Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Adventures of Soup

Let me set the scene for you... the shenanigans have ended, the giggling from bedrooms has stopped, facebook has been logged out and computer shut down. I stole my pillow back from my husband and settled in for American Idol Auditions #5. All of a sudden, I'm hungry. I want something ... good. I go in search of good food and spot a can of tomato soup. Now, tomato soup is good. I gotta get me some of that.

I take the can out of the pantry and head for the stove. I set my can on the counter and take out the perfect pan. I open the left drawer and take out my favorite spoon. I look around in the left drawer and don't see the can opener. That's ok. I've been making kids do dishes at night and they never put anything where it belongs (and then they whine at me that there's no organizational system.)

I go over to the right hand drawer. No can opener. also not in drawer 3, 4, 5, or 6. Fine. Not in the dishwasher, the sink on any counters or the basket on the microwave. ok. think, woman. where did you last see it? think, think, think... aw, hell. It was in Alex's hand. Ok. Fine.

If you were Alex... (because all the best stories start like that) where would you put it? Not in the turtle tank. or the toilet. or the tub. where? where, where, where... aha! hm, not at the bottom of the stairs, in the couch, under the couch, behind the couch and nope, definitely not in the turtle tank. Ok. Fine.

I'll get the electric one. I look in the lower right cabinet, the lower left. The upper right, upper left, pantry, entry way closet, garage... "where in the world is the freaking can opener!?" I wonder out loud. "Mom, I think maybe you should eat something else. Like a cheese sandwich." "Dude. what are you even doing up?" "I'm hungry. I want a hotdog on bread with ketchup." Since I'm looking for food, I can't really argue with that. So the Goofy one fixes himself a hotdog on bread with ketchup and didn't even spill the ketchup. woot-woot.

Ok, so... focus, woman! Can opener. where would it be? Uhg. we gave it to Thing1 when he moved out. Fine. Where does Alex put things he's finished with? No, still not in the turtle tank. Well, maybe it wasn't Alex. Let's start from the top. "Mom, why don't you just eat something else?" *raised eyebrow*, "Goofy, why don't you just go to bed?" Goofy *shrugs* and goes on with his hotdog. on bread. with ketchup.

I go search bedrooms. Not in Goofy's room. I'm standing there, contemplating the risk of waking Alex up searching his room or trying to open the can without a can opener when out of the corner of my eye, I catch a flash of grey. *woot* found it! It's in my bedroom floor. *smirk*

I go wash the can opener and open my can of tomato soup and go to pour it into the perfect pan when I see... dirty specks. Who ever thought it was a good idea to have the kids do dishes!? Ok, fine, but who ever seconded the ridiculous plan!? Fine. I get a new pan and cook my soup and go to my bed with my comfy blankets (yes, plural) and my soft pillow to watch American Idol Auditions #5 when I find someone small in. my. spot! Scoot, Goof! I was here first!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Eyes on the Prize

You know those days? The ones that make you crazy? The ones where you don't even know what to think? The times where every thing that can go wrong does go wrong until you get to the point that you are so frustrated, so overwhelmed, so drowning that you hit that place where you can do nothing but laugh at the absurdity?

I hit that place last night. I'm sitting here with my head in my hands wondering if I really am living the life of Alice in Wonderland. Questioning... in this story, am I more Alice or the Mad Hatter? Because I'm feeling more Mad Hatter than any other. Do I laugh? Cry? Rage at the world? This life is freaking insane!!! What am I even doing!? What is the point in all of this!?

I'm reading all of these dark things, these angry things. Everywhere around me is darkness and bad feelings, anger, frustration, hatred, arguing, bickering and I can't get away from it. How did I let things get this out of control? How did I get sucked into this?

I stopped concentrating on treading water is what I did. I started looking around me. Watching what was going on with other people and their chosen battles and forgot to just keep swimming. I took my eye off of what I was swimming for. I forgot that I don't get involved in anything but what matters most to me...


My family. Your family. Living life. Together. Online. Offline. Wherever we happen to be, living with our families, loving our families dealing with our daily joys and stresses, that is what's important. That is what I do. I took a good long, hard look at why I do what I do...

My Husband

Whether or not my husband ever gets me to put my own laundry away...
(I will. eventually.)

My Brother

<3 there's no whether or not here, the guy is perfect.
(and single, ladies)


Whether or not Thing1 ever gets his own washer/dryer ...
(I'm hoping not)


Whether or not Thing2 ever gets his driver's permit...
(hint hint, dude.)

Whether or not Walter ever passes 7th grade...
(or survives insulting his mother)


 Whether or not Alex ever speaks...
(hopefully not the phrase I tried to teach him in response to insult)


Whether or not the Goofy child can read...
(behavior or ability? Riddle me THAT, Batman)

Goofy, My nephew- The Little D and Alex's Sister

Whether or not we ever get to go to story time again...

My niece- The Tiniest Supervillain

Whether or not the girl ever doesn't lock herself in the bathroom and play in my hair products...

The Grandbaby
Whether or not the girl ever stops obsessing over the power button...

I must say,
God, I have been blessed!

The things going on over there on the bank... vax vs antivax, has autism vs autistic, cure vs acceptance... those are not my issues to fight. Those things have nothing to do with me. I know where I stand. I know what I believe. No one will sway me on my positions and I have no interest in swaying anyone else. These people up there, listed in photos? That's my prize. My goal in life. My motivation. They are everything I always wanted to be. They are the reason treading water is usually effortless and easy. They are the reason my laughter is more the laughter of happiness and less the hysterical laughter of the dark side of insanity.

My gaze is focused now. I know what I'm doing. I know why. and I'm happy with that.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

My baby can't read.

Those words just keep going through my head. My baby can't read. I knew there was something more than ADHD. I knew that that couldn't be the only thing going on with him. Thursday, he brought home this ...

I'm looking and looking and I just don't see it. "Goofy Child," I say, "what does this say?" He's looking and looking... "I don't know." Now, this combined with these...

has me a little concerned. Well, you know, a freakin lot more than these but these are easily accessible and enough of an example for you to get the idea. So I contact a few friends. One beautiful lady asks me if I have considered dyslexia. Well, no. not seriously. She sends me to a few sites... 37 common characteristics of Dyslexia and this site that lists more detailed symptoms of dyslexia. I'm reading and the more I read the more excited I get because maybe this is it. maybe this is the answer.

I don't know if it's the answer or not and really, at this point, I don't freakin care. The one thing that convinced me beyond all else that there was something off was the inability to really read his own name, after 6 months in Kindergarten, he should be able to read his own name. and I am devastated. Written words are my comfort. There's something about holding a book in your hand and looking at the lines and lines of uniformly typed words that is just soothing. Reading those words and getting wrapped up in the story line, a story more able to to transport you into another world than any movie ever could. Wondrous, fantastic places. places that only exist in the land of imagination. and my son can't do that. Something that is so lovely for me brings him nothing but heartache.

At first I was excited about possibly having the answer and then I was crushed by the truth of it. After the ache came the anger. I'm angry with the doctors for not listening, I'm angry with the school for not doing something before now, I'm angry with his teacher for not keeping me up to date on what they are working on in class so I could know where he should be, I'm angry with every report card they have ever sent home where the lowest he has ever scored is "nears expectations", and I'm angry with myself for not catching it.

I want to lash out at all of them. I want to blame them. I want to make them fix it. make them do something. I'm angry and I'm hurt and I want them to know it. I want to tell them that this is their fault. I want to tell them that I told them there was something there but they wouldn't listen. They told me he was fine. They told me that it was *just* ADHD. They told me "all kids do that." But they were wrong. I want them to know that and I want them to feel the weight of the blame...

because I'm looking at this as "us vs them". I accuse them of not working as a team, I accuse them of not taking me seriously, not valuing me as an important part of the team and yet... *I* am dividing the team into us and them. I'm attacking them and demanding action instead of asking them to work with me to find the problem. I tell you guys that just plain asking works nicely and 9 times out of 10 if you just plain ask, you will get what you want. That just plain asking is an offer of respect and trust. If you want a good relationship with anyone, you need both respect and trust. If you want respect and trust, first you have to give it.

I've been sitting here these past days trying to decide what to do. where to go from here. I think a good place to start would be to offer a gesture of respect and trust and just plain ask. To ask my question and then really listen to the answer. I am asking his principal and his teacher what they think of this and what can be done. I am taking him to the optometrist in March to ask about a physical reason he can't read, and I am contacting his psychologist to see if he should be evaluated for dyslexia. Not demanding from any of them (yet), just asking. each waiting their turn. waiting for the response of the person in front of them. and then I am going to wait for each of their answers before forming any argument.

and, I'm going to start thinking of solutions to the communication problems that lead up to this moment where I felt betrayed. I'm going to ask the teacher what she thinks we can do. and I'm going to listen to what she says. because she's just as important to the team of people doing the best that they can to help this child as I am. She has valuable input, she has a point of view that I don't, she has many years of experience in teaching kids like Goofy. She has a voice and it's time for me to stop fighting and listen to it.

As wrong as it feels, as much as it goes against this urgency screaming inside me, this does not need to be fixed right now, it cannot be fixed right now, we just need to take the first step. together. by talking about our concerns so we can see if there is even a reason to be concerned and not using harsh words in the process. harsh words are something that "I'm sorry" cannot wash away. harsh words never strengthen any relationship and rarely produce desired results. Words- written or spoken- are very powerful things that need to be used wisely. It's perfectly acceptable to have the reaction, to feel the emotions, but you are always responsible for your actions. I accept my anger, my hurt, and my need to cast blame as being a perfectly valid reaction to this unexpected turn of events but I choose not to allow that mental reaction to influence my course of action.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Spinning in circles: when socializing isn't a good thing.

Facebook is bad for blogging. You spend too much time on there, you've got nothing to really talk about. or nothing good to talk about. Life is where you find things to talk about. Stories to share and such. The catch 22 there is I'm using facebook to figure out what the hell I'm doing in life. Don't laugh, there's logic. of a sort.

report cards came in. I already talked about that, it wasn't a fun time. Goofy's... I'm still frustrated that 3 people ignored my e-mail. I'm not sure if they didn't appreciate the undertone of the message or if they think the optometrist will wave a magic wand, but whatever. I'm not even touching his report card. signed the envelope and sent it back.

Then came Walter's report card followed by Alex's report card. Walter's report card is easily worked on because, well, he's being lazy and getting his priorities screwed up. He messed up, he can fix it. and he will fix it. Alex's report card comes with some good news, there's something in there that's easily fixed, something they may not know about my boy. and, ya know, you gotta focus on the things you can do something about, right? better than focusing on the things that just are. So, I'm sending off an e-mail.

Now, this e-mail, I ask my friends for help. I am so freaking tired of going behind people saying "you're doing it wrong." I don't want to be that mom, that person. I want to be flippin nice, man! still getting the point across, but nicely. My friend says to tell them some stuff about being a team and looking forward to working together for Alex's best interest and all of that fluffy nonsense that people put in school e-mails and I'm like, really? are you serious? she says, yeah. they like that kind of thing. and I'm thinking yeah, but... whatever. I don't mention being a team to my husband every time I want to talk to him about something and I don't tell Alex's daddy that I look forward to working with him and the school is a bigger part of our lives than he is. What's the point in stating facts that are already known? That's just annoying. pointless. things I roll my eyes at when I read because I know they're empty words. So, I ignore her advice and make the first sentence something nice that I actually mean. and then I go into the "you're doing it wrong." with some options on how to do it right, where my general frustration *may* have shown through, and some offers on what I can do at home if it's needed. (probably should have taken her advice.)(wonder if those things would work on my husband and Alex's daddy... hm. there's a thought.)

a little bit later, I get a response. I open the e-mail, read it, throw myself back in the chair in a way that would impress even Scarlett O'Hara and groan, "Oh. my. God. are you freaking kidding me!?" (yes, I took the Lord's name in vain. because it was like that.) I sat up, shot a mental glare at the principal, read it again and wondered... is she serious? Is she messing with me? I haven't quite decided if the school people are actually serious in their interactions with me or if they are just humoring me, letting me think I'm contributing to my son's education and such things that would make any difference.

So, I'm pissed off that it sounds like she's humoring me but at the same time, what if she's serious? When in doubt, which is often, I choose to take it seriously. Take her words at face value. I have an entire community to help me, does she? I know she's not on my page and I haven't seen her on anyone else's... So, I put my resources to good use and ask my friends for help. and we come up with an awesome list. I picked through and chose the ones that would fit Alex, made sure the e-mail was decent, straight forward, and no undertone, sent, and.... silence.

Alex comes home with the one thing I asked for and a note saying he did an awesome job brushing his teeth hand over hand. and I'm looking at this note and *curses*. Why are they sending a note about brushing teeth? Has he not been brushing his teeth at school? He should have been. or are they noticing that we aren't doing a very good job at all? or is it just that he did a really nice job on it? feels an awful lot like a slam on my parenting... *guilty conscience*

I'm sitting here, thinking about this school and that school, this teacher, that teacher, this principal, that principal and imagining the 2 assistant principals heads whipping back and forth watching the back and forth of the game, I'm thinking of doctors and therapists and diagnoses and facebook groups and public attacks and the clashes between autistic and allistic groups and my kids and my husband and my attention being pulled between groups and pages and profiles and online and real world and all of this overwhelming amount of crap from all sides and....

I think about what I tell my boys... if every single person around you has a problem, if every flippin person around you is bat-crap insane, it's time to find the common denominator. If there is only one, that's what you need to work on. The common denominator here is me. my frustration, my anxiety, my attitude, my fear of failure, my inability to juggle everything and my need to be able to do it all - alone. I'm overwhelmed. and it's showing in the amount of patience and understanding I have for people.

Is it too late to change my New Year's Resolution? My goal for the year was socialization. but I just can't do it. It's stressing me out even more than I already was. The amount of negativity is something I just can't deal with. It's affecting me. changing my view on life, changing my view on people, changing me. In my attempt to socialize this month, I have made a few new friends, rediscovered some old bonds, a lot of good things have come from this month. enough so that I don't want to give up on it altogether, but I do need to pull back. I need to refocus my energy on what is important- my job as my boys' mother.

The last paragraph may seem like a stretch, like my socializing online has nothing to do with my interactions with the school, but it does because it sets the tone. It sets my tone, which sets the tone for everything. When it comes to my boys, I am the leader. whether it's in the house or with the school, whatever, they are ultimately my kids and until they are old enough... I make the path. I set the tone. If I am not solid on my feet, if I am spinning in circles until I am too dizzy to stand up straight, I am not cutting a clear path.

Confessions of an Asperger's Mom lays it down for her son in this post on socializing at school. I love the logic in her decision to help Red fix the circle of negativity by focusing on the things that make him feel good. I'm going to take this wise woman's advice and use it myself.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Different, Not Less "Hi, how are you!?"

Go ahead and glare at me, I don't even care. You asked the question, you're going to wait for the answer. If you didn't want the answer, you shouldn't have asked the question in the first place. And, no, this isn't about Walter's mental scarring over hiding panties in the gyno's office. although, that was funny.

Let me set the scene for you... there we are in the Dollar Tree. Just me and Alex because my husband was trying to herd the hoodlums in other parts of the store while my sole purpose was to get collapsible containers for his toys because the hard plastic ones went wrong in a very bad way. We're there in the aisle, I'm telling Alex that I understand and it will be really quick, I just need to find the right size and color for what we need. A woman comes along and Alex being the lovable little ball of Alex that he is, looks at her and says "Hi, there!" (I must say that I am totally impressed that he knows not to add in the "It's me, Steve!" because he's brilliant like that) She looks a bit surprised, maybe a tad uncomfortable and says, "Hi, how are you?" and walks on. Oh, no. uh-uh. you are not. It was nice of you to say hi back, but you can't ask a question and just walk away as if the answer doesn't even matter.

So, I loudly translate: "Alex! She said 'HI, THERE!!! How ARE you!?"!?'"
She stops in her tracks and gives me a look clearly conveying her annoyance at having to continue the conversation while I give back a look clearly conveying my annoyance at having to demand respect for my son.
Alex: with a big smile at being able to have a conversation he knows, "YOU!?"
I am not translating that one because I know better than to ask a question I don't want the answer to.
Me: "Are you GOOD?"
Alex: with a big smile at being able to have a conversation he knows, "GOOD!!!"
She doesn't say another word and turns to continue on her way.

Thank you, stranger, for being polite enough to stop no matter your feelings on waiting for the answer you asked for, however...

If he had not been in his stroller, if he had not been clearly disabled, if he had been a 'normal' 10 year old boy greeting you, would you have stood behind his back, silently glaring at his mother during the unwanted exchange 'forced' on you or would you have stood face to face and answered him with a smile?

Moral of the story: Different, Not Less.

"I say to you today, my friends,
so even though we face the difficulties
of today and tomorrow,
I still have a dream.
It is a dream deeply rooted
in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day

this nation will rise up
and live out the true meaning of its creed:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident:
that all men are created equal.""
-Martin Luther King Jr

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Grieving the Possibilities

There's one report card that never fails to bring me to my knees. You can know all you want but when it's in front of you, when the tangible proof is in your hand, you have to admit it. I said before...

"Knowing isn't the same as admitting and admitting makes it real and real hurts."

and let me tell you, it hurts. I can't even say what it is that hurts. It's not whether or not he makes progress, it's bigger than that, even though seeing the word "progress" does give you a sliver of hope. Hope in the possibilities. which is a double edged sword... those "possibilities".

"you have to consider the possibility that he may never go beyond where he's at."

and my chest aches so bad I can't breathe. Hearing those words was a reality I needed to face. They are words I needed to hear and words that I'm grateful she had the courage to speak. Those words helped me though a dark time by grounding me solidly in the real. They have helped me adjust my expectations, they have helped me accept what is. but that doesn't make them hurt any less on the days I "hear" them again, even though they have never been spoken out loud since that long ago day. Every time his report card comes in, I face the reality of those words, and I mourn the future Alex was supposed to have and I worry about the future he will have. What if he never goes beyond where he's at? Most days I'm ok with that, most days it doesn't make a difference. But some days, when I get that prognosis handed to me again... on those days, it's like hearing them again for the first time and the scab is yanked off the wound.

The scariest possibility for me is... will he know? When his brothers are grown and gone, living their own lives, will he know and feel the loss? Will there be a day that he looks at me and asks, "Mom, why can't I do that?" why can't I drive a car or get a job or live on my own or get married or have babies? What can I say to him? or even worse, what if he knows and feels the loss and wonders the why but doesn't have the words to ask?

and then there are my losses as his mother. The milestones I should have in my own journey as his mother. The future I should have been able to share with him. These experiences were not stolen from me, I was not robbed. I do not feel as if I have been shortchanged. I feel that it is what it is but I'm sad just the same. There is no absence of life here, we have a future of life together in abundance. We have joy and wonder and excitement and tears and laughter and sorrow and love ahead of us but I can't help but hurt for the possibilities of what may never be.

Report cards come in and I see the possibilities and the realities and I grieve. It's not the autism or fate or God or anything other than the one thing that should be pure hope... Possibility.

 "you have to consider the possibility that he may never go beyond where he's at."

and fearing more than anything the possibility that he just might understand what that means.

Alex is Alex, always has been and always will be. I am proud of him, always have been and always will be. I love him, always have and always will. Taking a few days to grieve the possibilities does not take any of that away from him. My grief does not define him or tell him anything more than his mama loves him and wishes the best for him. My grief is my emotion. an emotion that I am entitled to as his mother. as a person who loves him.

So, I take my time and I grieve the way I grieve and then my aunt, my sweet, loving, wonderful aunt gets ahold of me. She wants to listen. I'm not really in the mood to talk but how can I refuse the offer of family to do what family does? So I start talking and she starts listening. and she says, "I don't want this to sound (mean), blunt but... can you miss what you never had... what is his perception to what he's missing? the loss of what will never be... he always seems to be happy living in the minute... as you said, wonderful." and she's right. so very right. He is happy today and that is enough for me. Every day that he is happy today is another day that my wishes for him are fulfilled. I love blunt. I get blunt in a way I've never gotten the "there, there" of people too afraid to say what they are thinking. According to my aunt, we got that from my grandma, another very special woman who is very much missed. and then she tells me, "now take a day cut off from the world..kick scream unfair life is fall down on the ground if you want...but then get up dry your eyes put on you big girl panties & do what you do his mom & blog on it :) make a difference!!!!" Yes, ma'am. I'll get right on it.

So, I took a shower and washed away my tears, I put my big girl panties on, my makeup, painted my toe nails, gathered my husband and my babies to me and went out.

Every one who has sent me messages, telling me you understand, offering to be there if I need you- thank you. You made a difference for me.

Aunt Susan, I love you. Thank you for caring enough to be (mean) blunt. ;) You are just as special as your mother, I hope you know that.

Friday, January 18, 2013

How to make your kids wake up with a smile

"Turn the radio up for that sweet sound..." and I mean blast it. and sing along, dancing like you just don't care. Bonus points if it's an MP3 player and they have no clue what the song should sound like and major bonus points if you can't sing or dance.

That way, when you can't find their missing shoe for nothin' and it's clear it's not where it belongs or anywhere that it does not belong, and believe me, Alex is a master shoe hider and I find his...most of the time. But the Goofy one? Improved on the wild child's game. so you put them on the bus in snow boots- which I get the feeling was the plan all along- and as soon as the bus doors close realize you did not give that wild child his ADHD meds and on your walk home get a text that the original wild child forgot his band t-shirt and needs it for a volley ball game. and you spend the next hour searching for the freakin' shoe and the t-shirt and keep chanting in your head "meds. meds. meds. meds." so you don't forget and then you finally settle for the older child's outgrown shoes even though they are too big after listening to a lecture from your husband on the importance of socks and being directed to where to find a pair for the shoeless goof and realize as the neighbor hollars a greeting as you are getting into the car that you are still in PJs and you're all... *shrugs* ...and leave anyway just to get into the middle school and wonder if maybe you should have went back in to change because the principal is right. there. saying "Hi! How are you?" as if it's an everyday thing to see a grown woman without the sense to get dressed before leaving the house so you leave the t-shirt and the child's name and bolt for the door to get to the next school dreading the need to explain why your shoeless, sockless child needs to finish getting dressed in the nurse's office on top of forgetting (again) to give him meds and finding out that there is no school on Monday or Tuesday... all before 10am or a second cup of coffee... it's not such a big deal. because your sweet baby woke up with a smile :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Every mama should be able to brag about her boy.

So, there I was on facebook, are you surprised my story is starting like that? Me too! but I was. and I was following a conversation requesting "ruckus", and yes, ruckus was delivered. Crazy people. so, following the conversation, which is really 10 different conversations in one thread, I saw one comment. at first glance, it's mama bragging about her boy which is awesome, every mama should be able to brag about her boy, but I'm seeing the things being bragged about and... jealousy. because every mama should be able to brag about her boy. and the things they're bragging about, I can't. and in some cases probably never will.

***Now, this was my perception of that particular conversation, going back to see what was going on and to see what had been said, they were not really bragging, even though every mama should be able to brag about her boy. They were in fact reassuring another mom on her feelings.***

So, I'm sad because I have nothing to brag about. Not on that scale. I'm happy that they do, but I'm more sad that I don't. A little later, I'm laying in bed, staring at the ceiling. Yes, I spend probably as much time staring at ceilings as I do on facebook. So, I am. and I'm thinking about Alex and I'm sad that I have nothing to brag about. having a bit of a pity party for one.

but... wait a minute. How could I have nothing to brag about? That's horsecrap. Just because he's not getting the big things, making huge strides toward whatever we are striving for, doesn't mean he's not doing things worthy of being bragged about. He even has new skills. which would be progress.

  • He now raises his elbow when I lean in for a kiss.
  • He's drinking out of a glass.
  • He pushes my hands away when I try to wash him.
  • He picked up a new echolalic phrase, "don't want it".
  • He's spinning in circles to the music on the radio.
  • He's sticking rubber ducks and teething rings in his mouth.
  • He nods his head "yeah".
  • He turns his face to refuse a bite.
  • He learned to kiss my cheek... kind of. but whatever. I love it.
  • He turns his TV off when he doesn't like the show.
  • He tells me "No." :D
  • He doesn't step on babies. or knock them over by running into them.
  • He lets the lady cut his hair without crying.
  • He's willing to try a built up spoon when I ask- and does pretty well depending on the food.
  • He's learning to stab food with a built up fork- and does pretty well depending on the food.
  • He's not jumping on the couch or the beds.

and that's all within the past year! When I stop comparing his progress to someone else's progress and I see his progress for what it is- his progress- there is no scale. He is, in his own right, a rising star. He's brilliant and beautiful and compared to where we were this time last year, he has made impressive amounts of progress!

Slow moving is still moving. Baby steps forward are still steps forward. Small progress is still progress and, when you look at them in the right way, the small things are really just as big as the big things. No matter how small your big thing is, every mama has something to brag about.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How aware of autism are you?

No. Think about it before you answer. Are you aware? Really aware?

You know that 1/88 children are diagnosed with autism.

You know that there is no known cure for autism.

You know that autism cannot be outgrown.

You know that autism was discovered in 1943... 70 years ago. Discovered. not invented. Do you know that there are adults of all ages with a spectrum of autism diagnoses? A spectrum of lives? A spectrum of abilities?

No, really. Think first, then answer. Really consider what you know. what you are aware of. Do you know your readers? Your followers? You fellow page visitors? Do you know who is commenting? Do you really think that every single person who seeks you out or seeks out the page you seeked out is the parent of an autistic child?

Look at your perception of some of the people on the autism pages. Do you see:

The really abrasive one who no matter what is posted always has something to say that will make your blood boil...

The one who rambles on about a totally unrelated topic...

The weird one who posts odd things on the page walls...

The creeper who makes inappropriate comments...

The judgy one who never fails to say what's on their mind no matter how it sounds...

The ones who just don't fit...

The ones who make you uncomfortable and you don't know what to say back...

The awkward ones...

The know-it-alls...

The annoying...

The desperate for attention...

The ignored...

The ones you just don't have the time or inclination to deal with.

Do you know that autism is not just for the children? Do you know that the adults with autism are looking for the same thing you want for your children? The want acceptance. Understanding. Patience. Friendship. A place to belong. Someone to listen. Someone to see them. to really see them. Where should they belong more than in the autism community? Where should they be accepted more than in groups who should understand? Who can understand more or have more genuine patience than parents who know that someday that will be their child?

The adults like our children, they are not locked away in some unknown asylum. The are not hidden away never to see the light of day. They are the people in front of you in line, the checker ringing up your purchases, the lawyer, the doctor, the person waiting on the right turn light to turn because the rules are murky and they don't know what to do, the ones going at the posted speed limit... they are on the streets, in the community, online. They are living right along side you with an invisible disability that you cannot see. Some of them are normal enough to pass for normal. Some of them can speak a straight sentence. Some of them need a little more support. Some of them will never tell you they have autism. They will not tell you when they need extra time or when they need you to be patient with them. They will not ask for accommodations, modifications, understanding. Don't you think we ought to give it anyway?

But we don't. We say hurtful things without thinking of the back story or thinking of how our own words sound. We ban them from our pages without knowing them. Banish them from our groups because they see differently. We hurry them along because they interfere with our day. They mess up our plan. We turn our backs on them and tell them we don't want them interacting with us. We tell them that they don't belong even in the autism community.

and then we turn around and cry for autism awareness.

Little bit backwards, don't you think?

I am not saying that all autistic people are wonderful and great and must have their butts kissed and coddled. Those with a diagnosis are just as capable of being jackasses as a neurotypical person. But, don't they at least deserve a chance to earn that title legitimately? Not just because of miscommunication or misperceptions?

Look at the people you deal with every day and try to put the person you love in their shoes. Is this the way you want people to treat them? Should your loved one have to declare their autism diagnosis to be treated with dignity, with respect? To be given a chance? Does awareness and acceptance have an expiration date?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The glamorous life of Mac 'n' Kids...

You know those days that start with PMS and end in a bottle of Bud Lite? Yeah.

I'm not even touching the morning. I think I said more than enough on that yesterday so we'll start with noon. The Goofy child comes home from school with this...

*thunk* *thunk* *thunk*

That is the sound of my head hitting the table. This has absolutely nothing to do with the teacher. I get it. I really do. I know she wanted help as much as I did. but.... "ya know... *I wonder* if this has anything to do with the occupational therapist's evaluation results where she stated that his difficulty with visual tracking, inability to focus on even a fixed target, difficulty isolating eye movements from his head movements, and difficulty with eye convergence could cause difficulty with reading...", I say to myself while the ** marks the sarcasm of my inner voice. I considered sending back a note telling her not to worry about it, it's *just* ADHD but figured the sarcasm there wouldn't be appreciated no matter how funny I thought I was, so instead, I called an optometrist and his appointment is in March.

...wondering if the optometrist can fix the words "and", "AND", "And", and the printed "and" so they can be the same word. That would be nice. but he'd probably sit back, spread his hands, tilt his head and say, "hey, *I* can't control how the english language is written." so...whatever.

A little bit later on, I've got my MP3 player full blast, not looking at anyone which is the cue for "don't even." and Walter comes walking up to give me a hug. Now, the first time, I thought maybe he was trying to fix my foul mood but the second time when he's all sullen and mopey and hesitantly asking if I'm in a bad mood... I knew better. Dangit, boy, what did you do? He hands over his report card. Looking at the grades, I slumped. The rule was C and above. Man, is it even fair to put such expectations on him just because he's the only child in the house without some sort of IEP or 504? Am I being unfair? and I almost reconsidered the punishment. almost. until I caught wind of the remarks.

*thunk* *thunk* *thunk*


Walter, dear Walter. I thought you loved your mother? how could you do this to me!? I like it when you go to your friends' houses! and I like it when you chatter at your "girlfriend" instead of pestering your brothers. Uhg. hand over the phone. Now he's home on Fridays too. and he has no phone Mon-Fri from the time he comes in from school until supper. and he'll only get it for a few hours after that if his homework is finished, chores are done, and he's in bed at a decent hour. He has about 6 weeks to get his priorities straight. or else. I don't negotiate with little terrorists and he knows it. The or else is serious business and mama don't back down.

It was about the time that I lost my temper on all of them, including Big D and Thing2, refused to answer someone else's phone and refused to open the door to someone I have no desire to invite in, told Big D where he could stick his "you need to grow up", and grabbed a beer that Alex's Mommy and Daddy decided maybe it was time to get ready to leave. ...or that could have been the look Mommy saw me give Alex's Daddy when he commented that he'd better never have someone call children's services on him with a false report since probably 75% or more of my false reports came from his camp... but, no matter, I promised to pick up the sister Wednesday morning for story time, collected clothes, shooed the kids and kicked back to drown my sorrows. Keep this up and my 6 pack is going to be gone before the month is even over, *sigh*.

And then, because there's always an "and then", Goofy comes dancing up to inform me that I need to start signing his folder. Says who!? Mrs. Teacher. She says you need to sign my folder. I mumble something along the lines of her just being bossy because looking at it should be enough and signing the effing thing in crayon, if I can even find that, and my husband offers me a pen. smartass.

Monday, January 14, 2013

He's not fucking stupid.

Just because he doesn't speak, doesn't mean he can't understand the words you say.

He's not "dummy",

he's not "stupid",

he's not "crazy",

he's not "a 'tard".

He's not a "problem",

he's not a "pain".

I don't care if you think you're being funny or you think I'm fucking hilarious when you piss me off. I don't care if you aren't saying these things to him or if you say these things to him because you honestly think "he doesn't know what I'm saying" what I care about is that he does know what you are saying. He does hear you, he does understand. I care that your words hurt him. He's not fucking "stupid". Maybe, just maybe he's actually smarter than you because he knows when to keep his words to himself. and maybe, just maybe, you ought to think before you speak and if you don't have something nice to say, shut the fuck up.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Battling Infantilization. with no success. at all.

I haven't been on my facebook page much the past few days because I've been struggling with some things. Thinking my way through. ...or more accurately, thinking myself in circles. doubting myself. a lot.

I read a post not too long ago, had to be a few days, maybe a week, I don't know. If you follow me anywhere you know I suck at remembering anything related to time. So, I read this post. It was about infantilizing autistics which was written by an autistic woman. and immediately, I started worrying. (shocker, right?) I'm all, oh my goodness! I'M DOING THAT!!!! I say my son is a 12 month old inside a 10 year old body! Don't I? I think I do. Oh, man. oh, this isn't good. I must fix this. but first, I have to find out exactly what the hell she's talking about and how I'm doing it wrong. So, I message her. and she says recognizing younger interests is not infantilizing. assuming *only* younger interests is. So, fine. I can fix this. Dora's cool. Blue's Clues is cool. Keep the Sesame Street. but we're trading some other shows for Sponge Bob and Fairly Odd Parents. Now, at one point in time, Fairly Odd Parents was ok but as soon as I decided he had to at least try to have older interests... I tell you what, for a non-verbal kid, the boy sure knows how to get his point across. I'm not doing that again. uh-uh. So, fine. But we're cutting this infantilizing crap out. I'm putting my foot down. Somewhere there has to be something older that he's going to like.

Then I'm looking at his life. and CRAP. I'm totally treating the kid like a baby!

  • I already tried forcing the potty training issue- not gonna happen. at least, not until he's ready.
  • We're already working on feeding himself with a spoon. sometimes. ok, allowing the option more than "working on". but you know. what purpose does eating with a spoon serve, anyway? to be socially acceptable? F*ck social acceptance!
  • and we already got the whole drinking out of a glass. so yeah, that totally tops a spoon. so, whatever. oh, yeah. I need to google spoons. Spoon Theory.
  • anyway, and he needs that stroller, man! He's really getting too big to be carried. and he insists on not walking far no matter how much my back ends up hurting from lugging his big butt around.

So that's all got to stay. But somewhere something has to change. He is 10 years old. I need to see him as 10 years old. I need to treat him like a 10 year old.

So, I'm cleaning his room and I'm putting his toys away and this is what I see...
There is not one single "age appropriate" toy there and I am ready to cry. Yes, I see the irony in that and I'll get to it. Just give me a minute because I'm still fretting over infantilizing my boy. Ok, so, I'm back online. any time I see that word, you can bet your bottom I'm clicking on the link because I want to know how to fix this. it has to be fixed. infantilizing anyone because of their disability is taking away their right to be a full person. it's dehumanizing them and cannot be tolerated. So, I see a link and I click on it. and way down at the bottom, I see a comment... "developmental delay or developmental disability do not mean developmental stagnation"

and... OH, LORD!!!! I stagnated my baby! (which is not infantilization. You're never too old to be your mama's baby. I have come to the conclusion that if that is good enough for my other boys, it's good enough for him so he can suck it up and deal with it, "big boy" or not.) Protesting the sentencing to a special school in kindergarten because of the impact it could have on his future education, the school said to me in defense of their decision, "you have to consider the possibility that he may never go beyond where he's at." and I believed them. and I went with it. after some good mourning, ya know, but still, I accepted that. and I get to the point that I'm cool with it most days and then this. What the hell am I doing to this child!? I have to ask now, am I shortchanging him by accepting who he is and not pushing for more? I decided against outside therapy because I want him to be a child. I want him to live his life, not work his life away. Was that the wrong decision? Did I not believe in him? Is it my fault that he has made no significant progress what-so-ever in his entire school career?

I go running to my friend, crying my problems to her as usual. and she explains both infantilization and stagnation. He's not stagnated. Not in the least little bit. He makes progress every day. It may be slow progress, but it's still progress. Slow moving water is not stagnant water. and "infantilizing is about treating someone as a child regardless of their maturity...and recognizing that he enjoys the same things a younger kid would is being respectful to who is and not ignoring his maturity."

and this brings us right back to Christmas. Remember why the words "age appropriate" piss me off? No worries, I'll remind you...
"It has recently come to my attention that my oversensitivity to those words may be because there's not a thing age appropriate about this child- even less so as the years go by, and being told that his interests or his needs or his behaviors don't meet those specifications is being told that he is not the same as everyone else. He's not typical. He is different. He is abnormal. Even for a child that is autistic. That I should be doing everything I can to make him more age appropriate. More typical. More normal. Because he's not good enough as he is. I should be ashamed that I am not working hard enough to potty train him, make him eat with a fork, make him walk nice, make him use his words, make him play with toys that a 10 year old plays with- don't give him what he wants because what he wants isn't right."
and remember what I had to say about that?

"I'm not doing this. I'm not going to feel guilty. This is his life. He is who he is and he is perfect. Who gives a crap what he wants? what he likes? "Nobody puts Baby in a corner." This is my son. I make the decisions for him. and if I want to give him what he wants, well, then, I'm damned well going to give him what he wants. It doesn't need to be age appropriate, it needs to be Alex appropriate. He sets his own bar. He beats his own drum. Anyone who can't see the beauty in the rhythm he taps out... well, that's their problem. There's not a thing wrong with him, not a blessed thing that I need to change. Alex is Alex and I like him just so."
In my effort to fight infantilization, I started fighting him. Who he is. I started telling him that he wasn't good enough. I won't do it. I'm walking away from a battle that does not need to be fought.

Alex is Alex and I like him just so.

Infantilization continued here

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dear God, ...COME ON!!!!

So, I'm totally going to cheat my way through the first part of this blog post by using yesterday's status updates to tell you what happened. and I don't even care. because it's like that. yeah. and, I'm not even editing them because I already said where they're coming from. So...

Status update 1:
Gah! If you didn't read the blog post one post back, it's a crazy morning as usual (I'm blaming the kids. It's not my fault I overslept. nope. not at all.) anyway, the LD fell back asleep- annoying- but I went to get Alex ready to go to school anyway... poop. 'nough said.

I'm about |this| close to quitting my job and I'm looking for a replacement. My husband would prefer that you did windows, dusted every once in a while and not "let" the kids break things. Interested?

and 2:
Ok, so. I got a phone call. The Goofy one slid down the slide right into a water puddle. *shocker*, right? Well, he was sent to the nurse's office where he could not answer the question "are your pants wet all the way through?" so, the nurse checked and wanted to let me know he wasn't wearing underwear. How was I supposed to know anyone would be looking!? we were in a hurry! and his shoes are wet ...and she would like for me to know he's not wearing any socks either. *hangs head* Also, his teacher thinks maybe he didn't have his medicine. and, he could not understand why the recess aide could not take him home to get different clothes (makes you feel real good to know your kid will leave with anyone). He gets home and as soon as the door opens, there's a little boy just dying to tell me Goofy was pestering a girl on the bus and the bus driver lets me know Goofy took his shoes off as soon as he got on the bus...

Thank God It's FRIDAY!!!!!

So, there I am laying in the floor staring at the ceiling contemplating how in the world they got jelly up there and wondering how long it's going to take for someone to wipe it off (by someone, I mean not me), when  Alex stops his spinning to the music and comes to sit down by my head. He makes eye contact and jabbers at me. and then tries to pick my nose, poke my eyes out, and pull my ears off. I'm laughing at him and dodging his probing fingers when my phone rings. (are you remembering now why I hate my phone so much?) and it's Alex's Mommy. She's wondering "what's up" and in my usual talkative way, I fill her in. "Nothing, really." "Well, you said you'd call me after Goofy's appointment yesterday." and the fact that I didn't doesn't clue you in on how it went? "Yeah." "well, how did it go?" "crappy. they said get an advocate and make the school do something." "and did you do that?" keep talking, woman. just keep talking... "No." and then it's cough syrup. How? I don't know, I wasn't listening. so, it was cough syrup and why my kids aren't sick then she wants to know why I'm so quiet. "I'm just tired." "Oh, you need a break." oh, yeah. she did. really? you think so? I wonder why no one else has said that... I was trying to keep Alex out of my various pools of liquid- dish water, mop bucket, turtle tank, coffee... you know, the usual. "You know, I'm having a hard time hearing you and I can't walk away. Can I call you back later?" "Oh. Yeah." alright then, click. God, are you done with me yet?

Nope. While I'm sitting there with my head tilted back on the wall, eyes closed, praying for patience, it hits me that Alex is awfully quiet... shit. I glance around and out of the corner of my eye see a mostly naked humanoid run past the back door. the other side of the back door. and the chase is on. with Alex giggling his diapered little butt off as I run as fast as an old smoker can run trying to grab ahold of any part of him I can grab ahold of since his slippery self isn't wearing any clothing. Nice show for the new neighbors. They are so going to love us. I wonder if we were mentioned in the disclosure statement...

Walter comes in and wants to know if he can go to his friend's house. NO! Why not? Why not!? because I don't even want to think about how that can go wrong. Tomorrow. go see your friend tomorrow. Walter: *backs away slowly* Good call, buddy. good call.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The bottom line... the final answer...

Right now, I'm over the mad, I'm done with the crying, and I'm just tired. For now, the fight is over but that won't last long. I can promise you that.

Yesterday was Goofy's Psychologist appointment. The next step on the path to where ever the hell we're going. The night before, after spending the day in between ... things... reading over school evaluation reports and his 504 and his daily notes home brushing up so that I could at least pretend to be prepared, I was feeling pretty confident. "There's no way the doc can't see this," I said to myself. "It's right there in black and white highlighted in yellow. There's no way he can't see," I said. Right about the point I caught myself daydreaming about the formal written request to re-evaluate his eligibility for an educational diagnosis, I knew I was getting my hopes too high. "But there's the proof. Right there in the words of trained professionals," I said. I ended up putting the papers down, saying a prayer, grabbing a beer, running some bath water and walking away. just as I told you I was.

The morning was a bit hectic. I didn't have much time to think about where we were going or what we were doing until we were waiting in line in the waiting room. Suddenly, I'm a nervous wreck. I'm a shaking, fidgety mess of a woman and I am pretty darned sure I'm going to vomit all over their floor. I'm texting my friend freaking out on her and she gives me the best advice she could have given. "Go to your happy place." " :) Ancora impartial." "yes. he is always calm." and I'm ok. I can breathe. It will be fine. everything will work out.

Until I'm sitting in the office, facing the psychologist. I knew something was not going to go as planned when I found out he hadn't seen the school evaluation reports that I told the OT he needed. Everything was depending on him reading these reports and seeing what they said. If he hadn't read them then, what has changed? Nothing. "It's not just ADHD," I say. "I told you, I don't think autism fits. His socialization is too good. That hasn't changed." My eyes tear up, "you're wrong," I tell him. Yes, awfully daring, I know. I heard the words too late to recheck them. In my defense- he's wrong. I don't care about the autism, the autism's not the point. the point is the ADHD. There is something more than ADHD. Something is going on with him, something is there and no one can say what. he has all of these problems and no one can do anything about them. By this point I'm full on bawling like a baby. I'm telling him it's all in the report. The report says everything, I'm telling him the places we've been, the things we've done, the answers we aren't getting and I tell him he doesn't understand. I need something to take to school.

I'm telling him he can't be evaluated for Auditory Processing Disorder until he's 7, he agrees. I say he can't be evaluated for Visual Processing Disorder at all because it's a waste of time because they can't even do anything and it doesn't even matter, he agrees. He says we can see an optometrist, I say it's. not. his. eyes! He understands that but they can check eye convergence. they did, I say, it's in the report! Everything is in the report but no one is listening to it. I say I need something, some kind of medical diagnosis to give to school. I told him that they said he could have OT through school if I get a diagnosis of SPD but he said SPD wasn't a diagnosis. He says it's not in the DSM. I understand that but I need something, something medical and since he said we couldn't have the SPD, he can't have OT. He leans back, spreads his hands, tilts his head, and he says, "Hey, *I* can't control what goes in the DSM." Oh, geez, man! That's not what I'm saying! He says some of the things I'm telling him the people told me just doesn't make sense... I know! That's what I'm saying! and if I had my freakin words I could say it better. I told him they all keep sending me to him. He says they're punting. because they don't know what else to tell me. 

He says, "Stop chasing diagnoses. It's a waste of time." He says that educational is educational and medical is medical. The school doesn't have to listen to anything I bring in. He says get an advocate. Make the school do something. We started talking IEE and I told him I could request one but I thought it was a waste of time because it's all right there in the report. The information is good, the interpretation is wrong. The presumed reasoning for why he does what he does is wrong. The report says he has problems. and he agrees, even just glancing through at the highlighted parts, he sees that. Everything we need is in the report. and he tells me to stay away from the IEE because it's a waste of time. That locks it in to where they don't have to do anything at all for 9 months to a year. because they don't have to do anything while that external evaluation is going on. He says get an advocate. and he prints up some information for me.

I was still crying walking out of the building. I sat in my car with the boys and I cried. We came home and I spent the afternoon and the evening sulking and skulking around facebook and such, letting the kids play as many video games and watch as much TV as they wanted. I talked to a few friends, very few about this because I wasn't ready to talk about it. When I was ready, my friend Bec from Snagglebox was there. There are no real solutions, no easy fixes but I think I've got a handle on what has already happened and I'm to the point that I'm thankful that I finally got the direct answer I've been begging for. Thanks, Bec. What would I do without you?

This morning I overslept, Alex missed his bus, Goofy had 10 minutes to get ready, ended up running for his bus, and I forgot to give the little turd his ADHD medicine. Back to normal. What would we do without our daily routines to wrap their comforting arms around us, right?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Guest Post: Fasten Her Seatbelt: 'never grow up...' (pre-adolescent/adolescent girls on the spectrum and cyberbullying.)

never grow up...

'Oh darling, don't you ever grow up,
Don't you ever grow up, just stay this little.
Oh darling, don't you ever grow up,
Don't you ever grow up, it could stay this simple.
No one's ever burned you, nothing's ever left you scarred -
And even though you want to, just try to never grow up.'

The other day I was chatting with a friend, and the subject of 'Who influenced you to go into blogging' came up.  After a brief hesitation, I replied:

'In all honesty, I started out blogging because I couldn't find what I was looking for.  Information on pre-adolescent/adolescent girls and autism.'

Let's face it - I'm an artist... I'm not a writer... I agonize over everything I write, often wondering if I am getting my point across.  'Good design' is equally as important to me as 'good content'.  But 'this' (adolescence and autism) was something I felt passionate about...  something that was clawing at my very soul.

You see, I had just 'come off' adolescence with my oldest daughter, Isabella  - and let me tell you... it wasn't pretty.  I was terrified of what adolescence was going to bring for Emma.  I wanted to try and find a group of mamas (and papas) to connect with - to share things with.  And, let's face it - there are no two ways around it:  Adolescent girls can be mean!  The problem was - nobody was talking about pre-teen girls, adolescence and autism....

Now, more and more girls are speaking up... rather their parents are... you are starting to hear some of their voices... however, I still don't feel the voice of the pre-teen girl is well represented yet.

No, I'm not a pre-teen girl... I'm not autistic...  I don't presume to know what my daughter is thinking, not being on the spectrum and all... I can only do what I do best... be her parent.  But I do know girls... and, I do know something about adolescent girls (having just raised one daughter through it AND, having taught a whole boat load of others).  Quite frankly, adolescence scares me - even more so today then it did a few short years ago.

If you haven't raised a girl through adolescence before, I don't think moms and dads realize how truly difficult - and at times - cruel this stage can be.  

You have a wonderful girl.  A super, kind and loving girl... and within a day, hour, minute - she can be completely demolished by her peers or so-called friends.  NT, ASD - it really doesn't matter.  With the addition of social media... it just brings the ball game to a whole new playing level.  Unfortunately, I watched as it evolved - almost in the blink of an eye.

Flashback 10 years ago.  

Isabella would have been in middle school.  Computers weren't as abundant as they were now.  (Smart Phones?  Facebook?  Twitter?)  More or less each household had a computer, but it was 'the family computer'.  As parents, my husband and I monitored Isabella's activity constantly, much to her chagrin.  There was absolutely no 'surfing the net' without us being in the same room.  I remember her being 'furious' that we wouldn't allow her to have a computer in her room.  'MySpace' was the fad, and she like many of her friends, had an account (my husband and I called it SpySpace, as we knew the password, and would look to make sure there were no 'MySpace' shenanigans happening).  

So, one would think - one. would. THINK. - that even with constant monitoring, as parents, we would be able to keep the shit out... the bad things... the bullying.  But you can't.  Because it happens.  In the blink of an eye.  

Hidden behind the safety of a computer screen, never having to hear a voice, or see a face, a child can type something so hideous and so ugly... and press send... close a screen and go to bed.  Never knowing the consequence on the other end.  Why do I know this?  Because I've seen firsthand how a child... how a girl can be devastated by a message sent callously.  By a cruel remark meant only to hurt.  That was ten years ago.  Ten years ago.  One computer.  Monitoring.

Now there is WiFi.  Children have laptops... iPads... smartphones... unsupervised access to the internet.   Students are indignant if you ask them to put a phone away in school... they update their status, they tweet, they snapchat... how is one to contain such a plethora of social media access?  If something happens, it's sent to everyone's phone within seconds... heck - they have a better 'phone chain' than any parent group will ever have. 

At the beginning of the current school year, there was a girl in a neighboring city who committed suicide - she was bullied via social media.  She was a beautiful girl... she had her entire life ahead of her.   Yet, her classmates somehow deemed her unacceptable... they sent her messages via Facebook and Twitter demeaning her... so much so, that took her own life.  

Technology is great - as adolescents, children aren't always.  Decision making and cognitive skills are at the height of growth in their developing young brains.  Adolescents are developing personal identities... they're trying to figure out where they fit within their peer group.  Mistakes are made, awkwardness ensues.  Unfortunately, in this digital age every humiliation is documented and circulated for the 'enjoyment' of others.  There seems to be no sense of accountability anymore.  No personal interaction.  Half the things I have seen written, I would NEVER have the nerve to say to someones face. 

So now, as I have two girls 'up to bat' in the game of adolescence,  I can't imagine how things are going to be for Emma.

Each day, I ask her how her day was...  I ask her who she played with at recess and I want to cry, because she tells me the same thing everyday:  There were children playing everywhere and none of them wanted to play with her.  With the exception of her sister, she spends her day virtually friendless.  

Tell me though - how soon will it be before they aren't talking to her, and they start picking on her?

If only we could tuck them away and protect them forever...




'Your little hand's wrapped around my finger, 
And it's so quiet in the world tonight.
Your little eyelids flutter cause you're dreaming, 
So I tuck you in, turn on your favorite night light.
To you everything's funny, you got nothing to regret.
I'd give all I have, honey - 
If you could stay like that.'

Title Inspiration:
Taylor Swift:  Never Grow Up


Jennifer – Fasten Her Seatbelt
Jennifer lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls: Frannie (10), Emma (11), and Isabella (23). She is an artist, fine jeweler and educator. Emma was diagnosed with an ASD at age 4 and Frannie was diagnosed with ADHD and Dyslexia at age 6.
With Emma fast approaching adolescence, Jennifer found there was not much information available for ‘girls, autism and adolescence’, thus ‘Fasten Her Seatbelt’ was born. Using ‘Fasten Her Seatbelt as a vehicle to re-account life experiences both past and present, Jennifer hopes to connect with other parents on the same journey. So, hop on in and join her as she travels the world of adolescence on the spectrum.