Friday, September 30, 2011

Connecting the Pieces

Whenever I come home from work, I stand in the doorway as my mother calls out to The Boy, "Look who's home.  Come and say Hi to Mommy!"

I wait for a few seconds with my jacket on and my purse in hand.  I am usually tired by the time I walk in at 6:30 and just want to kick off my shoes, peel off my clothes, scrub the subway filth off of my hands and lay down on the sofa. But I wait anyway.  Hoping The Boy will run out from where ever he is to say hello and maybe even give me a kiss. 

Some days, he will.  On the days he greets me at the door, his reaction varies.  Sometimes I get the kiss.  Sometimes it's just, "Hi Mommy."  And sometimes, he runs to the door, jumps up and down frantically flapping his hands.   

Some days he just won't get up or look up.  And I have to go to him.

I have learned not to take it personally.  Though I'll admit, I would love to walk in the door one day and have The Boy run up to me, say Hey Mom and give me a kiss - without any prompting to do so.

I have accepted that it's just not what he does.  It's not that he doesn't love me - I know he does.  It just does not occur to him to do these things.  Just like it doesn't occur to The Boy to say hello to other children in the playground - even if they say hello first.

That's one of the components of autism - the social connection, the inability to interact and communicate appropriately with others.   The social connections that come so naturally for some parents and their children - is something that The Husband and I work on.  Every day.  Because it doesn't come naturally to The Boy.


But autism is not the puzzle I'm trying to put together.  The puzzle for me is trying to find new ways to connect with The Boy.  Connecting different pieces together to see what works.

And there are moments when I know the pieces I've put together, fit perfectly.  Moments when he spontaneously says, I love youMoments when he looks around the apartment and asks "Where did Daddy go?" Moments when he sneaks up on me and asks what I'm doing.  Or when The Boy grabs my hand and asks me to read a story.  And that's when I put down whatever I'm doing to read to him. 

For our family, reading is how we best connect.  There are times when I read the same book - 2, 3, 4 times in a row.  We take turns reading the lines.  I ask him to point to words or pictures.  I ask him to spell words.  When I'm reading to The Boy, he complies.  He listens.

But the moments I love most are those few seconds before he falls asleep.  After we've read our books.  When The Boy's body and mind have calmed down to the state of exhaustion and he's able to stay still.  When his eyes are closing and opening, reaching for my hand, not wanting me to leave.  And even though The Boy's five years old and should learn to go to sleep alone.  I will wait.  The Husband will wait.  Because we need those moments.  We need to know that The Boy wants to connect with us.  To be a part of us. 
           
How do you connect with your children?


Post inspired by a bi-weekly blog prompt called #HalbaTalk through Latina Bloggers Connect.

HablaTalk Blog Prompts

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

You Know You're Doing Too Much When

Your kitchen starts to look like this

And your living room resembles

 You have months of paperwork & bills that you need to sort through
4 months of paperwork to sort

And your Friday & Saturday nights look like this...

instead of this.

And your Saturday & Sunday afternoons are spent here
Shopping Cart 

When you really want to take your kid here

Children's Zoo Entrance 

The thing about trying to do it all, is that you really can't.  I'm learning that this week.
 
 It's exhausting.  I need to start slowing down.

How do YOU know when you're doing too much? 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Can't Go Back To Yesterday

"I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then."  
~ Lewis Carroll






Caterpillar: Who... are... you? 
Alice: I'm afraid I can't explain myself, you see, because I'm not myself, you know. 
Caterpillar: I do not know.
Alice: I can't put it any more clearly, sir, because it isn't clear to me. 


Earlier this month, I celebrated my 36th birthday and today is my 1 year blogoversary.  And so I'm taking today to indulge in self-reflection.  (Flashbacks via blog post.)


1989/1990
It's New Year's Eve and I'm home with my family.  We're watching Dick Clark.  I am 14 years old.  I am still under my mother's thumb.  I have not kissed a boy.  I weigh less than 115 lbs and an "A" cup.  I wear glasses, am certain the acne across my forehead is a secret message in braille and growing out a bad haircut - the trifecta of teen angst.    


There is talk about the year 2000.  And I quickly do the math in my head.  In the year 2000, I will turn 25 years old.  And in my young mind, 25 seems old.  I imagine what I would look like.  What my life would be like.  I have an vivid imagination so I conjure up this fabulous life.  My acne has cleared.  I have long perfectly straight hair.  I am married to Johnny Depp.    


1999/2000
It's New Year's Eve and I'm at Sound Factory.  Working as the cashier. (It's one of my jobs.) But I don't mind, I'm working with my best friend.  And we sip free cheap champagne.    Throughout the night and into the early hours of the morning, clubgoers shove their sweaty crumpled dollar bills under the bullet proof window.  


I have boyshort hair, jet black and slicked back.  Lacquer red glasses. Twenty five is 9 months away.  And I haven't met Johnny Depp.  I'm a receptionist, a part-time college student and on the weekends I work at various clubs throughout the city, as cashier as coatcheck girl. The weekends I'm not working.  I am out all night.  I spend my days sleeping.  


It is not the life I imagined at 14.    


2005/2006
It's New Years Eve at 10 pm, I'm fighting my sleep.  I am 30 years old and almost 3 years married.  Working 1 job and still a part-time college student.  I am 33 weeks pregnant.  I know I'm having a boy and we have a name picked out.  His crib is set up, his clothes washed, folded and waiting for him.  We are waiting for him. 


I have read books on motherhood, swaddling and sleep.  I researched bottles and pampers.  I am nervous and excited.  Scared.  Swollen.  I am uncertain of what kind of mother I will be.  Will I be good at?  Will I like it?  Will I change?  



It is still not the life I imagined at 14.  Or the life I imagined at 25.       

2011 (Today)
I have spent many years wondering who I am.  Wandering aimlessly from place to place.  Imagining the kind of life I would have, of the kind of person I would become.  


I never imagined pursuing a masters degree.  I never imagined being a writer.  Or a mother to child with autism.  I never imagined being a voice for someone else.  I never imagined wanting to make a difference.  Or having a cause to believe in and fight for.  


I am all of those things.      


This is one instance where I don't feel like Alice.  I know exactly who I am.  And I know the kind of person I want to be.  I don't have to spend another New Year's wondering or waiting for something to happen.   


It is not the life I ever imagined for myself.  It's so much more.  


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Post inspired by a Kick in the Blog prompt, Who are You?

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's My One Year Blogoversary!

Okay, okay it's really tomorrow. But I'm excited.  And I'm proud of the things I've accomplished in this last year.    

I started AutismWonderland as an assignment for a critical practice graduate course: Writing as a Cultural Act.  We were encouraged to lauch our own platforms for getting our work to readers.    

And when I started this blog last year, I had no idea people would actually read it.  I mean, other than the other students assigned to the class and the professor, David Groff.  As the only mother of a child with autism in the class, my blog was pretty much ignored by my peers.  Writing about life with a kid on the spectrum just isn't sexy or cutting edge to hipster writers.  (Who knew?)

It was rough in the beginning (heck it still is).  Writing.  Rewriting.  Posting.  Then waiting for comments.  Blog writers love comments, the way an actor needs applause.        

Quite honestly, I'm a little surprised that I've kept it up.  


Then toward the end of the semester, David invited Betsy Lerner to speak.  Betsy Lerner is a literary agent, an author, a poet and blog writer.  She is also hilarious!  (If you're an aspiring writer - you have to read her book, Forest for the Trees.)   

Anyway at the end of her talk, David introduced me to Betsy.  And I was telling her about my blog, my point of view and what I wanted to be when I grew up.  She gave me some advice and then she said, "You may have heard of one of my clients, Temple Grandin."  Yes - the Temple Grandin!  At this point, I may have gushed a little bit.  No need to go into those details...     

But my biggest takeaway from hearing Betsy speak was her suggestion on blog writing.  She stressed consistency and commitment,  you have to do it every day, for at least a year.

And that's what I've been doing.

Writing this blog has been liberating, motivating, inspiring and so much cheaper than therapy.  I've recieved so many words of encouragement, advice and comfort.  I've connected with so many other blog writers and parents and special education teachers.   I love hearing from parents of older kids.  Parents who leave comments like, "The Boy reminds me of my son when he was that age."  And then they tell me about their son and all the amazing progress they've made.  It's rewarding, when a parent emails me to ask for advice, to share their experience or to thank me for something I've written or shared.  I feel like my writing has a purpose, it's not just some indulgence.            

I remember when The Boy was first diagnosed, I really had no one to talk to about what I was feeling.  It was as if The Husband and I were alone, stranded in this world with no one to point us in the right direction.  And I know many parents feel that way, when they hear the words "your child has autism" for the very first time.


I think it's one of the reasons why I continue to write this blog.  Because I want to share what works for us and I want to hear what works for you.  I love that I've created this network of parents, writers and educators.  It's made our journey a little less lonely.


So...thank you :)


video
  



Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dream Catcher (Weighted Blankets) Giveaway!

If you've been following us for a while, you know that we don't get much sleep.  The Boy tosses and turns, wakes up often, staying up for hours and almost always finding his way into our bed.

It's exhausting.  I'm exhausted.   

Anyway a few weeks ago after a FB status update proclaiming another sleepless night...the amazing woman behind Dream Catcher Weighted Blankets reached out to me.  And she was sweet enough to offer The Boy a complimentary weighted blanket.  (I had been thinking about buying a weighted blanket but not sure whether or not it would be helpful.)

The weighted blanket sent to us is well made, durable, comfortable and a beautiful bright blue (they come in an assortment of colors, sizes and fabrics).  I was really impressed with it.    

Now that we've been using the weighted blanket for about a month, I'm happy to say that it's really made a difference.  We use it throughout the day.  If The Boy's sitting in his beanbag reading a book.  At night, when I'm reading The Boy a bedtime story.  Sometimes I roll it up like log and place it over his lap or wrap it around his shoulders while he's sitting on the sofa watching TV.  And there are times when The Boy isn't using it, that I like to snuggle up with it, it really is relaxing.   

The Boy still wakes up in the middle in the night.  But on the nights he does, he's not as frantic, running around wildly.  He'll walk into our room, climb into bed and go back to sleep.   (That's fine with me, so long as I still get my sleep.)  And sometimes, The Boy will bring his weighted blanket with him.

For more information on the Dream Catcher Blankets click on the following links:
Who do they help?
How do they work? 
How to use? 

Would YOU like to WIN a 
Dream Catcher Weighted Blanket?

Yeah.  I thought you would.

How to Enter and WIN

Mandatory entry:  Leave a comment below. Feel free to share why you would benefit from the weighted blanket.
Additional entries:
1.  Follow this blog
2.  Follow me on twitter - @LaliQuin (and don't be shy - say hello) 
3.  “Like” the AutismWonderland Facebook page
4.  “Like” the DreamCatcher-Weighted-Blankets Facebook page

Every time you enter, you MUST post a comment. It is very important that you post a comment* for each entry.  If you are already signed up for any of these, no problem. Just post a comment and you’re in the giveaway!

This giveaway will end Sunday, October 2nd at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be announced on Facebook & Twitter on Monday, October 3rd.  I will contact the winner via email and you will have 24 hours to reply. 

Feel free to contact me at autismwonderland@gmail.com with any questions.
*Comments will be numbered in the order they are listed and a random number generator (random.org) will be used to select the winner. If you combine entries into one post, you will only have one chance to win rather than up to three. Give-a-way is open to U.S. residents only. 

**Dream Catcher Weighted Blankets provided me with a complimentary blanket.   The opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Retarded"



Watched this YouTube video yesterday and was so moved by it.  I cringe whenever I hear this word.  I am always amazed by how often this word is used by adults, teenagers, parents, parents of special needs children (something I don't understand), teachers, therapists, attorneys, people with college degrees and by people without.  It's as common as "OMG," a word tossed out casually in conversation.  And it has to stop.    


This young woman's message to the world is simple, poignant and powerful.  If this doesn't change a person's mindset, then I don't know what will.   

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Post it Note Tuesday: Notes from the Notebook


Only Parent Chronicles

Yesterday I came home after a long day of work.  I was hesitant in picking up The Boy's communication notebook, afraid of reading what the teacher had to write about The Boy's day.  While I was hoping The Boy had a good day, I honestly wasn't expecting it.   

Shame on me. 

As I read the note from The Boy's teacher, I couldn't help but tear up a little.  



This morning, I wrote back to the teacher.  




I think this is a major turning point for all of us.  I hope the teacher goes with it.  Somehow, I have a feeling she will.    

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tips for Turning 5: Where to Begin

School may have just started but if your child has an IEP, Turning 5 and entering kindergarten next Fall - you may want need to start doing your homework now.

No.  It's not too soon to start touring schools and applying.  Trust me.  Anyway, last year was pretty tough for me and I thought I'd share some of the things that were helpful to me.
  
1.  Give yourself plenty of time. The transition from CPSE to CSE is truly a year long process.  One with many deadlines - know them all - and appointments.  You will need to tour schools, fill out applications, have your child interviewed at schools, possibly make an appointment(s) for a private evaluation, meet with the CPSE and the list goes on and on.     

2.  Schedule enough time to get a private evaluation. By the time you go into your Turning 5 meeting, you'll want to be armed with a private evaluation with recommendations.  Start calling around in September - as there may be wait lists.    

3.  Attend the JCC Special Needs school fair on Tuesday, October 25th.  "The JCC in Manhattan and YAI/NYL/LIFESTART partner to present the annual Special Needs School Fair. Representatives from preschools, elementary, middle, and high schools serving the New York City special needs community will be onsite to provide information and answers to your questions. School materials will be available."  For registration information click here and go the the JCC Manhattan website.

I attended this last year.  Get there early.  Go with a pen, notepad, a bottle of water and some Advil.  It's overwhelming. But almost every single school within the 5 boroughs, Westerchester and Long Island are there.  If you're a working mom or just limited with time to schedule appointments, the school fair is a great way meet representatives, pick up applications and set up appointments to tour. 

4. Make a list/spreadsheet of all the schools you want to tour and/or apply to.  But tour a school before you apply.  Sometimes you'll know just by walking into a building whether or not it's the proper placement for your child.  Many schools will tell you - the earlier (by December is ideal) they recieve the applications the better.  Many schools have application fees, which can become a financial hardship when applying to several schools.  Ask if the fee can be waived or reduced.      

5.  Be honest with yourself.  I cannot stress this enough.  As parents, it's natural to want to believe your child is the rock star of the class.  However, when touring schools - look at the children, listen to the them, watch with a keen eye.  Then ask yourself the tough questions.  Does my child fit in here?  Would my child have a hard time?  Can my child do the work? Will my child need a para to get through the day?


Your feelings will be hurt.  You will feel frustrated.  You will be disappointed.  Your child will be rejected.  You will wonder - why wasn't my child good enough for the _______ School?  Your child will be accepted.  


In the end - it really will work out.  And if it doesn't, that's okay too.  Don't be too hard on yourself.  It just means, you'll have a second chance to get it right. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Keeping an Open Mind

Last week I wrote a post about Assumptions - well, today was the first Parents Association meeting at The Boy's school.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I met two AWESOME moms whose kids are in the ASD Horizon program with The Boy.  And I was reminded of all the reasons why I was so impressed with the school.

Last week I made assumptions of my own.  And I should know better.  But I think as a Special Needs parent, I have become jaded against the Board of Education.  I think at times, it's easier to believe that they will fail before given the opportunity to succeed.  I think that I have built a wall of protection, with a guard and a wrought iron fence around me.  Today I was reminded - I need to work at tearing down that wall.  Or at the very least, giving the guard a break.      

It's been a rocky beginning for all of us.  Just as The Boy is having difficulty with the transition.  So am I.

All this week, I've been in communication with the teacher and more importantly the Principal.  She truly is a dedicated professional.  And I feel reassured that they will do their best to help The Boy. 

I remembered what both the Teacher and the Principal said last May when we met.  They were clear to tell me they weren't promising miracles.  And I remember saying, I didn't expect any.  All I wanted was for The Boy to be given a chance.

And that's exactly what they're doing.

So for now, I'm keeping an open mind.  In the end, it really may not be the most appropriate placement for The Boy.  But I will know that they tried.  And that's all I ever wanted them to do.            

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Building a Dream School

I've been thinking about this for while.  Especially once the Turning 5 process began and all the schools I was considering were in the City, Westchester, Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island. 

Aside from the District 75 schools and the ASD Horizon/Nest programs, there is not a single school dedicated to children with autism in The Bronx.

Let me be more specific.  There is not a single school dedicated in The Bronx for children with autism like The Boy.


The Boy is somewhere in the middle.  And so many children fall into that category. Bright kids.  Sensory seeking kids.  Kids who don't how to make a friend.  Or carry on a conversation.     

What I discovered last year while touring, applying and talking to directors of these special needs programs is that while they accept the autism classification, they do not accept children with behaviors.


Think about that for a second.  A child with autism.  With no behaviors.     

After being rejected from so many schools, I had a candid conversation with the director of my dream school.  She pretty much said, if The Boy didn't have any of his behaviors, if he didn't need the constant redirection - he would have been accepted.

Last night I recieved a call from my friend Gen.  She also happens to be The Boy's former ABA therapist. (She is also pursuing BCBA certification.)  She knows everything we've gone through in the last year.  And she said, "It's great that you write your blog, but we need to really do something."

Gen wants us to start a school in The Bronx for kids like The Boy.               

The Boy needs a school where they follow a combination of ABA and TEACCH.  The Boy needs a school with a sensory room, with an OT who is on staff not contracted.  The Boy needs a school with speech pathologists and Behaviorists and Special Education teachers and assistants who have a true understanding of autism.  The Boy needs a nurturing environment.  The Boy needs a school with sensory friendly classrooms.  The Boy needs a school that involves the entire family. 

Does this sound like the kind of school your child needs?  
Well...Let's create one.  WE need to "be the change that [we] wish to see in the world."

Yeah, I know this seems like a pretty lofty idea.  But every dream starts somewhere.

If you live in The Bronx, if you're a parent of a child like The Boy, if you're a service provider, teacher, therapist and social worker and are interested in our "Building a Dream School" project, email me at autismwonderland@gmail.com


*This post was inspired by many events that have happened over the course of the year and by a Kick in the Blog.   
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 At first, dreams seem impossible, then improbable, and eventually inevitable.
~  Christopher Reeve

Any dream worth dreaming, is worth the effort to make it some true.~ Evan Gourley


Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it.
The time will pass anyway.
~  Unknown

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Tranquility

So we finally made it to the beach.  I love Orchard Beach in the fall. 
It's so much more relaxing.  

Watching The Boy getting his much needed sensory fix


Holding on...He was ready to make a run for it. 

The Boy & The Man-Boy

Where do you go to find tranquility? 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When Spontaneous Speech Kicks In




Only Parent Chronicles

When The Boy was first diagnosed, he had absolutely no language.  So now that he has speech, I always stop to listen to what The Boy has to say.  I never ask him to be quiet and I never tell him to stop talking.  And now as his spontaneous speeh is slowly emerging, I get a kick out of some of the things he says.  This is a recent conversation we had over dinner.  

(He's referring to the delivery man, sometimes if the bell rings -
he'll jump up and say "Chinese Rice is here!") 
 

How do your kids make you laugh? 


Interesting article: Increasing Expressive Skills for Verbal Children with Autism

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Doubt

I can't tell you how often I've doubted myself along this journey.  How many times I've wondered whether or not, I've made the right decision.  How much weight I've put on every decision I've ever made since The Boy's diagnosis.  And I punish myself when a wrong decision is made.

There is always doubt.

Tomorrow is The Boy's first full day of school.  And I want to be hopeful.  Because I do really think it's a good program - in theory.  And I want to believe in the school and its teachers.  And if the program and teachers and therapists do everything they're supposed to do, The Boy could have an amazing year.

But there isn't a designated OT on site yet.  That's a MAJOR problem.

Not everyone on staff seems to be aware of the small ASD population. 

And it's in a Community (Public) School with Assembly's and recess and lunch.  And there are other kids.  Typical kids.  And what if The Boy has a complete meltdown during an assembly.  Will the staff be prepared to handle it?  Will the other kids stare? Make fun?     

What if this is my wake up call?  To get him out now.  I don't know.

Am I pushing him into something he's not ready for?

Am I just being overprotective and underestimating The Boy's capability?
One of the complaints you hear about the Board of Education is the lack of parent involvement.  But when a parent is involved they are viewed as "difficult" or "pushy." All I want is The Boy to have  an opportunity to do well.       

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What Do You Do When A Special Ed Teacher Tells You "I Can't Teach Your Child."

Back in May, I wrote this post about The Boy's acceptance to the ASD Horizon program.
The Boy's 1st day of Kindergarten


Well Thursday was The Boy's first day of kindergarten.  It didn't go so well.  According to the teacher, The Boy poked himself in the eye with a crayon - TWICE.  According to the teacher, he banged his head on the table.  And scratched the assistant then tried to bite her. (I'm going to get back to the bite thing.)  These are not typical behaviors for The Boy.  He's not aggressive and while he has no sense of danger or body awareness, he is not self injurious.

But if you want to laugh.  And I have to laugh (through my tears) about this one - the teacher said, "He didn't want to make friends with the other kids." 

(Um...yeah.  Let that one sink in.)    

In The Boy's  defense, he was at his last school for 3 years.  And if you know anything about autism, you know - routine and consistency are crucial.  And I knew that the transition would be difficult for all of us.  I left that first half day of kindergarten, feeling unsure about my decision but still hopeful.

On the 2nd half day of kindergarten, I put The Boy on the bus and he went on willingly.  Because I'm a stalker mom, I went to the school and waited for the bus.  I wanted to see for myself how this school handled busing.  It went smoothly. 

I did the same thing in the afternoon. Showed up to the school a few minutes before busing to make sure all was okay.  The Boy went on the bus willingly.  I asked the teacher, if the second day was better.  Her response: 

I don't think I can teach him.
How is he going to learn if he can't sit still?
We'll give it a few more days but we may need to reconvene.  For now he's here on a probationary period. 

Wait - what?  Days?  Probation?  What about "I'm going to talk to the BCBA consultant." or "What methods have worked in the past?"  Nope.  After 2 half days of kindergarten, she was giving up on my kid.  

I wonder if that teacher knows how damaging and how devastating her words were to me.  How often I've replayed those lines in mind since she's said them.  How I feel like I've failed.  Or how heartbroken I am.  
 
How do you give up after just 2 half days?  How does a special education tell a parent their child is unteachable?  When there are have been so people in our lives for the last three years,  who have worked with us and with The Boy.  
If a teacher feels that way about my child, do I even want him there?   What if the alternatives are no better?

I couldn't even hold it in until I got home.  I cried the whole way home on the 6 train.  Willing the train to go faster because I needed to meet the bus in front of our building.   I slumped down, and cried - shoulders shaking, sniffling sobs.  With my big sunglasses, I must have looked like a battered woman.  And in a way I was, her words were like a knife in my stomach.  I don' think I've felt so  defeated.  Of course I didn't make it.  I got a call from the bus driver while stuck between stops.  And when I got off my stop - I had to run all the way to our building.  Which was interesting because I'm not in the best physical shape.

And when I reached for The Boy's hand, I noticed 2 stickers pressed in his palms.  They were the stickers I had given him that morning, to fidget with while on the bus.  Was he simply ignored?  Did they even try to engage him?  There are only 5 children in the class (including The Boy) and 3 adults.  I am at a complete loss. 

Monday is The Boy's first full day.  And I have knots in my stomach. I'm trying to breathe.  I'm trying to take it 10 minutes at a time.  I'm trying to get my mind and my game plan together.  Because I still have hope.  Maybe not in the school or in this teacher.  But in The Boy.  And I will never give up. 


*About the biting.  The Boy is a highly sensory seeking child.  He craves deep pressure particularly to the cheek/jaw area.  When frustrated he will press his fist into his cheek - usually his mouth will be partially open.  We give him gum to help redirect the behavior.  But if someone is holding his hand, he will use their hand to apply the pressure.  I could see where someone would think he was going to bite but he won't.  I wrote the teacher this in a letter and left it in his folder.  I sent a box of gum in his book bag too.  Both came back on Friday.  The box of gum unopened and the letter untouched. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Assumptions

When it comes to kids on the spectrum, don't make assumptions.


Don't judge them in the first 5 minutes.
Not in the first 10 minutes either.  
Not even within the first hour or two.

One day last year, I was walking with The Boy and a woman tapped me on the shoulder and asked, "Can he talk?"

I know why she asked - The Boy was speaking in jargon, in that high pitched voice of his.  But still.  It was sort of rude to walk up to a perfect stranger and ask such a question.  After I said, yes and explained The Boy had autism.  The woman then proceeded to explain the importance of early intervention and services.  I let her talk.  

I'd like to add on the day this occurred, we were walking in the middle of a snow storm.  NYC public schools had closed.  But the OT at the Sensory Gym was available and so I bundled The Boy up so we could take the 3 buses to get to Sensory Gym.  So yeah, lady - I got that services are important. 

So what's the point of this little flashback?

The woman last year heard The Boy for 5 minutes and she was ready to make an assumption.  

I know people look at him while flapping, fumbling, mumbling or melting down.  I know strangers in the streets wonder why I whisper in his ear and smooth the small of his back, when they assume what he really needs is "some sense smacked into him." Because yeah - that's been said to me too.

But what they won't refuse to see is that The Boy is special and super bright and funny and really quite charming.  

The Boy is like a gift under the Christmas tree.  That strange shaped box that you look at and turn over and wonder what's inside.  The one you stare at for the weeks leading up to Christmas Day, guessing and second guessing.  Assuming it must be _______.   

And then it's Christmas Day and you open the box and you are totally surprised. Because it's so much better than anything you ever expected or assumed.  And you realize it was worth the wait.   

That's The Boy.  That's autism.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sometimes The Boy Says Things...

that WOW me 
surprise me

enough to stop me right in my tracks.

Sometimes he'll say things and I think: he really is in tune to the world around him.  Maybe more than I or anyone else give him credit for.

Sometimes The Boy will say things as if to reassure me.

Sometimes The Boy will say things to make me cry.  From sheer happiness.

Today was one of those days.  But first he made my heart stop.

I was in the bedroom, reading through emails.  And I hear him opening our front door.  I run out down our narrow hall and catch him just as his little hand is turning the handle. 

"What do you think you're doing Little Kid?"

"I'm going out to look."  He turns and looks at me.  So innocently, as if it were perfectly naturally for him to open up the door and walk outside in the hallway barefoot (eewww).

"What are you looking for?"

"I'm going to look for some friends."

What could I say?  I locked the door (all 3 locks) again.  Knelt down, hugged him and said,  "Tomorrow you will make new friends."

Tomorrow he starts Kindergarten.  And yes - I am still freaking out. 



 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Zippies - Pals That Hang Around

One of the things I find exciting about  a new school year is all the cool back to school items.  It's the only thing keeping me really calm.  Something about new clothes, notebooks and book bags to get me in the back to school mood. 

And what I'm most excited about is Zippies.  Creative Child Magazine hailed Zippies as 2010 Product of the Year; they will be great for The Boy's backpack, lunchbox - even to hang on his belt hoops for personal identification.  (Use the rubber loop - or detach it to clip the pal on a key ring.)  They'd be great for play-dates too, to identify water/juice bottles. 


The Boy isn't the kind of kid that will tell you his name or phone number voluntarily - so the Zippies are a great way to  ensure The Boy can be identified in case of an emergency. 

The best part is - The Boy is really excited about them too!  He chose Ranger for his back pack.  And the description makes me smile - sounds a bit like The Boy. 


There are 10 to choose from.  But why choose, you can have them all and mix and match as you please. Zippies have a suggested retail price of $3.99 each, $15.95 for a five pack or $29.95 for the entire limited-edition first series. They can be ordered online at www.zippiesfun.com and found at select retailers nationwide.   
 

*I received a complementary set for review.  I was not compensated for this post.  All opinions are my own.