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Deuce Cities Henhouse

About Our Gus


Hey Friends. I’m gonna talk a bit about the Allen fam today. Some of you may have noticed that I’m not posting as frequently as I was a few months ago. There’s a good reason for that: our youngest Gus has been taking up a lot of my days. We’ve been taking trips to the zoo, visiting the library, going to IKEA for fun, running errands together, you name it. Now that his older brother is at kindergarten every day it has been nice having some one-on-one time together, and we’ve had a blast. I’ve been so happy to have this time with him and I’m glad to see him learning and growing every day.

Around Gus’ 3rd birthday we noticed that his language skills were not quite where most 3-year olds typically are, this fall we sought out the developmental specialists at the Minneapolis school district. After many meetings and evaluations with Gus, they informed us that that Gus is on the Autism Spectrum.

It was a shock and a surprise, and then it also wasn’t. Like I said, his language skills have been slow to fill in (although they are always improving). He has a hard time in social situations with people he doesn’t know; he’s super shy and covers his face when introduced to new situations. Also, he is kind of obsessed with trains. He loves talking about trains, playing with toy trains, reading books about trains, wearing PJs with trains on them, you name it. Having hyper-focused interests is a common thread with autism.

He is also incredibly loving, affectionate, kind, sweet, snuggly, funny (very funny) and smart. He loves his brother Finn and idolizes him. He loves to wrestle his dad, demanding nightly roughhousing sessions before bed. And he’s got that having your mom wrapped around your little finger thing figured out. After spending time with people he warms up to them very well. You know you’ve broken the seal with Gus when he starts tickling you – that’s his way of showing you that he’s interested in being your friend.

As a family we are slowly trying to figure out what this diagnosis means for us. We are very positive about having a plan for Gus. He is starting preschool (today!) specifically designed for young kids on the Autism Spectrum, and the goal is to have him ready to enter Kindergarten in a few short years. Gus is three and a half, so he has a lot of time to figure out strategies to help him with his communication and socialization by the time kindergarten comes around.

We are taking it day by day, but are nothing short of positive. We will continue on doing the things we always do. We will try our hardest not treat him any differently than his brother or other kids. We will work on honing his new skills as he learns them. This might be the last time I ever mention this for all I know. WE don’t want to label him as “broken,” because he’s not. He just learns and interacts differently, as do millions of people around the world who are on the Autism Spectrum. So we will celebrate him and his uniqueness as a family!

So why am I telling you guys? Well, I have a lot of friends and family that check up on us via the blog and I figured this was a more personal way of sharing the news than writing a dumb and awkward Facebook post. It’s also kind of a tricky subject to just drop on folks in casual conversation, and I don’t want people finding out via the old rumor mill either. We are not hiding anything, and I don’t want it to seem that way, but like I said it’s kind of difficult to bring up in regular conversation too. This blog is as much about making our house a home as it is about our personal life.

I’d also be happy to hear from any of you who might have experienced something similar with your family. We are very positive, and sharing lifts us up and helps us learn more.

XO -Us Guyses

41 comments
in Gus, My Life




40 comments… add one
  • Abby February 9, 2015

    I had some experience with this when I was a nanny. The family knew something was “different” with their son but they started a specialized program around 3 1/2 and he THRIVED! He’s now 7 and a fantastic dude!
    Every kid has different needs ~ different ways of learning ~ different ways of developing.
    I always liked the show “Parenthood” [NBC] for how they interacted with their son.

    • Scoops February 9, 2015

      Thanks for the comment Abby, it really means a lot to us to hear of other peoples experiences. We are confident that Gus will thrive too.

  • Laura February 9, 2015

    Scoops!

    Amoung my many jobs (like upholstery) I was also a nanny for years. The last family I worked with for three years the mom is the lead psychologist with MEAP (Minneapolis Early Autism Project). Check them out if you need any more resources (http://www.meapkids.org). She’s awesome and there are so many resources if you need them. Sounds like you guys are doing great-keep on being awesome!

    Lo.

    • Scoops February 9, 2015

      Hey Laura! Where’ve you been? I was just looking at my blue sofa the other day and thought of you – you really helped me though that.

      Thanks for the link, I will def check it out, although I’m processing things very carefully and slowly right now.

      • Laura February 10, 2015

        Take the time you need-you got this.

        I’m actually in school now-I went back this fall (at 34!) to be an electrician! ITS SUPER AWESOME. Now I can help you with all your electrical problems along with upholstery and sewing problems! :)

        • Scoops February 17, 2015

          You are so cool!!!!! I love that you are doing that. I can’t wait for you to help me with my electrical stuff!

  • Ali February 9, 2015

    I worked at a major autism clinic for a few years and I picked up a bit of knowledge on the topic. One of the main things that I learned (actually proven in studies) is that the earlier someone on the spectrum starts to receive specialized assistance, the better their outcomes (emotionally, socially, educationally, etc.). It sounds like you’re doing all the right things.

    • Scoops February 9, 2015

      Hey Ali, Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’ve also heard this, and am hopeful Gus will pick up new tools to help him as he attends school. Thanks again!

  • Lizzie February 9, 2015

    Hubby has some degree of Aspergers, but had to figure it out as an adult. As a result, he had no explanation as a kid of why he had a hard time with social interactions etc. and his confidence suffered. Sounds like you’ve caught it early and are doing all the right things. I guess my little bit of advice would be to make sure he knows there are plenty of others who process things the same way – that he’s not alone – but then you’re already on too of that anyway. :)

    • Scoops February 9, 2015

      Hey Lizzie, Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. Thanks for your advice, I hope Gus realizes that he’s not alone, I’m confident that will probably happen. As with all kids, social interactions will be an experience as he grows, and I just hope to be present and capable of helping him with whatever hurtles he runs into along the way. Thanks again!

  • Carrie February 9, 2015

    Allison thanks for sharing! I am in the early childhood field and have been teaching kids Gus age for 7 years! I’m so happy he is getting started with school and how on board his family is–its so amazing what early intervention can do in a little ones life.

    • Scoops February 9, 2015

      Hey Carrie! Thanks for your comment. I was terrified about him starting school today, he just seems so little and vulnerable to me, especially with is shyness. Now that we’ve taken the first step, and had our first day at school, I’m feeling very excited for things to come. I think there will be a lot of good improvements and gains happening in his future.

  • J. February 9, 2015

    I’m on the spectrum as are many of my friends (none of us diagnosed as children, met all of them under other various circumstances unrelated to autism). I think part of the reason for no diagnoses is partially age (people less frequently diagnosed unless they were having pretty severe problems) and partially that we grew up in families where “neurotypical” wasn’t the norm so we had other quirky people (including but not limited to others with autism) around us and raising us.

    I really wish the DSM hadn’t removed Aspergers as a separate diagnosis–I’ve had people tell me I’m not autistic because their experiences are with people for whom it IS a disability (and I also feel like I’m co-opting the language of people/families who are actually facing significant hurdles). It’s not a disability for me or my friends. It’s just a small cluster of traits, like being extroverted. The actual basis of mine is very different from what the societal perception is (which is one reason I am more anonymous here): I personally fell in the early-language-acquisiton group (but I’m also an oldest girl-child), extroverted (albeit shy and awkward), no problems with eye contact. I definitely express the very strong interests, along with a particular kind of need for structure/logic.

    For social situations, I think my parents did a really good job. They made it very clear that there were different contexts and that dressing/behaving/speaking differently in these was expected, but within this they tried to empower. Dressing up meant choosing from appropriate options (not being told exactly what to wear). When talking to strangers, they were patient in playing out potential scenarios, acceptable responses, the minimal level of engagement required, socially appropriate scripts, what conversation might look like, etc. We regularly were in short-duration (as little as half an hour) social situations with people of varying ages and backgrounds.

    Lastly, I would be really uncomfortable with my parents announcing my autism or any other private issues publicly, even to friends. My parents did share publicly (in conversation with friends) about a medical procedure I had as a kid after an accident and I was mortified at the time but unable to name/express it for decades, despite not being a particularly private person. I think even as an adult, I would feel extremely uncomfortable if they shared about my autism on Facebook or with their friends–I’m not at all ashamed, but I prefer to control when and where I share that kind of information.

    I’d be happy to email with you if you have any questions!

    • Scoops February 9, 2015

      Hey J. Thanks for your comment, it’s good to hear your point of view. Similar to what your parents have done, I too notice that I prepare Gus for scenarios he might encounter and give him little bits of language he might need. Because he’s little, we tell him to just say “no thank you” rather than covering his face and aggressivly saying “NO!” when another adult might ask him a questions. That seems to help diffuse his anxieties and draw the attention away from him.

  • Jill Curtis February 9, 2015

    Getting help early on is the key. What a wonderful mom you are!

    • Scoops February 9, 2015

      Thanks Jill, I think we’re on the right path!

  • RENAE February 9, 2015

    Thanks so much for sharing. I just want to encourage you and tell you you’re in good hands! My son was diagnosed by MPS when he was just 19 months. He is in first grade now having been in the city’s Autism program since he was in diapers. Each year I’ve been blown away by how amazing his team is. They are unbelievably patient and so knowledgeable. Our dev. pedi and psychiatrist also agree that MPS is one of the best around. And Gus is such a lucky kid to have a big brother to emulate! I’m also available to email if you have questions!

    • Scoops February 9, 2015

      Hey Renae, Thanks for taking a second to comment. This is so good to hear! We have acquaintances that have worked in the MPS Special Ed department and ECFE, and we’ve heard great things as well. I’m really feeling encouraged about what is to come. I might take you up on that e-mail, FYI. I’d be curious to hear more about what steps you and your family took – it sounds like you have quite the team behind you. Thanks for reaching out!

  • Steve jacobsen February 9, 2015

    The kid has good parents. With you in his corner he will fine.

    • Scoops February 9, 2015

      Thanks, Steve! We’re pretty sure he’ll turn out alright ;)

  • Lolly February 9, 2015

    My now 13 year old son was diagnosed with a brain tumor that required many operations and 29 weeks of chemo to get under control. He is in remission now, but we remain thankful for both his current health and the experience. There is nothing like a crisis to point out how very truly caring and helpful your circle of friends, family and acquaintances are. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it, and know that your unique challenges may inspire others you don’t even know and will help you remember that there are people out there who are in your shoes. We have really grown as a family because of my son’s illness, and are so mindful, everyday, of just how deeply we value the simple joy in our lives.

    • Scoops February 9, 2015

      Hey Lolly, Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment, I really appreciate it. Let me start by saying I am so happy to hear that your son is doing well! That’s an incredible blessing. You’ve been given the gift of perspective. Throughout this experience I continually remind myself often that my family is happy, healthy and we have each other. I’m thankful for that.

      Thank you for taking the time to empathize. There have been a lot of sleepless nights lately and I yearn to know normalcy. Gus is little right now and there are so many questions, I know that as he grows he will prove to me that it’s all going to be okay. Thank you!

  • MC February 9, 2015

    My nephew was diagnosed (I think) around two years old. But with the amazing support of my sister, our mother and a dedicated ISAAD therapist, he’s just started high school (in a normal school) and is thriving. I couldn’t be more proud of my sister and her decision to work with him through this challenge, or my nephew for being the happy, mature, thoughtful and hilarious kid he is today. My nephew and his team have shown me that early intervention can work wonders. Gus will be just fine. :)

    • Scoops February 9, 2015

      Hey MC, thanks for your comment. Its so good to hear about other peoples experiences, I’m really happy to hear that your nephew is doing so well! I’ve heard a lot of positive experiences with early intervention today which is very encouraging!

      I especially like your last sentence ;)

  • beks February 9, 2015

    (hugs) to you and CHOOCHOO! to Gus!

    My nephew had some delays when we was younger (and loved trains and Legos!) he is now an amazing, bright 11 year old. Seriously, the kid could do my job.

    • Scoops February 9, 2015

      Beks! Thanks for the comment, it’s so incredibly encouraging to hear things like this. It really means a lot to my husband and I, we really appreciate it.

  • lauralou February 10, 2015

    Hello, I think I found your blog via Apartment Therapy. Anyway, I’m a fan. My older son is also on the spectrum. Early intervention has made such an impact. Our public school system is amazing. He was able to receive OT and Speech Therapy through the system before he entered kindergarten. Through our pediatrician we were also able to do addition speech and OT interventions with our local rehabilitation hospital. He is now in 5th grade! He is also a cuddle-r. Loves people, and is very affectionate. We found that Raising a Sensory Smart Child and The Out of Sync Child were really helpful when he was little (and still helps, now and again). Hang in there.

    • Scoops February 11, 2015

      Hey Lauralou, Thank you for sharing with me! It is so good and encouraging to hear stories of what early intervention has done for other kids. Gus too will be doing OT and Speech Therapy, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how he responds to it. I am throwing both of those books into my Amazon shopping cart as we speak/type. Thanks so much for the recommendation. We are being very cautious of how we are getting information on the internets and what have yous, so we really appreciate suggestions from other people who have been there, done that.

  • Janelle February 10, 2015

    Hi Alison,
    I haven’t commented in a while, but I still read and just wanted to say hi and let you know you have my support. Wishing you and your family all the best!

    • Scoops February 11, 2015

      Thanks so much Janelle! Can’t tell you how much we appreciate all the support, it means a lot to us and this week has been so much easier to take on because of it.

  • JESSICA February 10, 2015

    Telling others what’s going on is something I’ve been struggling with since our son received his diagnosis about 18 months ago. This was beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. I understand completely how you feel, and to echo what everyone else just said, he will be fine because you are an awesome mom who is getting him what he needs. (I’ve never commented before, but I enjoy your blog).

    • Scoops February 11, 2015

      Hey Jessica, Thanks so much for your comment. Really, thank you for sharing with me, it means so much to know that you (we, me) are not alone in this. I hope you and your fam are doing well.

  • Cecilia Haas February 11, 2015

    Scoops-

    I love your blog and have been a weekly fan for a couple of years now. Your post on your son really resonated with me for many reasons. My husband was diagnosed with Asperger’s as an adult. We were engaged and had just bought a house and moved in together. I started noticing little things about his personality and those things grew and grew until I started doing research and read about Aspberger’s Syndrome and new he had it. He was very open about it and agreed and we started seeing a therapist that specializes with people who are on the autism spectrum. We have seen her for over 4 years now and she has helped us in so many ways. My husband is a brilliant, loving, funny, kind man with many eccentricities that I wouldn’t change for the world. I am proud to have him be my partner in life and let’s face it- we all have our weirdness and our quirks. He is just a person that I get to live with and be a part of his world everyday. He has taught me to be a better, patient person that has a wonderful opportunity to see the world not only my way but his way as well. I can honestly say that his world is often way easier. I wouldn’t want him any other way.

    • Scoops February 17, 2015

      Cecilia! First of all, so sorry that it took me all weekend (and then a few days) to respond to your comment. It’s really sweet that you took the time to respond to me, and I apologize for the delay. You’re comment is so heartfelt and sincere and really made my day when I read it. You have such a great take on this. I can’t say how our Gus will be as he grows up, but right now he’s still just a little guy, and I love all the little funny things about him. I’ve always been a sucker for the eccentric and quirky – and both my kids have lots of that to go around :)

      Also, my Aunt’s name was Cecilia – such a good name!

  • meghanssj February 24, 2015

    Hi Scoops,

    2 very good friends of ours work at Lionsgate Academy in Crystal, one as a teacher, the other as a para. All of the kids in the school are on the autism spectrum. They love the kids and their work, and through talking to them, I have really come to believe that school is a amazing resource for Twin Cities families who need a place for their kid to be understood and to belong. Of course its impossible to know at this point whether it would be anything helpful for your son, but I just wanted to mention that it is out there since I hear about it a lot and think it sounds great. I hope you are well! I am thinking strongly of starting my own seedlings this year, so I’m now going to head over and catch up on your recent posts!

    Meg

  • Paula February 24, 2015

    My heart breaks for you and my heart sings for you. I have a son with Nonverbal Learning Disability. He is 22 and in college! Praise God! He is smart, funny, friendly – an all around awesome kid. He will make a wonderful husband, father, employee whatever he decides to be. But his brain functions differently than most. It has been quite and adventure raising him. Frustrating, fun, interesting, crazy, heartbreaking, joyful… I could go on and on. The hardest part is realizing that this is who God made him. That isn’t going to change. His brain will always function this way. I can’t change him. And that is OK. Not only OK but pretty great. :)
    As you enter this adventure with Gus remember its OK to feel whatever you feel. Ask questions. Find people that truly understand you, your feelings, your son. Remember that your husband will process all of this quite differently than you will. And that’s OK too. Keep living and doing and loving your family like you do!
    Thank you so much for your vulnerability here. I really love your blog!

  • Shannon March 30, 2015

    Bravo to you guys for getting him the help he needs and posting this on your blog. What a positive thing. I love your blog anyways, but I found another key way to relate to your blog since we both have kids on the spectrum. We just went through the process of getting our 2.5 year old dd diagnosed — so I understand a bit of what it’s like to go through that, though everyone has their own experience. I like how you introduced it on your blog. We still haven’t told everyone in our life yet – she was literally just diagnosed beginning of March – we’re figuring that out still. Like you said, it’s nothing we’re trying to hide and we don’t want to have people find out via the rumormill. So anyways, just wanted to say thanks for making this post. It helps normalize our experience and further understand we’re never truly alone in the things we’re going through.

    • Scoops March 31, 2015

      Hey, Shannon. I know the diagnosis can be kind of shocking. I have to let you know that our Gus has grown so much in the last 8 weeks since starting preschool. There are still things he struggles with like bath time, toileting, and his language can be hard to understand at times, but he is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s really reassuring to us. I imagine that your daughter will be starting some sort of preschool soon if she hasn’t already – I know that it’s scary but you will see her grow and learn as soon as she starts. Glad you took the time to say hey, I’ll be thinking of you and your fam.

  • Shannon March 30, 2015

    i don’t know if you read all your comments but, one more thing — I am a member an autism mom’s group and there are 3 books that are amazing and you might want to check them out. they are by far the best ones i have read and i read a ton. They are here:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1849059942/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    http://www.amazon.com/Discussion-anxiety-behavior-parenting-strategies/dp/1849059950/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y
    http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Your-Childs-Sensory-Signals/dp/1466263539/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_z

    • Scoops March 31, 2015

      Thanks for the book recommendations. I will check all of these out for sure!

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