Sunday, April 29, 2007

April 29, 2007

I've been crying for 8 days now. I'm tired. I can't believe how sensitive I've become in my old age. Stuff makes me cry...especially anything to do with Jakob or Autism. So much has happened in the past week that the tears have just been flowing...

It all started at the Autism Speaks meeting last Saturday morning. I got all emotional when I looked around the room and saw parents, providers and support groups all in the same room. It was like the "who's who" of the Cincinnati Autism Community...and they were all together. Something I'd never seen before and it was pretty powerful. I can only imagine how much we can accomplish if we all work together. Wow.

Then, Saturday night was the ceremonial first pitch at the Reds game. I spent most of the day trying to keep Jakob as happy as possible. I wanted that kid ready to go. Talk about focus. I was so focused that I don't really remember a whole lot, it's bit of a blur.

I do remember that Jakob was awesome. No problems getting ready at home. He changed into his uniform, ate early, went potty and got into the car without incident. We had to be at the stadium at 6:15 and that had me worried. Jakob's "big" potty time is usually between 6:30-8:00PM. I was terrified that we'd be on the field and "oops" I was pretty excited when he took care of that before we left. It might sound like a silly thing to worry about...but had there been an "oops", he would have wanted the "oops" out and he would have tried to take it out himself, right there on the field. That would have been a problem. So all worked out.

Jakob dealt with the crowd, the walking and the waiting. He was taking it all in...the lights, the sounds, the music, the people, the whole ballpark. As we hung out on the on-deck circle waiting for his time to hit the mound, he sat on my lap facing me and snuggled. He was so calm that I was afraid he might fall asleep. It was so sweet, he'd look around the stadium then look at me like "Mom, what have you gotten me into this time?" and then he'd lay his head on my chest. What a pumpkin. I can't honestly say whether he was calm and cool or overstimulated and shutting down. Either way, it was a victory.

I started to tear up a little bit when the Jumbotron started playing a piece of "The Road to the First Pitch". Luckily, I'd already seen it several times so it wasn't too overhwelming. Jakob watched too. I'm not sure if he was grasping that it was him up there with a bunch of people who loved him a lot or if he was just thinking "huh?" But he was paying attention to it and that was great.

When it was time, he took my hand and followed me onto the field. We stood a little farther away from the plate than we had practiced. I knew he could get it there and I wanted to show him off a little. I put the baseball in his hand and told him "you're gonna throw it to Grandpa". He held the thing pretty tight and put his arm in position. His eyes were wandering all around the stadium, not sure what to look at so I remember holding his head and turning it toward home plate. I told him a couple more times, "throw it to Grandpa" and I started counting, very slowly and deliberately, "one, two, three...throw it"... and he did it. He did it.

He heard the crowd but I don't think he understood that they were clapping for him. As we walked off the field, he could hear the kind people in the stands say "yeah, Jakob" and "go Jakob". He lifted his head so I know he heard them and knew they were talking to him. There was a man on the sidelines who reached over to give Jakob a high five...and Jakob gave it to him.
That whole night was the coolest thing ever. And it was wonderful to share it with my family and so many people who have made a place in their hearts for Jakob. So many of his therapists and teachers were there. It was so nice. And it was so great to sit with the Autism Society for the game...the kids and their families. The kids all seemed to be doing really well. I was concerned about us sitting so close to the fireworks. That first homer made us all jump. I know it knocked a couple kids for a loop but there were some that handled it beautifully.

Jakob was pretty cute in the stands. He sat in his seat with his feet on the seat in front of him. He kicked that poor woman more than a couple of times. She was very understanding and forgiving. He was pretty quiet sitting there, unless I tried to put his feet down. When I tried, he let me have it a couple times with squeals and stomping of the feet. Battle over...he won. So we sat thru 3 innings with his feet on the chair. After 3, he stood up, put up his seat, told me to get up and grabbed Aunt Sandy by the shirt and told her to get up. When I asked him if he was ready to go, he said "o" and signed "go". So we left.

He remembered exactly how to exit the stadium and where we had parked.

Most of the way home, we were all singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". Jakob really likes the "1,2,3 strikes, you're out" part. He counts on his fingers and does the umpire signal for "out". Then he giggles, a lot.

I sure do like that giggle.

(In my next entry...the Channel 5 piece and Jakob's most recent evaluation...)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

April15, 2007

Wow. Talk about busy. It's a little nuts. It's all good so I don't mind the craziness.

Let's run down what's been going on since my last entry...

Two weeks ago, we built an Autism Awareness float for Q102's entry in the Reds Opening Day Parade. We got Second our first attempt in a competition!! It was VERY exciting!!

Last week, we shot a lot of video for our documentary "The Road to the First Pitch", we threw a fundraiser that raised money for the ASGC and we had a Jakob's Playdate at ABC.

This week, we prepare for the first pitch and finalize the details for the big Autism Speaks presentation on Saturday morning.

And all that on top of how wonderful Jakob has been...

My parents were here last weekend and I've never seen my Dad have so much fun with Jakob. They were reading "The Monster at the End of This Book"...which my father read to me at least 500 times when I was Jakob's age. Dad never has been able to just stick to the script and he's quite animated. Jakob loved it. Dad also enjoyed Jakob's reaction when he twisted his ears and made a funny sound. But nothing really compared to the running around the house singing "All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel. The monkey stopped to scratch his butt...pop goes the weasel". Dad was never very good at sticking to the lyrics either. And when Dad sings...let's just say "he's really feelin' it".

We even had some unbelievably sweet when Jakob was starting to get sleepy and he curled up beside Dad on the couch. All the girls in the room went "aww"... and I think my Dad really dug it...I know Jakob did.

This morning with Jakob was an award-winner...definitely one of my "Top 5 Moments". Jakob was doing some writing...he loves to write words from his "Signing Time" videos on index cards (I should own stock in index cards). I took a piece of construction paper and wrote "Mommy loves Jakob!" on it. He grabbed a fresh piece of paper and a pink marker and wrote "Jakob loves Mommy"...with no prompts from me. He just did it. I melted.

That piece of paper is hanging on the fridge and will be framed in the near future.

And...sometime this week, I'd really like to get my next's a simple one..."Believe".