Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Driving Julie Crazy

Someone once gave me a small plaque that said "Whoever said you only go around once in life, never had carpool duty."  

The funny thing is, I didn't really mind carpool duty most of the time.  When Joe was in grade school we found another family with whom we meshed perfectly.  I didn't mind driving in the morning, but really did not like waiting in the after school carpool line.  The other mom didn't like getting up in the morning but didn't mind the after school drive.  It was a good fit.  We continued to carpool through two kids each and two schools and it always worked out well.

Unfortunately not all carpooling is so pleasant.  And when you throw special needs into the equation, things can get VERY interesting!

I had the kid that wanted to listen to his choice of music in the morning.  Sorry, kid, you want a happy driver and I get very edgy when I don't have my tunes.

I had the time that Alan was going to school a half hour away from home (and then I had to drop Joe off) before I could go home.  Naturally, as soon as I pulled into the school parking lot, Alan sprayed his breakfast all over the back seat.  Yuck!!

I had the little girl who would only listen to certain songs (and I had a limited number of them on my CDs).  I got to hear Lady Gaga's Just Dance song four times one morning because that was how long it took to get to school.  Thank goodness that was a close school!

I had the child wearing so much scented body lotion, I felt like I was attempting to walk through the department store perfume department.  Have I mentioned that I'm very olfactory sensitive??
I had the time that a police officer pulled me over and I was so happy that I had FOUR children with varying degrees of autism that were all sitting quietly and correctly wearing their seat belts that in never occurred to me that I might get a ticket.  He did give me one for "improper lane usage" (I got in the turn lane a little before it technically started) and it was all I could do not to ask him who pissed in his Cheerios that morning.

I had the child that used to insult Alan (although never when I was driving).  

I had the kid that unbuckled himself and leaned over the back of my seat to try to turn off my radio because he was going through a "silence" phase.

I had the time Alan's OCD required him to jump in and out of the open car door at least five times before he would get in or out to stay.  Naturally the other ASD boy we were driving decided he would do the same thing.

Then there was the time Alan sat ON another kid.  Luckily he had a sister who was at a similar functioning level and he just calmly said, "Alan, you need to get up."  He repeated himself several times but didn't get angry or upset.

Of course when Alan tried that with another boy, he shoved Alan out the door.

Nowadays I do a lot less driving of Joe so it is just Alan.  Camp started this week so I have been dealing with the afternoon parking lot crazies.  It is probably worse for me this year because I have a new car.  I am so worried I will end up like this!

Between buses that do not slow down when going through VERY narrow openings to the nutty parents and the pokey kids, it is enough to make me wonder if a medicine increase for the summer is in order.  That would be mine, not Alan's.

I'm in over my head

This is (unfortunately) a techie post.  Apparently Google is doing away with Google Reader.  So if you are a Google Blogger (which I am) and that is the way you follow your blogs (which I do) you won't be able to do this in a couple of weeks.  


It took me 6 months to figure out how this darn blogging thing works -- and I still can't "grab a button" or some of the other things people talk about so casually!

Unfortunately this isn't a link, but the button to the right of the blog IS a link!

I've had several people tell me to use Bloglovin' since that seems to pretty basic and similar to Google Reader.  I've started using Bloglovin' and it isn't bad.  There are some differences but I suppose I will be able to figure them out.  I've added my Bloglovin' Widget and hopefully any of you that use Google Reader will choose to follow me over to Bloglovin'.

I'm sure there are about a gazillion things wrong in this short post but I had to try to let you know in case any of my readers were as clueless as I am.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

So what's Alan been up to?

It may seem that I've been overly preoccupied with Joe lately.  In a big part, it has been because I see so much of him every day.  He is not working yet (please God, let that happen soon!) and therefore I think of him a lot.  My last few blogs were about Father's Day (and after all, Joe is the one who first made us parents) and the cats (and Joe was the one who really wanted both Misty and Diesel) and so I really haven't said much about Alan -- although I did arrange a funny collection of his climbing pictures on Facebook!

But Alan has actually been having a very good summer.  His first week was rough.  Despite having our back to school "conversation" that made me so happy, his first week of summer school had some difficult hellish afternoons.

A big part of it was just the different schedule.  He used to get home from school around 4 pm.  We eat early around here so he could have a snack and easily make it to dinner time.  But now he was getting home at 12:30.  Uh oh!  That didn't cut it.  He actually had to eat some healthy stuff or play or something to pass the time.  He spent the first four days sitting less than three feet away from me saying "medicine, medicine, medicine" until I thought I would lose it.
Unfortunately this picture wasn't zoomed.  This is how close he would sit to me -- ALL afternoon!

After Alan figured out the schedule, he has practically been my dream child.  He has been doing amazingly well at school, too.  He is really getting the hang of his school issued iPad with the communication program Go Talk Now.

When he wanted to watch his videos, he used to sit in front of the TV holding the DVD box in his hand and just bellow "downstairs" (when he was upstairs) and "blue ball" (when he was in the basement -- long story!)  Of course he never (or rarely) watched TV on the main floor.  Figures.

After a little work he now goes and gets his talker (what we call the school issued iPad) and proceeds to press the buttons so that he tells us what video he wants to watch -- and NO bellowing.  He is even doing this for the babysitter and when we had company over.  The best was when he tracked down both of us (on different occasions) when we were nowhere near the talker and handed it to us.  Success!!!!

And this is how he gets out of bed in the morning.
For those that do not know, Alan has apraxia (an oral motor planning problem) so that when he wants to say something, that isn't always what comes out of his mouth.  I knew this, but it has been sort of awe-inspiring to see the way the GTN has improved his ability to communicate and really cut down on the screaming.

Some very clear examples are the time he verbally asked for a cherry pop-tart but typed out blueberry on the talker.  I gave him the blueberry and he took it without a fuss.  If he had truly wanted the cherry, this would have been a time to pitch a fit, but he happily accepted the blueberry.

And just this afternoon he asked for The Star of Christmas DVD (a Veggie Tales movie) verbally, but I waited until he had typed in on the talker and what he really wanted to watch was Thomas' Ultimate Christmas.  So here were two very obvious times that would have caused stress in the house if we had listened to what he said but by using the talker, we bypassed the difficulty.

Now we just have to move him into abstract concepts.  OK, that might be a bit down the road.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


When Misty died in April 2011, it left a huge whole in our lives and yet, DH and I were secretly a little happy to be cat free for awhile.  DH got to go without his daily Claritin (or he would have been able to if it hadn't been spring!) and I had less cleaning to do.  I always thought all the fuzz in the kitchen was because we had a main floor laundry.  Turned out it had a lot more to do with the main floor cat!

We talked it over and decided that we would get a cat for Christmas.  This would give us some time without a pet and hopefully we would appreciate one all the more.  This lasted until our vacation in June.  After vacation we went to the shelter "to see what they had" but we knew we wanted a full grown cat and also that we really didn't want to get another cat just yet.

We went and completely fell in love with this little guy.  Yep, a kitten.  Only three months old and friendly as can be.  Of course, I had heard that black cats tend to get adopted less than other colors and so I naturally felt sorry for the little guy.  He had the loudest purr I had ever heard and so we decided to call him "Diesel".  The fact that the boys always liked trains helped to cinch it.

Silly us, we thought he would be tiny.  Maybe we were just so used to Misty but it just never occurred to us that he would grow up to be a bruiser.  Looking back on the pictures it is hard to see how we missed the huge paws, but at the time we just thought we had gotten our little replacement.

Like his predecessor, Diesel was affectionate and patient with both boys.  But that was pretty much where the similarities ended.

Misty was noisy!  She meowed all the time.  Diesel meows rarely and only when someone is near by.

Misty was social.  Diesel is the original fraidy-cat.  Someone comes to the door and Diesel disappears.

Misty was little.  She varied in weight from about 6 to 8 pounds but she was always very petite.  Diesel is almost to 17 pounds and probably not done.

Misty was dumb.  She would jump for things and miss them -- all the time.  We really think she had a little brain damage from the scar on her head.  Diesel is pretty smart -- for a cat anyway.

Misty hated to see another cat outside.  She would yowl and usually piddle on the floor any time another cat was outside.  Diesel loves to check out the neighbor's cat.

And yet somehow we've been lucky.  We've had two cats that do not bite or try to get out of the house.  Yes, there is more fuzz on the floor (and it is a LOT darker these days with a black cat!), but there is also more love to go around. 

And Joe loves Diesel as much as he did Misty -- and the feeling is very mutual. 


When Joe was in first grade, he had everyone in class convinced that he had a pet "cat and mouse".  What no one at school realized was that the cat and mouse were stuffed animals which he kept under a laundry basket which he called their "cage". 

When I talked to his teacher a few weeks after school started she asked me about BJ and Charlie -- yep, he had even named the stuffed animals.  Of course what Mrs. B was most interested in was the pet "mouse".  She thought he might be a hamster or a gerbil.  And that was how we found out about Joe's almost frantic desire to have a pet.

Unfortunately, DH is allergic to cats and dogs.  When he was tested, it was determined that we could have a pet bird (which we tried briefly before kids -- too dirty), fish, a pig or some sort of reptile without aggravating DH's allergies.   I did not want a reptile.  I've seen several since and realized I could handle one just fine, but at the time, the idea grossed me out.

Another friend went through something similar and was told that if she got a non-shedding dog (Poodles are good) then she could get a dog.  Unfortunately, Joe is pretty much terrified of dogs.  This has gotten somewhat better as he has gotten older, but the idea of a dog in the house still stresses him.

So we were back to the cat thing.  As I mentioned in DH's Father's Day tribute, DH will do almost anything for his boyz.  So despite his allergies we started to look for a cat. 

This was all coming to pass during the month of September 2001.  Now as any American knows, there was a lot going on and frankly I wasn't paying attention to the passage of time.  DH's birthday is two weeks after 9/11 and yep, that was the day we went and actually picked up Misty.  Happy Birthday, DH, we got you the pet that will aggravate your allergies the most!

On the other hand, we all loved her and she was pretty easy to love.  She was very friendly and affectionate.  She was lucky to be alive had a hard life before we adopted her (she was missing part of a fang and had a scar on her head where the hair never grew) so even though she had been an outdoor cat, she never tried to get out of our house.

She was dumber than a box of rocks wasn't very smart but she was obviously happy to have a safe home and regular meals.  She would happily lie on our bed while Alan was jumping up and down a few feet away.  We always figured that she just considered him another one of her kittens (albeit a very large one!) and trusted him to not jump on her.  And surprisingly he never hurt her.

She was noisy!  Although she did not appear so, she must have had some Siamese in her because she talked ALL the time.  We had to put her in the basement at night because otherwise she would walk through the house meowing at midnight and 3 in the morning.

She died in April of 2010 and it was very weird without her.  For such a small creature (only about 6 lbs) she certainly left a huge void in our hearts and home.

P.S.  I updated the name of the blog.  Formerly "Life with the Spectrum" we are now going to be called "Julie's Boyz".

Friday, June 14, 2013

Happy Father's Day, DH!

As regular readers know, I do not refer to my hubby by name, merely as DH.  Lest anyone be confused that does stand for Dear Husband NOT D*%# Husband.
The young and the clueless

DH and I met some 25 years ago and it wasn't exactly love at first sight.  We both thought the other had some goofy traits -- I was concerned about silly things like whether or not his clothes matched (they didn't) and he thought I needed to grow up (I did).  Obviously we did eventually reconcile these little problems.

So fast forward some seven years to Joe's birth.  I know that DH and I were terrified.  I would be hard pressed to say who was more so.  We were both the youngest in our family and although we both had nieces, we really had very limited experience with kids in general and babies in particular.  

We both have a vivid memory of leaving the hospital, getting out to the car with Joe and wondering how the heck did we get the car seat in the car?!?!?!   I am positive that he was not properly restrained for that first short drive.  Then there were diapers.  I think I had changed a grand total of two diapers before Joe was born and I'm not sure DH had even changed that many.

I'm sure anyone who has ever cared for a newborn remembers that dreaded "transition" diaper.  That's the one with the consistency, color and smell of rancid tar.  We got Joe's at about 3 in the morning on his first night home.  While trying to clean it up (which took two of us) we were both christened along with the wall and floor of Joe's room -- ah, the special joys of little boys.  I was in so much pain from trying to breastfeed and a difficult birth that all I wanted to do was cry but DH just laughed which made me laugh and like so many things that would come later, he helped me immensely.

Joe wasn't always an easy baby.  He would make himself go rigid and thrash like there was no tomorrow.  But like many with autism he was the world's cutest toddler.  But he only had about 10 words until he was almost 3 when we started our own version of ABA so he was definitely a challenge!

DH was always fantastic about coming with me to doctor after doctor and school meeting after school meeting.  I remember when we had home ABA with Joe and DH would make it to most of the team meetings.  Our ABA coordinator told us she didn't even know what most of the dads looked like and here was DH sitting in and contributing in most of the meetings. 

He would take Joe to the pool, the playground and even built a swing-set for him.  (And 14 years later, that swing-set is still in use by the younger child.)  But Dad and Joe are still pals and play tennis, chess and go for bike rides.

But I think what I like best about DH as a father is that he was never upset about the fact that Joe didn't play conventional sports.  We tried both t-ball and soccer when he was younger and they were complete disasters.  But it was never an issue.  I know so many guys that want to live vicariously through their male off-spring and DH was never that way.  He happily took Joe to gymnastics and later piano and bowling.  He taught him how to play tennis and we both taught him to ride a bike (with DH doing more of the running than yours truly!)

He also liked just relaxing and being silly with Joe.

Although he had a little denial before Joe was diagnosed he probably had less than me with Alan.  I was just convinced that lightning did NOT strike twice.  Alan was such a different baby than Joe -- cuddly, amazing eye contact, lots more babbling -- that I did not think he could possibly have autism. 

But once again, with DH's fantastic sense of humor and help, we got through all the sleepless nights, the poop smearing, the B-12 shots in Alan's butt while he slept, the bizarre climbing, the endless "Alan-proofing" of the basement, etc.  

The poor guy even has allergies but when Joe wanted a cat, DH said sure. 

And DH still has some of the ickier jobs with the boys.  He usually ends up taking Alan to the sedation dentist because it takes two males (DH and the doc) along with three nurses to hold him down and give him the initial shot.

And through all this, he remains my best friend and the person most likely to make me laugh.  Overall I couldn't ask for a better husband or Dad to my boyz!  

Love you, babe!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why I don't Tweet!

Since I detailed my love/hate relationship with Facebook, it seems only fair to give Google+ their time in the spotlight ... or the cesspool as the case may be.

To understand why I even use Google+, I have to go back to the start of my blog. I didn't really see the point of a Google+ account -- after all, I had Facebook. But when I went to find out how to start a blog, naturally I Googled "blogging" and came up with Blogger.  I guess it makes sense that they would promoted their own product.  

Then naturally I wanted people to read the blog.  I was doing this for fun, but when I only got about 10 hits in the first week (and probably 5 of them were my own before I figured out how to stop logging my own page views) I knew I had to to do something to promote my blog or I was basically just typing an online diary.

Realistically I knew most people started by sharing their blog with their family and friends but I was a) shy and b) operating under an assumed identity. 

I am definitely not a techie and at first I couldn't figure out how to link my blog to Facebook.  Being of Google origin, it was very easy to promote on Google+.  Since I was taking on an assumed identity  I figured I could just be someone else on a different social network.


These two social networks are really nothing alike.  There ARE similarities, but their differences are what annoy me.  Come on, "+1"?  Who thought of that?  Was "like" copy-righted?  

I also don't like not being able to do the equivalent of a personal message on Google+.  I finally figured out that if you post something and have it visible to only one person, that is like a personal message, but dang, that is hard to figure out and it still feels like you are putting it "out there" for everyone to see.

The ginormous screen font is off-putting to me as well.  At least Google+ doesn't always force things to "most popular" like Facebook does ... maybe that is my OCD coming through, but I want things in chronological order, thank you very much!

Someone pointed out to me recently that really creepy people can follow you on Google+.  Okay, you have the choice of whether or not you follow them back.  You can even block them but if someone looks at "CreepXYZ" and he is following you even if you block him, won't your name still be linked to theirs?  Yuck.

Then I made the mistake of "linking" my blog comments to Google+.  This seemed like a good idea on the surface because then if someone commented on my Google+ page, the comment would show on my blog.  Except ... then someone couldn't comment unless she had a Google+ account.  Well that seemed a bit exclusionary and when a RL friend tried to comment and didn't have Google+ I decided to switch back.  

To add insult to injury, all the comments that were made while I had Google+ comments were gone ... poof! ... even the ones that were made ON the blog.  Well crud.

I only had Google+ comments for a month, but those were some of my most popular posts (and some of my favorites) and there are no comments on them ... at all.  Double crud.

Now I that I have a Facebook account and a blog page set up over there as well I thought about ditching Google+.  The only reason I am hanging on to Google+ is for the blogging communities ... and of course the wonderful friends I have met on Google+!  These darn social websites just suck you in and don't let go.

And that would be why I don't Tweet!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Facebook ... a love/hate relationship

After my last post Why I think it is okay to hate autism ... my numbers have jumped.  I wish I had thought to make a note of things like how many followers I had (I think it used to be 12 and now it is 17) or how many likes I have on my Facebook page (I think it used to be about 45 and now it is 73) but for someone who is really doing this blog for fun, I have
never paid super close attention.  Still it was a very gratifying weekend in blogland.

So now that I have all these people that are interested in autism, this blog entry has almost nothing to do with autism.  This is all about my love/hate relationship with Facebook.

I have been on Facebook as myself for about 6 years.  Some of my sons' teachers were actually the first to invite me -- being younger than myself they were aware of Facebook and active on Facebook long before most of my peers.  

But eventually even middle aged dogs learn new tricks and so I have been able to reconnect with so many people from my past -- college, high school, even all the way back to grade school -- and it has been a blast.  I have made friends in my hobby field that I never would have been able to find if it hadn't been for the wonder of Facebook.  I have a huge network of special needs parents that really "get" it when I post some of the antics of my boyz.  I feel like I have a much closer relationship with my nieces than I did pre-Facebook.  And I absolutely love the sharing of humor on Facebook rather than the e-mail forwards of 10 years ago.
This is obviously the "Love" portion of the relationship.

So where does the "Hate" portion come in?

1.  Politics.  In my opinion, Facebook should be a "politics free" zone.  I am a rather moderate person when it comes to politics.  I tend to get both sides.  But I have never understood why people have to be so extreme when it comes to their political opinions on FB.  Just because someone voted the other way, does not make them "an idiot" or worse.  Before the last American presidential election, I had about 10 people completely blocked.  Sigh.

2.  The rudeness.  I have a friend who is an atheist that always makes fun of a mutual friend's religious posts.  Can't we just accept our differences?  It isn't like the mutual friend is trying to convert the atheist.  She is just expressing her views in a factual and usually positive way.

3.  The triviality.  Absolutely no one cares that you are doing laundry.  And only a few people care about your hobbies, what you made for dinner, how long you worked out or what level you reached in Candy Crush Saga.  I set up a separate page for my main hobby and of course one for this blog.  If that is something they are interested in, they can like it and find out all they want. 

4.  The stalkers.  I am sort of an open person.  I try to go for at least a couple of posts a week.  There are some people that I have no idea what is going on in their lives and yet they regularly comment on my posts so I know they are on Facebook.  I found out that one friend's child got married when she posted the pictures.  She wasn't so close that I expected an invitation, but this was big news and I wished I had known.  I didn't even know her daughter was dating anyone!  

5.  The people who don't edit.  Last year, I had one person share about two dozen pictures from her daughter's prom - individually.  Yep, each one got loaded one at a time over about an hour.  Keep in mind that there are a lot of prom pictures in April and May.  The girl was on court and cute as a bug, but I really didn't want all those pictures hogging my feed.  Then there are the people who post 200 pictures from a vacation.  Really?  Can't you pick the highlights and put the rest in your family photo album?  And I hate to break it to some of you, but your camera phone has lousy resolution and I can't tell if that is your son or your daughter -- much less where they are and what they are doing!  And I won't even mention the atrocious spelling or grammar.

6.  The ones who don't get it but still have to put in their 2 cents -- every time.  I post about Alan climbing the shelves in the basement and breaking them and how I have to mount all the furniture to the walls and someone posts that her grandson climbs as well.  Yes, and he is a 30 lb. two year old who will most likely outgrow it.  I have a 160 lb. 14 year old who has broken the bottom shelf of every single bookshelf in our basement.  It just isn't the same.

7.  The obscure posters.  "Most of you know I am going through a horrible time now."  (How are we supposed to know this?  Your last four posts have been about your adorable grand-kids.)  "Some people are so mean."  (Well, duh, but if you want sympathy, you need to tell us what happened.)  

8.  Those who don't recognize sarcasm.  No I did not really get questioned by the police about what I was burying in the backyard.  And if I had I would have the sense not to post it on Facebook!

You might be surprised to see that I didn't include the gamers in the hate column.  First off, I used to love all the games and I still play Words with Friends most days.  I try not to post so everyone can see that I had lousy letters and my last word played was "tie" for 5 points but if I goof, I figure that is something easily blocked.  So rather than make ranting posts for people to "stop sending me all these game requests" I just block the person or the game or both and move on.

And now I'm off to check my Facebook pages ...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why I think it is okay to hate autism ...

If you just read that title and are all set to argue, you might be autistic, but please hear me out. 

Most people who say they hate autism (and yes, I am sometimes one of them) don't see autism as synonymous with autistics any more than depression is synonymous with the depressed.  I have depression and I HATE it. I have two children with autism and sometimes I hate autism.  I do not and could never hate them.

Most autistics say that it is okay to hate the "co-morbids" (the nasty little disorders that frequently co-exist with autism) but not the autism itself.  OK, let's take a closer look at that.  In our family, my older son, Joe, is fairly high functioning, verbal, usually helpful and yet has been known to have meltdowns that can peel paint.  My younger son, Alan, is frequently violent, OCD and mostly non-verbal.  Both have depression on occasion.  OCD, violence, and depression are all considered co-morbids.  And according to autistics, it is okay to hate all of those things. 

So, why is it okay to hate the co-morbids but not the core?  While Alan's core disorder is autism, Alan IS NOT autism!!!!  He is so much more.  He is giggles and cuddles and adorable blue eyes.  He is incredibly flexible and could probably be a gymnast if he didn't have autism and could follow directions.

The autistic point of view (I believe) is that since it is an operating system they are synonymous.  The person cannot be separated from the disorder.  I suppose they are saying it is like race.  How can you separate the race from the person?  You can't.  So while it might be okay to say "I hate being black, white, Asian or Latino." it IS NEVER okay to say "I hate blacks, whites, Asians or Latinos." 

And yet, I think that telling people not to hate autism can be very alienating to families who are struggling just to get through the day living with autism.  Cleaning up poop and vomit, meltdowns, anxiety attacks, social ridicule, sensory induced pain -- these are all things that are intrinsically difficult.  I can't imaging anyone cleaning up vomit or watching their child get called names for being different having a lovely warm fuzzy feeling about autism.  Some families are in the trenches with these things and they can't see beyond their current, overwhelming, sometimes painful circumstances.  These are some of the families who probably say they hate autism. 

If an autistic were to tell me that he hated neurotypicality, I would not take that to mean that they hated me.  I would take that to mean that I confused them and/or they didn't understand me.  Is he a better person if he spells out that important difference?  Perhaps.  But in any case rather than being a huge fight between autism parents and autistics, the whole conflict should probably be put down to a difference in communication.

Truthfully, I think most people who say they hate autism are really saying it confuses, scares or overwhelms them.  They are using what I would call a neurotypical shorthand.  If autism is an operating system, I would have to say it is an Apple.  I am a PC/Android person through and through.  Anyone who knows me well has heard me complain of Apple products.  As an operating system, it confuses me.  So yes, I have said I hate Apple on occasion!  That said, I love both of Alan's iPads for very different reasons.  His school issued one is turning out to be a fantastic communication tool and the one we purchased is a favorite source of entertainment.  So I may hate Apples, but I don't hate Alan's iPads.

I have heard more than a few people say that they hate their hair (usually when it is curly).  I really think what they are saying is that it doesn't do what it is "supposed" to do (hmm, that also sounds a bit like our kids).  So if it is okay to hate part of you and wish it could change, why is autism different?

If my older son were to tell me that he hated his little brother, I would jump all over that.  If he were to tell me that he hated Alan's autism, I would completely understand that he meant that Alan's autism frustrated, scared, overwhelmed and/or annoyed him.  Alan's autism affects everything about our family -- our ability to go out to dinner, over to Grandma and Grandpa's house, vacations and even the grocery store -- and so we all are inconvenienced by autism and I do think it is okay if Joe would hate Alan's autism but not hate Alan. In our house autism is an inanimate object not a person. 

He doesn't ever say it, but sometimes I think Joe hates his own autism. He hates that it is hard for him to make and keep friends because he perseverates on bizarre topics. He hates that he does things so much differently than his peers.  That said, the kid has incredible self esteem!  So I do not believe that hating (or being inconvenienced or annoyed) by his autism or by his brother's is damaging to his self esteem in the least.

We live in a world where we fiercely defend freedom in so many realms.  It does seem a little bit unusual to me that we are also quick to condemn people who don't feel the same way we do about autism.  Am I a better person if I love autism than if I am overwhelmed and confused by it?   Regardless of how you feel about autism, all people deserve respect.  Perhaps instead of getting angry at, or feeling sorry for, people who hate autism we should attempt to understand why they feel that way.  These families don't need condemnation. They need support and understanding. 

In many ways it is like telling a drowning person not to hate the water.  In their overwhelmed state, that kind of choice is not really possible for them.  But, lift that person out of the water and into a boat and then they can see how beautiful the water is.  They can see it in a different light than they did before and may realize that there is a beauty and majestic uniqueness about their particular lake or ocean.

We aren't going to get very far spreading the message of autism acceptance if we judge those who don't agree with our viewpoints.  Instead, if we work to understand and support others, we may find that we don't have so many differences after all.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Back to school "Conversation"

Today was Alan's first day of summer school and I had to wake him up.  For those of you struggling with sleep issues, I have to point out that this is a relatively new development.  He NEVER used to sleep in during the summer.  There ARE perks to the teen years!

So I went to wake him up and he wasn't very enthusiastic.

Mom:  You start summer school today.

No response.

Mom: You are going to school today to see Ms. Betty.

Alan opens his eyes and looks at me.

Alan: Lunch?

Mom:  Yes, I'll pack you a lunch.  (Even though summer school is only a half day, I figured he would need a snack and I would pack it in his lunchbox.)

This gets him out of bed and downstairs but not moving quickly.  I hurry and pack his backpack.  I put the lunch in it and the two iPads.  Alan is watching me carefully.

Alan:  Swimming?

Mom:  No, that is camp.  That starts in 3 weeks. This is still summer school with Ms. Betty.

Alan:  Bus?

Mom:  Yes, you ride the bus to summer school.

There are no more arguments.  He just got up and started going about his morning routine.  

These "conversations" are few and far between, but wow, it is pretty cool when they happen!