional IEP with the high school rep, Kyle’s teacher was there to give very specific notes on how Kyle works and thinks and processes. She knows Kyle probably as well as I do. After each step toward this change I have felt a little better.

I have said lots of prayers for comfort through this process and feel like every single time I have needed comfort it’s been there. I have been put in contact with the right people through this hard process and they have reassured me with the exact things I’ve needed to hear. The high school staff has been more than accommodating and has been so kind responding to all 500 of my emails voicing my concerns! His new teacher has even called me and text me to set up a time for her to meet Kyle and myself before he starts summer school (seriously? People who work in special ed are amazing)! A Facebook friend contacted me letting me know her husband would be working in Kyle’s class-they came by and met Kyle this last week so he would have another familiar face and so they could get to know Kyle!  I have learned that having people who can “hear” and understand the many “voices” of Kyle eases my anxiety and reassures Kyle as well. So I’m hoping when he walks through those different doors and sees some familiar faces it will help put his anxiety at ease.

As with anything new and different practicing *sometimes* helps Kyle…so we have been driving to the high school. We talk about the new school while we drive there. We talk about riding on the bus. We point to the new classroom. We plan on getting pictures of the teacher and other adults in the classroom to show him as well as a picture of the bus. So far he has reacted positively! And I’m hopeful with us practicing it will help relieve some of his anxiety come that first day.

If I have learned anything about Kyle it’s that people will fall in love with his goofy grin and his infectious laugh in no time. And it won’t be long before his new teachers are new friends! And I’m sure he will learn his new schedule quickly….and learn the ins and outs of his new school….and get to know the personalities of his new classmates. I know all this. Its just getting past those first few NEW days.

Sometimes I think I fall on the spectrum with my transitional anxiety and my fear of change (Poor James)! Kyle and I are quite the pair! I hope that I have prepared us both well enough that when that bus pulls up to the front of our house in a few short weeks, neither one of us has a melt down! Here’s to being hopeful! 😬💙

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So long 8th grade

Kyle graduated 8th grade today. It wasn’t like my 8th grade graduation-an auditorium filled with lots of parents and siblings and a graduating class of 200+. This was a graduation in a cafeteria filled with maybe 15 parents and siblings and a graduating class of 6. SIX. But it was by far the BEST 8th grade graduation I have ever attended. And maybe its because Kyle is mine, or maybe because I watched him beaming with pride on the stage. Or maybe because I am going to miss this school that took the time and put in the effort to put on a graduation ceremony for my special boy. Maybe its because as I listened to our principal (who I am honored to call a friend) speak about these kids, I could hear the pride and the love she had for them. Maybe its because I watched as Ms. Jan (one of his favorites) proudly stand next to her boy and let him grab her arm when he felt anxious (and even bite her). Or maybe it was watching Mr. Chris play with Kyle after the graduation and Kyle light up and laugh as they wrestled. Maybe its because I am so humbled to be able to experience and have my kids experience special moments like these for their special brother, that most people don’t. Maybe its because once again, through this graduation, I was reminded how truly lucky I am to be Kyle’s mom. Maybe its all these reasons that made it the best. But I will forever treasure the moment of pride I felt, as Kyle was helped across the stage to receive his 8th grade diploma.   ​

I Can Do Hard Things

I think it’s safe to say that most parents want the absolute best for their kids.  I am no different.  I want all my kids to be successful and be the best version of themselves.   Sometimes that means work on the parent’s part.  Sometimes that means a lot of extra work when it comes to making sure a childlike Kyle gets the absolute best.  Like many things that come with Kyle’s diagnosis, it can be exhausting when you have to fight constantly for your child.  But it’s a fight worth fighting.

This last month has been a difficult one.  Lots of changes are taking place in Kyle’s life which leaves me super emotional.  I’m scared and nervous, and anxious and trying to stay hopeful all at the same time.   It’s so hard.  I have wondered the last month where I’ve found the strength, Why I haven’t gone upstairs and curled up in a ball and cried til I ran out of tears to cry.  Well, my strength ran out on Friday.

Usually Fridays are difficult.  It’s the start of the weekend (not my favorite), I never know how the transition of James and the two older boys coming home will affect Kyle (will he be excited to see them? will it be too much and will he have a meltdown?).  And this Friday was particularly stressful because James was going to come home with the boys, pick up Cody and leave to go camping overnight.  I knew Kyle was going to struggle with this, it was way out of the routine.  Kyle has a hard time when we are in any type of hurry (super inconvenient)…it causes him great anxiety (this has taught me to NEVER run late, like ever.  I know if I’m late I have to play it cool otherwise Kyle goes into shut down mode and won’t budge.  Super awesome)!  Aaaaaaand to add more chaos, Zack was here, not Erika. 

Zack has come in the last couple of weeks by himself and it has been rough.  His personality is very different than Erika’s.  His personality isn’t as strong.  He isn’t a take charge kind of guy.  And Kyle has learned this quickly about him.  With this knowledge, Kyle has slowly started to run the show with Zack.  Every evening after session I have given Zack feedback and he is really good at taking the feedback.  He is super nice and tries so hard.  To be fair, he came into this with very little experience but was eager to learn and is super smart.  But he is still very shy and quiet and not very forceful when it comes to Kyle, despite my urging him to be more commanding with Kyle (because that’s what he needs).

So Friday was hard.  I was already frustrated as soon as the session started because he was losing control quickly. And I saw Kyle taking over and Zack doing little to take the reins back.  Zack began to panic and Kyle doesn’t do well when you panic,  I stepped in several times (which I have no problem doing but I was controlling the session, not Zack).   When it was time for the session to end I was more than ready for Zack to leave.  I was starting to feel like having Zack here was more stressful and not beneficial to Kyle.  James came home and was rushing to get out of the house with the boys and all I wanted was to cry to him.  I mentioned my concerns quickly to him and he validated me the best he could with the limited time he had.  Out the door he went and instantly the tears started coming. 

I decided to call Ciarra and tell her how I was feeling.  She listened as I cried and understood all my concerns.  She told me that in the end it was my choice whether to keep Zack on or let him go.  She told me to take the weekend and think about it, talk it over with James (my voice of reason) and we would talk again on Monday.  All weekend I stressed. I talked it over with James when he got home.  I knew he had all the same concerns that I did about Zack and he reiterated all of them as we talked. But I still couldn’t make the final decision of letting Zack go. 

I knew Zack wasn’t the right fit.  I knew he wasn’t the right fit as soon as I met him.  But like so many times when having to deal with staff or programs for Kyle, I was told this is the best we can do right now and we can train him.  I knew that Erika had put in many hours and lots of hard work training Zack, which added to my anxiety of letting him go.  I struggled with the idea of letting Zack go for fear we wouldn’t have services while they scrambled to try to find someone else.  I fought myself with voicing my concerns because Zack is a nice guy and he was trying as hard as he could.   And I struggled with the thought that maybe they COULDN’T find someone better.  I tried to talk myself into keeping Zack because it would be easier on everyone…except Kyle and me!

Monday came, and I knew that the right decision was to let Zack go.  He isn’t the right fit for Kyle.  I know this. Kyle deserves the very best and unfortunately Zack isn’t the very BEST for Kyle.  I called Ciarra and told her my decision.  I wrote an email to the offices and explained my position.  To which I received a response stating Zack would be pulled from Kyle’s case effective immediately.  I felt relief instantly, which confirmed to me that I made the right decision.

I feel like being Kyle’s mom has pushed (shoved) me out of my comfort zone more than I’d like, and probably will continue to do so.  I am a people pleaser to some degree, and I don’t like (probably more like HATE) having to “complain” or “fight” for what Kyle deserves..  I want to be liked and I worry about what others will think.  I don’t like being “that mom”.  It’s hard for me to tell someone that they aren’t the perfect fit for Kyle when they have tried really hard.  Come Wednesday its going to be hard to have to explain to Erika, who I have been holding back my feelings about Zack for fear she would get mad because of all her hard work, why I made the decision to let Zack go.  Being Kyle’s mom, is hard when he’s having a meltdown.  It’s hard when he’s throwing up.  It’s hard knowing he can’t form a two word sentence.  But it’s also so hard having to go outside of where I am comfortable, and fight for what is best for Kyle. With all that being said, I will continue to “fight” until we find a therapist that is a perfect fit for Kyle….because he deserves it and I want what is best for my son!   And because I can do hard things.

 

 

 

kyle and me 3 

One Chapter Ends and Another Begins…..

 

Kyle had been receiving ABA services (behavior therapy for autism) for about 2 years when his case supervisor sat me down in my dining room and told me that he was out of ideas for Kyle and I should probably look into switching to another company if I wanted to continue services for Kyle. What the?!!  I felt like he might as well have said, I’ve given up on your son, so see ya later!   The process to switch companies was a long process that would leave Kyle with no services for a few months.  But at this point I had no choice.  We needed a team that was willing to put in the HARD work and time Kyle required.  So we started the process of switching and I crossed my fingers and prayed I picked a better company this time around!

I met Ciarra at Panera Bread for the first time.  She was a cute, young, bubbly, but YOUNG girl.  My first impression of this new case supervisor of this new company, was she’s so nice…..but is she up for this challenge?!  She spent a good 2 hours asking me lots of questions about Kyle and listening intently to me describe his behaviors and the issues we were struggling with as she took detailed notes.  At the end she looked me straight in the eye and said, “this is an extremely difficult case and it’s going to be really hard finding someone that is willing to endure the challenges Kyle will throw at them every day.”  I immediately felt myself tear up, hearing the words ‘your son’s case is extremely difficult” is hard to hear-even though I am fully aware of how hard he is!  She reassured me before leaving that she was up to the challenge and she was confident that she could find a therapist that would be a fit for Kyle.  I left feeling hopeful and discouraged all at the same time-if that makes sense.

A few weeks later Ciarra called to let me know she had a therapist in mind that might work and wanted all 3 of us to meet to discuss Kyle.  We met at my house while Kyle was at school.  Erika walked in…again she was so YOUNG!!! We sat at my kitchen table and Ciarra started to tell Erika about Kyle and all his behaviors.  I found myself slumping down in my chair as she spoke!  How would anyone want to take this case after hearing that Kyle is super aggressive, he throws up, he throws himself on the ground when having a meltdown, he strips, he’s a big boy and list kept going.  Erika sat with a poker face taking notes as fast as Ciarra was talking.  I couldn’t read her but I was having anxiety just listening.  I knew she was gonna walk out and tell her supervisor, Ciarra, there was no way she was taking this case on!  But to my surprise, by the end she asked when she was starting- with her smile and nervous laugh!

I met with Ciarra several times before Erika started.  I learned all about ABA-the terminology and the theory of it!  Ciarra was great with giving me reading material and applying the principles of ABA directly with examples of Kyle’s behavior so I could better understand why I should react one way or another.  It was important for me to understand so that when Erika and Ciarra weren’t around I could apply it by myself and also when I was helping Erika in the beginning!  It was extremely helpful! One of the many reasons Kyle is so difficult is because his behaviors serve many purposes.  When he throws up it could mean he is anxious and is physically sick.  In that case the appropriate way to respond is to reassure him he’s ok and direct him to a place to throw up.  But if he throws up because he is trying to get out of doing a non preferred activity like getting up and putting something in the trash can, the appropriate response would be to tell him he’s all done and clean him up and follow through with making him throw the trash away.  He is like this with every behavior.  So, unless you know Kyle and how to respond to the function of the behavior it’s hard to respond to the behavior correctly.   (This process has taken Erika and I years to master!  It took many years of trial and error.  ABA is kinda complicated and takes a lot of practice but when its applied correctly it can help tremendously!

We decided that the best approach with Kyle would be to have Erika come every day and build a relationship with him.  Place no demands on him.  Just be his friend. Kyle is very anxious and relies heavily on those people that he trusts to know what he is needing at any given time.  So I knew it was going to be crucial for Erika and Kyle to establish a relationship of trust before she would ever get any sort of cooperation out of him.  That first day she showed up I knew she was different than anyone else.  She had this determination and drive about her that I knew was going to help me and Kyle. 

After those 2 months we met as a team (Ciarra-case supervisor, me and Erika) and discussed what we would do next.  Kyle’s list of things to “get done” was a mile long…so we made a list of the most important things to accomplish and came up with a program for each of those things.   One of the big things was getting him to appropriately play with something and transitioning back and forth to preferred and non preferred activities-with no behaviors!  Sounds easy enough, right?! If Ive learned anything its, nothing is ever easy with Kyle!  Haha

Monday came and we were ready to go!  Or thought we were.  That day was so hard.  I cried multiple times as my son bit and scratched and hit and kicked both myself and Erika every time we tried to get him to do anything.  That first day I told her I wouldn’t blame her if she didn’t come back as I fought back tears.  It was hard-physically and mentally.  But we learned a lot that first day, we made changes to our approaches and continued to tweek things for weeks until we got into a routine that seemed to work for Kyle.  I wanted to quit almost every day, I can only imagine how Erika felt.  But every single day she showed up and put in 100%.  She still treated Kyle with love and respect despite the bruises and bite marks he would leave her with day after day.  She kept me going…She pushed me…she made me feel like I could keep going, cuz she was.  But, man, it was so hard…it was exhausting.

After a few months we could see small changes but more importantly we were starting to understand Kyle’s behaviors better so we reacted with the appropriate response which meant we were getting less inappropriate behaviors.  With Kyle, I have learned that his victories are often slow and small but they are victories and need to be celebrated!  Every time Ciarra came into the home (which was every couple of weeks sometimes once a week)  she saw improvement, which made me want to work even harder!

After about 6 months (Kyle was around 9.5) Ciarra and Erika convinced me that Kyle was more than capable of being potty trained.  This task made me ill to think about.  It seemed like more work than I was up for.  But Erika was once again so encouraging and determined to make it happen.  So she rolled up her sleeves and was ready to tackle potty training! And after only 6 months (lots of hard work, lots of tears and lots of accidents), Kyle was fully potty trained.  There is no way I could have done it without Erika cheering me on and helping me every single step of the way.  Erika constantly gets me out of my comfort zone and pushes me to do hard things with Kyle!  She is ALWAYS willing to try new things no matter how hard it is. 

A few years ago my mom planned a family vacation to Big Bear.  Having Kyle restricts us from doing any type of family vacation. He doesn’t do well out of his routine and home is his comfort.  Erika offered to come with us and help in any way she could so that we could participate in this family vacation.  It was the first family vacation we had ever taken!  She is always willing to go above and beyond to help me and to help Kyle.

Being a mom to a child like Kyle can be lonely.  Other moms can’t relate.  They just can’t.  Being a mom to Kyle is much different.  I have friends that I love and adore but they don’t understand the struggles that I endure with Kyle.  And sometimes that’s hard.  Having Erika has helped me in so many ways, she will probably never fully understand the depth of gratitude I have for her.  She is a friend that understands to some degree like no one else does.  I can text her about a meltdown any day of the week and know her response will be filled with true understanding.  She can walk into my house and see my face and know it’s been a rough day, instantly she takes over Kyle duties without me saying anything.  For the past 5 years Erika has been my strength.

This last Monday was Erika’s last Monday.  She will only be working with Kyle on Wednesdays at my moms and that will be ending very soon too.  As I type this out my eyes are filled with tears.  I know that because of Erika pushing me, I am a better mom to Kyle.  I know that our family is better able to love Kyle because of Erika. And most importantly, I know Kyle is better able to cope in a world that is much different than his because of Erika.  Finding someone like Erika isn’t easy-Ciarra keeps telling me that I was spoiled with Erika!  I am so grateful she sat at my kitchen table that day 5 years ago, listened to how hard Kyle was going to be, and decided she was up for the challenge!  I am grateful that she has come into my home every day for 4 hours for the last 5 years and loved my son despite the challenges he throws at her daily.  I am grateful for the love she shows all my kids.  I am grateful for the 5 years she put into bettering my family.

I don’t know how it will turn out with our new therapist, Zack but I’m trying really hard to be hopeful.  I know that those that have been put in Kyle’s life have all served a purpose,  and I look forward to seeing what purpose Zack will serve in this chapter of  Kyle’s life, but I can’t help but be sad as we say goodbye to the Erika chapter.  kyle and erika