Monday, November 28, 2011

Charity begins at home

This time of year makes me remember.Sometimes people, places, what happened...stuff like that.

Today I remembered something else.
There were times when things weren't so great this was back about 14+ years ago; the boy was a little over 3 years old. The boy and I were going to play groups at a local shelter and I was building my life back. I didn't have a job yet....connections I had, but a job hadn't come calling at this point.
It was the holidays, and I didn't  have money for Christmas presents. I was trying to pay off bills as much as I could I was flat busted broke. Fortunately, my parents knew I was broke and didn't expect much of anything....and you know....something happened.

I was at the shelter one afternoon. I generally didn't like going later in the afternoon alone-the neighborhood was rather creepy and the parking garage scared me a little bit (dark, eerie corners and a vivid imagination). This particular afternoon, while running errands, my Dad agreed to wait for me in the car. I had stopped in briefly to pick up some papers and get some play group information. One of the counselors stopped me and asked me to step into a room. Generally these rooms weren't terribly comfortable- they smelled bad (incense, or air freshener. maybe a combination of both). I waited thinking to myself, "Oh Great, now something ELSE is going to go wrong."....and she walked in with 2 bags of toys for a little boy. There were trucks, a stocking with little cars, some books. I looked at the bags, then at the counselor; I asked her what the bags were for. She told me they were for my son's Christmas. She then told me she knew I didn't have any money to get gifts for him myself....and they waited for me to stop in so they could give me the toys so the boy would have some gifts for Christmas that year.

When I walked out that afternoon, I was still in a state of shock. My Dad asked me where I got the toys and I told him and I don't really know how I drove us home....but we got home. I brought everything in the house, and I showed my Mom. Once I got into my room, all I could do was cry. The boy would get some toys for Christmas.....from his Mom. I didn't get to go back to the shelter. I got a job a week later- the money I made went towards more bills and I didn't buy anything that year for Christmas; but my SON had presents from his Mom.....the thought of that still brings tears to my eyes. I think about that shelter; remebering where I have come from and how one person can make a difference during this time of year.

Ever since that point, even if stuff isn't going well for us, we stop at those trees at the grocery store, or at church. Do you know why? Because there is a Mom, just like me, that wanted to get her kid a gift for Christmas and didn't have the resources. Some of the requests are simple: a coat, gloves, hat or a shirt. I go down the list and buy each item....maybe thinking more about these purchases than I do others; it has to be the right gift....and the right size. And yes I am thinking of the Mom......who maybe wanted to buy a gift for her kid but couldn't this year because of finances or just not going to happen...again.

Locally, there are a lot of resources that people need to use to help others during this holiday season.
I am listing some of my favorites out for you here:
Toys for tots

Salvation Army

Project Angel tree

Coats for Kids

There are MANY other charities; you could contact your church and ask there as well.
Everyone deserves a Happy Christmas. Although this is early, there are still ALOT of little cards left on the Christmas tree at the grocery store. We did ours; have you done your shopping yet?

If not consider this: people are going around to KMart's and paying on peoples layaways to help them thru a tough holiday season. This article made my heart sing and I hope it makes yours sing too:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A shiny aluminum Christmas Tree

We are decorating for the holidays....this particular tree reminds me of Elvis. Don't ask why, I am not sure....I keep humming "It's a blue Christmas without you." there must be a correlation.

For some reason we decided to decorate early. For us, this is early; although the cuter half is insisting we start in October next year to do the entire house.....He is thinking a ski lift in the dining room.....Not sure about that one.....I am thinking we are going off the bend.

Really what got us into the holidays this year was the fact that we are ABLE to decorate. We do it now, then go decorate other places then take those down and ours comes down by the end of January. Oddly enough we have a bunch. People keep giving us is almost like we have magnets on our foreheads "Give us your old stuff....we like it." Which we do but it is getting a little bit overboard.

The boy LOVES Christmas decorating. The year my Dad passed I didn't want to decorate and he was agast. "WHAT? No nativity village in the family room? Grandpa loved the Nativity village. We have to put that up! What about the tree? What do you mean 'On the table'? We have to decorate for Christmas. We HAVE to, what would Grandpa say?" (imagine dramatic voice and tone) So we did. Decorate I mean....totally....all over.... with our nativity. Most of the nativity buildings we got were broken. We bought them inexpensively and fixed them....I am very good at repairs- lots of glue and paint.... then putting up the trees, getting things together....making it look like Christmas.

What others see as wealth or extravegance we view as thrift. We never would have bought these buildings at a regular place... so we get busted decorations and made them pretty and now it works for us. I can't say that works all the time but it does make for an enteraining story regarding Christmas decorations at our place. You would be amazed at what can be picked up at the Salvation Army, Goodwill and garage is great stuff.

Traditions are BIG with the boy. He has is own tree, with ornaments, his tree has a theme...or two. And each ornament has a story. They are HIS stories- some of "Remember when....." Or "I can't beleive we found THAT at a garage sale...." at this time of year it is easy to cop out. It is easy to keep things or not bother because as parents we don't get a break or we are tired of fighting or just plain exausted. Most of the time people say that kids with Aspergers can't handle or celebrate Christmas. They can when they have been trained. Each kid can have their own tree, their own decorations. The boy wanted a star like Grandma's on his tree. We found one at an estate sale. Now he has his own Christmas tree is an old thing, with lights and goes great with this table top tree that he has.

With the training for the holiday, we need to decide WHICH traditions are important to us, and those we keep going. Our traditions....with trees, and ornaments and all that....well those are OURS. You will have different ones. Maybe you will have a small tree, or a big one. Maybe no lights outside, or maybe you DUMP the box....Whatever way you do it....however much you decorate....whatever you do....keep your traditions. LIGHT your candles, love your tree, bake cookies for the neighbors.....Keep your day and teach your kid the same ways....our son's fav decorations are outdoors, with the blow molds....all over the yard. We keep saying next year. Well guess what? NEXT year is gonna be next year. We are putting up the blowmolds and taking the trashy and flashy award.....

Have you ever read Dickens? The Christmas Carole is the best holiday story ever and the last paragraph always brings a tear to my eyes.

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Shopping with the boy is one of my least favorite activities.
I will avoid it at all costs if possible. I do a lot of online shopping; full well realizing this is not teaching appropriate modeling for the boy in future endeavors. In fact, I am MORE likely to be teaching him to utilize online resourses than go out to the mall at midnight on the Friday after a holiday.

However, the ultimate question arises after the shopping is over. Do we force a viewing of "This is It" do we watch "IronMan" OR the biggest question do we go get a new Wii game and I force the boys to a dance contest because Wii fit is the MOST boring workout known to man? It was cute for a while but I prefer dancing and we have to get in shape....SO we do the workout and have fun or watch a totally talented person put us all to shame.....

Funnily enough I used to love dancing, shopping and all that. I don't know what changed. Obviously, I changed.....I was tired of being poor and the shopping made me broke. Going to a mall had NO appeal to me once online shopping became more prevalant. Dancing, well I quit that long before the boy was born....long story behind that but lets just say that the boogie was lost for me.

This is the first year that "Black Friday" has come upon us that the cuter half and I either aren't working, aren't shopping and don't have to buy anything for anyone. Bigger yet, THANK YOU GOD both of us are out of retail. Don't miss that mess at all really, although shopping is a necessity and not a hobby. Actually, there is one thing I would like to buy but I haven't seen a copy of it....the Micheal Jackson dance game looks like fun...and it HAS to be better than Wii fit and balancing on a board or something.....the faux jog is OK and I need to do it but my motivation is strongly lacking....

I used to love dancing to the radio, most of the time just listening to Supertramp, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Idol, MJ, or whoever caught my ear that day....I miss that.

Dancing back then relieved stress for me....and I forgot to worry about stuff....that any more I fuss. Too much. Mostly over the boy....all the time..... anywhere......anymore decent radio isn't just listening to WLS and hoping for your favorite song.....its streamlined into pick your era and that is what you listen to. Kind of fun but missing out on some of the new stuff....

So on that note, with the super fussy Mom doing her super fussy is time for some of the Boss and maybe, just maybe for a little while we can all remember what it was like to just enjoy another drink, and not have time to think....or go dancing in the dark......

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What I want

to write about would be really bad.

I mean really awful....some of what I would like to say....well it would be worse than bad.
And I really believe it and I really want to say it.

It's not productive, helpful or necessary.

BUT if I did would make me feel really good for a very short amount of time. Actually maybe longer than that....

The sad thing is, ignorance is encouraged, taught and accepted. That is what makes me mad. It's taught at home, at school, and at other times.

There is little or no compassion outside the home. It is days like today I almost wish we hadn't taught our kid to be nice. He should be as self absorbed, annoying and rude as the next kid.

He's not.

I don't like to encourage or teach hatred. But I do hate ignorance.
Telling someone they are a looser because they are different than you is ignorant. It is ignorant if they are a different race, creed, morals, belief, or even disability than what you think you are.

The bad thing here is that I REALLY want to make fun of someone's name. I REALLY DO I have a really good one.
I can't do it. First off, it sets a bad example. IT is definitely immature and I know I am better than that....but it is a really good one.  I might be able to let it go when I am not so pissed off.....but it really is a good one.....I do come up with good ones once in a while....

Nope, not gonna do it. The cuter half will get all over my butt if I do... so let's watch a movie....or at least a clip....

Enjoy the clip from Aladin:

Monday, November 21, 2011

I know my limitations

and I know when to leave the room... and when to fight and what to do.

I don't always to that though.
Tonight the cuter half and the boy were doing math. For those that know me well, algebra, geometry and trig were things on the other side of the fence that I went out of my way to avoid.

Tonight, I left the room.

 I went to do the dishes....and discovered I forgot to run the I rinsed and then decided that I needed to come up with a direction...something more to do. Working on the blog, doing volunteer stuff and soon enough not having all the HS stuff going on is going to mean more time.
It also means that there is some need for direction. Although, encouraging the boy to have direction may have something to do with me thinking about direction...who knows.

We have been considering setting up some stuff for the future. You realize how much is out there when you start talking to people and then refuse ot hire someone based solely on arrogance. Generally speaking if someone tells me that, "I am the best in the state." That either means that they suck at what they do and need to use a crux like that to bloster their ego....or that they certainly don't need our money...they have plenty of other peoples. The one we hired is a good sort....VERY throurough and is making us think. Alot. About everything.

Ergo the thinking about direction.
Oddly enough, I'm good. I am in a good place, I am happy and things are OK. I am becoming quite proficiant at coloring my hair out of a box.....I have lived a summer without a pedicure and best of all I haven't bought a new over the top purse/handbag in about a bazillion years (I look, I like, I don't buy). Why do I need to consider direction?

Well it might not be just a career direction.
The cuter half and I have had an "interesting" couple of years. I will say here and now, I am afraid to become attached to people I go to ______ with. I like 'em LOTS...very nice crowd. They scare me witless.....I guess because I am not certain HOW to talk to them...I mean what do we say about our past? How do we talk about our experiences? Putting that into cohesive sentances...telling a dear friend we are "banished" then disolving in laughter (it is ludicrous and ridiculous) is funny. We aren't good at suffering fools, even at specific levels I guess. But since we are all human.....and we are fools to someone else....what can you do but laugh at the given situation? I am still cautious, and I am scared. The cuter half is more trusting and tolerant and gracious. I'm not.

Then last summer....well that episode wiped the 3 of us out completely....we were not expecting things to go the way they did and I won't tolerate that crap any place else....why should it be tolerated in a place where you are supposed to be protected from that.....and we don't want to do things. We are more apt to say "No" to a select group. Even if we might consider it, the answer is still, "No." with no explaination. At this point I don't feel that we are required to explain anything. Like I used to tell  a dear friend, "No means NO and that is all there is to it."

I am not over both things at all (I don't think I ever will be); the boy still refuses to let anyone but me take his picture.....a nice picture...not a school picture where they all look dreadful. (There is only 1 person I know that took a good school picture; it wasn't me). The cuter one shakes his head.....that is about as far as he can go. I try not to think about that stuff. I try to forget or just not process it. Washing it out of my hair.....(good song BTW) and yet, when thinking about the things we have to consider and think about it comes the lemmings going to the sea or the dog and the frisbee or the Master Berticus of the house and his toy mousie.....the thoughts come back. The would have, should have, could have which in the end don't mean anything.

In one venue i have learned to keep my mouth shut. In another, well I would do it again in a heartbeat with spades.

Yet I still realize my limitations. I am no one famous, I am important to a few, and I have a husband who loves ME and that little boy. The little boy who wore a red baseball cap and red sweatpants and would tell us he wishes he were an animal before he could speak clearly and understandably. The cuter half beleived the boy could speak, and go to school and learn to do things appropriately. When I doubted, the cuter half beleived....and I ran right next to them both.

Yes I have my limitations. And with it all, I still remember how to fly and touch the sky. Maybe that is what we need to do, fly and touch the sky and remember the highs can only go higher.... and even though dreams are wishes your heart make.....the old Disney adage....sometimes there ain't nuthin' wrong with that.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wrapping my mind around it.

You think you're in the movies
And everything's so deep
One of my fav bands has almost always been the Cars. Ric Ocasek is way beyond cool.

Oddly enough, as much as music was a part of my life, jumping around my bedroom listening to WLS; the boy isn't into it. He will listen to the 80's station and knows some of the songs but music isn't major to him. He knows what I like, and he knows what his dad likes, but the overall concept of listening to the radio while doing his homework or enjoying some concert on TV (when he isn't grounded) is not part of his deal. there were songs that meant something to me, even the Imperials or Dion.....going to see Randy Stonehill or Larry that was a concert. Larry Norman was amazing in concert. Bruce Springsteen, Iggy Pop, The Prentenders, U-2 all of them had a song or two that I could sing and knew just by the first few notes.

The boy, not so much. He whistles a song his grandpa taught him when he was know it is funny, he hadn't whistled in years. The boy was doing it the other evening looking for something and I remembered my dad used to call him the could hear him coming because it was always the same tune.... I never thought about it but when we started doing the med thing, and the supplements and stuff the whistling went away. I did/have missed it.... now it is back it makes me wonder if making changes in med makes changes in the brain and the parts of the boy that are a little more " creative" are stifled.....which is sort of sad, but then creative can an Aspie get before it starts going overboard?

ANYWAY, I wonder if the boy realizes how much he misses by not having a favorite song. He had several once. He had foot surgery once and was listening to Micheal Jackson's Rockin Robin and playing his video game....and whistling. the doctor told me later that she was singing "Rockin' Robin" all afternoon. later he told me that wasn't his favorite song but it helped take his mind off what the doc was doing and when I tried to explain that enjoying music in that kind of situation is what makes a song was still much to abstract for him.

When the boy was younger, I was too tired to listen to the radio. I was too tired to move. Getting up at 4 AM, working, taking him to his speech, OT or PT and then coming home for dinner. It is amazing I was able to be upright. Then bed by 7 and do it all over again the next day.

Now it is different. We do a lot of hurry up and waiting around. Mostly for him. And the thing is, it is quiet. No radio, sometimes the cuter one watches TV....but very little music playing. Sometimes I miss it. Most of the time I don't but every once in a while....a good bought of REAL MTV with the classic V-J's and Duran-Duran or some other band being all artistic and cool....wouldn't it be nice to have something like that....going to a friends house and thinking they were awesome because they had cable.....back then I was easily impressed I suppose.

I wonder sometimes if I had played more music for the boy if he would have had different inclinations. Maybe not, but there are times when it would be fun to have a full blown concert in the family room....lots of music, lights and maybe a bubble machine.....

If nothing else we would get a good round of cardio going and not be stress eating ......we would be too tired to move....

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

But I don't want to (language alert)

We hear that a lot. Not just from the boy. From grown adults.

Tough beaners.

Actually the cuter half and I would rather have it all out and open than not. We have a teacher coming to us during our busiest time of year and recommending that the boy do some extra stuff at home. Now if she had mentioned it when we had the time it would have been fine but we don't have the time now so telling us to do "x-y-z" is kind of like telling us to go shoot ourselves in the foot and then do "x-y-z". The cuter half believes that it means that the boy won't be able to do what the plan is next year. The best part is we ASKED during parent teacher conferences and everything was fine (WTF).

Oh and the girls don't want the boy talking to them either. Ever. In any class in any situation.
How we are to stop that one is beyond me. I think the professionals at the educational institution will have to handle that one. OR maybe the girls need to get overthemselves. I've seen some of these girls on campus and let me tell ya, they ain't so hot. Much too much in the McDonalds department if you know what I mean.....maybe a few more salads would do them good. One girl starts whining and all the others join in....kind of like hyenas after a lion kills the prey.

The other thing going for the kill are the teachers who see a diagnosis of Aspergers and automatically think, "I've been teaching for 6 whole years and I've never seen a good one.This one is dumb too so there is no need for expectations. Those stupid parents are crazy." As I have said before I WOULD NEVER GET THAT DAMN DIAGONSIS AGAIN. IF I did I would keep my stupid mouth shut and NOT TELL the teachers would keep pushing and not think the boy was too dumb to do whatever it is that he wants to do.

DAMN it I am so frustrated. I would rip some heads off if I could find them to ream on.....

The mission tonight is to tell the boy NEVER to talk to girls in HS again.
This ought to be a good one.

Nights like this I think homeschooling is the way to least the peer pressure isn't there and we aren't dealing with morons with teachers licenses.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Classic Aspergers example by Dan Coulter

This is an OLD article written by Dan Coulter. I used to read his stuff all the time and then I started getting overwhelmed and I just stopped. I like this article because it is a classic example of Aspergers. And it reminds me that our son was concerned about a friend who smokes and he was trying to get them to didn't work very well but at least his friend is still his friend.


By Dan Coulter
A while back, I wrote an article about having your first experience teaching a student with Asperger Syndrome. With so many teachers encountering students who have AS, I decided it’s time for another chapter.

To illustrate both the positive aspects and challenges of Asperger Syndrome behaviors, I’ll share an encounter that my son, Drew, had in high school.  He was outside the school building in a sea of students waiting for his ride, when he saw some guys he didn’t know smoking cigarettes.

Drew impulsively said, “You know, those things cause impotence.”

One of the guys responded, “I don’t give a F---!”

Drew, in full Asperger mode, instantly observed, “Of course not, you won’t be able to.”

This left the smoker speechless as his two companions collapsed in laughter.

While this sounds like a verbal triumph for Drew, it also demonstrated his inability to see that making a negative comment to a stranger was probably going to generate hostility. While he displayed his quick wit, what he said was not likely to make him any friends. It might even create an enemy, if the target for his humor felt the need to retaliate.  Still, it was a great line.

And it demonstrates how smart and funny a student with AS might be.

Or not.

Two students with AS can be as different from each other as any two other randomly selected students in your class. The thing they are most likely to have in common is difficulty understanding how to “read” others and interact as their peers do. So one of the most important things a teacher can do for a student with AS is not academic, it’s social. Helping these students develop their social
skills is like giving someone with squeaking, sticking bicycle wheels a can of oil. Think of social skills as a human interaction lubricant that can help them succeed in the real world.

Academic success was never Drew’s problem. His SAT scores would widen your
eyes. But he was lonely early in high school because he couldn’t seem to connect with classmates.

Then one of his teachers invited him to an after school Dungeons and Dragons game group where he met others with similar interests. Voila! He made friends. He’s had a way to connect with others ever since. And success breeds success. The more a student with AS learns to interact with a few friends, the more capable and confident he’s likely to be in dealing with other classmates. I think this teacher’s influence played a role in Drew successfully asking a girl to his senior prom.

In college, Drew joined a D&D group and made new friends. After graduation, he took the initiative to form a group in our town that plays D&D and other games. The members of this group share other activities.

Drew is now working part time and has gone back to college to get a second degree. Developing his social skills has made him a lot more happy and confident. And it’s a continuing process. Being able to interact was an important factor in getting his part-time job and it will be a crucial factor in getting a full time job in a tough economy when he leaves school.

If you’re a teacher, you know that academics are important. But the things you do to help a student with Asperger Syndrome develop socially may be an even bigger life-success factor.

Oh, and avoiding cigarettes couldn’t hurt either.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

No excuses

I used to send this around. Then I posted it on FB.

Then, well, after today with the doc telling the boy that Aspergers is NO EXCUSE for poor behavior I remembered this letter and got mad at myself for even thinking that it was appropriate to send out. This mades me think of the "secrets" we are supposed to keep and all that other tripe. Of kids allowed to misbehave because of their diagnosis, or of parents thinking it is OK to allow for the abberant behavior. We are teaching the boy to not react, hold it together......the sad thing is the places where he believes he is safe, are the places he has to be the most careful and watchful. That is a hard thing to teach.....if he gets overwhelmed in cramped spaces we still have to leave, if he is hungry and the blood sugar goes too low, we have to leave- but we are trying to get him to the point where he can manage himself AND work to keep it together and NOT have to leave.

Our summer taught the three of us a lot of stuff. We know now what situations we need to avoid. The boy still is adverse to having his picture taken. He still doesn't want to deal with potential photos coming out that might embarrass him. He is thinking about these things now...and realizing that maybe being famous or popular is not all it cracked up to be....but he is thinking about these things FOR himself.

We have told the boy for years that his Aspergers IS NOT AN EXCUSE to behave poorly. It's not, and Aspergers isn't a cop out either. WHAT IT IS: something to be worked with and used postitively. Aspergers is NOT an excuse, ever! And you know what, we pay this doc a gob of money and she is worth every damn penny. THE BOY listened....did his own homework, and was well behaved and very good.

I will give you the "holiday letter" and then ask you to tell people to stuff it if you ever get it from anyone. YOU do not have to accept poor behavior as an excuse. Poor behavior is just that POOR behavior and the kids have to learn to control the anger and noise and behavior issues, hormones and all that other stuff just like the gens do. Aspergers is Aspergers is Aspergers: good manners and politeness are part of the package and you darn well better least that is where the boy is at now. Like at work, you have to desenitize to get rid of the noise around you and the sounds of people working. You learn to drown it out and not "hear" it. That is what our kids need to do ideally and as parents, the cuter half and I need to do it better. We stink at it (see above) but we also need the support of people not questioning us when we are attempting to do it right.....and if we screw up we screw up. We never claimed perfection, we know how we would like it to be and it doesn't always work that way.

NO Excuses (Oh and you gens, don't encourage someone with Aspergers who is younger than you to act like a goof- totally not cool).

Dear Family and Friends:
I understand that we will be visiting each other for the holidays this year! Sometimes these visits can be very hard for me, but here is some information that might help our visit to be more successful. As you probably know, I am challenged by a hidden disability called Autism, or what some people refer to as a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Autism/PDD is a neurodevelopmental disorder which makes it hard for me to understand the environment around me. I have barriers in my brain that you can't see, but which make it difficult for me to adapt to my surroundings.

Sometimes I may seem rude and abrupt, but it is only because I have to try so hard to understand people and at the same time, make myself understood. People with autism have different abilities: Some may not speak, some write beautiful poetry. Others are whizzes in math (Albert Einstein was thought to be autistic), or may have difficulty making friends. We are all different and need various degrees of support.

Sometimes when I am touched unexpectedly, it might feel painful and make me want to run away. I get easily frustrated, too. Being with lots of other people is like standing next to a moving freight train and trying to decide how and when to jump aboard. I feel frightened and confused a lot of the time. This is why I need to have things the same as much as possible. Once I learn how things happen, I can get by OK. But if something, anything, changes, then I have to relearn the situation all over again! It is very hard.

When you try to talk to me, I often can't understand what you say because there is a lot of distraction around. I have to concentrate very hard to hear and understand one thing at a time. You might think I am ignoring you--I am not. Rather, I am hearing everything and not knowing what is most important to respond to. I may say things inappropriatly and not understand what I am saying but just say things to keep talking. I like to talk to people.

Holidays are exceptionally hard because there are so many different people, places, and things going on that are out of my ordinary realm. This may be fun and adventurous for most people, but for me, it's very hard work and can be extremely stressful. I often have to get away from all the commotion to calm down. It would be great if you had a private place set up to where I could retreat.

If I can not sit at the meal table, do not think I am misbehaved or that my parents have no control over me. Sitting in one place for even five minutes is often impossible for me. I feel so antsy and overwhelmed by all the smells, sounds, and people--I just have to get up and move about. Please don't hold up your meal for me--go on without me, and my parents will handle the situation the best way they know how.

Eating in general is hard for me. If you understand that autism is a sensory processing disorder, it's no wonder eating is a problem! Think of all the senses involved with eating. Sight, smell, taste, touch, AND all the complicated mechanics that are involved. Chewing and swallowing is something that a lot of people with autism have trouble with. I am not being picky--I literally cannot eat certain foods or spices as my sensory system and/or oral motor coordination are impaired.

Don't be disappointed If Mom hasn't dressed me in starch and ties. It's because she knows how much stiff and scratchy clothes can drive me buggy! I have to feel comfortable in my clothes or I will just be miserable. When I go to someone else's house, I may appear bossy and controlling. In a sense, I am being controlling, because that is how I try to fit into the neuro typical world around me (which is so hard to figure out!) Things have to be done in a way I am familiar with or else I might get confused and frustrated. It doesn't mean you have to change the way you are doing things--just please be patient with me, and understanding of how I have to cope.

Mom and Dad have no control over how my autism makes me feel inside. People with autism often have little things that they do to help themselves feel more comfortable. The grown ups call it "self regulation," or "stimming'. I might rock, hum, flick my fingers, or any number of different things. I am not trying to be disruptive or weird. Again, I am doing what I have to do for my brain to adapt to your world. Sometimes I cannot stop myself from talking, singing, or doing an activity I enjoy. The grown-ups call this "perseverating" which is kinda like self regulation or stimming. I do this only because I have found something to occupy myself that makes me feel comfortable. Perseverative behaviors are good to a certain degree because they help me calm down.

Please be respectful to my Mom and Dad if they let me "stim" for awhile as they know me best and what helps to calm me. Remember that my Mom and Dad have to watch me much more closely than the average child. This is for my own safety, and preservation of your possessions. It hurts my parents' feelings to be criticized for being over protective, or condemned for not watching me close enough. They are human and have been given an assignment intended for saints. My parents are good people and need your support.

Holidays are filled with sights, sounds, and smells. The average household is turned into a busy, frantic, festive place. Remember that this may be fun for you, but it's very hard work for me to conform. If I fall apart or act out in a way that you consider socially inappropriate, please remember that I don't possess the neurological system that is required to follow some social rules. I am a unique person--an interesting person. I will find my place at this Celebration that is comfortable for us all, as long as you'll try to view the world through my eyes!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Accomodations VS Modifications

This is an older FB post that I shared several years ago. I believe the link is still useable and I think you should CHECK THIS OUT.

An accommodation is generally thought of as a change in the course, standard, test preparation, location, timing, scheduling, expectations, student response and/or other attribute which provides access for a student with a disability to participate in a course, standard or test, it does not fundamentally alter or lower the standard or expectation of the course/test. (it is important to note that we do not currently have national agreement on the terms used to refer to accommodations, it differs from state to state.

Accommodations are basically physical or environmental changes, generally referred to as good teaching strategies and include:⇒ Extended time, frequent breaks, varying of activities⇒ Change in classroom, preferential seating, physical arrangement of the room, reducing/minimizing distractions, cooling off period, sign language interpreter ⇒ Emphasizing teaching approach (visual, auditory, multi-sensory), individual/small group, taping, demonstrating/modeling, visual cues, manipulatives, pre-teaching, organizers ⇒ Taping texts, highlighting material, note taking assistance, notes provided by teacher , calculator, computer, word processor, Braille, large print ⇒ Directions given in small, sequential steps, copying from book/paper, length of assignment shortened, format of assignment ⇒ Positive reinforcement, concrete reinforcement, checking for understanding, study guides, before/after school tutoring ⇒ Reading test verbatim, shortening length of test, test format changed (multiple choice vs. fill in the blank)

Parents Advocating for Children Accommodation vs. Modification
• Environmental
• Presentation
• Assistive technology
• Assignments
• Reinforcement
• Testing Adaptations
♦ Lower curriculum
♦ Materials simplified
♦ Grading changed
♦ Lower expectations
♦ Testing measures lowered (2 choices instead of 3)

(Again, it is important to note that within special education the terms accommodation/modification are often used interchangeably, yet the courts see accommodations as leveling the playing field and modifications as changing the game entirely.) A modification is a change in the course, standard, test preparation, location, timing, scheduling, expectations, student response and/or other attribute which provide access for a student with a disability to participate in a course, standard or test, which does fundamentally alter or lower the standard or expectation of the course, standard or test.

Modifications involve deliberate intellectual lowering in the level of materials presented.⇒ Presentation of curriculum is modified using a specialized curriculum which is written at a lower level of understanding. ⇒ Materials are adapted, texts are simplified by modifying the content areas—simplifying vocabulary, concepts and principals. ⇒ Grading is subject to different standards than general education, such as basing on IEP goals. ⇒ Assignments are changed using lower level reading levels, worksheets and simplified vocabulary. ⇒ Testing Adaptations are used, such as lowering the reading level of the test. Accommodations vs. ModificationsAccommodations level the playing field while Modifications change the field your playing on. ⇒ Decisions regarding the use of accommodations and/or modifications must be made on an individual basis by the IEP TEAM. ⇒ Decisions must be based on the child’s unique, and individualized need, not on what we do for all kids with a particular disability classification. ⇒ The use of accommodations or modifications should enable the child to demonstrate progress. ⇒ Individual Education Plans, IEP’s should offer equal opportunity for success. IEP’sshould not modify your ability to obtain a careful what is written in your child’s IEP.

Living in the wilds

It is a skunky time of year again. I thought this old article I wrote about the vermin would be of interest:

In the past few years my family and I have become well educated on the vermin called skunks. From April to August of 2002 we had a family of 9 living in our backyard and under our home. Imagine waking up every morning to skinky smells and yucky mess in your yard. We used to swear that the skunk could tell time because she would spray at 5:30 AM every morning. EEWWWW.

What can be done?

Good question as skunks will travel a 5-8 mile radius and are prone to returning to their nests. If you decide to be “humane” to these little buggers and use the trap and release method; the skunks will come back to your home/nest and you are back at square one. According to our village hall you can contact an animal control company and they will assist you.


We did as we were told and hired animal control, they were helpful at first…. Then they became as desperate as we were. This skunk was filling the trap with dirt to get the bait…. Hiding her tracks when leaving or entering the hole AND throwing the sticks away so that we could not find them. Smart skunk, trap savvy skunk…. We started to think that she was smarter than the animal control people were. We did trap a baby and the Mom came to try and get it out of the cage… I will leave it at that, as it was not pretty. In fact the owner of the company came out and told us to use straight ammonia and spray it in the hole and around the property line (my pretty house and garden reeked all summer long). Imagine in the hot summer sun beating on ammonia… and add that to the oil in the skunk spray. There was no escaping the bad smells at any time unless we left.

We also used fox, coyote and dog urine to hopefully rid us of the pests (hot summer sun beating on skunk spray, ammonia and fox/coyote/dog urine). What I still wonder is how does a “city” skunk know what fox or coyote urine smells like? This home remedy was not effective either; and at the time other thought I had was how does one get animal urine for retail sale. Unrelated to the issue but still….

Traps…. Any kind of trap… we used them and also used dirty little boy socks, moth balls and ammonia… still tied to the railings at our front and back door stoops. Finally we were so discouraged and disgusted that we were being reckless. A skunk can spray 10 feet and if you are allergic (as I am; I found that out when I was younger) to the oil in the spray it can be fatal. We moved the trap to cover the hole and then waited…. Our adopted family returned to the comfort of the nesting place that night. Mom and babies were trying to move the trap to get into the hole… we were tapping on the sliding glass windows to scare them and they ran behind the air conditioner. The Cuter half came up with the idea of opening and closing the garage door. That did it…. A baby ran into the trap and Mom followed. The next day the animal control person removed 6 and then several weeks later 2 more were found.

Most homeowner’s policies will not cover the actual removal or the prevention; however ours did. I think that the underwriter was grossed out when he came to the door and the smell hit him as soon as I let him in the house (he backed up a few steps). During future prevention and clean up time we left the house to stay elsewhere. The house was “ozoned” for a week and a week later all of the carpets were cleaned. A week after that the interior was livable. On the outside for future prevention, the animal control people attached a screen to our patio. It is 6ft down and 6ft out. We can still plant over it and keep it looking nice.

Skunk smell will still set my family and I off… we were not overjoyed to be spending the month of August 2002 getting our house cleaned to remove the odor.

The homemade remedies do work to an extent but it is still wise to hire outside assistance. If there are skunks near your home use caution they are rabid if out during the day. According to the papers we had to sign we had to approve the termination of the skunks and the possible testing of rabies. Skunks are considered rabid by most villages and counties. You are not doing yourself or your neighbors a favor by letting them go after you trap them. As cute as they look they are wild and they are dangerous to children and pets.

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's another day

And we are deciding what to do.

Right now we need another art class. Just one more. We can't seem to locate one- I still haven't heard word one from the boy's counselor about WHAT he could take. Ergo I am preparing for the worst (No art teacher will take your son as a student).

At this point I am considering the homeschool option. The no child left behind, to me, is a crock of poop. It means, to me, that there is no child left behind but you had better not step out side of that damn box you are put in because if you do we will smack you down so hard it will make your head spin.

It would be one thing if the boy had a modicum of talent in art. His muscial ability are on par with mine (negligable at best) and his other artistic abilities are questionable. If he would apply himself he might be pretty good at it. I know I could teach him how to draw or paint; but his inability to listen to anything I say makes homeschooling a terrifying option. If we did do this it would mean doing the homschooling at night....totally NON traditional but that is the point of homeschooling right?

Blech! what am I saying? Desperation makes me a little whacked. although if the cuter half thinks it is an option....which we have discussed....I do have the books here that we could have the boy make a complete study of some artist....and maybe design something from the books.....Oh heavens, I am I actually considering a lesson plan? UGH. I am so not mentally ready for this kind option.

Our thoughts on the boy are going to be contingent on how he does this year. the cuter half and I are pretty worn out. I've said that before. but it is true. Thinking about this art option has demoralized me like you wouldn't believe. Seriously, you would think that someone with an art background would be accepting....most of the ones I know are (good grief they put up with me don't they- they are pretty decent sorts). Then you throw in the school requirements and it is almost like some of these people (NOT the ones we know) loose their minds or ability to think outside the box.

Give the kid a chance; he might have some reasonable or decent ideas. He is smart....he can read my art books if he wants to....I have a copy of Monet in the 90/s that is still in decent shape. SO he messes up a canvas...he has no ability to design a pin.....who cares, the point in art is that "Everyone has artistic talent," sayeth Jeffery Thompson (those who went to college with me remember him- one of the BEST teachers I ever had). IF I had a link for him I would put it in but can't seem to locate anything on him....

ANYWAY, what this comes down to really is being able to step OUTSIDE the boy's diagnosis and have people accept him. I haven't seen that part coming and frankly I see the DIAGNOSIS as the disability NOT the disability itself.....that is something that is used and worked with to his advantage. OR should be.

Unfortunately, people get hung up on labels, like people want you to have your masters or doctorate but really you need to be good at what you do and not worry about those things as much....but then you get people who are hung up on the LABEL....and not what the degree really means.

Stepping outside your box.....missing the stepping stones....looking at what is around you instead of the label that is in front of you....that is what is huge.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Being motivated

For the last week or so i have struggled to be motivated to write.
I haven't felt like it.

Sometimes the daily struggle to exist with the boy is not something I care to discuss or even think about. The drama is overwhelming. I recently had someone ask me to write about forgiveness. I haven't forgotten. I haven't been able to write. I think I would compare it to writers block but not just in one venue but in others too.
I need to finish my scrapbooks and my other stuff and I just haven't been able to get the pictures, words or anything together to make it a story in a book. I had been going thru some OLD pictures and putting them with postcards, and papers having it all correspond and tie in.
The thing is, it kind of relates to the boy. I would like him to be all organized and tied in. He's not. Life's not and well, I'm not either.
The boys wanter is stuck, his organization is minimal and his comprehension is busted. Otherwise we are good.

Actually, our kitten, little Garfy is great. He can almost purr on que now and we are getting kitten hugs much more regularly. He thinks he is a cutie...although he is pure kitten weight when sleeping on the bed. No moving this bad boy.

Like his human pet brother, Garfy shows signs of Aspergers. The boy has been letting his Aspergers out of his bedroom. I don't know if it is because he lost his bedroom door (almost a permanency) or if he is lost without cable) Did you know you can block stuff on WiFi during certain time frames....OMG the boy can't watch tripe because it is ALL BLOCKED. we have delt with a lot lately and although I am not discussing it I will talk about the other stuff.
The issue of going on a field trip and getting blown off by classmates. God we can't get him out of HS fast enough. The kids are brutal....they were awful when I was in HS and they are worse now. As a parent it is painful. The boy texted us and was pretty much alone all day. He was crushed. I pointed it out to his teacher who made it sound like he was in a group. He wasn't.....funny she didn't know, she was "walking all over the zoo that day".

We know he isn't the most popular kid; but he is nice. If one of these gens would at least make a SLIGHT effort they would have a friend for life that wouldn't judge them. He has one friend that likes to come over regularly. We are lucky, and this friend is great. But this person can 't fill up all the time, they are busy. He is lonely, and he is reaching's not working. It's sad.

This is a glurge about how ONE small action could affect another person. I wish there could be one person like that for the boy. He had one last year and they graduated. Now there isn't anyone there...for him anyway.