Former Kilgore Rangerette Jessica Green, 34, and her husband, Joe, live in Wylie with their 5-year-old daughter, Cooper, who has autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder and mixed expressive-receptive language disorder. Joe is a home theater installer for Best Buy, and Jessica works from home as an I-joist designer for Universal Forest Products, runs a Facebook page for other Wylie moms with children with autism, and recently started a special needs Sunday school class at New Hope Church in Wylie.
6:45AM My alarm goes off, and I snooze for an extra 15 minutes.
7AM Now I absolutely have to get up. My husband has already left, and my wonderful 5-year-old daughter is already awake — I can hear her babbling through the baby monitor in our bedroom. She is nonverbal according to professionals, but that sure doesn’t stop her from using her voice as much as possible.
7:05AM I negotiate, with the help of a tablet, to get her to sit at the table while I pop a waffle into the toaster. While that cooks, I scramble her egg so it can cool off while she eats her waffle.
7:25AM After a few “Come on, finish eating” remarks from me to keep her on schedule, she finally finishes. She has to eat so she can take all her vitamins — there are ones for breakfast, afternoon and before bed. She is a pro at taking her vitamins. While she eats I pack her mid-morning snack and water bottle and put them in her backpack, and I also set her communication tablet, which we have nicknamed her “talker,” next to her bag. She takes it with her all day to be her voice, so I try really hard not to forget it (though I do on a rare occasion).
7:40AM I need to do her hair, brush her teeth and dress her (this happens at the kitchen table), so we can get out the door.
7:50AM And we’re off. It’s a 10-minute drive to her first stop of the day, her applied behavioral analysis center. She spends 25 hours a week there. I drop her off, and then I pick up breakfast on the way home. From the comfort of my sweatpants I check my emails and begin my workday — it’s just me and the Chihuahua.
10:55AM I start Cooper’s lunch. Due to her sensory processing disorder, she is, shall we say, particular about her food. No meat or veggies for that girl, so I have to get creative in hiding them in things. Recently, we’ve also chosen to keep her on a gluten- and dairy-free diet; statistics I’ve found say around 60 percent of kids with autism show improved behavior, development and speech when eliminating gluten and dairy, so we are giving it a shot. I have 15–20 minutes to get her lunch prepared so she can consume it when it’s hot and fresh.
11:15AM I leave the house to make it back to her ABA center to drop off her lunch before their 11:30 lunchtime. Then I go back home and see what else I can complete for work before my daily alarm sounds.
12:25PM My alarm rings. It’s a 10-minute warning before I have to leave to pick up Cooper. Snooze.
12:35PM It rings again, and I head back to her ABA center. I have to allow 10 minutes for a pickup tantrum — they don’t always happen, but when they do, any less than 10 minutes will make us late for our next stop.
12:45PM I arrive at the ABA center. Thankfully, no issues occur, so I spend five minutes talking to the therapist about Cooper’s day, her progress and any struggles she had.
12:50PM We head out and make the five-minute drive to her second therapy location. She sees her speech therapist for 30 minutes, then her occupational therapist for 30 minutes immediately after. I drop her off and go home to do more work, run a quick errand and grab some lunch before returning to pick her up.
2PM Her day officially ends at 2pm, and then we drive home. She requests four snacks in the next few hours and I turn the TV in our office-playroom combo to Dora the Explorer so I can finish working while she plays. A multipurpose room for an office and a playroom sounds odd, but it works for our needs, as I can see and talk to her while I work.
5PM I clock out and immediately walk into the kitchen to make two meals for dinner, one for the picky tiny person and one for my husband and me. Hubby comes walking through the door. He helps to entertain Cooper while I make her a quick dinner first; while she eats I move on to our dinner. We sit in front of the TV for dinner because we’re lazy like that, and by the time we eat, my daughter is done with her food so she hangs out with us on the couch. I make sure she gets her last round of vitamins for the day.
8PM Time to give Cooper a bath. She soaks and we go over her ABCs and counting and other vocal attempts they are working on at her therapies. She babbles on while she splashes and plays with her 53 bath toys.
8:20PM She gets out, and then I put her jammies on and brush her hair and teeth. She goes to cuddle with her daddy for 10 minutes and then she is in bed.
8:30PM I am exhausted, so I flop back on the couch to bond with my husband over our long DVR list.
10PM Hubby heads off to bed, but I stay up for another two hours. I like the silence in the house to recharge and watch cheesy shows while everyone else is asleep.
12AM I head to bed to get some much-needed rest before starting all over again tomorrow.