Moming the FlanaGirl: pre-understanding and through diagnosis

Hey friends,

This week and through the weekend, I will share all about this page. A little about my goals, my fella, our Us, our girl, and all the things.

I want to focus on the first years, including our goals and observations. This period has now become sort of our pre-understanding stage. For me, it came before the discovery of our special needs quest and ultimately our journey through life with this full spectrum girl.

I am Rachel, OG FlanaGirl. This is my page, and it’s here to help us grow. For me, writing has a way of slowing myself down, Thankfully, I also find clarity to an otherwise jumbled bunch of to do lists, is she safe check ins, prepares/clean ups, what the f happeneds, and some whats for dinner, with a side of should I move my couch — into priority and order. When I am finished outlining and writing, I can look up, read it once more and feel the relief.

If you have found your way here, eventually it might be because of keyword tags like aggression, anxiety, depression, regression, adoption, autism, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, adhd, asd or it could be any of those coupled with female, girl, or woman — heck, it could something else. And, for the record, I am going to believe the keywords, honest mom, funny lady, inspiring blog, truth serum tribe, friendship, love, goals, and magical 5 year old could have delivered you to my page too.

On the subject of Truth Serum; my disclaimer includes the fact that, I am not a therapist, of any kind. I was a small business girl, a hair stylist and I came from an entrepreneurial family. We talked about stand out employees that grew to be like family, we learned that if you work hard, devote yourself and are fiercely loyal, you will be rewarded with more opportunities.

In time, I found my way into management, education and a whole lot of policy writing. In my spare time, I loved learning new mediums that I could use to express my creativity. I love decorating, creating an experience and I about die for good customer service.

Thank goodness for all of that because I am using all of those skills — from coaching statements to using schedules and routine to achieve better habits.

I have been able to use my party planning skills to excite my kid into eating lunch. I am hoping the next shindig is a real event in honor of shedding the mermaid tail and switching to everyone’s favorite snow princess.

I am a mom, trying all day and all night to help my beautiful, gifted and different kid. I am dealing with a level of love that I am sure isn’t normal, but in FlanaVILLE — normal isn’t even our goal.

I have learned a lot over the past five years, most of which came through a tribe of people who share my passion. If I don’t have the answers, I hope to connect you with someone who will brainstorm some ideas and support you through implementing and customizing them.

It’s not a service, but a sisterhood. A family of folks that care as much about spreading stories of success as they do about shedding light inside the households like ours, parenting girls (and boys) like Seeley (but not limited to, ’cause Lord knows, there is only one of her!).

Five years ago, I was a new adoptive mom. I was in love, I was fulfilled and I was ready. I was sure God gifted this beautiful baby to my husband and I, through a selfless birthmother, because we were made for her, and she us.

I am still that mom.

Four years ago, I was a mom wondering if it was like this for everyone. She was one and busy beyond measure. An insatiable curiosity drove her right to the edge of safety and she wouldn’t even look me in the eyes as she wobbled and teetered on the edge.

She is still that kid.

Three years ago, I started asking questions about my girl that seemed so extra — so quick, so smart with so much desire to learn and observe. She was two and moved like a hummingbird from flower to flower. She saw details I didn’t notice, I know that because she made me take a look before she would be able to let it go. She lost her words while her desire to be understood increased by 10 times.

She is still this kid.

Almost two years ago, our pediatrician humored me while we went through a page and a half of my questions and notes. She answered everything, with care and concern. We spoke about safety, we discussed energy levels. I said Seeley was like a high end sports car, but she didn’t seem to come with any brakes, at all — like no brakes. At all.

I mentioned that this running herself ragged was really shutting her down early, and messes up her sleep.

I told our doctor, without a buckle chair and the mentality of a high end cruise's events coordinator mixed with an art teacher, I was barely able to keep up -- let alone keep her engaged, safe and happy.
I told our doctor, without a buckle chair and the mentality of a high end cruise’s events coordinator mixed with an art teacher, I was barely able to keep up — let alone keep her engaged, safe and happy.

All the while, we paused and I tended to this sweet kid who just could not sit, nor feed her need to touch and explore; when I say she tried the disposable cups, I mean all of them, and when I add she was in the stirrups, I am not kidding. She scream counted ducks in a book with her legs all sorts of up and out. She said it felt like a “foot hug”. I smiled and probably said something about how we sure picked a quirky one!

Moments after my entire list was complete and Seeley had quit quacking, the doctor looked past my eyes, through my heart and into my soul and simply said, “Now are we able to talk about how she is severely NeuroAtypical?” I paused. She added, “That can include ADHD, Autism, and many other things surrounding brain function.” I said No. I told her that Seeley had been trying so hard, and we were about to have a meltdown about time in a tiny room. I asked if I could come back the next day while Sweet See was in daycare. Thankfully, she agreed. The next day, we built a plan, which included calling various clinics/hospitals for an evaluation.

I called Fraser, answered a questions and started the process to an evaluation. During the time that we waited for the appointment, shit was beginning to hit the fan. She was running outside, she almost came out of a second story window because she wanted to touch a tree, and my personal low, at the time, had to have come when she bolted out the front door, into the road, to check out the sparkly rock, again and again. The same rock that she then wanted to dig out of the road, instead of moving her tiny, powerful body to a safer place. Again and again. Safety was becoming a thing, she could reach, figure out, manage to escape no matter what. And she was quick like a cheetah, while, I am not… see the problem? My systems were failing, and these are the things that used to make me a mom wizard, it didn’t matter how quick I adjusted our sails, I was watching her slip away.

We got through the paperwork. (Honestly, at this point, the paperwork rivals the mountains of adoption forms Billy and I earned our first stripes filling out.)

We got to the clinic, through the lobby, through the assessment, through the waiting, through watching her play, through the next break … and we sat, on the other side of that kind of glass, knowing they were still watching. She ate a cheese stick, drank water, watched a tablet with her headphones on because she couldn’t live with the sound of the beanbag chair she was squeaking around on. They came in and were happy to go over her skill scatter with us. They explained, because we lived so far away, and because they were confident, they would tell us right then whats going on with See. They would call later to discuss in more detail.

They talked about her quirks, then said those are her very markers on the spectrum.

All of those little things, some of the big things, and many of the things we didn’t know to look for yet, were all right there — woven inside and outside of her whole person — her whole potential and some of her magic. They called it Autism.

They mentioned Sensory Processing Disorder, and they talked about ADHD.

This would explain how she would be so particular, so amped up, had such difficulty unwinding and why her sleep might be disrupted.

That’s the day, autism really enter my search bar. I wasn’t scared, I was curious, I was hopeful, I was comforted and I was ready for anything. I was learning bravery from my sweet Hellcat kid all along, and this has become a super pivotal skill set that changed me into one loud, proud, zero fucks given kind of mom.

The kind where, I am going to help my girl accomplish all of the things, I am going to learn about her, so I can empower her strengths and challenge her weaknesses.

It’s the day my mom game got ratcheted up. I could search for mamas like me, doing helpful things with their kids. — I found girls, I found boys, I found videos and I found help in each one.

I haven’t found a place where a girl like mine straddles between two spectrums, the second being fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

I also haven’t ever lived with such a devoted man, an inspirational, complicated, and entertaining kid and had such a story to tell … so here goes!

I am just a mom, on a journey, willing to share, in case there is even one mom that finds a little smile, or hope, a belly laugh, or inspiration in a look inside FlanaVILLE. In my spare time — just kidding, but among the tasks and the coffee and the helping and the hugging, I plan on writing next about:




All. The. Things.

I hope you stick around for the ride!


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