Sunday, July 27, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Most of us know what Michael Savage said about autism a few days ago. I am not going to recap. I am also not going to blog my reaction to it, because it is, predictably unfavorable. But men like Savage expect an unfavorable reaction. Press, good or bad, is what drives ratings. So, I would like to encourage you:
Don't Feed the Trolls. Even the highly-paid, syndicated radio ones.
Do you remember back in the day when posters would pop into chat rooms or BBS systems, say the most inane things and try to start a fight? Remember what we used to say? Don't feed the trolls. If they don't eat, they leave. Given no one who will rise to their bait, they have to go elsewhwere.
It's the same with Michael Savage. What he said was savage. And he will say worse, he always does. But don't fight him.
Instead, target his advertisers. Get him off the air. Without his radio platform, he will just be another loudmouth shooting his mouth off about what he doesn't understand. But, then, so is a quarter of America. The difference is, they don't have a forum in which to do it.
So I say again. Don't talk about it. Don't blog it, just act. Boycott the advertisers and get rid of this man once and for all.
This list came from here, so make sure go and give him love for compiling this.
A list of current advertisers and their websitesDigital Media Inc., U.S.A.: http://dmiusa.com/ Nevada State Corporate Network, Inc.: http://www.nscn.com/ Roger Schlesinger, the Mortgage Minute Guy: http://mortgageminuteguy.com/ Townhall.com: http://www.townhall.com/ Effectur: http://www.effectur.com/landing.aspx?id=436&gclid=COv8oen-ypQCFQ4RnQodqE95rA Geico: http://www.geico.com/ Home Depot: http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ContentView?pn=Contact_Us&langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053 Wachovia: http://www.wachovia.com/ Gold Bond: http://www.goldbond.com/ FreshStart America: http://www.freshstartamerica.com/ Heritage Foundation: http://www.heritage.org/ Breakpoint: [Link removed; see "Breakpoint Responds Re: Michael Savage] Debt Consultants of America (snail mail and phone number listings): http://www.dallas.com/debt-consultants-of-america-incorporated-b23046351 DirectBuy: http://www.directbuy.com/ [See "Directbuy.com Responds Re: Michael Savage"] WebEx: http://www.webex.com/
T, who says, house elves are ok to feedT. is a writer, wife and mother of three children, two who have high-functioning autism. She advocates for autism awareness and education, as well as acceptance. She views autism as a growth process and the opportunity to connect parents for support as a privilege. She is the Special Needs Editor at typeamom and her own site, Send Chocolate reflects her passion for her children and autism.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
This photo is one of many hundreds of photos taken over the course of a family trip. Can you spot which one of my children is Autistic? To an untrained eye, it is rather hard to tell. Both of my boys can be rather well behaved in public places, but then there are those times; the ones where Spiff starts flapping his arms or waving his bracelet around. These moments usually happen in more crowded spaces. Not long after this photo was taken, we boarded a Green Line T train in Boston full of people and he began to flap his hands wildly to calm himself in that situation. While it attracted many stares and puzzled looks, it helped him relax. It's incredibly important for him to be comfortable in any situation, and he has learned how to calm himself in just about any kind. It's been a long road, and we're still on it.
The other day I was going through our family photos as I was transferring them from one computer to another. As I glanced at photo after photo of my kids, I noticed there were so many of my son in a group or family photo where he doesn't look at the camera, or is sitting just a touch away from the rest of us. Or both in the same photo. There were more than I realized. We chalk it up to one of his many quirks, and we are fine with this one and all the others. Other people might look at these photos or us when we take the photos and think he is being rude; but he is not. He might look uncomfortable and like he doesn't want to be a part of the "moment", but deep down inside he does. He really does.
He's just being him. Beautiful, beautiful Spiff.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Let me begin by saying my child is not the enemy. Please try not to treat him like one.
My child has the same rights and should be allowed to ride in a plane, your plane, just as the gentleman snoring loudly in seat 3B is right now. Yes, I understand that he’s screaming bloody murder right now. He’s frightened. The pressure in the cabin is affecting his sensibilities. The people talking loudly to each other; the sounds that the plane is making are affecting him. Please don’t keep stopping by and checking his seatbelt every 10 seconds. I can’t help but notice that you didn’t seem to care about the other screaming child in the back of the plane.
Oh? It’s a newborn? Well, can I ask why the double standard? How is it okay for that parent to escape scrutiny, yet you keep harassing me? My child should “know better”, you say? Hmmmmm. I don’t think you understand.
Allow me to explain. Also, allow me to clarify.
Just like that newborn, my son struggles to verbalize his discomfort in social situations. His understanding of this situation in his mind is identical to that newborn back there. I have taken the time and great effort to make sure we have things to make him as comfortable as possible for the duration of this trip, but even I can’t ultimately control his reactions. As his parent, I do my best, just as you strive to do, each day in your job. Sometimes I miss the mark. Trust me, it is definitely not intentional. I did not awaken this morning thinking “How can I piss off everyone my son comes in contact with?” I have much bigger fish to fry.
In the not so distant past, it was customary for a passenger when booking a flight to tell the person who booked the reservation what special needs they might have, if any. This needs to start making a comeback. I am more than happy to let the staff know our situation, and if necessary, things we can do as a team to make this trip as enjoyable for everyone. It may mean enduring some moments that are not so comfortable for a period of time, but the end result might turn out to be not so bad. The best part is you have an opportunity for a learning moment to take place. We can all stand to learn something, wouldn’t you agree?
The worst thing you can do is make me or my family feel like we have done something wrong or inconvenienced you in some way. On every flight (or just about) I’m certain that there is a screaming child or an obnoxiously drunk adult or that one person who can’t wait until the sign is turned off to move about the cabin. I don’t always see a police escort waiting for them at the airline terminal, so why single me out? It’s because autism is such a hot topic, isn’t it? Or, is it your lack of training and understanding of the situation? Please help me to understand.
My family is not your enemy. Please try not to treat us like one.
Lets’ try to work together to keep those skies as friendly as we can. I’m game if you are.
"So what is the rate?" She inclined her head towards me. I swallowed, stalling because I didn't know. I knew it was high. I looked at her and said, "Not sure, but I know it is higher than the national average. That's just over 50% now." So I decided to come home and google up some actual figures. There is no question that raising a child with autism, even high-functioning autism, is a challenge. It is a challenge financially, emotionally, spiritually and attitudinally. It is an entire paradigm shift. Like living with a duck who wants grapes...all the time. It isn't hard to feel at your wits' end ..often. Many times J comes home and I just have nothing else to give. I am spent. Absolutely worn out, and not able to give to one more person. And who gets the short end of the stick? You guessed it: J does. And yet he rarely complains.
As I write this, he has sallied-forth on a mission of mercy. Yes, the kids are tucked into their beds, and he has gone to procure Starbucks mocha, the nectar of the gods. He knows foreplay. Or maybe he just knows how to keep me sane. Since life can
often be a war zone, and I, crawling over enemy lines without hesitation (okay, maybe there is a little hesitation) a medic on duty is necessary. That's where J comes in. I guess it works because we take care of each other. We get along well, and well, we don't really have to work at it. Which is good, because there isn't much time to work on much of anything in this house, not the way the littles behave. We can't take on anymore.
There is a reason we have cats. Cats are independent, don't mind if they aren't the center of attention and often prefer not to be. We don't have a dog, though I would love one, and maybe someday soon, we may take the plunge. But I don't have the time to devote to puppy training and walking and just being generally slobbered over and followed around. I get that enough. We would probably kill a fish, forgetting to feed it. And you don't want to see my yard. When we moved back home after the fire, we decided to do our own gardening. But me, in my infinite wisdom decided that we would do the Green Thing and not use poison on the lawn to kill the weeds. And, did I mention that I now use a rotary mower to save the environment? Unfortunately, it is now my lawn that needs salvation.
Lacking time, I haven't done the requisite internet search for nematodes and other magic organic fixes to protect my lawn from the weedie beasties. Consequently, my lawn, which of course, someone forgot to water, is now brown with green things bobbing in not quite a sea of crabgrass. We do manage to get it somewhat mowed, but it seems to be a losing battle. The flowerbeds are overgrown, and all good intentions to clear them and plant something gave way to a brochure left on our front stoop about code enforcement and happy neighbors. We don't know which one of the wonderful residents of our 'hood left it for us, but there it is.
And my answer? You try mowing the lawn when you have a 6 yr old in the middle of a screaming fit for who knows the reason (sometimes, there are no reasons) and a 9 yr old being defiant and refusing to do anything except repeat, "Can I have a cookie? Can I have a cookie? Can I have a cookie?" And this after being told, as I am wont to do: "Question asked and answered," ad nauseum. And amidst this, I will take time to mow the lawn? What planet does the anal neighbor with the perfect yard and the perfect teens (only they aren't because I see them on the corner) who mows his lawn and trims his plants nearly every day...what planet is he from?
So, there is little time left to work on things like marriages, or dinner reservations or breathing. So it is a very good thing that my marriage is usually so easy. We figure we survived a fire, when the house was completely smoked out, everything was destroyed and we had nothing but each other. We survived the insurance settlement and the rebuilding process and the redecorating and even the relocating. Autism after that? Cake.
In any case, I came home and found the figures. According to a few online sources, it is over 80%. Dr. Phil even pegged the rate at 86% if you can believe it. 86% of marriages amongst couples who have a child with autism end in divorce. So, since we have two children, does that make our rate higher? In fact, statistically, we aren't married at all! Yay, we are living in sin, and have been for almost 19 years! (Then why aren't we having more fun?)
TLC feels very lucky to still be married after all this crap. She has three children, two with high-functioning autism, she homeschools and is still mostly sane. She views autism as a growth process and the opportunity to connect parents for support as a passion. Read more of her misadventures at Send Chocolate. This blog is her gift to the Autism Community.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Friends, and prospective authors...I was thinking we could add a bit of a bio and a link to your blog at the end of your posts. That way, it gives you a bit of exposure. Let me know what you think.T.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
I was standing in line at the grocery store, waiting to pay for the basket full of groceries I had amassed on my once a month grocery stock-up. I hate
grocery shopping, especially with kids, but I had procrastinated too long and the bread had molded and we were out of milk. My children were trying valiantly to hold it together; it was late in the afternoon and had been a long day. Grocery shopping is a break from the Routine that basically rules our lives, so often there is a difficulty in this endeavor. But today the children were on their best behavior. They were helping put
groceries on the conveyor belt, while JBean kept up a steady stream of chatter. Today it wasn't them, it was me. My head was throbbing: I needed caffeine and I needed quiet.
My son decided to chat up the person behind us: "Do you like Mario Kart?" The person mumbled something politely, too quietly for me to hear. JBear took this as an invitation and continued, "I have Mario Kart for the DS. I also have a Wii. Do you have a Wii? I like playing boxing. I am good at boxing." I glanced back and the woman he was talking to seemed ok with her verbose companion, if a bit noncommittal. My son continued:
"Did you see the Indiana Jones movie? I did, it was
good. They have the Lego game of Indiana Jones for the Wii coming out next month. I want that. Lego also makes a Star Wars game for the DS. They are making one for the Wii, but it's not out yet..."
Again, I glanced back and saw the woman shuffling her feet, looking around nervously. Time to reign him in. "JBear, shh! Come help me with the groceries." He didn't hear me. I had to call him three times. Then he started asking for gum at the checkout counter. And a yo yo. Pleeeeease? He has this trip-switch, when he has something on his mind, when he wants something, he just keeps asking. I don't even know if he realizes he does it. About that time, the lady got that look. Oh, you don't know the look? Simple.
When people notice something is a bit different with your kids, they react in one of two ways. The first group widens their eyes in amazement and says, "Boy, you sure have your hands full!" And yes, yes, I do. But it is what it is. I don't have an "S" embroidered underneath my t-shirt. I am just a mom, dealing with what I have been given. I don't want praise and I don't want pity. But often, they look at me as though I stepped from a space ship, a complete alien entity. If I throw the homeschool aspect in to the conversation, I see the door slam shut, the eyes cloud over, and I can almost hear the voice in their head as they thank the Lord that they don't have kids like mine, and thank goodness it isn't contagious!
The other group I encounter widens their eyes in surprise and says, "But they seem so normal." This is actually frustrating. This is the reaction I get when I try to explain Asperger's. I know that on the spectrum of special needs, Asperger's is considered pretty low. And my kids are actually mildly affected. Their behaviors are more annoying or frustrating than dangerous. My son has not eloped from a classroom since the First Grade. Of course, it helps that he has been homeschooled since the Second Grade, I suppose.
He does have an anger and frustration problem. In fact, when he is angry, he could give a salty dawg a run for his grog. He has recently decided that it is really cool to respond to any insult, real or imagined, "I know you are!" You can imagine how productive that is! He is in the habit of cornering people, because he is a social guy. He wants to interact, and find interesting things in common, but he doesn't pick up the cues when someone has had enough. I am constantly playing watch dog for him, translating so they will not miss out on what he has to offer, worried that people won't like him. Or worse maybe, they will judge me because of who he is.
I am not in the habit of explaining myself to random strangers, but I must be lacking. When I do try to explain to someone who inevitably asks, "What's Asperger's," I can sometimes hear, "Well, all kids do THAT." And yes, that's true. All kids do prattle on about minutiae. All kids have terrible table manners. All kids get mad and frustrated and yell. All kids don't know how to figure out when you have had enough of them. All kids interrupt. All kids wear the same clothes, every day, even if they are dirty, and get ticked off if told they can't wear that shirt again until it is washed. All kids harp over and over again about allowance, video games they want, going to the library...whatever it is that is on their mind at that very moment. All kids throw fits when they don't get their way. All kids need help getting dressed, even when they can actually accomplish this task themselves. All kids have unreasonable fears and cannot take out the garbage at night or get up to go to the bathroom in a darkened room. But the point here, is mine do it more. That's what Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism looks like. I didn't want bragging rights. I am not trying to one-up anyone else. I am simply trying to live with kids who have to live with "mild-mannered Autism." Anyone who uses this term clearly has never lived with nor experienced autism.
I don't play the Label Game. I don't have Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. I don't find my identity in being Supermom or having kids with "special needs." We sought a diagnosis for my son simply because he wasn't functioning in school very well, and we started seeing some signs at home. I knew something was wrong. I wrote a letter to the school, asking for an evaluation. The district did their tests, gave us their result, and then we obtained our own private evaluation. We ended up with a diagnosis and an IEP. With some interventions and by educating myself, we found accommodations that worked for him. I learned how to talk to him, how to calm him down, how to provide a sensory diet and just learn to live with the quirkiness that can be autism. At some point, I started rolling with the flow, and it became, if not easy, something familiar. And, it was okay. I thought that was the end. Autism had touched us, but it was a tentative touch.
Cut to 2006. Those who read will know this already, but we had a house fire, and lost everything. The house was standing, but they gutted it, and rebuilt everything but the bones. Every item except for the clothes on our backs was destroyed. Of course, we all took it hard, but my six year old was particularly devastated. It was and is, the only home she'd ever known. On a good day, she keeps most of her emotions to herself. This caused her to retreat inside herself. She would build little worlds with her My Little Ponies, and Littlest Pet Shop, barricade herself inside the toy houses. Walls of toys would sit between her and the rest of us; she was shutting us out. We sought counseling, and of course, the question we all had was, is it the trauma or is she also on the Spectrum as well? After what we thought was a failed bout of counseling, it proved to be the catalyst and we decided to have our little JBean evaluated for autism.
I went back and forth, second-guessing myself. Autism is a spectrum, and there is a saying, "If you've seen one kid with Asperger's, you've seen one kid with Asperger's. My son and daughter are as different as night and day. I would look at her and think, "No way she is on the Spectrum...she isn't like JBear." I waffled and tested her myself, and I wanted to be wrong. She was diagnosed with autistic disorder in October.
So when the woman behind me gave me that look, I just smiled at her and said, "Kids!" About that time, the cashier finished ringing up my groceries. There is a time for education, and there is a time for cutting your losses and just getting the heck out of Dodge. So I'm sorry to the autism advocates,just know some days I fight the good fight. But today I pulled myself up by my bootstraps. This wasn't the day to try and educate the public. This was a day to take my children home with me, cuddle them close and read books while munching cookies. This was a day to just be. I swallowed the lump in my throat that came from unshed tears. Yes, sometimes I grieve for what they don't have. And maybe that's not what Supermom would do. As I rolled out to the car, I realized the lump in my throat wasn't just grief. It was something else, as well. It was a fierce, protective love, and a knowing that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. And I don't think that Supermom could have it any better.
T, who just does what she can do some days