Tricia Klein

@tricia-rhynold | contributor
Tricia Klein is from Brantford, Ontario. Her personal blog, The Book of Timothy, is the story of a working class family’s journey through autistic waters… sink or swim. She lives with her two fabulous girls and one AU-some little boy.
Tricia Klein

My Son With Autism Finally Attended a Birthday Party

Dear (Super Cool) Mom, You don’t know me and I don’t know you, but my son, Timothy, sometimes sits beside your son at school. Timothy is on the autism spectrum. He is also a 7-year-old little boy who loves and plays with all of his heart. He needs a lot of extra help at school and sometimes seems just plain oblivious to what’s happening right underneath his nose. He wants friends but sometimes doesn’t know how to make them. He wants to play but sometimes doesn’t know how to ask. He wants to be included but sometimes doesn’t know how. We parents of children with autism know only too well the hurt our kids feel when they are left out of the social gatherings. Organized sports, play dates, sleepovers and yes, the dreaded birthday parties. I can say whole-heartedly that my son has not attended a single one. We have received countless invitations in the past few years, but mostly by kids who mercilessly invite the entire class. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful. But I wonder if the parents know what would happen if I brought Timothy? It could be overwhelming for him and lead to a meltdown. So we politely decline. Every single one. Until your invitation arrived in the mail with a special note. It read: “Carter sat beside Timothy at school and he always talks about him. I really hope he can come. We are renting a bounce castle that we can attach a small bounce slide at the bottom. We will also have water balloon’s and water guns. Maybe Timothy can come earlier in the day if it would be too much with the whole class. Let me know how we can make it work.” You wrote exactly what I needed to see that day and didn’t even know it. Because of your son he is included. Because of your son he feels wanted. Because of your son he has a voice. And I want you to know that because of you I can get through another day. Because of you I can get through another appointment. Because of you I can take more stares and more questions. Because of you I have hope for Timothy’s future. I just wanted to tell you what a fantastic job you are doing with your son. This mom will be RSVPing a hell yes for the first time ever. And I can’t wait. Sincerely, Timothy’s very grateful Mom A version of this post originally appeared on The Book of Timothy.

Tricia Klein

When I Learned My Son With Autism Is in the Bottom 1% of His Peers

So much has changed in such a short time for my son, Timothy. I’m having a hard time catching my breath. Last week was hard. I learned Timothy is being discharged from IBI (intensive behavioral intervention) therapy which has been his second home for almost 18 months. But that’s not the hard part. The hard part was reading he was in the bottom one percent of 100 of his peers. Oh how that hurt my heart. A general blanket of numbness came over me as it sunk in. Yes this is real. It’s not going away any time soon. And even as I felt it wash over me, I was calm. I knew these things already. I was not surprised. These are some other things I know about my son. 1. I know my son and I know his struggles are real and not buzz words. 2. I know that when he tries to print his name, today he can’t, and that’s OK. 3. I know that when he tries to make it to the toilet, sometimes he can’t, and that’s OK. 4. I know that when he tries to fit in he won’t today, and that’s OK. 5. I know that when he tries to eat “other” foods, today he can’t, and that’s OK. 6. I know that when he tries to tie his shoes, today he can’t, and that’s OK. 7. I know that when he tries to do everyday kid things, today he can’t, and that’s OK. 8. I know that when he rides the bus (aye, it ’tis the short one, folks) he wears a harness to keep him safe, today, and that’s OK. 9. I know that at 7 years old he wears diapers still, today, and that’s OK. 10. I know he feels happiness today and that’s OK. 11. I know he feels loved today and that’s OK. 12. I know he tries today and that’s OK. Maybe tomorrow he can do something he can’t today. Maybe not. I am OK with that, either way. We live for today and what he can do. This is what Timothy’s autism looks like. How about yours? A version of this post originally appeared on The Book of Timothy. The Mighty is asking the following: Share a travel moment related to disability and/or disease that made you laugh, cry, roll your eyes or was otherwise unforgettable? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “ Share Your Story ” page for more about our submission guidelines. Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook. And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

Tricia Klein

When I Look at My Son and See Autism

It’s amazing. Those days, weeks or months where you just feel like you are in a terrible slump… and then something beautiful happens to open your eyes to life’s idiosyncrasies. It makes you remember why it is you do what you do and what (or who) you do it for. That happened today to me. I was rushing my son, Timothy, out the door to his marathon IBI session after school, and his hat’s brim poked me in the eye. It didn’t hurt, but reflex made me remark “ouch.” He stopped, and his eyes opened wide with concern. “Oh no, Mommy OK?” he asked as he brushed his fingers across my forehead over and over, searching my eyes for reassurance. He felt remorse. Concern. Worry for someone else. My Timothy. This was the first time I’ve seen him show real, valid concern for me. Despite the hundreds, perhaps thousands of times he’s struck, kicked, scratched or head-butted me without batting an eye; he felt remorse this time. I wasn’t sure if he could feel. This moment meant more to me than words can say. It’s everything. It proves his mind is as beautiful as I always thought it was. It proves that even though the days are hard and sometimes I feel like giving up, I was meant for this, to be his mother. The details aren’t important. What’s important is that he reached out through the invisible force field of autism and touched me. You see, sometimes I forget he’s a person and see him more as autism. It’s not right, and I don’t want you to think I condone it. But if I’m going to be honest here, as I swore I would be from the beginning, then there it is. Sometimes I allow my mind to drift to the what ifs, whys and maybes… but really those don’t help anyone, least of all Timothy. Who cares why he is the way he is? Is it my fault? Maybe. Doesn’t matter. What matters is now. And who I’m doing it for is Timothy. This post originally appeared on The Book of Timothy. Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook . And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night .

Tricia Klein

Marriage Challenges Due to Autism

Autism gets a bad rap with families and marriages. I’m sure you hear it all the time. The pulling apart. The stress, the constant worrying, the lack of time with your spouse and other children.  The focus becomes your affected child, and there’s no time for you or your partner. I thought my marriage was strong. It wasn’t strong enough. My spouse and I did what many parents do: gave everything we had. Every spare waking moment was directed at the children. We were tired. Timothy, my child with autism, had a long and aggressive period we couldn’t seem to come back from. I cried — and often. Timothy focused a lot of his aggression on me for some reason, and it beat me down — far down into a deep pit of despair. I couldn’t take him anywhere without a second adult. He destroyed our home, his anger apparent on our living room walls. My partner couldn’t understand why I cried. It hurt. I didn’t feel supported — although looking back, maybe he was supporting me in his own way. We drifted apart slowly, not even noticing at first. As usual, the children were priority. But this is what you should learn from me: Who was there before your children? Your partner. Who is your backbone? Your partner. Who will be there when your children grow up and leave the nest? Your partner. There’s no handbook on parenting or managing a marriage and special needs. You sort of have to fumble through it, messy as it can be, and figure it out on your own. If I can give you anything from this to take away, I want to encourage anyone reading to make time for your partner. You — moms and dads of children with special needs — are as important as your kid. I’m serious. Make time for each other. Love each other. Often. Even if it’s only a few minutes a day or a monthly date night. Learn from my mistakes. As for me, I’ve learned so much these past few months on this roller coaster called love and marriage and special needs. I call this coaster, “One day at a time.” This post originally appeared on The Book of Timothy.

Tricia Klein

At His Christmas Concert, I Realized What I Truly Want for My Son With Autism

I’m grateful every day. Yes, me. Your eyes don’t deceive you. I’m grateful for every day of my sometimes miserable, sometimes wonderful, always beautiful existence on this place we call Earth. It came to me last night. Lansdowne (our therapy joint) held an IBI Christmas concert. I was sitting in a metal folding chair with my younger daughter, Casey, waiting nervously for what I thought was going to be a crapshoot. Twelve children on the autism spectrum singing Christmas carols… I was wrong. It turned out to be an enormous wakeup call. In came the first group of teen/young adult carolers. I saw joy and gravity and incredible happiness in all their faces. I had no idea tears were falling from my eyes until I tasted them. (Get to know me better; I seem to cry a lot.) This is what I want for my son, Timothy. Peace and happiness. Only I hadn’t known it until that moment. In they came. I was searching for him through the shoulders in front of me for a few minutes until I saw him come walking in with two therapists. They walked right out. I get it. It’s too much to sit there. Some smart cookies they are. A few minutes later he came back and was able to sit and jingle a little bell to the last song. I had to hold back my sobs — happy sobs. I was so damn proud of him. He didn’t know all the words, but that was the best freaking “Jingle Bells” I’d ever heard. It was over before I knew it, and Santa was coming, and we were going. Timothy was done and trying to escape anywhere. Sensory overload had taken over. and he was spinning like a little tornado looking for his house, his sanctuary. I grabbed the other kids, and off we went. This was a successful evening for us. We took a little detour and checked out the Christmas lights in the neighborhood before steering for home. He’s come such a long way in just a year. I’m so grateful for every moment like this — a 6-year-old kid like him would have been in several concerts, assemblies or productions by now. Not him. But sitting for 30 seconds in a room full of people is a success. Following a three-word directive is success. Hell, peeing on the toilet with cueing is a success to me. You see, the specials, as I call them, want what everyone else wants. To be happy. To be included. To be loved. It’s my job as a mother to make sure my son can feel these things to the best of his ability. Maybe he won’t be able to, but I”ll sure as hell try. All the best to you and yours this holiday season and in 2015. This post originally appeared on The Book of Timothy. Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook . And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night .

Tricia Klein

Autism and the Holidays: 5 Tips for Getting Through This Season With Sanity Intact

It’s that time of year again… Christmas decorations, family and friends, jam-packed malls and parades, people in your personal space — a sensory-sensitive child’s nightmare! Run! Hide if you can, and bury your head in the turkey’s behind if you must… or read about my tried-and-true tips learned through sweat, tears and trial and error. 5) Breathe. It’s 30 days — you can do almost anything for 30 days if you have to. 4) Use the “small doses” rule. Short bursts of holiday/people/noise a day. One hour is usually the max before my boy (and me) are ready to implode. 3.5) Wine or specially-infused eggnog. 3) Introduce pictures of holiday-type creatures and characters weeks in advance. Preparation people — it’s worth the time. 2) Be aware of the five senses. Your child will be hypersensitive, so be flexible. If they don’t sit on Santa’s knee this year, oh well. The elves look scary and weird so who cares? 1.5)  There’s always next year. 1)  Your Christmas is your Christmas is your Christmas. Your holiday is your holiday is your holiday. There’s no right or wrong way to celebrate. The holidays will be what you make of them. So make them happy. This post originally appeared on The Book of Timothy. Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook . And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night .

Tricia Klein

The Thank You I Never Got to Say

Its a long list, Im not gonna lie. When I’m in the zone (you know that eye-twitching, glazed-over one) when my boy is having a tantrum on the floor in the middle of the therapy lobby, his shins getting a mean beating from his furious kicks — Thank you to the parents who don’t stare. Thank you for your supportive silence and thank you for not commenting on my child’s behavior. Thanks to the cashier who didn’t laugh at my son who stripped in front of the donut display because, well, donuts and being in your skivvies go together, right? Thanks to the (many) therapists who take punches, scratches and kicks from my child without blinking an eye. Thank you for your support while I apologize in tears like a blubbering idiot. Thank you, various drive-thrus, for not questioning my use of sunglasses at all hours of the night because my eyes are puffy and red from crying about things I cannot change. Thank you to the doctor who diagnosed my son. I can’t say I felt thankful that day years ago, but I realize you gave us a gift that I wouldn’t dream of re-gifting. Thank you to my friends and family for watching my endless videos of Timothy saying actual words and listening to me gush. Thanks for not saying you’ve already seen it five times. Thank you to the respite programs for giving us moms and dads a break — for understanding and not making me feel guilty for actually using the hours to do something for myself or with the other kids. Thank you to my daycare provider. Not only do you put up with me, you’re the only one willing to take on my special needs kid (just kidding!). I mean, who really wants to change diapers for a 6-year-old? You do it anyway. Thank you for that. Thank you to Timothy’s daddy. Autism has changed us both, and I thank you for being open minded and always accepting — never ashamed. Finally, thank you to my son. You’re the greatest teacher I’ve known in this life, and you’re only 6 years old. You’re smart and so amazing. You’ve opened my eyes to so many new and wonderful things. Without you, I wouldn’t be me. I will spend every day I have left on this earth thanking you for that. For all of November, The Mighty is celebrating the people we don’t thank enough. If you’d like to participate, please submit a thank you note along with a photo and 1-2 sentence bio to community@themighty.com . Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on  Facebook. And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night .

Tricia Klein

The Day I Decided to Say 'Screw It' to Being a Super Mom

Once upon a time, a girl named Trish married her best friend, Jake. It was a beautiful affair — nothing fancy, just right. She’d had dreams of that day as a little girl — marrying the man of her dreams and being carried over the threshold of their pretty little home (don’t forget the white picket fence). They would have two children, a boy and a girl. That’s where it got interesting. Because my life went nothing as I planned it to… not even close. Yes, I got married but forgot to mention that those two little girls of ours were in the wedding party. Here they are, pleased as punch to get all dolled up for the day. Gasp! I haven’t even got to the most sordid part of all; don’t stop reading yet. Two years later, after a healthy pregnancy, our third child, Timothy, was born. Husband, check; girl(s), check; boy, check. Not the family of four I had imagined, but, meh, I can improvise, I thought. But fate was fickle. Baby Timothy was acting strangely — not neuro-typically. The cards had been dealt, the dealer had a royal flush… and I? Skunked. Sh*t cards, ripped off — or so I thought. Self pity was my best friend for a while; I denied the truth for months, years even. I thought if I cried enough tears to fill an ocean, ignored the diagnosis and tried real hard, I could fix him. I thought if I dress him up cute, people may not notice his differences and give him a chance. Wryly, I look back with humor because, of course, they still noticed. Duh! Timothy has nonverbal autism and is low functioning. In those early days, I tried to be SuperMom. I watched Youtube videos on Martha Stewart Living (before she went to jail). I cooked everything from scratch — if there was a recipe to cure autism, I cooked it. I cleaned. I did laundry, and I went to work on weekends. I missed so many opportunities to have fun with my children and live life because I lived with fog over my eyes trying to be the perfect mom and wife. One day not long ago, I had an epiphany. Screw it. I’m no superwoman, and I won’t pretend to be anymore. I’m not a perfect or even really good mom. I yell when I’m frustrated and cuss when I’m annoyed. I like a cold beer on a really hot day. I burp and fart when I’m alone (and sometimes when I’m not!). Hey, everybody poops. You know how it goes… Bottom line is this: My kids feel loved. They know they matter. Screw the rest. It’s humble pie I eat now. When your kid eats nothing — not a little, literally nothing whatsoever — you will buy him McDonald’s fries every day if that’s what it takes to get him to eat. So that’s what we do. Yes, I’ve heard the “They won’t starve. They’ll eat when they’re hungry” bit, and I”m here to tell you no he won’t. That rule doesn’t apply to my son or to those with extreme sensory aversions. I can’t say for certain what he feels or what he knows, but back then, in those scary first months, he didn’t know hunger. He was mere days from being hospitalized. We lived in fear. If Timothy had a cracker or a donut to eat that day, that was it. That was a success, and I could let myself sleep that night. Back then, I couldn’t say the words I can freely say now: Timothy has autism. We eat processed foods sometimes. Frozen food. I do the laundry whenever I have time — same with cleaning. I rarely apologize anymore for my often messy abode and don’t really care. Those things don’t matter, really, in the scheme of things. It’s taken me a long freaking time to realize what does matter. Family. Love. Accepting myself and others for how imperfectly perfect we are. Living for the moment. I’m not special. Kids like Timothy aren’t born to special people. They are born to teach us. They make us better just to know them. They make better parents, better brothers and better sisters. We are the lucky ones, and I truly mean that. Timothy is teaching me how to live in his world. He’s been teaching me all along. I just missed the clues. To the newly “ausome” parents, stick with it. Don’t get lost in the diagnosis and waste precious opportunities to learn about your child like I did. If I had to look back, it’s my biggest regret. This post originally appeared on The Book of Timothy. Read more from Tricia Rhynold on The Mighty: My Kid Is the One Trying to Get In Your House This HalloweenWhy Trying to Make My Son One of the ‘Normals’ Isn’t Worth It10 Things I Learned From Being a Special Needs Parent Live Mighty. Like us on Facebook .

Tricia Klein

My Kid Is the One Trying to Get Inside Your House This Halloween...

It happens every year. There’s a lot of prep and apt timing on our part of getting the costume on (and feeling right). Sometimes only half a costume actually gets worn. There are no wigs, masks or make up. Usually our prep includes several weeks of practice trick-or-treating at both our home and therapy. Due to the fact that in the past Timothy had absolutely no language, there was a bit of explaining at every door by Dad. “Timothy has autism and doesn’t use words,” which gravitated to just a loud, “Thank you,” to eventually just a wave and smile if we got far enough. By “far enough,” I mean around the block without a meltdown. While this year, he’s gained the ability to actually say “trick or treat” most of the time, he lacks the understanding and social graces of the average grade one kid. Autism’s kinda like that. So this year, I’m warning all of y’all in West Brant that you may have a home intruder on your hands. He’s about 3-foot, 11-inches tall, 50 pounds and will be dressed as a charming little Batman wannabe, who may or may not be wearing a mask. He’ll be excited, and he’ll be loud. He may try to run inside your house, but please have patience; he means no harm. His daddy is there and will be watching closely nearby trying to make his night as successful as possible. Because Halloween should be enjoyed by all kids… kids with autism, Down syndrome, leukemia, cerebral palsy, kids who are walking or in a wheelchair — whatever their exceptionality may be. They are all kids.  Please be kind and treat them the same. Different is not wrong or weird. It’s just different. Have a safe and Happy Halloween! This post originally appeared on The Book of Timothy.

Tricia Klein

Why Trying to Make My Son One of the 'Normals' Isn't Worth It

It isn’t worth it trying to fit in. Trying to force my 6-year-old son with autism to be like the “normals” (it just sounds better than “neurotypical,” don’t you think?) Sssshhh-ing him in McDonalds on the rare occurrence we’re brave enough to take him in when he’s making his happy sounds… Wait a minute… Why exactly is this rare in the first place? I’m not embarrassed of my child. Hell to the no. Do the gawkers wear me down? Absolutely. But why should we care so much? Why do I want him to conform; to be like everyone else? He wouldn’t be Timothy if he didn’t make funny, silly, sometimes strange faces. He wouldn’t be Timothy if he didn’t make the couch rock back and forth with his happy stimming bounces. He wouldn’t be Timothy if he didn’t bring me to tears with a single word or gesture that other children his age said or did years ago. He wouldn’t be Timothy if he couldn’t, at the same time, bring me to my knees with sorrow or make my heart full with pride. He wouldn’t be Timothy without autism. I couldn’t be Timothy’s mom (who happens to feel pretty damn lucky to have such a cool kid) without autism. Hang on a second. I probably could be Timothy’s mom without the autism. But it wouldn’t feel this amazing. This post originally appeared on The Book of Timothy. Read more from Tricia Rhynold on The Mighty: My Son With Autism Is Not Just a NumberA Letter to My Son With Autism10 Things I’ve Learned From Being a Special Needs Parent L ive Mighty. Like us on Facebook .