Showing posts with label friendship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label friendship. Show all posts

Friday, January 10, 2014

Max Loses His Only Friend | #Parenthood (Season 5, Episode 12) "Stay a Little Longer"

Parenthood: Season 5, Episode 12
Stay a Little Longer (Jan 9, 2014)

I've been watching Parenthood since it started. I don't know why I've never written about it before. I love the show. (It also sort of annoys me…but I don't want to get into that now.) The show tackles subjects that really hit close to home for me. Last night's episode - rather Max' story line - really moved me.

Adam's confused when Micah ignores Max at school. Micah is still Max's best friend, right? Max says they aren't friends anymore, but refuses to elaborate. Kristina wants to call Micah's parents, but Adam is determined to solve the issue directly with Max. After much probing, Max tells Adam that Micah's obsessed with basketball, which is stupid since he's in a wheelchair and can't play. Wheelchair basketball isn't basketball. Maybe that's what offended Micah... Per Adam's suggestion, Max apologizes to Micah and invites him to a Golden State Warriors game complete with hot dogs and nachos. Too busy with his new friends, Micah says no. Adam's heart breaks; Max has lost his only friend. Kristina and Adam rally, revving Max up for an awesome basketball game with his parents.

What I love about Adam and Christina (Max' parents) is how differently they feel when it comes to Max. It's honest and relatable. Over the years, I've seen them grow as a couple and evolve as special needs parents. And yet there is still so much they have yet to learn. I think they believed that because Max and Michah both have disabilities (for lack of a better word) - it would be the ideal friendship. However, Micah's rejection of Max reveals that having a disability doesn't automatically mean you can tolerate or understand someone else's.  

Adam tells Christina, "Max has lost his only friend at school and kids at school are starting to notice his differences and he's all alone." 

It's an experience I can see our family having. Maybe that's why last night's episode hurt my heart so much.

The Boy doesn't go to school with typical kids but he is getting older. The Boy will turn eight years old in two weeks. And the older he gets the more obvious his differences become. The Boy does not have the same interests as a 'typical' 8 year old boy. There are times when I wonder if The Boy experiences loneliness. Even if he doesn't, whenever we're at the playground and The Boy is playing alone - I feel it for him.

Breaking up with a friend is painful. When I walked away from a 20 year friendship it was a difficult decision but I knew it had to be done. And while I missed my friend, I took comfort in the fact that I had other valuable friendships. I could not imagine losing my one and only friend.     

I know Max is only a character in a television show, but that rejection is real. It's something so many kids with autism face. And it's damaging. I never want The Boy to go through that. If I could shield him from those experiences forever, I would. But I can't. 

The Boy doesn't need to be the most popular kid at school. All I want is for The Boy to have one kid, at least one person who gets him.  

While Max has lost his only friend at school, I'm grateful that he has Hank. Because Hank is someone who gets Max.

And I hope there's someone like Hank in The Boy's life.

And if you have no idea what I'm talking about...check out this clip from last week's Parenthood episode, "Promises." (I was a hot sloppy sobbing mess watching this.)

Friday, October 19, 2012

NYC Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 2012

with Della Senior Year - 93

I met Della freshman year of high school. She was one of those girls that I admired: smart, pretty, popular. She was the kind of friend who could make you laugh and have your back. We remained friends until senior year. (In fact, she introduced me to one of my first boyfriends.) And after high school, we simply fell out of touch.

Facebook has reunited me with so many friends from high school, amazing, talented, successful women - including Della. And it's been great to connect and be a part of their lives. I feel lucky that Facebook has given me a second chance at friendship with the girls I grew up with.

They've been there for me when I've walked for autism. They've provided support, words or encouragement or simply a joke when I needed it. I hope I've been able to do the same.

But back to Della.

Over the last few years, I've read Della's status updates. On her good days, she shares something about her beautiful daughter Jazzy. Or she's enjoying her time with family friends. On her bad days, she's on her way to chemo or heading to the ER. And on those days, my heart aches because all I can provide are words of encouragement, love and support.

Rosa & Della
But words can't cure cancer. And Dellahas been fighting breast cancer for years. And it doesn't seem fair that someone so young, so beautiful, so smart should have to suffer so much.

On Sunday, October 21, there will be several walks all over New York for an organization called Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. And a group of high school friends are walking for Della. (Della's Dream Catchers are walking in Flushing Meadow Park - see below for details)

Nearly 20 years after high school, Della is still someone I admire. Not only for her beauty but for her courage, her will to keep fighting and her passion for life. She reminds every day that life is a gift. And I want to keep celebrating it with her for years to come.

To join Della's Dream Catchers Team please click - HERE

Sunday October 21
Registration opens at 8 am
Opening ceremonies begin at 9 am

Walk begins at 10 amFlushing Meadows Corona Park
111th Street between 54th & 55th Avenue, Queens, NY 11368
If you can't make the walk - PLEASE donate what you can. Every dollar counts.   

For walk information & to donate:

Queens Flushing Meadow Park - HERE
The Bronx - Orchard Beach click - HERE

Manhattan Central Park - HERE

Brooklyn Prospect Park - HERE

Making Strides Events page - click HERE
High School Girlfriends - Feb 2012

For more information about breast cancer, how to find it early, and how to join the fight to end the disease, visit or contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 anytime, day or night.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How to be Friends With an Autism Mom

Today is National Girlfriend Day - a day for celebrating friends, sisters and friends who have become our sisters.

I've realized the older we get, the harder it is to maintain a friendship.  We grow up.  We grow apart.  And sometimes we break up.  

Before I was a mom, there were after work dinners and drinks with girl friends.  There were afternoons of shopping and getting our hair done.  Friday and Saturday nights, dancing all night.  On Sundays, there was brunch.    

Now that I'm a mother, those days and nights are few and far between.  

And being a special needs mom, friendships become even harder to maintain.  

After The Boy was diagnosed, I felt isolated. There was no one in my circle of friends who could relate to what I was going through.  I am fortunate that most of my friends have been understanding. 

I've heard moms say that their friendships have changed after a diagnosis. One thing I've learned while on this journey is - we cannot do this alone.  We need a support system.  We need our friends. 

So how do you stay friends with an autism mom?         

1. Be AwareAutism Awareness is a two way street.  Become familiar with the diagnosis  (at least the basics) and common terminology.  Your friend will need you more than ever  and if you have an understanding of the disability - that will make her feel less alone.  She will realize you're in it for the long haul too.  I love it when my friends read or see something about autism and they share it with me.  It tells me that they want to learn. 

And if you have kids, take the time to explain autism to them.  Chances are your friends kid may not have any friends or siblings to play with.  It would be be great if you could schedule a play date.  Especially if your child is a year or two older - the older child can act as a role model for the younger one.   

2. Understand HER. Those first few months after a diagnosis, she may be distant or distracted.   There may be times when she's just not available.  And she may not pick up the phone when you call.  It's not that she doesn't want to be bothered with you - she may just be going through a really tough time.  She may be overwhelmed.  And she may not want to talk about it. 

Understand that she may be flaky and that it's hard for her to make plans.  Childcare will always be an issue.  Understand that if she cancels plans at the last minute, it's not that she doesn't want to spend time with you, it's just a bad time for her or her child.  Do not stop extending invitations - one day she will say yes and you will both have a blast.  However, on  the day you really need your friend - she will find a way to be there for you.  

3. Listen to Her.  When you finally get your friend on the phone or out of the house.  She may need to vent.  She may need to cry.  Let her.  You don't have to really say anything.  It's okay if you don't offer advice (especially if you don't have a kid with an autism diagnosis).  Just let her talk and get it all out.  But, don't let autism rule the conversation.  Try to talk about things that will make her laugh.   She'll want to know about you too, she may be too preoccupied to ask.     

4.  Understand Her Kid.  Understand that her kid may not be able to sit in your house for long and they may have to cut their visit short.  Understand that if your friend is visiting and she's with her kid, she may need to keep getting up to see what her kid is doing.  

Make an effort to understand her kid's speech or gestures.  Make the effort to get to know her kid.   Talk to her kid.  Ask questions.  Take a genuine interest. 

5.  Reach Out/Check In.  If you haven't heard from her - give a call, send a text or email.  Chances are, you've been in her thoughts but she hasn't had the time to call.  

6. NEVER, under any circumstances utter the words: All kids do that.

Maybe this sound like too much to ask of some friends. But did you know Autism Moms have stress similar to combat soldiers.  It's easy to be friends during the good times, it's the friends that hang around through the tough times - those are the real friends. 

And to all my friends - THANK YOU!  Thank you for keeping the invites coming.  Thank you for calling, emailing, texting.  Thank you for your words of support.  And thank you for being there for me and for The Boy.  Thank you for being a friend!     



Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Before you get the wrong idea.  I am not talking about me and The Husband.  I'm talking about another kind of break up - just as painful as breaking up with a spouse or partner.  

I'm talking about breaking up with your best friend.

Remember the other day when I said going back and forth to the Kennedy Center was bringing back all these old feelings?

I've been thinking about the difference between 4 years ago and now.

The week The Boy was diagnosed with autism, The Husband and I had a baby shower to attend.  Not just any one's baby shower.  My best friend's baby shower.  Had it been anyone else I would have cancelled.  

So that Sunday, as I watched my best friend and her husband open up their baby shower gifts, I smiled and clapped and oohed and aahed along with everyone else.  

Was I happy for her?  Of course I was.  Was I in pain?  Absolutely.  

It reminded me of my own baby shower.  And how happy and hopeful I was.  And after the diagnosis, all that happiness and hope just crumbled on the day the doctor said, "Your son has autism and global developmental delay."

And I had so many questions.  Doubts.  Fears.  And there wasn't a single person in my circle of friends or family who understood all the things I was feeling.

The months prior to The Boy's diagnosis, I was juggling full time work, full time school, applying to graduate school and having The Boy evaluated.  It wasn't easy.  

The day my best friend gave birth, we had just started ABA home therapy 2 weeks prior. 15 hours.  5 days a week from 4 - 7 pm.  Some days the therapist didn't leave until after 8 pm.  In those first few weeks, I would sit in the room to observe, ask questions and sometimes walk out of the room when The Boy's crying got to be too much for me to take.

The therapist suggested we repaint The Boy's room to a more soothing color.  The Husband and I had planned to paint that very weekend.  It just so happened, my best friend went into labor the day before we were to start painting.  

I wasn't going to go the hospital.  I wanted to paint.  Back then I think I believed, if I painted the room the right color, if I did everything the doctors and therapists told me to do, The Boy could be "fixed."

It was my mother who said, the painting could wait.  And so, I went.

I spent the remainder of that summer, living and breathing ABA, OT, PT & Speech.  I spent my free time reading autism books and doing research.  I didn't call anyone and I didn't go anywhere other than work.  Thank goodness for Facebook - it was the only social interaction I had.    

Fast forward a few months later, maybe close to a year - the time frame is murky.

I get an email from my best friend, a 3 page letter.  

In the letter she pretty much told me what a horrible friend I had been.  How unsupportive I was during the months of her pregnancy and after she gave birth.  How I never called or made time for her.  How I didn't love her baby the way she loved mine.  In the letter she wrote how she did so much for me during my pregnancy.  How she rushed to the hospital the night I was induced.  How she worked so hard to plan my baby shower.  And how I failed to help make her shower favors.  How I failed to show up until the day after she gave birth.  How The Boy wasn't going to die from autism and neither was I.

A few emails went back and forth until I called her.  We cried.  We made up.  But our bond had been broken.  Too much had been said.  And even though I forgave.  I could not forget.  I found myself walking on eggshells whenever we spoke.  Our conversations were careful, cordial - neither one of us wanting to upset the other.  

For months I carried that letter with me.  And even after I threw it away.  I saved it in my yahoo inbox.  And I'd return to it.  Rereading it.  Dissecting every single sentence.  Reflecting on every single moment, she had mentioned in the letter.  Wondering if I was really that horrible of a person.  Wondering how long she had those feelings about me.  Wondering how I could salvage a 15+ year friendship.  Wondering why anyone would want to be friends with me at all.  I don't think anyone or anything has made me feel like I was the worst human being in the world.

And eventually, our friendship dissolved.  This Christmas came and went - no cards were exchanged.  Not even a Merry Christmas text.  

Do I miss her?  Of course.  Can we be friends the way were?  No.  It's taken a while for me to realize that I'm not a bad person.  She's not a bad person.  (I still think she's a really good person, amazing mother and a fabulous teacher - so please don't say anything against her here.) We're just not good together.  Just like some romantic relationships need to end, sometimes friendships need to end too.    

Not having her in my life hasn't been easy.  My mother asks for her.  My Madrina (godmother) asks for her.  The other night, a mutual friend asked if I heard from her.  But aside from people asking me about her.  I still think about her.  There are days, when I want to pick up the phone and call her.  And then I remember that letter.  And I put the phone down.  

And on those days, I go to her FB page - because that's the extent of our friendship - and look at pictures of her with her family.  But I don't comment.  I just like to look and see how big and beautiful her son is.  And for a few fleeting moments, I wonder if her son and mine could have been better friends to each other than the way we were.  

Whew...that was tough.  It's definitely one of those posts where I wish this blog was totally anonymous.  But I guess that's the whole point of "Pour Your Heart Out" with Shel.             

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Through the Looking Glass presents Heather McCracken

If you read yesterday's post, you know that over the long weekend I "met" some wonderful folks via Twitter hashtag #youmightbeanautismparentif.  One of those folks is Heather McCracken, founder and executive director of Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society.  This is her story ~  

Necessity is the Mother of a Child On the Autism Spectrum
I will never forget the moment my son was diagnosed…I started to cry, but not because I was upset that the doctor had agreed with my suspicions. I cried out of relief that someone finally saw what I saw, that someone finally believed me. Up to that point I had been on my own. After eighteen long and torturous months and an incredible twelve different physicians finally, on a rainy day in December, one doctor had the courage to agree with a mother's intuition.

What I did not know was that the events of December 4, 1995 would alter the course of my life. My path from that moment forward was a journey with one goal – to ensure that son Iain would know that he was accepted, understood and loved for who he was within his family, his community and his peer group.

My son, like so many others I know on the autism spectrum, wants the one thing that most individuals his age want - to have friends. All individuals regardless of their unique challenges or gifts have the intrinsic need to play, make friends and be accepted for who they are. Individuals with autism are no different; they just express this need differently.

Fast-forward three years to when Iain started kindergarten. Watching him suffer from this social isolation in the school environment, I felt compelled to do what I could to change this situation, not only for my son, but also for other children who experience these same social difficulties. In 2002, after several years of research I designed the Friend 2 Friend Autism Demystification model and programs and founded Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society, a non-profit charity based in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada.

The Friend 2 Friend Model works to promote understanding, acceptance, and empathy in an effort to foster mutually rewarding friendships between children with autism spectrum and related social communication disorders and their peers, siblings and classmates. This is done by designing and providing programs using age-appropriate tools such as puppets in the Friend 2 Friend Puppet Program for children ages 3-12, and a sensory Simon Says game as part of the Friend 2 Friend Simulation Game Program for children ages 12 and up. 

Our autism demystification programs work to build a general knowledge of autism by modeling characteristics of autism, labeling those characteristic with their proper names, explaining the purpose of those characteristics and finally -- but most importantly -- normalizing the characteristics, comparing them to conventional characteristics that many people have. The Friend 2 Friend model and programs also teach prosocial communication strategies to all of the children (both on and off the autism spectrum). These strategies work to promote social communication competencies in all children and provide a framework for children to feel confident in social interaction with one another. This well-researched, structured teaching model makes up the Friend 2 Friend model and is the basis for all of the programs we design.

In 2002, Friend 2 Friend began field-testing the model and delivering our first program -- the Friend 2 Friend Puppet Program. That year we (two volunteers and I) provided 35 presentations, seeing approximately 1700 children in schools, preschools and daycares in North Vancouver.  The following school year (2003-2004) we provided 287 Puppet Program presentations seeing over 14,000 children in schools throughout the lower mainland of BC. The demand for the Friend 2 Friend programs increases yearly and now in our 9th year of operation and fast approaching our 10th anniversary, Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society provides a host of programs including our signature Autism Demystification programs, our Friend 2 Friend – Integrated Play Groups program, training seminars and conferences such as our satellite training programs, Can I Play Too? Community Capacity Building Project, and our publications program.

  In 2012 we are working hard to establish the Friend 2 Friend Play Centre, a state-of-the art peer play centre combining a research-based awarding-winning SCERTS®, IPG® and F2F models. 

Since our humble beginnings a decade ago, Friend 2 Friend has delivered our Autism Demystification programs to over 130,000 children and 30,000 adults. We have established two satellite partners in Calgary, AB and Burlington, VT, published three self-use autism demystification packaged programs that are subtitled in the 6 UN languages and sold worldwide, and we have delivered over 75 Integrated Play Groups Programs and 200 seminars.

I have to admit that when I founded Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society and started designing and implementing the Friend 2 Friend Autism Demystification Programs I never imagined for one moment that I would travel the world helping parents and professionals implement the programs. I also never imaged that I would be sitting at a university waiting for my son Iain to finish classes for the day while I wrote this article.

The road we travel in the world of autism is long and winding but it is an amazing ride filled with the joy of acceptance, understanding, empathy and friendships for our children and for ourselves. It is my hope that the Friend 2 Friend programs have and will continue to help make the road a bit smoother for many individuals on the autism spectrum and their peers.

Check us out on:

Twitter @F2FHeather


Through the Looking Glass Contributor: Heather McCracken is the founder and executive director of the Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society. She is the creator of the Friend 2 Friend model and programs and a mother of three (Katie, Iain and Emma); her son Iain is on the autism spectrum. Heather actively designs and delivers social, communication peer play based programs for children ages 3 through 18 in schools and other community settings throughout North America and abroad. She an international speaker and widely published, author of "That's What's Different About Me", "Can I Play Too", "Demystifying Autism", and coauthor "Learners on the Autism Spectrum."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Falling Back. Moving Forward.

Last night we turned back the clocks.  And I have to say, Daylight Savings,  is one of my favorite days of the year.  I always feel like I get so much more done.  I always feel an extra boost of energy.  And I spend my day thinking "Oh it's 1 o'clock, but it's really 2 o'clock."  The Boy let me sleep in until 8:30 am!  (Really 9:30 am) 

For me, falling back an hour makes a huge difference.  I feel like I'm getting something for nothing. 

Anyway...The Boy had a play date with his favorite Little Lady at Van Cortlandt Park.  Little Lady is about a year younger than The Boy.  And she is one of the few children that The Boy connects with.  At one point, Little Lady had run off and The Boy yelled out to her.  "Come here, let's go down the slide."  And those little moments, give me such joy.  

The Boy &  Little Lady

Running after Little Lady

When The Boy wasn't running after Little Lady, he was actually riding his scooter.  We've had this scooter for almost two years and he's never really gotten the concept of it.  Today was the first time he was able to do it! He was really trying, looking down at his feet.  Remembering to put on foot down, pushing himself and balancing.  It may not seem like a big deal to most parents, but trust me when I say - It's a BIG DEAL!   

Today may have been a day of falling back.  But The Boy is definitely moving forward. 


What's a Sunday like in your City?  Unknown Mami wants to know!  Go on over to Sundays In My City.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My ISP - Individualized Socialization Plan

" We should not let grass grow on the path of friendship."
   - Madam Marie Therese Rodet Geoffrin

I spend a lot of time focusing on The Boy's social development (facilitating play dates, initiating social interaction, responding to social cues), however my own social life and sense of self is suffering.  And if you're the mom of a special needs kid - I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

I say no to pretty much every invitation I receive from friends.  No, I have class.  No, I have to take The Boy to sensory gym.  No, it's my late day at work.  No, it's been a rough week.  No, I don't have money.  And even when I have money - still No.  Because I feel guilty spending money.  Especially this year, with all this Turning 5 stuff.  See my post Autism Ain't Cheap.  And I've said No so many times, that the invitations come less and less.

Forget about a romantic night out with The Husband.  Since my mother takes care of The Boy during the week, I hate to ask her to watch him on the weekends too.  On the rare occasion, I do ask my mother to watch The Boy on a Saturday night, I feel like I'm fifteen years old begging for permission to go to a party.  My parents never went out and left us behind.  Ever.  So she makes me feel guilty for wanting to go out. So The Husband and I stay home.  Another reason why I say to no to friends - I don't go out with my husband, how can I go out with my friends?

But this Sunday, on the first day of Spring - I said yes.  And it was nice.  It felt good to sit among old friends, to catch up and just giggle and gossip the way girls often do.  It was nice to eat a meal and not have to stop to feed someone else or wipe a nose.  It was nice to eat and not feel rushed.  It was nice to sit and sip my drink leisurely.

I decided that I would make more of an effort to say yes.  I work hard at school, at work, with Norrin - but cultivating my relationships not so much.  How can I expect The Boy to work on one to one relationships with peers, when he doesn't see me doing it?  So like everything else in our life, I will have to plan it out.  I'm calling it an "ISP" - Individualized Socialization Plan

Short-Term Objectives:
  1. Lisa will coordinate time with friends.  For example: Yesterday I emailed my best friends inviting them out for a pre-mother's day evening out.  Planning in advance gives us time to secure child care and plan financially.  When my friend stated that she may not be able to do that due to finances, I said: Don't worry - I'll come over with 2 big bottles of wine.  :)
  2. Lisa will secure alternate child care services.  The Husband and I need to go out.  We need to be able to allow friends and/or other family members take The Boy for a few hours. There are plenty of people who have offered to watch The Boy. We need to start collecting on those offers.
  3. Lisa will engage in at least one personal activity per month.  No going to class will not count. I never ever take time out for myself.  I am always doing something for someone else.  Going somewhere for someone else.  Going forward I will work on taking time out for myself, by myself.  Even if it's just walking to the corner Starbucks and having a cup of coffee.        
Annual Goal:
Lisa will improve on all relationships: self, romantic, friendships and familial.

As I'm writing these down, I'm a little hesitant.  Can I committ to do this?  Better yet, will I?  I know The Husband is absolutely supportive of me taking time out for myself.  The responsibility to do so falls on me.  Obviously, I won't be able to accept every invitation and some months may be harder than others to carve time out.  But just like I expect The Boy to try and make attempts in socialization and personal development, I need to put forth that same effort.  

"When all is said and done, it is the people in your life, the friendships you form and the committments you maintain, that give shape to your life."
 - Hillary Rodham Clinton     

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dealing with Diagnosis

The week The Boy was diagnosed, it seemed as if everyone had something to say.  Some words of wisdom or piece of gossip column advice from people who had no idea what we were going through.  At the time, we didn't know anyone who had a child with autism - no one to truly tell us what we were in for.  

Some of the things we heard was:

"It could be worse."

"It's really not a big deal." 

"Whatever doesn't kill you, will make you stronger."

"God doesn't give you anything you can't handle."

"He (referring to The Husband) just needs to get over it." This was told to me by an in-law.  She's now dealing with her own son's diagnosis and from what I hear is having a difficult time.  "Getting over it," she is learning is easier said than done.  

And my personal favorite, "The Boy's not going to die from Autism and neither are you." This was told to me by my best friend of more than 15 years. We are no longer friends - but that's for another post.

Those first few months were difficult. I did a lot of crying. There was a lot of uncertainty. And I felt like my home was no longer my own.  With therapists coming in and out.  Our work schedules changed, our life style changed.  I used to go out after work with friends, gossip on the phone - after The Boy's diagnosis that all stopped. Our life revolved around The Boy and therapy. I couldn't justify going out - what if I missed something?  There were people in our lives who couldn't understand why we no longer had time.  And we learned who our friends really were.  

In retrospect, going into seclusion probably wasn't the best thing.  But we all deal in our own way.   

I would tell any parent dealing with a new diagnosis to just take it day by day. That there is no time frame for acceptance. Not to let others dismiss their feelings of loss.  And not to succumb to guilt - you'll drive yourself crazy.  Then I would tell them to be strong.  You can advocate for your child in the morning and cry in the afternoon (because it is okay to cry and feel sad).  That if you need to scream - bury your head in a pillow and scream (I did this a lot).  I would also tell them that it gets better. Maybe not easier, there is always something to fight for - you just get better at fighting. I would also let them know that there is joy to be found in every day simplicity.  Never allow your sorrow to overshadow those moments.