xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: February 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Tornadoes!!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fell in love with a boy

There's a boy that I love; with all my heart. Sometimes I love him so much it feels like there's no room for anything else in there.

I see him every day, and want so much for him to talk to me, but he usually does not.

I talk to him, and he doesn't answer me. I try to get him to notice me, but he's interested in other things.

I spend a lot of time watching him walk away from me.

When he walks away, I feel a longing in my chest. It's a heavy, pulling sensation on my heart and in my throat; it's almost physically painful

There's nothing I can do to change this. I can't insist that he stay, because it will only drive him farther away. I have no choice but to let him be; to watch him walk away.

This is how autism makes me feel: like I'm a high school girl with a crush on a boy who doesn't know I exist.

Not all of the time; just some of the time.

Enough of the time.

Monday, February 27, 2012

How often does this kind of conversation happen in your house?

Child 2: hits cat with sock

Me: Please stop hitting the cat with your sock

Child 2: hits cat with sock

Me: WHAT did I just say??

Child 2: Don't hit the cat with my sock.

Me: And what did YOU do?

Child 2: I hit the cat with my sock.

Me: And is that okay?

Child 2: No

Sunday, February 26, 2012

"All Kids Do That" Part 11: Driving

See the tab above for more information about this series.

Oh, god.... driving. *GASP*

Today I am happy to welcome my awesome friend Jessica, who blogs at Four Plus An Angel, and is also co-owner of Pin Savvy Social (Oh, yeah. Shameless plus. That totally just happened)

When my daughter was well beyond the age most kids learned, I decided it was time for her to ride a bike. A single mom in those days, I enlisted the help of my brother and dad. They removed the training wheels from the bike she had barely ever used and got on either side. As they pushed her down the street she turned her head and talked, about dinner and lunch and breakfast the next day and what time we would be finished because Rachael Ray was on at 1pm on weekdays. If they had let go of her she would have fallen over faster than you can say Food Network.

And it was then that I declared us done. We were finished trying to do "normal".

The only ones who wanted her to learn to ride a bike were myself and those people who write the books on child development that I may have burned with the candles on her second birthday cake.

My daughter is 16 now, 16 and six months. Six months past the age when she "should" have received her driver's license. Six months into questions about when we are starting driver's training and stories from well-meaning parents about their child who didn't feel like driving until he was 18 or their daughter who they thought would never get her license until one day (thank goodness!) she finally parallel parked.

It is a good thing I perfected the closed mouth, plastered on smile response years ago.

My daughter will not drive, not because she doesn't feel like it or because the only thing holding her back is fitting our mini van between a truck and a sedan, but because she is wired differently. She could direct you to any location in our city with her eyes closed and regularly comes to the rescue of a lost substitue bus driver, but if you put her behind the wheel you better be prepared to hit the brake while she is steering or steer while she pushes her foot all the way down on the gas. Don't worry, none of this would be dangerous because that important first step of taking the car out of park was forgotten long ago.

Not being able to drive has many implications on her future and I am okay with that, I made peace with it long ago. What I have not made peace with is others trying to wrap our autism up with a pretty bow. My normal is not their normal.

Lacking the desire to drive or putting it off for a few years is not the same as not having the developmental skills to brake and steer while looking straight ahead. I'm sure there is some special education/occupational therapist/miracle worker who could spend the next five years helping my daughter learn to drive but frankly, we are therapy-ed out and so is she. There will be no more attempts at trying to fit her into someone else's "normal". Accepting her as she is is a much greater gift than a set of car keys.

She is perfectly happy with her life, just don't tell her she missed a Food Network marathon eight years ago when her mom thought she should learn to ride a bike.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Link up! Show your shame!

Yesterday, Child 2 was in the back of the car complaining about how he felt sick, and he says "you really should clean out this car more often."

Yeah, whatever, man. Maybe if you didn't drop food back there so much there wouldn't be so much food back there. AMIRIGHT?????????

So then I actually looked back there and I was suddenly struck with an idea: I should take a picture of this hell! And then put it on my blog! And ask others to do the same!!!!!

I'm a motherfucking genius.

So... here's my shame. What is yours? It doesn't have to be your car; it doesn't even have to be a mess. Just take a picture of something that you're ashamed of. And share it. With us. In this link up. Because? Awesome.

I don't, um... know what I'm "doing" what with this linky shit and all, so let's hope this works.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Dive Bar Welcomes: A goddamned survivor!

Just a reminder, or in case you're new, that I don't write Dive Bar posts: these are sent to me by folks who have something they want to get off their chest. You can read more here or at the tab above.

I love this one. I want to hug her. I want to give her a high five. I want to smooch her little baby girl.....

To The Fuckface That Married My Mom,

Hey you spineless bastard, remember me? The four year old you raped and then tried to kill my mom in front of? Yep, my mom, the lady you paralyzed because she was trying to protect me. The cops told my mom I was too young to testify against you in 1985, that it would damage me emotionally. Yeah, the years of remembering not only what you did to me but to my mom didn't phase me at all, asshole.

The surgery I had to have on my lady parts just so I could be semi-normal. Being told I would never be able to have a child because you caused too much damage to my little uterus. Growing up starving myself so bad I was hospitalized several times because I didn't want to hit puberty. Puberty meant breasts and if I looked like a boy then I was safe. Men wouldn't want to hurt me. Being so terrified of any kind of sexual relationship in high school I was called a lesbian, which in the 1990s in my backwoods ass hometown was almost as bad as being YOU. Going to college and discovering drinking made the nightmares I had been having for years not so bad. Not able to grasp what a normal relationship was and pushing away any decent guy that tried to have anything to do with me. Becoming a complete whore after all of that because I didn't think sex had anything to do with love. I was destined to be what you had drilled in my four year old brain, something for men to use and then throw away. Watching my mom go through not one, not two, but TWELVE fucking surgeries just to be able to use a walker. That's right asshole, she can use a walker now after all these years. She has defeated you so suck it bastard.

You didn't win with me either. I found an amazing man who after nine years finally won me over to see that a man can love me. That I'm not the horrible person you made me think I was. That I deserve to be cherished. Guess what else? We're having a baby next month. The Drs were wrong and I was able to get pregnant. Thanks to you though I have nightmares about someone hurting her. Paralyzing panic attacks where I swear I will home school her and never work so she won't be out of my sight. Then I take a deep breath and remember that while there are a lot of sick bastards like you in the world, there's a lot more of us good, decent people. That I won't let you ruin her life because of my fear.

Because you took two victims and made us two of the strongest bitches I've ever known.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kids these days....

I had an interesting encounter on Twitter yesterday. It all started when Tracy said she didn't think Britney Spears should be a judge on X-factor (or something, I don't know), and got called a bad name by some teen Britney fan. Well, I thought that was funny, and I like to make fun of people like that, so I butted in with something snarky and got this in return

Wow! This will be such fun! I love fucking with people like this; angry, pointless and not very smart. So I gleefully responded with something or other, and we went back and forth for a while. This was, without question, the best one:

But as we went on, she started to get smarter; my first clue was her proper use of "you're a cunt," instead of "your a cunt," which is what I would have expected. Her grammar improved; her spelling improved; she literally questioned my "logic." Okay, you can fake being stupid, but you can't fake being smart, and this girl (she's 17) was obviously smart.

Sadly, once I figured that out, it all stopped being fun for me. I like mocking stupid people, but not smart people pretending to be stupid. But I wondered... why would an obviously smart girl pretend to be dumb? Is she playing a role? Does she get some sort of advantage for being dumb? She was pretty, assuming her avatar was actually her; does she think she needs to be stupid in order to get guys? In order to get ahead? In order to get... anything?

I actually felt quite sad about it. Is this what society teaches girls? Is this what parents teach girls? Was this true when I was 17? (I don't remember, it was so fucking long ago....)

As a parent, I consider it my moral responsibility to raise my kids to be nice people, and honest, and true to themselves. But since I have boys it is also my intention, as a feminist, to make sure that they know that it is their moral responsibility to treat women with respect.

How are the girls of today being raised? Are they being raised to own their strength, and to respect themselves? Based on my twitter encounter yesterday, I'm afraid that this isn't the case. Then again, I don't know what the real case is. I'm sure that anybody who is raising girls and who is reading this will tell me that they're raising their girls in that way, but even so, what about the rest of the world?

Anyway, I signed off by telling her that it was awesome to be smart and that she should own that; smart women can rule the world! She thought I was just a crazy old person (she was right). I'm sure she will mature as she gets older; she will (hopefully) go off to college and realize that there are so many more options for her than to play the role of dumb, angry girl on Twitter. I'm sure she'll figure that out. I hope she figures that out.

(Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think the pitbull eating my legs thing was just a joke, in which case: good job! If that was a joke, it was a good one. I'd even say she won that round....)

What do you guys think?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

IEP post. Um... snark?

Holy shit I'm doing a meme! First of all, I have to apologize for the people who have actually tagged me in this, because I can't for the life of me remember who you are. I'm really sorry about that, but if you tell me I will definitely edit this post to include a link to you. In the meantime, though, for some reason I was able to remember that this meme was created by Karen at Solodialogue, who definitely didn't tag me, because she's afraid of me for some reason. I think. I don't remember. Anyway, that isn't going to stop me from participating, because that's just the way I roll....

So, here's the deal with this, according to Karen:
Each of us has loads to offer on the battlefield but what tools and services are we really all fighting for? Do we know what is available? By the way, who is paying for those special things?

So, simply put, as I tag you, and hoping that you are willing to share, there are only three things I’m looking for answers to in this meme:
  1. A list of tools (special chairs, iPad, visual schedules, gums, chewlery, squishees, headphones, whatever devices help focus and sensory issues);
  2. Services (Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, ABA, TEACCH, Special Ed teaching rooms, aides during class, tutors, etc.) and how many hours per week of each your child receives;
  3. Your opinions of the effectiveness of (1) and (2) above.
I know. I know. Every child with a special need is different and requires different accommodations. Beyond that, I think we will find common ground. We may find that despite the emphasis on the differences, the school districts may be offering the same stuff to everyone. Who knows until we share?

The goal is that the next time any of us is faced with an upcoming IEP we can peruse our friends’ lists and see what may be useful to our own child.

Sounds good to me! So... here we go....

1. Nothing. Nada. There are no tools. The closest we get is that he gets to use math manipulatives. This is because we haven't had a good OT in a few years, but at our recent IEP meeting there was somebody there who seemed to actually know what she was doing, and was able to use the term "sensory diet" in a way that didn't include the cafeteria, so I'm hopeful that she may come up with some ideas. On the other hand, he'll just stim on fidgets all day long, anyway, and really what he needs is to get up and run back and forth in the hallway a few times in order to get his focus. I was going to say "get his focus back" but he practically never has focus, anyway; but I digress....

2. Services! I will list them below:

- Specialized academic instruction: 225 minutes/week (Push in and/or pull out academic support)
- Intensive Individual Services: 1200 minutes/week (IA support during academic activities and specials)
- Language and speech: 90 minutes/week (Push in and pull out as needed to total 90 minutes weekly)
- Occupational Therapy: 30 minutes/week (push into classroom or pull out, as needed)
- Adapted Physical Education: 30 minutes/week
- There are about 3 pages dedicated to testing accommodations, but I'll just tell you the good part, because the rest of it isn't important, I think: When unfocused or seems stressed, discontinue testing and work on core curriculum (This is the first time we've had this, I can't WAIT to see how this goes, because he is ALWAYS unfocused! HAHAHAHA!)

3. I think that a few years ago when he had an awesome SLP/OT (ONE person doing all awesome things. We were so lucky) he benefited a lot from the brushing and the swinging that she would do, but that hasn't been happening the past few years and I'm not really sure it would make a difference, anyway. But at our last meeting we did discuss the need for him to get up every 30 minutes or so and just run back and forth to get his physical and mental energy out, which is what they're referring to about the OT, which is push in or pull out "as needed."

As for the rest of it, like I said, he's always unfocused, and without an IA hanging over his shoulder he will never listen to the teacher or get any work done, so unless he's actually getting his "specialized academic instruction" I'm not sure he's actually learning anything, anyway.

We also have a tutor, who is not mentioned in the IEP, and whom I pay for out of pocket. I've been fighting the district to pay for tutoring forfuckingEVER, but they just won't do it. I've talked about it here before. Mostly it's just so that I don't have to do homework with him, because I simply cannot. Our awesome tutor is not only has a K-6 credential, she is an autism specialist and works as a resource teacher in another district. She works for me for shit pay because she's a single parent and needs the extra money. Oh, I'm going to give her a raise, by the way, because she was at our IEP and was AWESOME.

I think I'm getting off track. Another thing I want to mention, just because I think it's so cool, is that it also says this in our IEP: "Send home homework, but family decides what Child 1 will do for homework. If an alternative assignment worked on for homework, the assignment will be turned in with adult signature." So, basically, fuck your test prep! YES!!!!! I only wish I could get the same for Child 2.

Oh, and inspired by Top Ten Most Ridiculous Comments Heard at an IEP Meeting, here's something that was said at our meeting last week. Spoken by our district representative, who is always saying stupid things like "he'll be taking tests his whole life," in a discussion about whether or not teaching an autistic kid (with both significant language processing issues and some kind of math phobia) math word problems was wise or not, she said "word problems are a part of life." Um... hello? Autism? Word problems? Seriously???

Okay! So, I hope I did justice to this meme and that Karen will be proud and not scared of me. I will now also tag some people, and I've chosen the mom bloggers who were the first friends I made when I started blogging and whom I have somewhat fallen out of touch with as the years have gone on.

Also ..... Lynn knows why.....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

So, apparently I'm allergic to dogs.

So, I'm a Bookkeeper and I have 15 clients right now; and almost every single one of my clients has a dog. Whether I go to their home office to work, or their regular office, there's a dog pretty much everywhere I go. I'm cool with that, because I like dogs. They're not like cats; cats are assholes. Dogs are cool. They sit underneath the desk and lick my toes. I don't know why. Okay, dogs are also weird in addition to being cool.

Anyway, as far as I know I'm not allergic to dogs; I've never had a problem before. Until last week some time when I went to a new client, and she had this enormous, fuzzy, happy, licky, jumpy guy who immediately adored me, and I him. He kept jumping into my lap while we sat there talking and I couldn't help but hug him and love him and talk to him, instead of her. Okay, it might have been awkward. I don't know what breed he was, I asked, and she told me, and it wasn't anything I'd ever heard of before, but just so you know, he looked exactly like this:

After I left the two of them, I had about 45 minutes to go to Costco and then get to my next client. I was standing there looking at cheese when my eye started itching. I guess I rubbed it, I don't really remember, but before things got really bad I became acutely aware of the fact that I hadn't washed my hands since I had rubbed them all over Mr. Fuzzypants.

Things were getting itchier and itchier, and then they got leakier and leakier. I abandoned my cart full of 100 tons of meatballs, 19 pounds of nutmeg and a 2 gallon bottle of vodka and ran off to the bathroom to wash my hands before things got any worse.

I looked at myself in the mirror, though, and realized that it probably wasn't going to get much worse than this. One of my eyes was almost swollen shut and it looked like I was crying; but only out of the one eye. It was not pretty.

Oh good god, I have to go to my next client like this? I scoured the aisles looking for allergy eye drops, but there were none. I didn't want to take Benadryl because it would put me to sleep (moreso) and there would be no way I could function. I was pretty sure I had some allergy eye drops at home, so I very quickly finished up (which is practically impossible in Costco) and ran my ass home to find something before I ran out of time.

Unfortunately the only thing I could find was regular Visine, which did nothing for the swelling and the leaking but did take away all the redness! And off I went to my next client.....

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Dive Bar Welcomes: She Who is Without Mental Clutter

Can't identify today's author. SORRY! (HA HA no I'm not).

Mental Clutter (a.k.a. The Best Gift I Ever Gave Myself)

You know, you folks have gotten me in a lot of trouble with my mother-in-law. Some astute persons might argue that it's no one's fault but my own. And they would be 100% correct. But, since I have too many things to fret about these days and know that just one more thing to feel bad about might send me over the edge, I'm going to blame you instead. You're good with that, right? :wink:

Yes, I DID create a publicly viewable blog and put my life on the world wide web. And I did create Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts for it. I suppose I might also have linked some of my posts to those accounts as well. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I guess I did write a somewhat negative post about my mother-in-law. (I also have an uber- private group on Facebook called "She Who Must Not Be Named on Facebook Support Group". Yeah...I know.)

Here is where it's your fault. Some of you went and had the nerve to actually read that post. And then went and forwarded and re-tweeted it. So it's all your fault that I now can't go and take it back. It's out there. Such is the nature of our digital world.

My publishing such a post might lead some to think I'm a really nervy person. Some people might even think that I am a very direct and uncompromising defender of my psyche. Sadly, that is not the case. I am actually one of those people who is really nice to people who don't like me. I put up with a lot of crap -- out of some irrational dread of confrontation. I actually cry when overwhelmed by anger - which isn't very often, as I spend a lot of time smoothing things out and trying to make certain everyone likes me.

Some of you are disappointed in me. Some of you are those wonderfully brave sorts of people who say what you mean and mean what you say. My sister-in-law is one of those types. She and I have joked for years that that I always say what she should have said and that she always says what I wished I'd have said. She thinks I'm wise. I admire her chutzpah. It's a relationship that works.

So, when I started this blog, I hadn't given a great deal of thought to content that might come back to haunt me. This is an important lesson for those of you interested in blogging. Just remember ole' [Insert autism blogger you suspect] and act accordingly. Don't post anything about your mother-in-law unless your blog identity is protected by the CIA.

Having said that, I have accepted that I have made my proverbial bed. Clearly, there is nothing left to do but lie in it, right? :)

Here is the part where I'm going to tell you all about my mother-in-law. You were waiting for that. Admit it. We'll just chalk it up to a minor character deficiency in us all and keep going, shall we?

The woman made me insane. I use the past tense because, several months ago, I gave myself a gift. I cut her off. And let me tell you that, at ___ years old, she is the very first person I have ever cut off in my entire life. I don't mean that she is the first individual I've been a little estranged from. We've all had relationships grow a little distant. I mean that she is the only person, to date, that I have refused to continue speaking to.

Let me state for the record that she isn't actually evil. She loves her children and grandchildren and does buy them things and take them places and call almost every day. She pops in to my daughter's preschool to have lunch with her and loves to do craft projects with all of the children. I would never, without cause, refuse to allow her to have a relationship with them.

For a very long time, I believed that I must continue to play nice for the sake of my kids. For some reason, I was convinced that if I didn't go to her house for Thanksgiving that neither could my children. So, I went -- and had a horrible time.

The first clue that I should have had was when I returned from my honeymoon. We were gone only three days. In that three days, she let herself in to our home and cleaned our house because she thought we didn't go a good enough of a job. She actually entered her married son's bedroom and cleaned the whole bedroom - including under the bed and in drawers. And, no, I don't have anything interesting to tell you about that detail. It's just the principle, you know?

The second clue I should have gotten was when I was giving birth to my daughter. She had actually pressured my son about letting her be in the delivery room. Being a somewhat modest person, this didn't fly with me. So, there I am, being assessed when, in my peripheral vision, I see my wonderful godsend of a sister-in-law snatching her back from the door the woman had just opened -- sneaking in to watch me give birth. No, I'm not kidding.

By the time I had my first child, I understood a truth about my mother-in-law. The woman has no concept of lines one doesn't cross. She doesn't respect boundaries. She just sneaks right on past them and violates them ten ways to Sunday.

Before my son showed signs of being on the spectrum, I endured her. The problem is that having a special-needs child erects all sorts of boundaries. Boundaries such as not unloading all her fears on us. We're already worried enough. Boundaries such as refraining from making constant comparisons between grandchildren. We're all too aware already. Boundaries such as not offering advice based upon the rearing of two typical children. My son isn't typical. It doesn't apply. Boundaries such as not criticizing our decisions for his care. There are pros and cons to everything, and we're doing the best we can. Boundaries such as talking about him negatively to all and sundry in order to de-stress. Now we have to spend time de-bunking inaccuracies and patiently explaining that there is hope. Boundaries such as not talking about something you know nothing about. Not when you have refused to educate yourself on the subject of autism and have ignored all requests to read and learn. Boundaries such as making negative predictions of his future. Not when he is only two years old.

That's a lot of boundary violations. That's a lot of being hurt by thoughtless comments and adding them to my pile of Stuff to Keep Me Up at Night. It was yet another sleepless night when I woke during the witching hours of parental worry that I realized that the woman was depriving me of sleep, health, and sanity. It was three o'clock in the morning, standing in a hot shower (in the hopes it would lull me into drowsiness) that I had The Epiphany.

I realized that I was a moving target for this woman. Furthermore, I realized that it no longer mattered whether it was intentional or merely stupidity. The effect on me was the same. I was exhausted. I was overly emotional. I was catching every cold that random sick people can dish out. And passing them on to my children and hubby. In short, her making me sick was affecting every aspect of our lives. Intentionally or not. I realized that removing her from my list of things to worry about wasn't about defending myself. It was about defending my family.

That was the day this moving target decided to stand up, dust herself off, and get the heck out of range.

I wrote her a letter explaining my decision. I was as kind as I could be under the circumstances. I promised to never humiliate her in public by refusing to speak. I promised to never exclude her from birthday parties, etc. And I promised to never interfere with her relationship with my children. Unless...

Unless, as they got older, she ever made them feel the way she made me feel. Unless she began to make my son feel unworthy. Unless she begins to undermine and negate me as a mother to them. I did give her fair warning about that. So, I'm waiting to see what happens. I sincerely hope that she does right by them. I adored my grandmother. And I want the same for them.

De-cluttering my life of her phone calls, lengthy visits, and opinions has given me peace. Yes, I still have to see her for a minute or two when she picks up or drops off the kids. Yes, I had to answer her question about what the kids wanted for Christmas. I say hello and goodbye and acknowledge her presence. That's about it. And I have loads more peace.

So let me add this situation with my mother-in-law to my List of Things Learned Since Being Affected by ASD. This one is called Remove What Mental Clutter You Can. We all have it. Maybe it is a person. Perhaps it is something you are being pressured to do - like host a shower or organize a fundraiser. Maybe it is some task you've been avoiding taking care of. The point is - if it can be done and would help un-clutter your mind -by all means DO IT.

And if it involves your mother-in-law? Refrain from doing it on the internet. Seriously. I think this is going to come back to haunt me.

Again, I'm blaming you. :wink:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"All Kids Do That" Part 10: Time Off

See the tab above for more information about this series.

If you're interested in contributing to this, I still have some topics that need to be written about so let me know! jillsmo at gmail.com

Today's contributor is my sister friend Jennie, who blogs at Anybody Want a Peanut? She was one of the first people I met when I started blogging. Love her <3

Toward the middle of December, parents everywhere begin gearing up for winter break. This break, and other times off from school, can be challenging for all families. Routines are disrupted, working parents need to take time off of work or figure out alternative childcare, and the stress of family and the holidays sets in. But for families with kids on the autism spectrum, these times can feel more like going in to battle than time off, and the recovery can be just as difficult.

I realize that all kids do well with routine. My (typical) two year old would never go to bed without one. But for many kids on the spectrum, structure is vital for getting through the day. My four year old son, Moe, can handle small changes, but these big changes in routine cause what I call the sleep death spiral. We are in one now, and it affects the whole family.

It goes something like this: Moe is not as engaged during the day when he’s not at school, so he isn’t as tired, and has a harder time falling asleep. He then wants to sleep late in the morning, which we can either allow, throwing his schedule off even more, or wake him up and endure the piranha-like wrath that endures when he’s tired and grumpy. In other words, when Moe is tired, he starts biting (and hitting and grabbing). I spent much of the last winter break dodging Moe’s sharp nails, and keeping him from hurting the dog.

It is easy to think that we should just keep Moe busier during these times. After all, isn’t that what all parents have to do when their kids are home from school? Am I just whining about having to work a little harder?

I wish.

With my daughter, for example, I can bring out any number of activities to keep her busy. Where she will color with crayons or play with play-doh for long stretches, Moe eats said art supplies. He doesn’t read, doesn’t play with legos or blocks. He won’t even sit and watch TV for more than a few minutes at a time.

“Get out!” you might say. “Go to a park! Use that zoo membership you have!” While I am fortunate enough to live in a warm climate that would allow such activities, it is impossible for me to take my two children anywhere without stroller containment, since Moe will bolt at any opportunity, and I can’t chase him and leave my two year old unattended.

For working parents, camp may be an option for their children. Many local community centers, for example, offer winter and spring break camps, as does the YMCA. Some even can accommodate children with special needs. I have not, however, found any camps for children like mine: preschool age, with little to no language and requiring constant one on one attention.

Other families may choose to use time off to travel and see family. For us, this is also prohibitive. No house is Moe-proof, so he, again, requires constant attention. My family is supportive and would love to help us in any way they can. But it’s too much to ask. Fortunately, they are just as understanding when I say we can’t visit.

At home, Moe sleeps in a twin sized bed with a special tent designed to keep him from escaping in the middle of the night. The tent is collapsible and portable but wherever we went would have to have a twin sized bed. And again, Moe has difficulty sleeping and is often awake for hours in the middle of the night. A screaming four year old does not a welcome house guest make.

The transition back home and back to school is almost as challenging as the transition away, except this time the behaviors are seen at school. And a tired, dis-regulated child is not one who is able to learn. So a two week break from school could result in three or four weeks spent on behavior management, and not teaching.

Like others have said before, I am not asking for pity. This post is also not about solutions, and I won’t get into the challenge many parents take on when they try to get their insurance companies/regional centers/school districts to try to cover time off. Suffice it to say that while I should be enjoying my break now that Moe is back in school, I am already starting to panic about – and plan for - the summer.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The funniest thing I've seen all week AND song of the day


AND Mayer Hawthorne

It's important that you listen carefully to the lyrics in this one. You won't hear them on the radio...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Some days it's not even worth trying to chew through the restraints

I wish I could cite my source for the quote in the post title, but I have no idea who originally said that. It's one of those lines that's older than the internet; maybe sounds like something Emo Phillips would have said.

Anyway.... I am overextended. I've got 15 clients right now and the only time I have to see them is Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:30am and 2:30pm. So you can imagine how hard it has become trying to cram everybody in every month; god forbid somebody should want me more than once a month, which has happened the past 2 months because it's the end of the year and everybody is getting ready to do their taxes.

Then I pick up the kids and get them home and I have these pockets of time where I'm not making dinner or yelling at them to brush their teeth or helping with (doing) homework where I'm supposed to get things done like clean the house or do the laundry or do whatever client work I've taken home because I ran out of time during the day and had to run off to the next place I had to be.

What happens when I get to this place is that I get so overwhelmed by all my responsibilities that my brain just shuts down and I become almost incapable of doing anything at all. So, instead, I spend my brief pockets of time tweeting or wasting the hours on reddit, and then suddenly my pockets are gone and my house is still a fucking mess and still nobody has any clean underwear to wear the next day.

Therefore, I've decided to modify my daily to-do list so that at the end of every day I can say that I've been productive. Look! I crossed off everything on my list! I'm a super woman!!! I CAN DO IT ALL, MOTHERFUCKERS!!! And thank you to my straight haired sister, Dawn, for the inspiration. SHE knows why....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Snark protégé

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day.... snark?

This is a modified version of the post I wrote on this day last year. I figure if I've already written the rant, why try to improve on adequacy?

If you read my post about Christmas, it should come as no surprise to you that I also hate Valentine's Day. The reasons for hating both are essentially the same: forced gift giving on manufactured holidays, but at least Christmas has a somewhat legitimate purpose, or it's supposed to. Valentine's Day serves absolutely no purpose. Valentine's Day is a special kind of evil. Allow me to elaborate....

Pretty much everybody is impacted by V-Day in some way (I'm limiting this to America, since that's where all of my experience is); it's not like you can say that you're a different religion and don't celebrate. However, there are very few "winners" in the scheme known as Valentine's Day. In fact, pretty much everybody loses today. (I'm not calling anybody a "loser" in the pejorative sense, I mean that this day is like a game; a game that very few people can win.)

Let's start with the actual "winners," and I don't mean See's Candies and 1-800-FLOWERS, who are the true winners on this day. I mean the people who are romantics, who are in a happy relationship, perhaps one that hasn't been going on for very long. The woman will have expectations about how this day will be: grand, romantic gestures, flowers, candy, some kind of surprise, perhaps a marriage proposal? And it is the man's responsibility to carry out these grand romantic gestures. If all goes well and both parties perform as expected: they are winners! (This scenario, of course, isn't limited to a heterosexual relationship, but since this day has so much to do with gender stereotypes I'm going to rely on them to prove my various points.) But how often does this scenario actually happen? I could probably make up some statistic here, but what the fuck do I know, really? Probably pretty rarely. So... the winners on this day are rare, although some would argue that any man who ends up with a blow job at the end of the day is an automatic winner, and I'm not sure I can disagree with that, actually. Anyway, let's get to the losers....

Hey, single people! Were you feeling bad about being single? Were you wishing you had somebody to share your life with, not just today, but every other day? Well too fucking bad, single people; nobody cares about how you're feeling about yourself, in fact we've created an entire day which will do nothing but make you feel even worse about yourself. And it's not like you can escape it, since this shit is everywhere. So let's just rub your fucking noses in the fact that you're alone, and look at my scenario above: this is how happy you could be on this day, but no. Not you guys. Awwww. Too bad, single people.

Hey, men in relationships! Did you see my scenario above? The one with the winners? I hope you're fully versed on the expectations of your partner, because the onus is on you guys to make this day special and magical and perfect and crap. She might not have necessarily informed you of your responsibilities here, because much of what makes this day "special" (for the winners, anyway) is supposed to be a surprise, and it's your job to figure it out. Hope it's good enough! Or expensive enough! Or surprising enough! Or just better than last year, whateverthefuck it was that you did last year. Kind of makes those single guys happy to be single, I would think, but yeah, sorry guys. Society has determined that it is your responsibility to perform here, and if you don't come through there's a really good chance that she'll be talking shit about you to her girlfriends tomorrow.

Hey, women in relationships! We're the reason this day exists, it was created for us so that we could feel more secure in our relationships. But... guess what? If you require one particular day where everything is supposed to go perfectly in order to feel secure in your relationship.... you're doing it wrong. So ease up on your men, girls. Maybe you should buy the flowers and the candy this year. Or, better, yet.....

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"All Kids Do That" Part 9: Puberty

See the tab above for more information about this series.

If you're interested in contributing to this, I still have some topics that need to be written about so let me know! jillsmo at gmail.com

Today's contributor is my buddy Rhonda, who blogs at Going Insane, Wanna Come?

There's so many different things you can write about when it comes to puberty. I've come to a dead end I think. My daughter (NT, 14) and I talked a lot about this over the past week. Tommy loves to play on the PS3. He likes to mimic his dad (though Dad plays xbox 360) He likes to use the headset and yell and interact with people online while playing. He had been using a blue-tooth device similar to the one his dad uses on the xbox, but I would only allow 5 minutes of headset time because, you can HEAR that Tommy is special needs and I didn't want him to hear people making fun of him. While he was on the headset, I couldn't hear anything but I did figure out, with the help of my daughter, that he WAS being made fun of. We suspect people were calling him Timmy (from South Park.. Tommy would say "no!! I Tommy!! from OHIO!")

At Christmas time he wanted these Sony ps3 wireles headset. $100 bucks. Fuck that. Little did I know, these would be the greatest thing i've ever purchased in a long time.

This is where his Autism comes into play.

He doesn't know how to hold conversations. If you're having a one on one conversation with him, he'll answer any of your questions, and ask if he has any. But it's never back and forth with any sort of inside information. So add to this that, while he's on this headset, lots of other people are talking and he doesn't know how to insert himself so he'll do a lot of LAUGHING while irritating people online (shooting THEM instead of the target, or crashing his cars into theirs when they're supposed to be racing) Or, he'll do this mumble jumble talking. Tonight it was "yabbada gabbada magabaga hahahaha" with tons of laughing.

So why is this headset so wonderful?! I can mute the mic and he has no idea. Here you can see that all he likes to do is play for the social component. This is Mod Nation Racers. You play it like Mario Kart. But there is this lobby. ALL he wants to do is stay on the center of the spinning circle of course. It people crash into him or try to share the top with him, he gets all worked up and pushes them off. Thankfully they can't hear him screaming and yelling (mostly of excitement because he thinks its funny to crash).

But, he's SEEKING this social component. WE HAVE ALL tried to work with him on guiding him through convo's online. First you have to have a willing participant. We set that up and he just lacks the interest. He lacks the cognitive ability to go back and forth. He just wants to laugh and have fun crashing with people.

We've thought about having the Autism talk with him. To, try and help him understand that people get upset with him online, or will make fun of him online, if he doesn't behave appropriately. But, he's really not behaving INAPPROPRIATELY.. he's not causing harm per-say to anyone's vehicles.. he just bangs into them lol The point is. Do I want to break that naivety in him? Do I want to MAKE him aware that he's different and the world sucks? I don't really think he'll be able to UNDERSTAND the concept of that even.

My daughter and I had a talk over the weekend while he was playing his game. "i wonder if he knows HE'S different, or does he think WE'RE all different?" "Or, does he think we're just all the same.. he's who he is, and we're who we are??"

I'm not really sure what to do about this. He's 17. I try to "socialize him" (in terms of different types of social groups we've attended) as a typical 17 year old. But, he's unable to do so.

This is the hardest part of this stage of OUR puberty. He's approaching being 18. He's expected to act as an adult. He plays adult video games (per the rating system which he follows to a T!- that's another story) But the one part he really wants to do... he lacks the ability completely.

Part of me wishes he was still into the cartoons and characters and such. That's where all of the NICE fun naive kids are that just want to be happy.

We're stuck with the asshole teens and adults that think its funny to make fun of people online.

For now.. we'll just mute the mic. Until he figures out that nobody can hear him. Then, I'm screwed.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Whitney Houston R.I.P.

Goddammit. I don't know how she died or what the circumstances were, I don't read tabloids or care about gossip, but goddammit!!!!!!! She was only 48, and one of the greatest singers who ever fucking lived.

People always used to make fun of this song, but I remember being in college and watching this video and being fucking completely blown away at the way her jaw would shake with the rhythm of her vibrato and just wishing that I had that kind of talent, even if just for a second of my life.

Not fair, man. Fuck.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A giveaway: with SNARK!

So, my bloggy, twitter pal Jeni, who you can find at Closet Space Musings, is the author of TWO books: I Wish I Were Engulfed in Flames and Waiting for Karl Rove. And last week or so she said that her publisher wanted to know if she knew of any bloggers who were interested in doing a giveaway of her new book, ... and she asked me! Um. I don't know why, either.

Anyway, here's the deal: You leave a comment and tell me that you want this book. Then I will somehow randomly pick one person to be a winner. Said winner will give me their address, which I will send to Jeni's publisher who will send out the actual book. Good? Good. In exchange for this service I have received one copy of her Flames book and two copies of her Karl Rove book. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to mention that or not, since I've never done this before, but I thought it was important in the interest of transparency. And snark. Since I have two copies of the Karl Rove book, let me know if you're interested in that one and I might just send it to you.... if you're extra nice to me..... YOU know what I mean.....

So, is this how real giveaways are supposed to work? I feel like I should have installed something. I hope I haven't failed Mommy Blogging 101...... Actually, whatever. Maybe I DID fail Mommy Blogging 101, what do you think about THAT, huh? Oh, sorry... This post isn't supposed to be about me... OH MY GOD DO YOU WANT THE FUCKING BOOK OR NOT??????????

Please note: I've never actually done a giveaway for a book that I wasn't in and I won't be making it a habit, so if you want to send me an email right now asking me to review something, or for a "sponsored placement," or some such shit, the answer is no. I'm not here to whore for a brand or a website that I don't read, but I am more than willing to whore for my bloggy sister friends. So.... if I know you? Feel free to email me! And I don't even need to know you that well, really. But if you're just some random chick looking to ply your wares on my blog? Please go away. And I mean that in the nicest way. As far as you know.

EDIT: I forgot to make promises on Jeni's behalf, which I totally intended to do, so if you leave your twitter handle or your facebook page, Jeni will TOTALLY follow and/or "like" you. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Snark, saying thank you, and the color blue

I'm sorry, that Oxford comma was not the way I was taught and even though it is correct it just feels weird and wrong to me.... WEIRD AND WRONG, I TELL YOU.

I’m at the park right now writing this. It’s fucking February and I’m in the park with shorts and a t-shirt and no shoes. I know, you Canadians want to tell me to fuck off right now for actually complaining about that, but this shit is lame! Where the hell is our winter this year?? I WANT WINTER, DAMMIT.

Anyway… so you know how we autie parents spend so much time complaining about all the people in our lives who just don’t “get it?” Well, I thought I’d take a moment to show some appreciation for some people who do get it. It will be a nice change of pace, don’t you think??

Today we have an IEP meeting. I’m not expecting anything unusual, it’s our annual and we’ve already had an emergency meeting this year to discuss “the incident,” so nothing today is going to be very earth shattering, with the possible exception of me saying “I’d like to opt him out of The Test,” and the SPED representative giving me the same line of horseshit that she gives me every year about how "he’s going to be taking tests his whole life so he might as well start getting used to it now!" Because my kick ass advocate will be there, and she’s going to say “SHUT THE FUCK UP, TINY DISTRICT WOMAN” (she’s kind of a “force,” my kick ass advocate. I’m pretty sure her business cards actually say “Kick Ass Advocate,” instead of just the usual “Advocate.”) Anyway, according to the chart up there, we are in our usual state of Blue: even if things will go smoothly, there’s always a little bit of misinformation and guile to be expected. You know, like “he’s going to be taking tests his whole life so he should practice for them now and the reason we don't want you to opt him out has everything to do with his future test taking abilities and nothing to do with our participation percentages or anything like that no I swear that’s really really the reason.”

Anyway, back to appreciating people. My awesome tutor will be coming with me to this meeting, which means I don’t have my usual afternoon babysitter, so I’ve asked my friend Cathryn to watch the kids (I’m using her real name because she has no online persona and therefore no secret identity to protect). But Child 1 doesn’t like having to go places, in general, really, but in particular if I’m not there, so Cathryn is coming over to my house, with her two kids, and she’s watching all four of them for however many hours this is going to take. Isn’t that just the coolest thing?? I’m so happy that I have a friend who understands and is cool about weird autism things. Her kids aren’t autistic, she’s just one of those incredibly cool people who “get it.”

And so, I would like to dedicate this post not only to snark but to my friend Cathryn, who “gets” it. She probably won’t read this unless I tell her to, and MAN will she be embarrassed when she does. HA HA HA HA HA!! I think I’ll just leave the screen open on my laptop when I leave for the meeting and have her stumble across it accidentally…… SURPRISE!!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: This one was out of my hands. Also snark.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

3 circle story maps will be the death of me. And snark.

Note: In an ongoing quest to get klout in snark, I will now be putting the word "snark" in every post title until my dream becomes a reality. And maybe even longer than that. Your twitter RTs are appreciated, but only for that reason.....

The 3 Circle Story Map is a tool of pure evil used to help 1st graders "deconstruct" the plots of the stories they read.

It involves reading a story and then breaking it down into 3 parts, which you write in the three circles. On the map.

The 3 Circle Story Map tears families apart. It makes women and children cry. It makes beloved pets run away from home out of pure fear. The devil uses 3 Circle Story Maps to teach the condemned how to deconstruct the plot of Hell Staff Meetings.

Here, I've made one for you, in order to deconstruct the plot of this post:

Here's another one which deconstructs the events of yesterday afternoon:

Incidentally, here's how I've deconstructed the plot of yesterday's Man vs. Wild. (I'm almost positive I'm doing this right):

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I am gonna stand my ground

Hey Henry, can you hear me?
Let me see those eyes.
This distance between us,
can seem a mountain size.
- Rise to Me, The Decemberists

I've started and stopped this post at least 5 times in the last few weeks. Some days I have it all written out in my head, but when I get to the computer I can't get any of it out. And some days I just sit here and listen to that song over and over again and feel sorry for myself. No matter what, I know it's not going to come how exactly how I mean and I'll probably have to explain myself with multiple edits...

Child 1 has never had a major regression and he's always been very affectionate and loving/able, but lately it's like he wants nothing to do with me. The only thing he ever says to me is "I'm hungry" and "Can we go now?" and "Good," when I ask how he is or his day was. Otherwise, it's like he's not even here. I don't know if this is him getting older, or some type of regression, or just part of the ebb and flow of parenting, but it feels different than it ever has before. Like I'm losing him; like I've lost him. But there's nothing I can do except let it happen because my struggle to get him to come closer will only push him farther away and I just have to ride it out and hope there's something on the other side of this.

"All Kids Do That" Part 8: Behaviors

See the tab above for more information about this series.

Today's contributor is Linda, who blogs at Outrunning the Storm.

I lost a close friendship after my four year old son, Charlie, was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Our children had been in the same preschool class together until mine was asked to leave due to growing behavioral problems.

When after nearly a year of struggle we finally received his diagnosis, I shared it with my friend.

Asperger's, I said. At the time, this new word was still bitter in my mouth and every time I heard myself say it out loud, it felt like a punch to my chest, it took my air for a second or two.

But why, she responded, I don't see it.

I wasn't ready yet. I had no words. I stumbled through a string of reasons I did not yet fully understand myself. He has trouble transitioning, he doesn't get social cues, he can't see other people's perspectives.....

That sounds like every four year old I know, she responded, maybe my daughter has Asperger's too.

Yeah, they are all like that, but, it's just that he's ...well....more....

It sounded weak because that's how I felt. Weak and alone and afraid and I needed so much from her in that moment. I just didn't know what yet. So I let our friendship drift apart.

She was right though, the hitting, shoving, and biting other kids, that my three year old was doing at preschool, was in many ways typical behavior for that age. Though he did it much more often than any of the other kids, that was not the entire story of why it is not the same.

Here is the difference. All children will act out in some way as they learn about the world. But, a typically developing child will see the reactions that other kids, teachers, or parents have to these behaviors and learn connections of cause and effect. This doesn't mean they will never do them again, but they are learning to trust their instincts about people and how they can be expected to behave. But, autism, for my son, means he does not see these reactions so he does not learn from this relationship of social cause and effect. To him people's angry reactions and subsequent punishments come completely out of the blue and end up giving him all the more reason to think he needs to fight to defend himself from a confusing and unpredictable world.

There are several reasons why he doesn't see these reactions. He does not recognize facial expressions. So the parental 'look' we are all so used to doing, means nothing to him, he simply doesn't see it. He can not hear the emotional tone in voices, so while a sweet, gentle voice is a preferable sound to him, it implies no different meaning than does an angry, stern tone. Finally, he does not understand that the way he views the world in any given moment is not the same as the way everyone around him sees it. So, if he thinks throwing a toy at someone is funny, then he has no reason to believe that child would see it any differently. By the way, this is called theory of mind, this understanding that everyone has their own unique thoughts and feeling, and some will say it means people with autism lack empathy. Please, please know this has nothing to do with empathy, that is a misconception that is so very hurtful to people on the spectrum and those of us who love them.

At one point, after I had read all the books and thought I understood, at least intellectually what everything I just explained meant, there was a moment with my son that finally brought me true clarity. I think it may have been the first time, in fact, I really saw him and understood what a struggle life must be for him.

We were at a park with his twin brother Tommy and Tommy's wild, raucous friend Kyle. Tommy and Kyle were running around, screaming, chasing each other, and laughing when Tommy began, through fits of giggles screaming, no. no, Kyle stop! He then happily continued to invite Kyle to try and catch him. At this moment, Charlie got up and grabbed Kyle by the shoulders, shoved him to the ground, and sat on his chest. I jumped up and quickly grabbed him off the boy.

What are you doing! I screamed.

Tommy told him to stop and he wouldn't.

I fell to my knees, I got it. That is all he saw. Not the laughter, not the obvious enjoyment in Tommy's voice. Just the words, that's all he had to go on. He was blind to the rest. Just imagine trying to navigate the social world on people's actual words alone.

I have since gotten back in touch with my lost friend. On our neighborhood walks, while the kids are in school, we once again talk about our mutual love of books and food and all the things that make me feel like a whole human being and not just a special needs mom.

But, then I make sure the topic turns to autism and all it means for our family. Because I know, my son will spend his life having to conform to fit in this world but, I have to believe that if I keep sharing his experiences with anyone who will listen then the world may learn to conform a little bit to fit him too.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The funniest thing I've seen all week

From my awesome pal Amber at Parenting. Illustrated with Crappy Pictures.

I don't think I need to explain... that eyeball is doing all the talking....

Also this:

Friday, February 3, 2012

I want @klout in snark #WWTFIFLF

Adventures in Estrogen

Okay, first let me start off by explaining the weird hashtag in the title: My pervy (I don't judge) bloggy sister friend Lady Estrogen has created this fantastic, uh.... linky? I don't exactly know what it is, frankly.... And it's called Write Whatever The Fuck I Feel Like February. Here's how she describes it on her blog:
Why? Because it's wonderfully pointless... and it has a swearzie, so it's automatically awesome.
RIGHT??? So.... even though I've already linked up with the post I wrote about my shit cookies, I'm going to link this one, too. And you should write some crap and link yourself up, also. Why? Because awesome. That's why. The linky thingy-ma-bob is at the bottom.

Okay! So.... now let's talk about Klout.

WAIT! Before I talk about Klout, you need to see this screenshot I took yesterday of my blog site stat page:

I am so goddamned proud of myself. I have arrived as a blogger, my friends.

Okay! So.... NOW let's talk about Klout. What the fuck is klout, you ask? Well, klout is a completely meaningless, totally stupid website that claims to measure your "social media influence" and gives you a pointless score based on some algorithm that nobody has any fucking clue about. They also will give you a list of "topics" that you are apparently "influential" in, and "people" are supposed to "come by" and "give" you "+Ks" in said "topics," thus increasing your meaningless score, based on that mystery algorithm that nobody can or will even try to explain.

With me so far???

So, I think it's kind of fun to go over there every once in a while and check on my score. As I write this, my score is 67.01. No, I have no idea what that means. No, I don't get anything for it. No, I don't know how that compares to people with any actual social media influence.

I have "influence" in a number of topics, which include Autism (makes sense), Blogging (also makes sense?), and Vodka (perfect sense). I ALSO, however, have "influence" in Homework and Baking and I used to have influence in fucking Beyonce, of all things, until I discovered that you could delete topics from your topic list. (yeah, sorry everybody who loved to give me klout in Beyonce.... You can't do that anymore, suckers!!)

So, I was lookin through my topic list when I discovered that I could add my own topic!! How exciting!! So, naturally, I tried to add one... and LOOK WHAT HAPPENED....

Snark is not a valid topic, klout? Well why the fuck not???? Is it because they're afraid that if they were to validate snark as a topic, I would dominate every other motherfucker who even tried to compete with me?

Yeah, no, that not only not the correct answer, that's actually kind of stupid..... but we need to fix this!

So... this officially starts my campaign to get klout to make snark a valid topic!!

Who's with me????


Somebody once told me that the way you get klout in stuff is to tweet links and have lots of people retweet them. I can't tell you who told me that, because for some reason I think it was supposed to be a secret, although I don't remember why that would be a secret at all, but you can totally trust this anonymous source, because she was at BlogHer. So, I guess let's re-tweet the shit out of this post, okay? What do you think?? This will be our social media experiment, and I, for one, am very excited about finding out the results.

I fucking swear to god, though, if I end up with klout in klout after all of this? I'm going to be really really mad.....

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The blue chair

When Child 1 was born, his first three weeks were spent in a bassinet at the foot of our bed. At around 3 weeks, a co-worker of hubs gave us a crib which we put in his room. I hadn't been sleeping well with the kid in the room with us (I would wake in a panic to every "meh" and "wuh") so we decided to give the crib in his room a try. The first night we put him in there he (and therefore I) slept for about 5 hours straight.

There was no going back to the bassinet in the room.

This meant we were moving all of his accessories into his room and out of ours, and it also meant that I would need a chair for the middle of the night feedings. So, I went out to Ikea (of course) and bought the chair you see pictured. I picked this model because it had a removable cover that I could easily take off and wash. I've never once done that, in the 10 years we've had this chair. Yeah, I know: ew.

So, I sat in this chair during our middle of the night feedings, and then when our feedings stopped, I sat in this chair and hummed to him before I put him down. And I would sit in this chair and hold him when he would wake up during the night, and hubs would sit in the chair when he read to him through the bars of his crib.

Years went by and we needed the crib for Child 2, so we got Child 1 a real bed and moved the crib into the "baby's" room. But he didn't take well to the transition, and I was a pregnant monster and didn't feel like dealing with it, so every night one of us would have to lie down with him so he would go to sleep.

Child 2 was born and our bad bedtime habits with Child 1 continued; somebody was still having to lie down with him at night for him to go to sleep. I figured we'd better put a stop to that, post haste, so I read an article that said we should sit in a chair in his room, and then every night we should move the chair closer and closer to the door to get him used to the idea of him being alone in the room.

That didn't really work, though, because once we got to the point where the chair was in the hallway, he would get up and come looking for us... constantly. So, out of desperation, the chair was moved back into his room and the rule was made that unless he was sick or something really horrible was going on nobody would lie down with him, but somebody would "sit in the chair."

And so we did. One of us would sit in the chair every night until he fell asleep. This went on for years. I started to really despise that goddamn chair; I was a prisoner to it every single night. And god forbid you should get up and try to creep out of the room before he was completely asleep, because he would bolt right up like a goddamn.... thing... that bolts..... up.... and you'd have to sit back down and start the whole process all over again.

I'm serious: It was years of this. Until maybe last year some time, when I said "this is ridiculous. I HATE this chair!" and became determined to get him to be able to go to bed, in his own bed, without anybody else in the room.

I don't even know how long it took but it eventually worked. Oh, yes! Melatonin! HA HA! Melatonin saved the day, and ultimately he was going to bed by himself. The chair was pushed back to the spot where it sat when he was a baby, but it became a resting spot for books and laundry and nobody actually sat in it. Occasionally, at bedtime, he would wander out and ask if somebody would "please sit in the chair," but we had to say no, because that was the new rule.

A few months ago, he asked to have a desk in his room, so once again I went out to Ikea and got him something (related). With the new desk, though, there wasn't any room for the blue chair except right in front of his closet door. So, I asked him if we could take the chair out of his room. "But if the chair isn't in my room, then nobody will ever be able to sit in it," he said.

"Yeah, that's what that means," I said. He was already kind of struggling with the concept of "getting older," so I didn't want to push it. "How about we leave the chair where it is until your 10th birthday, and then we'll take it out of here?" He agreed, and so the chair sat in front of his closet door, holding laundry and books and markers and drawing of BART stations, while I waited for his birthday to come and go.

Yesterday I took the chair out of his room while he was at school. I wasn't sure how he was going to react when he came home and saw that it wasn't there. This chair was the symbol of his babyhood; a symbol of comfort and care and security and not being alone in his room when he was afraid to be, no matter what age. We had discussed it, and he knew it was coming, but still... you never know how it's actually going to go.

When we got home from school, the chair was sitting in the front room (because I have no idea what I'm going to do with it now. Apparently I didn't completely think this one through) and I pointed it out to him. "Look! There's your blue chair. What do you think?"

He wasn't necessarily happy but he also wasn't unhappy; I couldn't really tell. "But... I wanted something awesome," he said. I wasn't sure what he meant, but that was all the info he would give me, and he went off to his room. Once in there, he discovered the two packs of markers that I had bought at Target earlier in the day, and he came out with them, very excited. "Look!! Something awesome!!!" he exclaimed and ran back into his room.

And that was the end of the blue chair.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Take your test prep and shove it

To the Principal and administration of my son's school:

As you know, my autistic son is mainstreamed in 4th grade at your school. While he is quite verbal and sweet-natured, he has a number of issues that affect how he learns within a classroom. In particular, he has difficulty focusing on what the teacher is saying, despite having an aide most of the time.

I understand the necessity of homework in this case; to let him have extra practice on the material he works on during the day. However, it's been rather obvious to me that the quality of his homework has changed significantly since the start of 4th grade. I have noticed a good deal of emphasis being placed on preparing him for "The Test:" four page math quizzes, "Response to Literature" story matrices, a constant flow of fables to "deconstruct," etc.

As my son is autistic, his best method of learning is by rote, and for his "least restrictive environment," he needs repetition for the material to sink in. By making him spend so much time preparing for The Test, you're doing nothing but taking away from the time that could be spend learning his basic academic skills. Please note that I purposely did not write this letter to his teacher, as I fully understand that her hands are tied when it comes to this issue, and have no desire to take her to task over it. Making my son do test prep homework is about our school's AYP, and nothing more.

The point in him even going to school is so that he can learn, not so that he can pass a state test; right now he's in 4th grade and reads at a 1st grade level. He doesn't need to practice for the state 4th grade writing exam, he needs to be able to read and write. He doesn't need to fill in the numbers on a Coordinate Grid, he needs to know how to add and subtract. It doesn't matter how he scores on your test. It doesn't matter about whatever political or economical impact his score or participation may or may not have on your district budget. What matters is that he learns, and by distracting him from his learning with meaningless test prep, you are failing to do your job.

That said, I look forward to squaring off with you over the table at our next IEP meeting in February, because this will be all we talk about.


Mom to Child 1, in 4th grade