Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Few Words Wednesday: My Little Speller

Lately The Boy has 2 new obsessions interests:
And when The Boy takes an interest in something, he likes to spell them out with his blocks.

"20th Century Fox"

"Phineas & Ferb"

Monday, August 29, 2011

An Unlikely Escape

This September we're all going back to school.  

The Boy starts kindergarten.  

The Husband will return to college after almost a two year hiatus.

And me, continuing with grad school.  (21 credits down,  21 more to go - 7 classes to be exact.) This semester I registered for two classes as opposed to one.

Working full time and going to graduate school is not easy.  Add a special needs child to the mix and it seems almost impossible.  Well, not really impossible.  Crazy is more like it.    

Strangers and friends ask me how I do it.  Family asks me why I do it.  The answer is one in the same.  It's an escape. I know - not a likely one, not a relaxing one as it adds just a little more stress with assignments and getting home late one night a week.  But it's the one evening a week for myself.  To do something I want to do.  To be my own person - not someone's wife.  Or someone's mother.  Or someone's secretary.  

It's a few hours to remember what I love to do.  It's my time to do something that makes me feel better about myself, to improve myself.  To block out the dirty dishes, the IEPs, the laundry, my never ending to do list and my endless pile of files at work.  To talk with other adults about stuff other than kids.  (Most of the students don't even have kids!)  It's my time to be completely selfish. 

Semesters when I take off or during winter/summer breaks, I find myself feeing antsy.  Bored, almost.  As if something is missing.  It's become such a part of my routine, that my life without school seems empty.  Aside from being something I want to do.  It's become something I have to do.  

Even if nothing ever comes of my MFA in creative writing because realistically there isn't much I can do with my degree.  Sure I can teach but I'm too comfortable to start over.  And there's too much at risk with a salary cut.  Or I can finish my book and hope that Oprah puts her magic stamp on it.  But until that happens, this degree is just for me.  

Some mom's go to the gym.  Yeah, I stepped on the scale this morning - I should probably try to squeeze this in too.

Some mom's go to the nail salon and treat themselves to mani/pedi's.  Sigh...I should try to get to the salon more often too.

Some mom's go to the spa for a deep tissue massage.  I think you know where I should try to be...    
This mom goes to school.  


This post was inpired by a Kick in the Blog 
"Where Do You Go When It's Time to Escape."

 How do you escape your reality? 
What gives you reprieve from your life when it gets to be too much?   

Friday, August 26, 2011

Keep Calm & Carry On (I needed a reminder)

Whenever The Boy starts running back and forth, flapping his hands, flailing his arms and mumbling in his high pitched voice - I know he's nervous, stressed, excited, flustered.  I take him by the arms, bend down so we're at eye level and say:  "What do you need to do?"

The Boy will look me in the eye for a quick moment.  "Calm down."

And then I give him a piece of gum and/or an activity (play dough or let him jump on the bosu) I know will get him refocused.  

Well this week, I'm stressed out over kindergarten (surprise, surprise). With every day that passes, it just gets worse.  More than once this week, I've had to stop and count to ten backwards.  I've had to press my hand against my chest and remind myself to breathe in our breathe out.  I've had to close my eyes and remind myself to take these next few weeks, 10 minutes at a time - because 1 day at a time is just too much right now.  Even still, I've stressed myself into 2 big puss pimples.  (Sorry if this creates a gross visual.)  And then last night I stressed out about it in a FB status update:  

With only 13 days left until this kid starts kindergarten, I'm starting to panic. Stressing myself into a pimple (2 big ones actually). And then watching some of the neighborhood kids go off to college. I couldn't help but wonder, if we'll see that day. Then I smacked myself silly - let's just get through kindergarten.
I didn't really smack myself silly.  Though I'm sure I needed it.  Instead, some wonderful women helped me calm down:

~ K will bring good changes to your world, we lived through that stress and came out the other side smiling, stay involved and true to yourself, your voice will be the most important tool, listen to your gut, you will find you are advocating for those whose (parents included) who mightn't be strong enough to be heard on their own.

~ Stop future trippin'

~ Whatcha panicking about? He can "read" your feelings. So chill. If you stay cool, he'll get that vibe. Nothing to panic about...he's going to be fine. There WILL be bad days, REALLY bad days, and you know this...but there's gonna be good ones, GREAT ones too. Has he visited the school? Met his teacher? Did you write a note about what to expect of him? You're happy with your choice right? Now go with it.
~ We were lucky...our journey to Kindergarten happened so quickly (we put our oldest into a year round program, that had already started) so our plan to have 1 more month last year ended abruptly. This turned out to be good for both the kid and me. Enjoy this. Don't fret it.

Next week will be dedicated to 
Prepping for Kindergarten 
(my activity to keep me refocused) 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Words With: Hartley Steiner

AW: What was your first reaction to your son(s) diagnosis?

HS: My oldest son is diagnosed with many things, the first of which was Sensory Processing Disorder at age 4.  My reaction to that diagnosis was a sense of relief.  I knew something was going on – something we wrote off as being part of his transition into our home from foster care originally, but after over two years we knew it was more than that.  Getting the actual diagnosis of SPD, the official stamp of ‘you’re not crazy there really is something going on here!’ gave us a focus, a path to begin to help him, and we were eager to start.  Each diagnosis after that first one, Autism, Bipolar and multiple LDs, brought on another sense of relief, but also brought a large sense of worry, concern for his future, and a grieving process for me and my family as we were forced into acknowledging the true root of my son’s challenges and the gravity of their prognosis. 

AW: What was your defining moment of acceptance?

HS: Acceptance for me has not come in a defining moment.  It comes through the grief process, a process that is as unavoidable as it is necessary.  I led the crusade for my son’s diagnosis – for information, for understanding and to get us on the ‘right’ path to help him.  For me that meant that each time we got a new diagnosis, it was one I was expecting and actively seeking – one I knew was correct before we even entered the doctor’s office.  Yet, until the doctor(s) agreed with me and sealed the diagnosis with their signature, I wasn’t forced to deal with that new diagnosis emotionally.  To be honest, although I feel I have accepted many things about my son’s diagnosis including being comfortable with sharing and discussing his acronyms, I am still coming to terms each day with what they really mean in a practical sense.  Kids grow up, even kids with special needs.  Each day, month, year, I have new things to accept – both positive and negative – and find that I return to the grieving process for each of those pieces regularly.  And it is each time I grieve something new, that my acceptance grows by another small layer.

AW: What inspired you to start your blog?  Your book?

HS: My blog began as a way for me to share the same stories I was telling at our SPD Parent Connections Support Group meetings in person on weekends, in a format that people could access any time they wanted.  Through these meetings, and the sharing of information and resources, I realized that the most valuable part of that interaction was the storytelling.  It was the most powerful thing for me and for all of those attending, to hear that we were not alone – that each person in the room had a child that hated seams, screamed at loud noises, lined up cars, melted down during family functions and had been kicked out of preschool.  Ok, maybe each person didn’t have all of those – but the common thread was that people could relate to each other’s lives.  That is an incredible feeling.  My blog aimed to provide that message, and now with the launch of the SPD Blogger Network, I am able to reach more families affected by sensory issues and provide a forum for more storytelling.  That has led to the opportunity to write a new book, Sensational Journeys (Future Horizons September 2011), which is a collection of 48 personal stories from families raising children with Sensory Processing Disorder.  My hope is that this book will give a broad look at how sensory issues affect a diverse group of families and truly bring home the message that these families are NOT alone!

My Children’s book This is Gabriel Making Sense of School was inspired by a problem at my son Gabriel’s school when he was in first grade.  One afternoon, just as my son should’ve been getting on the bus, I received a phone call that I needed to pick him up.  He had a particularly bad meltdown at school, so with my toddler on my hip and my youngest in a stroller, I walked down the empty school hallway to where my son was hiding inside his locker, surrounded by 4 adults standing guard.  The problem solved easily – the staff was understanding and supportive – and our principal unphased.  However, the parents of my son’s classmates weren’t so easily reassured.  After that incident, there were a number of parents who truly felt my son was a danger in the classroom, demanded that he be removed to an enclosed classroom environment, and even went so far as to call my house and insist I tell them my son’s full medical history.  Although each of those problems was solved, one by one, I was left wishing I had an easy way to explain my son’s sensory differences to his classmates, their parents, and quiet honestly his teacher.  I knew then that a book – a Children’s Book – with pictures and real information could make all of this much easier for my son and thousands of kids like him.  So, I took it upon myself to write it.  And with each page, each illustration and each step in the process, I kept close to my heart the desire to create a book that children with Sensory Processing Disorder would be proud to share with their friends and one that would empower them to become self-advocates.  This is Gabriel Making Sense of School has already reached many children, but there are many more classrooms to reach!  I am excited to say it will be re-released through Future Horizons Spring 2012 – spreading the message of SPD in the classroom even further!

AW: What has been the most rewarding aspect of being special needs writer/advocate?

HS: By far the best part of what I do is helping others.  I have been passionate about sharing information and resources since my son was first diagnosed years ago.  I believe that parents just starting out on their special needs journey – no matter what that is – should not be forced to forge their own path when there are so many of us who already know the way.  Through my writing I am able to pass along what I have learned and help other parents avoid the pitfalls and emotional anguish that comes with blazing a new trail alone.   The fact that other parents have responded positively to what I write has been rewarding and truly amazing. 

AW: What advice would you offer parents of recently diagnosed children?

HS: Slow down.  The newly diagnosed mentality is to strive for as much intervention, information, resources, therapy, and Google searching as humanly possible in the shortest amount of time possible.  I know; I’ve been there.  But we all get lost in that process – we lose ourselves, perspective on the rest of life, and often times damage our relationships with the ones we care the most about; our spouse and family.  Yes our kids need help sooner rather than later, and I absolutely realize that most newly diagnosed parents have been on the ‘hunt’ for a diagnosis for some time and so there is that sense of relief that comes when they finally know which way to go, but many parents are treating the moment of receiving the diagnosis as if it were the starting gun in a race.  I think parents fail to realize this is a marathon – you can’t leave the gate sprinting full speed ahead and expect to finish with any energy left.  I know for sure that every special needs journey is different, every child’s optimal intervention unique, and therefore it takes time to get it right.  So my best advice is slow down.  Remember that no matter what label or acronym your child might receive, they are the same child inside with all of the same needs.  Your child doesn’t just need a therapy-chauffer, medical-appointment-coordinator, play-therapy-director, or educational-advocate; they need you to continue to be mom and dad.  Slow down

AW: Feelings on diagnosis in 6 words or less:

HS: When one door closes, another opens.
Hartley Steiner lives in the Seattle area with her husband and their three sons, all of which have sensory issues and two of whom are on the Autism Spectrum. Hartley is the award winning author of the SPD Children’s book This is Gabriel Making Sense of School and the upcoming book Sensational Journeys (Future Horizons September 2011), plus a contributing writer for the SPD Foundation's blog, S.I. Focus Magazine and Autism Spectrum Quarterly along with dozens of other online websites and blogs. When she isn’t writing, or dealing with a meltdown, she enjoys spending time in the company of other adults preferably with good food and even better wine. You can find her on Twitter at @ParentingSPD

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm over at MommyMaestra today!

I am thrilled to be a guest contributor on MommyMaestra today. 

A few weeks ago, Monica, aka MommyMaestra reached out and asked if I would share our autism experience with her readers.  And I was more than happy to do so.     

"I often wonder what kind of parent I would be if I had a different kind of child. By different, I mean a child without autism."  

And you can read the rest of the post HERE  :) 

Monday, August 22, 2011

More Than a Popularity Contest

I have a confession.  Something I once thought, that I'm not proud of.  It was years before The Boy was born.  I was twenty-something and started a new job.  It was the first time I met someone who had children with autism.  He was an attorney with three young children, two were on the spectrum. Prior to this, my only experience with autism was the movie Rain Man.

I assumed autism was  something that predominantly affected Caucasians.  (Kind of like how sickle cell anaemia is predominant in African Americans.)  And whenever I think about this, I am so ashamed of my ignorance.  How could I not know?  As a well read, fairly educated young married woman - how could I not know about autism?  

I think it's why I spend so much time focusing on my blog and on spreading awareness.  Because when The Boy was first born, I knew absolutely nothing.  I had no idea that autism could be a possibility.  I didn't know the signs.  And while we still caught it early, I could have had him evaluated sooner.  I could have done so much more.  If only I knew.  That kind of guilt is hard to let go.

After The Boy was evaluated and diagnosed, I immediately went to the only book store in The Bronx and picked up a bunch of books on autism.  At the time, I was determined to "fix him."

All the books I purchased and read were all written by Caucasian women and men.  Women and men with acronyms or initials following their names.  Suburban families from far away places.  Their experiences, their struggles, their sacrifices were completely foreign to me.  The spoke of 2nd mortgages, quitting careers, downgrading homes, moving to different neighborhoods.

Do not misinterpret my words, these books were of value to me and they helped me understand.  They helped me move on.  I learned a great deal. 

But The Husband and I had no careers to quit.  I was (still am) just a secretary and The Husband, a Fed Ex courier.  We both needed to work.  Living on one income was out of the question.  And we lived in a two-bedroom apartment - what could we possibly downgrade too?

And so these books intimidated me.  If these affluent families, struggled - what hope could we possibly have?

I wanted to read the story I could relate to - in every sense. 

Unfortunately, when it comes to autism in the mainstream media, Latinos are not represented. 

It's just not something we talk about.  Out of all the Latina mom bloggers I've come across in the blogosphere - I can count the ones writing exclusively about autism.

And I remember after The Boy was diagnosed, my mother said: You don't need to go telling everyone about this.  As if "this," autism was something to be ashamed of.  As if talking about it was wrong.  (Clearly, I do not always listen to my mother.)   

Even The Boy's Early Intervention ABA therapist was surprised by my honesty.  If we were out in the playground or walking around the neighborhood and I ran into someone I knew, I'd introduce her. "This is Gen, The Boy's therapist."  And I'd start talking about the diagnosis.       

Autism isn't a black or white (pardon the pun) issue, it's  a spectrum.  And I'd like to see more diversity when it comes to featuring autism families.  There are dedicated parents of every color, creed and socio-economic status.

I would love for parents to realize:

You don't need to quit your job. 
You don't need to have a six figure salary.
You don't need a big house with a yard.
You don't have to live in the 'right' neighborhood or school district to get your child the help he/she deserves. 
You don't (always) need to hire a lawyer.  

My nomination for Parents Magazine Best Special Needs Blog means more than winning a popularity contest.  It's a chance for our voice to be heard.  The Bronx is often stigmatized and underestimated.  And I've met so many amazing mothers and fathers, that are working hard for their children.  I would love to be featured as an urban Puerto Rican family raising a young child with autism and making it work.  I would love to represent the borough I live in and the Latino community.

So if you like my writing and/or find my blog helpful, I'd appreciate a vote of support.  And after you vote for AutismWonderland, explore the other special needs blogs nominated I'm in some great company. 

How to vote:

1. Click on the Parents button

2. Another window will open.  (see below)

3. In order to vote, you will need to register. Enter your email address, create password.  You will be asked if you're: a parent, trying to conceive or other.  Once you've registered you should be able to vote.

If you get an ERROR message 
Return to my blogsite - on the parents button (again)

2. Another window should open (again)

AND you should be able to vote. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Too Old to Hang on a Thursday Night

I used to be cool (Not really).  But I used to be able to go out, party all night, come home, shower, change and go to work. (Really) There wasn't a day of the week when I wouldn't go out. 

These days?  No - not so much.

But last night The Husband & I did something we haven't done in a long time.  I mean, it's been so long - I can't remember the last time we did it.  Or if we ever have.
We. Went. Out!   

I know - on a Thursday!  To see a really cool band - Si*Se at the Hiro Ballroom.  We left The Boy with his Nino (godfather) and Uncle Johnny.  Another thing we've never done before.  (Remember my post from earlier in the week?  If I were really Wonder Woman I'd have a much smaller waist.  Help is the one 4-letter word, I seldom use.) 

Anyway, we had a great time out with friends - it was much needed for The Husband and I.  But standing there in the middle of the ballroom floor waiting for Si*Se to play, crowded in the dark, having strangers spill their drinks on my feet (eeeww), I realized - I'm too old for Thursday night shenanigans. 

Here's how I know

Heels were not an option.  As I was getting dressed, I put on a pair of wedges, I haven't worn all summer.  After taking ten steps in the apartment, I kicked them off and put on my flats.  Sexy?  Not really.  Sensible? OH YES! 

I got my hand stamped.  And after it was stamped, I said "OMG, it's been so long since I got my hand stamped!" 

We got there at 8pm because the tickets said the show starts at 8:30. (Literal thinking rubbing off on me much?)

I actually expected Si*Se to start at 8:30.

At 9:30, I was annoyed to still be listening to the opening act. Don't get me wrong, she was great too.  But the whole time I'm looking at/playing with my phone - a social media gal like myself has to stay connected.  (And while I was playing with my phone,  I thought about the times when I went out and was like "beep me when you get there.")

At 9:40 I was really happy that I wore my flats.  But secretly jealous that my girlfriend slipped into a pair of Fit Flops.   

At 10 pm, I whispered to The Husband, "what time do you want to leave?"  Just as Si*Se started performing.  As much as I enjoyed their music,  I kept thinking about picking up The Boy.  Taking him home and our 6 am wake up time.  

By my third drink, I was ready to fall asleep.  

By 10:45, we left even though the band played on. 

After getting home close to midnight and waking up at 6 am, I realize now (while I'm trying to stay awake), that if we ever go out again on a Thursday night - I will NEED to take Friday as a vacation day.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sometimes Reality Sets In

With The Boy out of school, he's been going to The Babysitter while The Husband and I are at work.  We love her, we trust her, she's taken care of The Boy since he was The Baby.  The Babysitter is one of those old school abuelitas that loves every one's children. She always has a house full of kids (usually her grand kids).  Any typical only child would love it there.

So yesterday when I picked him from The Babysitter, I noticed that all the kids were playing in the living room - talking, laughing, arguing over who gets the next "go" on the Wii.

The Boy was alone in another room. Playing by himself.  Reciting lines from books that only make sense to him.  And to us.

Reality sets in.  Oh yeah, he is different.

I'm so used to The Boy's behaviors and it's always just us, that sometimes I truly forget all about autism. 

I forget that The Boy is not your typical only child.  And he does not love a house full of kids.  It's overwhelming.  Stressful.  Unstructured.  Overstimulating.  The Boy does not understand these children.  And they do not understand him.    

His whole routine from now until September will be out of sorts.  And while I dread the changes September will bring.  I cannot wait to reestablish a routine.  I cannot wait for The Boy to be surrounded by a small group of his peers.  Where interaction is facilitated and structured.  An environment where The Boy will always know what to expect. 

Most people hate routine.  But The Boy NEEDS it.  He needs to know what comes next.

And I haven't really done a good job at preparing him.  I seem to think that The Boy can just go with the flow.

And the reality is - he can't.

When does your reality set in?       

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Remembering When...

all photos taken by Joseph Cheo Fontanez aka The Husband

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

If I were really Wonder Woman, I'd have a much smaller waist.

This morning I woke up in a crabby mood.  But after taking a "vacation" day yesterday to stay home with The Boy because he was sick.  I was happy to get up and get dressed to go to work.  Eight hours at the office is much more relaxing than eight hours at home with a sick kid.  

And then I walked into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. 

And there they were.  Taunting me.  Staring me down.  And all like, "Yeah, we're still here.  And what?"

Damn you, dirty dishes!

So while my coffee was brewing and before taking a shower, I washed a sink full of dishes.  From the meal that I cooked the night before.  All the while cursing out thinking of The Husband (my sleeping beauty still snoring in bed).

This led to a mild morning argument  discussion.  I won't get into those details.  Feel free to use your imagination.  Or if you're married, you probably won't have to imagine too hard. 

In all fairness, The Husband is a pretty great guy.  And he does help me.  And The Husband would have washed the dishes - had I asked him too.  And that's my problem.  I don't ask him.  I don't ask him for help until I'm annoyed that he hasn't helped me.

My other problem?  When he attempts to wash the dishes without being asked?  I shoo him away because he doesn't do it right.  But in my defense, The Husband has very delicate skin (bendito) and can only wash dishes with cold water.       

But dirty dishes isn't really the problem.

My biggest problem is: I don't know how to ask for help.

I am not the kind of person to ask for help when I need it. And even if help is offered, I don't take it.  I always think that I can do things by myself.  I take on too much.  I don't know how to delegate - not that The Husband is one to be ordered around.  But you know what I mean.  For me, asking for help seems like a sign of weakness.

Because I'm a wife. A mother.  My job is to do everything.  And help everyone.  It's what I'm supposed to do.  Isn't it?  Not really. It isn't.  

Because I am not Wonder Woman.  I am human.  I cannot do it all. This year especially I've taken on a lot of extra responsibility - with The Boy's Turning 5 drama and all.  So while I may have felt I was on my own.  I really wasn't. 

Yes, there were things that The Husband could not do or be a part of.  Not because he didn't want to be, he just physically couldn't, due to the demands of his new job.  But, there were a lot of things he could of helped with.  I was am just too stubborn and too "strong" to ask.

And when you are pretend to be strong and front like no assistance is needed - people kind of stop attempting and offering. 

Well, I've been strong for too long.  And it's showing.

I am tired, frustrated, mentally and physically exhausted.  Working full time, going to school and raising a child with special needs - is not easy.  And maintaining our little abode.  And signing The Boy up for therapies.  Filling out paperwork, scheduling appointments.  And on 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night.  I need to stop pretending that this is normal.  I need a break.  I DO need help.  And I do have someone willing to help me.  If only I were to ask for help.      

Unless, I pranced around in this little get up - then I wouldn't need to ask a thing.  Dinner would be served and the dishes would be washed.  But that's a whole other adults only post...

"Wishes won't wash dishes." ~ American Proverb

This post was inspired by a Kick in the Blog prompt:  When was the last time you asked for help? When was the last time you should have asked and didn't?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Some Things Are Worth The Risk

Early this morning, I received a call.  

Immediately I recognized the woman's voice.  It was Gen, The Boy's Early Intervention ABA therapist.  I had just woken up and didn't have a chance to turn on the television or computer. 

I had been told this before, so for me it was no big deal.  After The Husband and I got the diagnosis, the doctor followed with, "If you're thinking of having more children, you should consider getting genetically tested as the chances of having a child on the spectrum..." Blah blah blah...

Truth be told, after the diagnosis, I told The Husband I didn't want any more children.  (Even the idea of intimacy frightened me.)  I knew The Husband wanted more children.  "If you want more kids, you'll have to have them with someone else.  I'll understand," were my exact words.  At the time, I was so set in my decision that I was willing to give up my husband. 

I don't feel that way any more, I think it was all part of the (for lack of a better word) grieving process.  

Once I decided I wanted another child, that was the moment I knew - I accepted autism.   

And when we became pregnant for the second time, I was elated.  Even though everyone kept asking me if  I was "scared."  I had taken a positive approach during those brief weeks of my 2nd pregnancy.  I told people that I wouldn't worry until there was something to worry about.  And if Child #2 had autism, at least I would know what to look for and what to do and where to go for help. 

If I were to become pregnant again, it is not autism I fear.

I fear a second loss of life.  That is the only risk. 

I fear The Boy one day asking me - why he doesn't have a brother or sister.  If we try and do not succeed, that's one thing.  But if we do not try  - out of fear of having another child with autism.  How could I look The Boy in the eye?

The Boy is our only child, I do not know what it's like to have a child without autism.  No, I don't want to cure him.  I love him.  And maybe because of autism, I may love and appreciate him even more.  Autism only adds to his personality, it doesn't diminish it.  

So if we have another child on the spectrum, then so be it.  I'm prepared.  I just want another child.  I want The Boy to to have a sibling, companion.  He'd be a great big brother and I want nothing more than to balance out our little family.   

The joy and privilege of being a parent far outweighs any risk.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

AW Sunday Review: My Friend with Autism by Beverly Bishop

In July, I entered a giveaway over at Many Hats Mommy.*  And I won! What I win: 

My Friend with Autism (enhanced edition with free CD of coloring pages) by Beverly Bishop, illustrated by Craig Bishop. (Future Horizon Publishers

The book is an AMAZING learning tool for children as well as adults.  I'm actually buying an extra book and donating it to The Boy's new school.  Since he'll be in a regular public school, I want the other kids to know more about autism.

Although every school library and classroom should have this book.  It's perfect for integrated classes or for reading in April for Autism Awareness Month.  (They'd also make great gifts - as many parents of "typical" children have trouble explaining autism.) 

Autism awareness needs to start with children at a very early age.  Children who accept and understand individuals with special needs will grow into adults who accept and understand.  My Friend with Autism is a great place to start.     

Written in clear and simple language, the book defines the common characteristics of autism and also suggests how to help manage situations.  For example: "Change is hard very hard for my friend.  I try to help by telling him what is going to happen next."

Bishop educates the reader on all the unique perspectives of children with autism while noting their similarities to 'typical' kids.  "Just like me, my friend does many things very well, and some things are hard for him."

The book also includes: 
  • Page-by-page notes for adults guide
  • Signs & symptoms of autism 
  • Helpful strategies
  • Recommended reading
  • and a CD of coloring pages      
My Friend with Autism is definitely a book you will want to own and tell others about.  

*Check out Many Hats Mommy review of My Friend with Autism here.   

I was not compensated in any way for this review.  The opinions stated are my own. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The People We've Met Along The Way

This last week, I've been reminded of how much progress The Boy's made.  Like the other night when he sang "If You're Happy and You Know It" at 4 in the morning.  How amazed I was that he was able to sing the whole song and do all the steps simultaneously - effortlessly.  

I think about how when The Boy started  Early Intervention he had no words or way of communicating.  How he gradually acquired five words, then ten and now - three years later - he has enough words to carry on an argument. 

Me: How about Pizza for dinner?
The Boy: No.  How about another dinner?  I want Chinese rice.

And I think about all the hours of therapy it has taken him to get to this point.
All the people at school.  All the teachers, therapists and aides that have held his hand.  The revolving door of therapists coming in and out our home.  All the extra related services.  All the Board of Ed officials that I spoke to, faxed, emailed or argued  disagreed with.

All the people we've met along the way to help The Boy.  And us.  

All the people that provided advice.  Offered suggestions.  Gave us support.  All the people who listened.  Who let me cry in their offices.  Who willingly gave their time and energy to talk to me, answer my questions and address my concerns. 

All the people who were so patient in teaching The Boy, the most basic of tasks.  

All the people who rejoiced in The Boy's achievements as much as we did.  All the people who advocated for us.  All the people who assured me that there was hope, that The Boy had potential.  All the people who told me, everything will be okay. 

It wasn't one person, one program or one therapy.  It was a collective effort to get us to this point.  We could not have done this alone.  And I can't think of all the progress The Boy has made without thinking about the people we've met along the way.

How can I possibly thank them?  How can I possibly repay them?  There is no monetary value that I can place on that kind of assistance.  Or on the amount of gratitude I have.  And how can they possibly know the difference they've made in our lives? 

Yesterday was The Boy's final day of school. (read post here)  And after I put him on the school bus and walked away, I couldn't help but feel sad.  As if we were losing something special.  We've said goodbye to so many therapists over the last three years.   It still doesn't get  any easier.  The Boy doesn't really know the difference.  He's too young to value their importance as much as I do.  

I'm sure as the years pass, he may forget their names, their faces.  But I will remember.  And I will remind him.  The people that have walked into our lives, the ones I never expected to meet, the ones that changed our lives and the way we live - will never be forgotten.     


This post is included in S-O-S Best of the Best Edition 9: Therapy and Special Needs Kids. Best of the Best Editions are published on the 15th of every month.