Thursday, December 27, 2012

I'll have Christmas please. Hold the Autism.

Christmastime is a minefield when you have a kiddo with autism. Routines may change, no school, the anticipation- these are all things that provide a perfect environment for a HUGE meltdown. We were miraculously meltdown free until Christmas Eve when our normal plans were sidelined due to a sick Grandpa. Our big dinner and present opening with Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie was not going to happen. So, Grandma and Auntie came over to drop off gifts and to get hot dinner to take home. Presents were opened while I tried to get everything done in the kitchen. It was loud, and hot, and NOT THE SAME. The Boy was very disappointed that the family wasn't staying. I was disappointed.  But I plastered a smile on my face and kept going, trying to gloss over the fact it was NOT THE SAME.

The calm before the storm
I could see the signs, EXTREME hyperactivity, rude language, flushed cheeks, dilated pupils- meltdown was imminent. I hoped that after eating something he would calm down. Nope. The Boy rushed through dinner, and even though I knew better, I made him stay at the table with the rest of us, it was Christmas Eve dammit!  I had the NORAD Santa tracker going, and kept updating Santa's trip- but The Boy couldn't have cared less.

Dinner ended, and we were cleaning up. Teenzilla and The 20 Something were playing with the Nerf arsenal we get every Christmas. This agitated The Boy even more. "It's not time!" he yelled and frantically picked up the Nerf darts all over the living room.

We prepared for our annual reading of The Night Before Christmas, saying goodbye to Clyde our Elf and setting out the cookies and milk for Santa.  The Mister called everyone together. The Boy reluctantly came, holding his new Nerf gun from Grandma and grumbling about wanting to lay on the couch.  We made it through the reading, with Teenzilla and The 20 Something interjecting their humor into it- much to The Boy's chagrin.  Things were deteriorating fast.  

Then- the MOMENT happened. The Boy had gone upstairs to watch TV in my room. Netflix WASN'T WORKING! He came flying downstairs in a panic, "Netflix isn't working!! Netflix isn't working!!"  I went upstairs and checked it out. I turned the Wii off and on again. Nothing. I came downstairs and checked. Nothing. I went online- Netflix was out for certain people. There was nothing I could do. I calmly explained this to The Boy. That. Was. It.  He screamed, he cried, he threw himself on the couch.  Hoping to pull him out of it, I said "Clyde is still here you know. You don't want a bad report to Santa on Christmas Eve. Let's get Santa's cookies ready." So I dragged him through what is usually a fun ritual, and told him he could lay down in my bed and watch something on the DVR. I led his rigid body upstairs, tucked him in and turned on the TV. "I'm sorry mom"  he said. I hugged him tight and tried not to cry. "It's ok buddy. Time to sleep so Santa will come."  I kissed him and went downstairs.

All of my years with dealing with the dreaded meltdown and I broke every damn rule about avoiding one. The initial disappointment, the rushed dinner, the forced sitting with us, putting him through the  motions of cookies and milk, saying goodbye to our Elf- what the hell was wrong with me?   Things had gone so blessedly smooth, I was lulled into a sense of complacency, a sense of NORMALCY, so much so that I blew off the signs of impending doom and forced a fun Christmas Eve. I felt like crap. I consoled myself with the fact that come morning all of this would be forgotten. And of course, it was.

Christmas Day arrived and everyone was up early and so very excited- of course. The Boy was hyper, but what kid isn't on Christmas? Opening presents was awesome, and Santa had brought just what The Boy had asked for- an Xbox with Kinect.  It was awesome to see his face when he opened it! It was awesome watching all of the kids open their gifts!  The Mister set the Xbox up as I explained to The Boy that we were going to another Aunt's home for the family Christmas brunch, so he only had about an hour and a half for playing. He waved me off- "Ok, ok, I know!"

And we're off!
I got myself ready, cooked the bacon that I was bringing and got more and more tense as the time approached to turn off the Xbox and pile in the car to drive 30 minutes and go have brunch (which he wouldn't eat anyway) with 12 cousins, 9 assorted aunts and uncles, 2 dogs and a house he hadn't been to since he was a baby.  What could possibly go wrong??  More noise, more heat, more craziness- I mean for someone NOT on the spectrum this was sensory overload.
The whole fam damily

Calming himself down!
As everyone arrived and the house got more crowded and noisy, The Boy parked himself in front of the giant fish tank. He zoned out on the peaceful swimming fish. He blinked, looked around and greeted cousins. He even got up and mingled. And as I watched like a hawk, I started seeing the same signs, flushed cheeks, jerky movements and wide eyes.I prepared for the worst and started to go to him. He looked around and made a beeline for the fish tank. He sat in front of it and just watched. You could see the tension start to leave his shoulders, his face relaxed, HE relaxed.  He SELF REGULATED PEOPLE! He KNEW it was all too much, and he KNEW how calming that fish tank was for him AND HE WENT TO IT! No prompting from me or anyone. HE DID IT HIMSELF! This was fantastic! And no other gift could top it. Nobody else noticed, nobody else had any clue what had happened. But The Mister and I did. Merry Christmas to us.

So now here we are, over halfway through the second day after Christmas. The house is mostly put back together,the cookies are gone,  the leftovers are all gone, and life should be getting back to normal after another chaotic holiday. Kids are bickering over the Xbox, we have played outside in the snow, had a Nerf gun battle and things have been fairly relaxed.  Why do I feel like I have been on a month long bender?   Like The Mister said- you don't have to drink too much for Christmas hangover. Ain't that the truth?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Darkness stealing the light

Yesterday a madman went into a school and stole 26 lives from the world. 20 innocent children and 6 innocent adults. Before he did that he allegedly shot and killed his own mother. He turned the gun on himself. He came into what should have been a safe place, school and killed babies.  It has left our nation grieving, angry and desperately wanting answers.

As reports about the shooting were flooding the internet, TV and radio- the speculation that the shooter had autism started being reported. Myself and thousands of other parents with children on the spectrum, and adults on the spectrum flooded  Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other social networking sites to proclaim their outrage that Autism may have played a part in this senseless massacre.  Just like the Aurora CO theater shooting all over. That man was also said to have "some form of autism."  I pleaded on my own Facebook page to  please, please PLEASE  not believe reports that the monster who killed all of those people, those babies, had autism and further stigmatize a portion of our society, adults and children. As a mother to a child on the spectrum I can without a doubt in my mind say that even if this individual was on the spectrum, that autism was not a key component in his insanity. Autism is not blatantly violent like this. Nobody can say what was happening in his mind, nobody can come up with a definitive answer for this madness. Autism IS NOT the answer to this horrific act of violence. Please, do not talk of this with others and say "he had autism" as if it is an answer. IT.IS.NOT.

There were so many comments, anger, pain, and fear colored many of them, and understandably so. People wanted answers, people wanted to know WHY? And by stating that this monster had Autism- the media effectively gave the public a reason. BUT IT IS WRONG.

One report said: "One former classmate who said he was familiar with the disorder described Lanza as having a "very flat affect," adding, "If you looked at him, you couldn't see any emotions going through his head." Others said his evident discomfort prompted giggles from those who did not understand him. Autism does cause issues in social interactions, but it is very rare that an individual on the spectrum to be violent. It is much more likely that they themselves will be the victims of violence of some sort. And this interview with someone who also goes on to say that he didn't really know him paints a very dismal picture indeed of Autism.

These things alone are not indicative of autism- or any other disorder for that matter. There is nothing as of yet that purports this man had any kind of disability, or that he didn't. But putting the Autism diagnosis on him was not only irresponsible reporting, it made Autism, which is already woefully misunderstood, appear to be something that was the cause of unspeakable violence, and created the very real possibility of witch hunts and individuals on the spectrum becoming targets of yet more violence.

The inevitable outcry for more gun control began. If our country had better gun control laws this wouldn't have happened. This is a fear based reaction that I totally understand. But it is not the answer. If someone is disturbed  angry or just evil enough to want to hurt people, hurt babies, they will do it. Proof of that are the 22 children stabbed in a school in China, where they DO have strict gun control laws.  I do not think that the kinds of guns he did have access to, that were part of his mother's legal collection, should be allowed in the hands of civilians. Semi-automatic and automatic weapons are not needed to protect oneself, family or property. This is my opinion anyway. But clamoring to curtail our 2nd Amendment right is not the answer.

Mental healthcare disparities and the fact that the healthcare system as a whole is broken was another thing being talked about. THIS is a problem our country CAN work to fix.  There is no amount of legislation that can "fix" evil.  There are people in this country that need help, their families need help, and they slip through the cracks. No, every single person that may need mental health care will receive it. But the amount of atrocities that are occurring and the perpetrators are being said to have mental health issues, is a very big statement about just how degraded  the state of mental health care is.  Astronomical costs for medication and therapies, finding doctors and worse, the stigma placed on families and individuals makes getting help even harder.

But even this is not an "answer" and it certainly does not heal the families who could not tuck their children into bed last night, who will have unopened gifts under their Christmas trees, and whose lives will never be the same. This does nothing to bring back those innocent babies whose lives were snuffed out.  This does nothing to ease the pain of those left behind.

Those of us who watched this on TV will grieve. We will be angry, we will disagree with others on the question of Why?  Those of us with children on the spectrum may even fear for our own children, young and grown because of inaccurate and inflammatory media.

I encourage people that blog, have Facebook, Twitter or any access to any kind of social media outlet to share FACTS about autism.  Thanks to The Autism Self Advocacy Network for their statement that included "Autistic Americans and individuals with other disabilities are no more likely to commit violent crime than non-disabled people." Or the Autism Society's statement that "There is absolutely no evidence or any reliable research that suggests a linkage between autism and planned violence. To imply or suggest that some linkage exists is wrong and is harmful to more than 1.5 million law abiding, non-violent and wonderful individuals who live with autism each day. Stereotyping an entire group of individuals because of the actions of one individual is wrong and unacceptable. "

I don't have any answers either. But I can say with certainty and conviction that Autism is NOT TO BLAME.  To say this happened because he had autism is like saying he did it because he was diabetic. IT IS NOT AN ANSWER.  There is evil in this world folks plain and simple. And I think we all caught a glimpse of it yesterday.

I refused to use the shooter's name.  Hear is a list of yesterdays victims.  Try to commit at least ONE of them to memory.

Charlotte Bacon, 2/22/06, female
Daniel Barden, 9/25/05, male
Rachel Davino, 7/17/83, female.
Olivia Engel, 7/18/06, female
Josephine Gay, 12/11/05, female
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 04/04/06, female
Dylan Hockley, 3/8/06, male
Dawn Hocksprung, 06/28/65, female
Madeleine F. Hsu, 7/10/06, female
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6/08/06, female
Chase Kowalski, 10/31/05, male
Jesse Lewis, 6/30/06, male
James Mattioli , 3/22/06, male
Grace McDonnell, 12/04/05, female
Anne Marie Murphy, 07/25/60, female
Emilie Parker, 5/12/06, female
Jack Pinto, 5/06/06, male
Noah Pozner, 11/20/06, male
Caroline Previdi, 9/07/06, female
Jessica Rekos, 5/10/06, female
Avielle Richman, 10/17/06, female
Lauren Russeau, 6/1982, female (full date of birth not specified)
Mary Sherlach, 2/11/56, female
Victoria Soto, 11/04/85, female
Benjamin Wheeler, 9/12/06, male
Allison N. Wyatt, 7/03/06, female

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Do NOT compare my child to your dog. EVER.

As the  parent of three actual humans, I get annoyed with people that call themselves a “pet parent.” The only parents a pet has are those of the same species that had sex in a river, up in a tree, or in some dark alley after sniffing each other’s butts. Period.As a human, you are their owner. Their caretaker. Their trainer. Their master. BUT YOU. ARE NOT. THEIR PARENT!

This is NOT a hairy baby.

Now I know a lot of people feel differently, and I’ll openly admit that I’m not a pet, more specifically a "dog person”  I like other people's pets. I play with my mother in law's giant slobbery Boxer who weighs about 100 lbs. and thinks he's a lap dog. He is sweet, but I wouldn't want to own him.  I also like my good friend's two pit bulls- sweet funny dogs who I like to give ice cubes because they love them so much!

If you like pets, if you LOVE pets, that’s great –they’re good for companionship, and I am a big fan of service dogs. I have a kitty, and I love him very much.So do my kids. So go ahead, love your pet! Dress your pet in goofy looking Christmas sweaters. Put galoshes on them in the rain. Feed them with a special spoon. Don’t get me wrong. There’s no denying that as living, breathing creatures, they’re part of the family – the family pet. They should be loved, taken care of an not mistreated or abused. But do not EVER compare your ANIMAL to my CHILDREN. That shit won't fly.

Sure, pets are like children in some ways. They make messes and don’t clean up after themselves. They’re active. They like lots of attention. They make me swear at least once a day. But the similarities end there and the differences are what makes having pets absolutely nothing like raising children. I don't pop my kids on the nose (or anywhere else for that matter) with a newspaper,(or my hand or ANYTHING)  nor do I leave them in a crate while I go to work. I do not have to go to doggy school and advocate for their right to an education. But I DO do that with The Boy. I DO have to console Teenzilla when a boy has hurt her, or a so called best friend is being not such a good friend.  I do have to be a MOM and all it entails to my very human children. 
I live next to TWO of these

I know what I will do! Devise a plan to get rid of those dogs!
I have very inconsiderate neighbors with two extremely irritating yappy dogs. They bark and bark and bark and bark at all hours of the night, super early on the weekends - at the fucking  wind blowing. They are also very BITEY. Came into MY YARD and tried to bite The Boy. In his own yard!!  They disturb not just my sleep but The Boy's and Teenzilla's AND The Mister's. And let me tell you, disturbing a kiddo on the spectrum's sleep- ON A SCHOOL DAY- that pisses me off no end.  For two YEARS I have been dealing with these useless barking fuckers. TWO YEARS! I have tried to befriend them, I have tried giving them treats- and they just bark. Yes- their owners are inconsiderate jerks. Yes they are "just dogs" but after speaking with them, talking to Animal Control (which seemed to work for a couple of months- barking bastards had shock collars on- blessed quiet!) I have had it! I will be IN MY HOUSE- and they can see me in the kitchen window and they will bark. Forget outdoor activities in the summer- they ruin it.  I wish they would run away.I have said I will buy a BB gun and shoot the little fucks when they bark. I have wished terrible things on them (and the human owners as well) ESPECIALLY when I am awoken at 1:00 A.M and again at 6:00 A.M. on a Sunday. But do I act on these things? Of course not. Do I sit and dwell on this shit, improvising elaborate methods to ensure the dog's demise?  No. I do have a life.  That doesn't stop me from disliking the neighbors and their complete lack of consideration, nor does it make me like those stupid dogs. 

THIS is a child. MY child.
Someone recently on Facebook actually said I needed counseling  and wonder if I throw my kids out when they irritate me- oh DAMN. That is the FASTEST way to piss me off.  DO NOT EVER EVER EVER COMPARE MY CHILDREN TO YOUR PETS! EVER!!!

The plain and simple truth is dogs grow up to be dogs. Love them, buy them toys, treats, take them on walks, they are going to love you. And when he grows up he’s still going to be a dog.  As a nation we have become particularly obsessed with our pets, pet hotels, pet psychics, animal advocates (don't get me started on that one) but your obsession is not going to change the fact that your dog will probably grow up to be the same dog he was going to be anyway.

Raising children comes with knowing that you are responsible for molding a human being  that will someday be able to go out on their own and become productive members of society. This requires a constant investment in them, keeping an eye on friends and activities, helping achieve success in school and ultimately  passing on the morals and values that you want them to carry for a lifetime. You raise your kids to eventually leave you and go out into the world as adults to live their lives and maybe have children of their own someday. Your dog will be with you forever. And it will still be a dog. Maybe slower, and definitely older. STILL A DOG. 

People need to think twice before comparing their dog to someone’s child- ESPECIALLY MINE. 

Here are some key differences between dogs and kids for those who might need the info. 

  • If you're a dog owner, and you're out of milk and you need it for the recipe you're making for dinner, you can run to the grocery store  without your dog.
  • If you are a parent of a small child and you find yourself faced with a grocery emergency, you either must find a babysitter immediately, or dress your child appropriately for the weather, take your child to  the car whether or not your child wants to go, strap your child into an appropriate restraining device, listen to your child complain about your selections on the car radio all the way to the store, take your child out of the car seat,strap them into a cart (depending on their age of course- try strapping a teenager into a cart- that doesn't go over well!) listen to your child ask whether you can buy every tenth thing you pass, load your groceries into your car and return your cart  while also wrangling your child, strap your child back into the car seat, drive home, and then figure out how to get your child and the groceries out of the car at the same time. Now- do this with a kiddo on the spectrum that you have had to interrupt while playing Lego Starwars. Multiply all of this by 100. 
  • A new puppy may wake its owners up several times a night to be played with, have to go to the bathroom, etc.
  • A new baby will wake a mother up several times a night to CHEW ON HER BOOBS.
  • A new puppy may sometimes pee/poop or barf on the floor
  • A new baby may sometimes pee/poop or vomit IN YOUR FACE. Not to mention the clean shirt you just put on.
  • It might take a couple of months to potty train a puppy.
  • It can take YEARS to potty train child. Oh- kiddo on the spectrum? That could be, well, never.
  • You can leave your dog alone in a fenced yard with a bowl of food, a bowl of water and some toys for eight hours a day while you work, and you might feel a little bit guilty.
  • If you leave your child alone in a fenced yard with a bowl of food, a bowl of water and some toys for eight hours a day while you work, you will be arrested.
  • You have to teach a dog that chewing your favorite shoes to pieces is not an appropriate way to play. 
  • You have to teach a child that playing with matches could set your entire house on fire.
This is by no means a comprehensive list- but it does cover some important things that should help if you find yourself confused. 

Sidebar: Abusing or mistreating animals is WRONG. Please inform your local Animal Control if you see evidence of abuse.  Sadly, more animal abuse cases are followed up on than child abuse cases. Try and justify that. 

Service dogs are AMAZING. Check out 4 Paws for Ability. They are awesome- and I have a friend with 2 autistic children who has a dog from there- and he is great. Oh- and doesn't bark at air. 

P.S. People say it is the owners fault. I agree to an  extent. But these same people also STILL compared kids and dogs- Bad kids have bad parents and bad pets have bad owners. Love the ignorance and intolerance. Sorry- but my kid isn't always being "bad" He is autistic- and might be overwhelmed. And I also firmly believe that there are bad apples everywhere. Even with dogs. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

He's Autistic vs. He has Autism What is the difference?

I have learned a lot over the last 7 years navigating the world of autism. I have learned so many three letter acronyms, supplements, vitamins, therapies, I am surprised my brain can remember any of it. It's not like I don't have anything else to remember, what having a house to run, a degree to finish, a teenage daughter to manage and a husband to take care of.

He's just a happy kid
One thing over the last year I have really started to notice more and more of, is the difference being placed on  "Autistic" and "Having Autism". I really never saw a distinction between the two.  In my mind, they both mean the same thing. My child has autism. My child is autistic. Even typing them out doesn't change it for me.

There are some that think that autism is the whole person. That it isn't a set of neurologically messed up symptoms that make up the diagnosis of autism.  Some think it is just someone who acts quirky, or bangs their head, or can recite numbers. Even with all the "awareness" that is being shouted from the mountain tops, people on the outside of autism still don't really have a clue as to what it is!

 "Autistic" can be used as a small description of one's identity. Whether autism is potentially curable (something I hope for) or permanent, it affects so much of how each individual  observes, understands, and operates within the world. So referring to someone as “autistic” might tell you a lot, but NOT everything about them. Saying "has autism" is like saying "has a cold" and implies that it is something that the child won't always have. That a cure is possible. (I HOPE SO) That years of behavioral training and learning coping skills won't be necessary for those considered "high functioning" to be able to function highly in society.

There is a mindset of "person first" terminology- and saying "Has Autism" apparently puts the person before the diagnosis whereas saying "Autistic" is putting the disorder first and implying that the person is defined by autism.  WHAT?!? It's so confusing to me- and as I said, I use the terms interchangeably, depending on who I am speaking with, or how it flows in my writing.  

Which brings me to my next point- the talk of damaging a child's self esteem by talking about wanting a "cure" for autism. This is going to be a controversial issue- as so many believe that autism is a part of their child, and many autistic adults feel it is a part of them, and talk of a cure is demeaning and cruel. 
I call bullshit. At least from the perspective of a parent raising a child on the spectrum. I am a "lucky" parent in the world of autism. The Boy speaks (some days he never stops) he is potty trained (although accidents still happen) he is what is considered "high functioning" and  for that I consider myself "lucky." He didn't always speak, he wasn't potty trained until he was 5 and the meltdowns he had were daily in nature and it changed the way I had to do EVERYTHING.  Now that he is older, the meltdowns are fewer (but no less volatile), he can be reasoned with (to a degree) he can dress himself, he can feed himself and he can be responsible for small things. At 11 however, he is still markedly immature in comparison to his typically developing peers and the things that most 11 year old boys are able to do, he cannot. There is a BIG difference between neurotypical 11 years old, and autistic 11 years old. Pretty much any neurotypical age is much different than the autistic age.  But what he CAN do is my focus, and even though I work on the deficits  I still nurture the abilities.  So if someone came up with a "cure" for autism- you damn well bet I would be all over that. I have said it before, and I will say it again- AUTISM DOES NOT DEFINE MY SON!   He is smart, and funny, and adorable and loves dinosaurs. Would this all go away if I could "cure" his autism??  I don't believe it would.  And when I talk with autistic adults, I ;listen to how they are proud of their differences, their differently functioning brains- and that is awesome. But I also hear how getting to that point in their lives wasn't easy, and required the same stress and hardship of going through childhood that I am getting my son through.

Being autistic and having autism mean the same thing to me.  If you ask my son he says it doesn't matter to him either. "Having autism" is not a bad thing, and can be compared to saying "My son has brown eyes." Yes, he is  different from those who may have blue eyes, but that doesn't mean he has a problem. And it's the same way with "being autistic". He is not  "being a problem,"he is just "being" him. Another way to think of it: having a difference verses being different. Two separate phrases, both mean the same thing. Language really isn't an issue unless you make it one. Focus on the good things!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Christmas Letter:Celebrate the holidays with lies!

It's that time of the year when you open your mailbox and get the dreaded "Christmas Letter". It may be from family, or friends, but either way, it is just an annoying litany of trumped up achievements and makes  you look at your own family and close your eyes and pretend that they were just half as perfect as the family outlined in this letter.  Then you remember that you actually live in the real world and your beautiful, perfectly imperfect family is amazing and you wouldn't trade them for anything.   And then you polish off your bottle of wine and yell at everyone to come eat dinner. 

People I Want to Punch in the Throat,  and her blog post,  Humble Brag Christmas Letters got me all excited to write my very own Christmas Letter. Of course, I decided this would be a complete work of fiction and I smiled as I typed away and imagined the looks on some of the more conservative members of my family as they read it.


Merry Christmas to you and your family!

You will all be happy to know I am FINALLY off parole!! I also got this fancy new computer, completely legal and everything! Of course the mister is still in jail- but his next hearing is set for the 23rd  so..fingers crossed!  

The oldest got her license to grow medical marijuana last month. Grandma couldn't be happier- being recently self-diagnosed with glaucoma and all. 

I was especially proud of the 4 year old's performance in the preschool talent show! He did a humorous interpretation of Sweeney Todd that had the other parents SPEECHLESS! He definitely outdid the rest of the class, what with their Justin Bieber interpretations and Taylor Swift karaoke. I mean, these aren't even age appropriate. am I right?
My dear middle child met a wonderful young man during her court mandated community service. Best thing about this one? All of his tattoos are spelled correctly! I know 15 is kind of young, but I think this might be true love, and anticipate planning a wedding within  the next year. Here's hoping anyway!

Now that I have that pesky ankle tracker removed, I am able to work outside of the trailer - which is so nice. Being a Family Protection Consultant was nice, but selling insurance by phone really gets boring. I have replied to an ad on Craigs List to be a "Exotic Dancer Handler". I will basically be the "House mom" for the girls at The Landing Strip, a Gentleman's Club out by the airport.  I am very excited to start, it will be like reliving my younger days at the Toy Box in Canada. 

The spirit of Christmas is family, is it not? And the spirits for Christmas are usually wine and vodka!   I know we are lucky to have this humble trailer  and not to be on the street, especially considering the homeless murders that have happened in the neighborhood. Please enjoy the brownies I sent- FYI- the oldest made them using her own special recipe and  they have a "kick" so give them to the kids right before bed- works wonders for the 4 year old!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Surviving the football banquet

We made it through another football/cheer season.  The Boy made it through a second season earning the Iron Man Award. This is a pretty awesome achievement- the award is given to players and cheerleaders who make every single practice and game. That is 5 days of 2-2.5 hour practices and games every Saturday. Wind, cold, rain, and not too much play time are just a handful of the things that the kids deal with in a season. And to not miss ONE practice or game- well- that DESERVES an award.  I think that they should start a new award for the PARENTS that are at every single practice and game without fail too....(pssst- it's us in case you were wondering!)

My Iron Man!

The banquet is a long, long, LONG afternoon of coaches talking about their players, many tears, lots of accolades and speeches. Trying to get The Boy to sit with his team and goof around is impossible- he always sits with us, headphones in, playing on his iPad. When it is his turn to accept his awards he does it as quickly as he can.  He won't eat any of the food that is served and usually needs to take a break and get out of the room at some point.  We were pleasantly surprised to hear his head coach tell a funny little story about him today- and I watched with pride as the other coaches all hugged him and congratulated him on a job well done.  Do they have any clue how amazing it is that this kid is actually suiting up every day and playing? That sensory and social issues are a daily struggle? That a developmental delay makes him a bully target and that most of this team of 10-11 year old boys help and encourage him- and never make fun? Do they know how lucky THEY are to have the opportunity to work with him? I think a couple of them do- and they will never fathom the depth of my appreciation for their patience and hard work with him. Thank you guys- it just isn't enough.

Peanut Bowl 2012  Runners Up 

Autism and football don't always mix well. Especially at practice when The Boy is sitting way too much for a practice and gets antsy and acts up.  Not being very aggressive and not wanting to hit is a drawback as well. I mean- it's football! Hitting is what it's all about! And it's not like they are not fully padded. Injuries happen, sure. But learning HOW to hit will help avoid injuries and make a kid a player who gets more play time. Lack of an attention span also is a drawback- I don't know how many times we were yelling from the stands "BRUISER! GET OUT ON THE FIELD!"

Drawbacks or no- he IS trying. He IS growing his limited social skills. He IS learning the game- no small feat for any 10 year old kid- but it is a MAJOR milestone for a kid on the spectrum.

Recently, a story was featured on ESPN about Anthony Starego, an autistic high school senior at Brick High School in New Jersey. Anthony was inspired by Rutgers kicker Jeremy Ito and worked for 6 years to become the amazing kicker he is today.  You can read about him here: Autistic Kicker.  I have also included 3 videos of Anthony you just have to watch. I cry every time I watch- he is such an inspiration.

Kicking  is a repetitive action- he can expect the same thing for every play. Just like playing safety or end- but with the possibility of a lot more play time.  One of his coaches today  said he thought it would be awesome for Bruiser to get into the kicker position.  That, and watching Anthony and hearing his story makes me hopeful for The Boy and his football career. 

Over the next 10 months The Mister will work with The Boy on kicking. I really think he has the opportunity to be GREAT. Now to make HIM believe it is HIS idea- that will make him UNSTOPPABLE! 

                          The Lonesome Kicker

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Autism, Paranormal Investigators and a Guest Blog

I have been a terribly lazy blogger. I have been very busy doing other things, but I don't want to make excuses! To make up for my laziness I asked the author of the blog My Ausome Son from one of my most stalked Facebook pages A Legion for Liam to write a guest post for me.She is an amazing mom and I love her blog! Every day this month she is sharing a holiday coloring page or maze chosen by Liam- so cool!  Her Liam reminds me a lot of The Boy and her attitude reminds me a lot of MYSELF! Go check her out on FB, and go read her blog- you won't be disappointed! One of her most recent posts I REALLy enjoyed and could relate so much with was Yes, even Santa makes mistakes  So, without further delay- introducing, A Legion for Liam.

Photo courtesy of
I was asked by Red Vines and Wine to do a guest blog post….So here goes….I hope I do it justice. 
(Of course she did!)

Tell me a little about you! (Paranormal investigator- I want to know about that!):
As you may or may not know, my real name is Courtney. It’s funny because I have come to “know” so many of you, but most of you I know by your page names, not your real names.
I am 33, the baby of my family, and grew up in a small town. I still live in a small town, not far from where I grew up. I have always had macabre interests that stem from as far back as I can remember. When we moved in 1988, our house was placed on top of the old foundation of the Goodwin Family homestead. Where my room was, used to be the old kitchen, and it was where my great great Aunt, passed on. It wasn’t long before our house had paranormal activity, and at that young age I was terrified!
Photo Courtesy of
The older I got, the more interested I became. I wanted to know if all the experiences I had as a child were real, or part of an over active imagination.
In 2007 we started to have experiences in our own home, and through a friend, I contacted a local paranormal group. They investigated our home, and caught one EVP. They also asked me to join their group. I was ecstatic. 
So, in my spare time, I am a paranormal investigator with Endless Mountains Paranormal. (they are on Facebook  Check ‘em out and tell them I sent you!!!) It’s often harder for me to go now a days because Liam tends to be so much of a hand full, I feel terrible leaving him with his dad. 
Tell me about Liam:

More about Liam:
Liam is now 6. He has only been officially diagnosed for over a year, though I have always known there was something different about him. 
As you may or may not know, Liam’s official diagnosis is now Autism Spectrum Disorder. He was originally diagnosed as having Aspergers, but upon a second opinion, it was changed to ASD. He is however high functioning. He very much resembles a child with Aspergers, but he also leans more towards a traditional ASD diagnosis. He is kinda, in between.

He is super smart, has an AUSOME memory and really amazes me (and many others) with his vocabulary. What is funny is that, he can’t read between the lines, he doesn’t get a joke, yet he will try like hell to make one!!!!

He is a good boy but is VERY high strung, often aggressive, and mouthy as well. Many don’t believe he is on the spectrum because “he is so smart!” A common misconception and one of the reasons I wanted to start ALFL.
Photo courtesy of

What are some of your experiences with autism? The good, the not so good and the AWFUL

I tend to be a glass half full person, and I always try to view Autism in that manner. Let’s face it though, it’s not always that easy. There are days when Autism sneaks up, kicks our legs out from under us, and knocks us on our arses! I HATE those days!

Those are the days I want to scream! I want to take Autism away, and never have to think about it again. Those are the days I might actually tell you I WANT a cure for Autism……..
If you know me, or follow me, you know that is NOT like me. I don’t feel my son needs “cured” because I don’t feel there is anything “wrong” with him. I feel Autism is a part of who he is, and without it he would be a different little boy……

But as I said, the days when Autism is full blown and raging in my face, I hate it! I hate when my child wants nothing more than to play with other kids, and then he is shot down because of his inability to understand the game or social cues of the other kiddos. I hate Autism when it shoots his anxiety through the roof, and something so simple for “normal” kids, such as a birthday party, becomes a cause for concern and major worry for a 6 year old child. I hate Autism when it makes him meltdown over a thrown away receipt, or a penny he NEEDS to pick up from the dirty, nasty ground. I hate Autism when my son won’t hug me, show me affection or look me in the eye……

Photo courtesy of
I also LOVE Autism. Yep, you read right, I sure do! I love Autism, when my son teaches ME how to use my computer better. I love Autism when my son teaches me how to play a video game. I love Autism when my son repeats a commercial or catch phrase word for word, at just the right time. I love Autism because of the bond he has with his friends with Autism. I love that they are drawn to each other and have a friendship like no other. I love Autism because I have met some great mothers with children I adore! I also love Autism because it brought you all to me, or me to all of you. I feel I am part of a sorority/frat house of other Autism parents, who understand one another like no one else can. For all of that, I love Autism!

What is one quirk that you LOVE about your Aspie?

My favorite quirk of Liam’s would have to be his connection with the elderly. Put him a room of his peers and he fails to connect miserably. Take him to an old folks home and watch him shine! He is a 6 year old with the mind of a 60 year old. He is for sure an old soul! Every year when we go trick or treating, we HAVE to take him into the retirement home. NOT for candy, but to VISIT! Yes, I said visit. He absolutely adores them! We have elderly neighbors, and almost every day he goes over for a visit.

What is one thing you would trade anything so that he would not do it?

That being said, I have to say he also has some annoying quirks. Hmmmm, where shall I start. We DON’T step on cracks! (sometimes that is a real PITA) We can’t say certain things (ie: kill two birds with one stone,(because why would you kill 2 birds!) (we also can’t say, “see you later” unless you fully intend to see that person later!) VOCAL STIMMING!!!!! I used to think Liam just talked to talk, or to annoy me!!! I now know better, but that doesn’t make it any easier. One can only stand to hear “Topeka Kansas” less than 100 times a day. Oh and phonics, well they suck! He stims on every consonant sound, UGH!!!
How do you deal with autism and the holidays?

As those of you who follow my ALFL page know, the holidays are already upon us. That means STRESS for everyone!!!! Of course, Autism doesn’t take a break. It doesn’t take a day off, nor does it care about the holidays. 

Every year I am constantly thinking of how the family gatherings will go. I will say it has gotten easier since the official diagnosis. They all know Liam has Autism, and no longer think, “wow her kid is a brat!” With that said, I still am self conscious about how he will behave. 
I ALWAYS take a bag with sensory toys and things to keep him occupied. Electronics are a must!!!! The newest addition is his body sock. This way, if I have to remove him from all the excitement, he can crawl in and feel even more secure. 

Photo courtesy of
Let’s not forgot the special goodies… He is no longer GFCF because well, we can’t afford it. (that sounds awful but hey, I am honest!) I do take food because as many of you know our kiddos are so darn finicky! I make sure I take enough for him to share because hey, he is not the only kid at these functions.
One thing I have also learned to do is to judge his emotions. I pay close attention the day of the function to how he is feeling/acting. Upon arriving at said function, I make no bones about alerting everyone to the fact that Liam is having a “rough, good, bad, angry or anxious” day. I am not looking to get him sympathy, I am looking for them to cut him a little slack if he behaves inappropriately. It seems to work with our families, and he is now more understood by them all than he has ever been!

So, my friends, that is my life in a nutshell. I am not an exciting person. I myself am quirky, awkward and sometimes anti social. I am me! You either, love me or hate me. It makes no difference to me. I am who I am and though approval is nice, it’s not needed. Hey, took me 30 years to learn this! (I couldn't have said it better Courtney!)

Thank you so much Courtney for sharing Liam and a snapshot of your family with us!  
Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Just clearing the air

I have been feeling a rant coming on for the last couple of days. Blame it on the PMS, blame it on my supreme over tired, possibly coming down with a cold cranky bitchiness- whatever the cause it's festering. And nothing that includes the word "festering" can be good. Most especially with Thanksgiving coming up.

So- let's start with my daily Thankful quotes. I am thankful each and every day I wake up. I am thankful each and every day I wake up healthy.I am thankful each day my kids wake up healthy.  I like to showcase that during the month of November when everyone is feeling all grateful and thankful and warm and fuzzy. I do not discount the notion of being grateful every single damn day. But guess what? There are days that I am NOT grateful. Not for one damn thing! SURPRISE! I'm human.   Apparently there are those who think this is stupid and don't miss a chance to say something about it. IT'S FACEBOOK PEOPLE. DON'T LIKE IT? DON'T READ IT! BLOCK ME!  Just keep your condescending "You should be thankful every day of the year" bullshit to yourself. This DOES NOT include those who are NOT condescending, preachy or assholes. Just sayin.

I wish this was me
Let's throw in The Mister being off work for most of Thanksgiving break. And the fact that for 1 1/2 days we will be kid free. And the way he is leering at me and grabbing my ass every time he walks by. Listen- I am not opposed to some middle of the day sexy naked time- WHEN I am not PMS-ing like a bitch from hell, my hormones are fucked up - because apparently my crazy level wasn't high enough and I believe perimenopause has set in and I can't remember ANYTHING! Like to give The Boy his meds, remember he has band an extra day this week, or forget to help Teenzilla put the drops in her ear due to a mild ear infection. Or did I take aspirin, did I finish that homework assignment, what the hell was I just doing???   But then my bitch level reaches DEFCON 1 and everything my hubs does makes me MAD! It's not his fault, and when the mood switch is flipped I am a blubbering mess and apologizing like there is no tomorrow.

Now throw in a moody PMSing Teenzilla and it is like WWIII around here. Not pretty.

Schedule. He needs it. 
Then of course there is the fact that kiddos are off school, starting at noon tomorrow through Monday. Well- The Boy has Monday off, Teenzilla doesn't- STUPID.  Let's look at the rest of the week shall we?  No school Monday. Full day Tuesday. 1/2 days Wednesday and Thursday. Full day Friday. Is this a fucked up schedule or what? The Boy is going to be ridiculously out of sorts and I swear the first phone call I get from the school is not going to end well. You people couldn't have Tuesday and Wednesday be full days and Thursday and Friday be 1/2 days? HOW FUCKING HARD WOULD THAT HAVE BEEN?? Don't get me started on how parents won't come to conferences on Fridays- I teach- I am a parent- this could have worked out in a much less clusterfucky fashion.

Look at that. I am already feeling better.  Or maybe it's the wine. See the smile?