Monday, February 28, 2011


It is blog gems time again! This week the meme is happy thoughts.  Click on the gem to the right of the page, and join in the hop.  This is a post from a year ago.. 

"Veni, Vidi, Vici"
Julius Caesar

I didn't know just how determined he was. I should have suspected something seeing as how he was fully dressed when I came downstairs this morning. Sammy is a slow starter in the morning-a really slow starter. Frozen molasses runs faster than he does. So I should have noticed that he was up, dressed and ready to go...or at least commented on it. But, I had things to do. Sammy had a basketball game, and getting everyone dressed, fed, and out the door takes monumental effort-and at least two cups of coffee. Sometimes more..o.k. actually most times more.

Sammy plays on one of his school basketball teams. It is actually a nice set up. There are about six co-ed teams of third through fifth graders. The focus is primarily on teaching the game rather than on competition. They practice once a week and every Saturday there is a game. Today was the last game of the season. So I was pretty happy...alright, I admit it..I was thrilled. Monday through Friday I rush every morning to get them out the door and onto the bus. Do they have hats, jackets, snow pants, lunch, backpacks, clean faces...'s always rush rush rush...So the idea of getting back one of the mornings where I don't have to do anything..'s thrilling.

This is Sammy's third year of playing for a team. Sadly, it will probably be his last. Next year, in sixth grade they hold try-outs...and I don't think he'll make a team. He has some large motor skills issues. Although he is a speed demon on his bicycle..running and dribbling a ball is very challenging to him. He doesn't life his feet off the ground when he runs..add a basketball and the results are..well, he struggles. Don't get me wrong-he has improved immensely since third grade. The first year he played, if he saw one of is friends on the opposing team, he would stop to hug them. The second year, anytime he got the ball, he would break down laughing in the middle of the court. This year though... this year he was different. He was focused. He concentrated on defending his basket, and in passing the ball. In fact the minute he got the ball, he would pass it- immediately. My Sammy is tough, but he isn't aggressive. For him, I think it was more about just playing and being part of a team, rather than scoring. Until today that is.

Today he was a dog with a bone. Come hell or high water, he was going to score. And nothing was going to get in his way. First quarter-Sammy gets the ball..there is no room to move..he is so focused, so set on shooting..he bounces the ball with both hands and walks three feet to the basket..and shoots! and misses..He looks at me-I give him a thumbs up. Second quarter, he gets the ball..he shoots! he rebounds off the backboard, he grabs the ball he shoots! he misses..He looks at me, I give him a thumbs up. Third quarter..he's fouled, goes to the line..he shoots! he misses...he gets fouled again he shoots! he misses..he gets passed the ball..he shoots! he misses..he gets passed the ball again..he shoots! he misses..My boy must have attempted to score at least twenty times..and every time, he looks at me, and every time I give him a thumbs now everyone has noticed..and is rooting for him...his team mates..the opposite team..the audience..everyone wants him to score. His determination is contagious..The tension was palpable..(I was a wreck) I don't think that there was a person there that wasn't captivated. They can see how badly he wants this. How hard he is trying.. it is no longer about watching the game....or about disability...or the fact that my boy is is about Sammy. It is about my boy wanting to make a basket. In the fourth quarter, with thirty seconds left in the game...his team mate gets the ball..he could have scored easily..gotten the glory..instead.. he passes it to Sammy..I hear him say in a matter of fact way.."You CAN do this Sammy" if it is no big if it is just a common every day if he expects no less. Sammy takes the ball..and what felt like slow motion .. it goes up..up..and then ...Swish...nothing but net. Everyone cheers in excitement...and relief! My boy looks at me..he is shining.. I give him a thumbs up-(even though I wanted to rush down and grab him and hug him.-but a mother doesn't do that to an eleven year old boy, especially in public) he runs to finish the game with the rest of his team.

The cynical and jaded part of me could say "oh, how nice..yet another "autistic kid makes a basket..the crowd erupts" story. But that wasn't it at all. Sammy has been at this school since he was seven years old. He is an accepted part of his class. Those kids didn't pass him the ball because of his disabilities..but because he was part of the team. Sigh... Sometimes, I need to remove my sarcastic self from the picture. Because sometimes a game is just a game..and a kid is just a kid. Today my kid was determined. He came, he saw, he conquered because he can..he will and he does. How's that for awareness?

Saturday, February 26, 2011


   We all lose things, our pieces of paper that you put some place but just can't remember where. (once during our sleep deprived era ('98-'05) I swore I lost my car keys-while driving.)  These things happen. You find them after a frustrating search (involving much swearing) and then you vow you will never let it happen again. Sigh...but it does. I know this because it happens to me all of the time.  Unfortunately, one of those times involved my son.  No, I didn't misplace him-I just thought that I knew where he was.

   It was almost ten years ago. We were living in a house on the woods with a fenced in yard. Sammy was outside playing with Charlie our dog.. I was standing on the deck holding a fussy baby Oscar..watching. Sam and Charlie ran behind the wood shed and disappeared. Remember-the yard was totally fenced..I had no cause to be reason to think that anything "wrong" was going on. Until I happened to notice that they weren't coming back out..and being the type of parent who gets suspicious when any of my kids are THAT quiet.. I went to investigate...and found to my extreme horror that my son and my dog had dug a hole under the fence(ala "Shawshank Redemption") and decided to go the woods...during hunting season. I immediately started calling "Sam..Charlie!!"..and I'm sure you can imagine my frustration when only Charlie came running. Yup-my dog came back...and being that he is a yellow lab and not a collie named Lassie..he was of no help. There were no useful barks to let me know that Timmy/Sammy was stuck in a well, trapped under a log or held captive by rogue hunters. Nope-he just wanted to play and seemed quite pleased with himself that he had come when called.

  I was definitely not the poster girl for "Guns and Ammo" magazine  as I raced through the woods, holding a screaming baby in one arm, a cell phone to my ear..simultaneously screaming "SAM!!!!!!" and yelling at the 911 dispatcher that my son had disappeared. Although I am sure I got the attention of every hunter as I scared off every woodland creature for miles around.. THANKFULLY- twenty very long years minutes later..a neighbor brought an un-phased Sam back to me (he had wandered 1/4/ mile up the road)...followed by a police officer who in no uncertain terms let me know what he thought of my parenting-or lack thereof. He didn't think much of it. At all. I felt like the WORST parent in the world.  The worst. How could I have misplaced my son? I mean he disappeared while I was watching him!  Oh-I beat myself up for a good long time over this..and it took me quite a while to get over it. If you can call becoming "UBER VIGILANT MOTHER" getting over it..

   Yes, I am always on guard..hyper aware now.  If we are out-I am constantly counting heads-checking to see where they are. Making OCD work for me.  Now that Sam is older-I find it very difficult to let him go off on his own when we are out.  Oh, I let him..I HAVE to..but that doesn't mean that I don't secretly check up on him when he is off on his own in the book store. I just don't let him know. I have taught them what to do if they get lost-(stand still and yell for me), taught them to use the telephone, told them who to go to if they can't find me. I am trying to teach them to be as self sufficient as possible-because,  I can't let my anxiety get in their way. So, I thought I had it under control-covered every angle..until last Friday...

   Imagine my dismay as the bus pulled up.and in the thirty seconds it took to stop, open the door....and as the herd tumbles out..all yelling for my LEAVES....and I quickly notice I only have three children.. I should have four..Where is my fourth??!! " WHERE IS MY ZOE??!!"  I shouted  as I started to run down the street trying to stop the bus (Ala Sally Field in "Not Without My Daughter" minus the burkha). But it was too fast. I frantically grabbed the phone to call the school....and in the fifteen rings it took for them to answer..I thought.."what if she's lost?..or followed the wrong legs and got off at the wrong stop?..what if she never got on?..what if she is wandering around the school crying for me?.." It also didn't help that her brothers and sister  couldn't remember seeing her-and were walking around the house yelling "Zoe where are you?!" tears.. So when the school did finally answer..All I could choke out was "Zoe didn't get off the bus!"..Luckily, I am in a very small school-so they knew who I was..and which bus Zoe didn't get off of.  They radioed the driver who said.."She's on the bus with me...she couldn't find her hat...I am going to drop her off on my way back down the road.."   So I waited outside-FUMING...And as the bus pulled up, and my little girl fell into my arms..I could only just GLARE as the driver said "I was bringing her back!.." As if I shouldn't have been if I was somehow psychic and knew she was safe on the bus...He was very lucky that there were three kids anxiously watching from the door..cheering their sisters return. Lucky that my anxiety had left me speechless.  But for the next week-I did not wave hello to him as was my usual routine-Yeah...I told him.

  So now we have a new routine in place. They are all to look for each other BEFORE getting off of the bus.  If they forget their hat or gloves-they are to leave them. They will be there the next day. If they aren't, they are replaceable.  They have enough on their plate as it is-they don't need to be worrying over every little thing.  Besides, that's my job.  I am very good at it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Another blog gems post..

Jen over at" Autism The king and Eye" has started another blog gems blog hop.  Click on the link to the right to take you there..This week the theme is "Love"..and as I love my is a story about one...

stim cycle

~"I've never let school interfere with my education"~ Mark Twain

The school called. Oscars' stimming is becoming a problem, a distraction...he can't focus, he is disrupting the class. He is laughing at inappropriate times. that all? Phew! I was afraid that they were going to tell me that he quit, did not want to be there, had given up.  sigh.. I see so much of myself in Oscar...the humor-the irreverence... and although I appreciate all of it- I don't want him to follow in my footsteps-academically. You see,  When I was in school, I quit, gave up ,and most certainly did not want to be there. That's right, at the tender age of six,  I tried to be a first grade drop out.

After a blissful year of kindergarten where I played, danced and explored-first grade came as rather a shock . I just did not understand the orderliness of it all. Sitting still, keeping a neat desk, having to pay attention...SITTING STILL!
!  Where was the music?  Where were the finger paints? Why was this woman dressed like a penguin?!!

  I was in the first grade at Blessed Sacrament School, and I was miserable. Sister Margaret Mary, my teacher was a sweet little nun, yet she ruled with an iron crucifix. There would be order, there would be neatness! Day dreaming was not allowed. We were there to learn in a quiet and orderly fashion. Heaven help the child who resisted. It was her way or the "hellway". Did I mention that I was miserable? I was the ultimate day dreamer, the fidgety girl whose desk was always a mess, the questioner of all things questionable. I did not like being the focus of attention, but my behavior sadly,  caused me to be the focus of hers. It all came to a head very early in the year.

  It was the end of a beautiful fall day, and we were packing up to go home. In my joyful exuberance, I started whistling. An apparent major transgression in the classroom. (actually, it was more of a high pitched shrill sound as I was missing quite a few teeth) Sister Margaret Mary was horrified . "I DEMAND to know-who is Whistling?"she bellowed.  Sensing harsh punishment, and being the youngest of six kids, I knew to keep my mouth shut. The accusations flew!  I too even looked around shaking my head in apparent disgust. What better way to hide my "sin" then to join everyone on this witch...or should I say "whistle" hunt?" "He did it Sister!".."She did it Sister!" It would seem as though everyone was accused. Everyone... but me. (heehee) Nobody confessed to this heinous crime, this unrestrained Sister Margaret Mary declared that if the guilty party did not CONFESS, they would "BURN in the FIRES of HELL for all ETERNITY because of their DECEPTION!" I was only six years old, and if I didn't confess I was going to hell? I had to save myself, so I did the only logical thing that I could think of. I Kept my mouth shut, went home and promptly declared myself an atheist. I also quit school. Not exactly the wisest of declarations to make in a house headed by DEVOUT Catholics-they simply could not accept my rebellion. Especially as I could not give an explanation-I was not taking the fall for whistling. And I was not it seemed, going to be able to drop out.

  I was thinking back on this time while I waited for Oscar to come home. We had to discuss his situation-but at the same time, I had to understand his reasoning..was he unhappy? Was he feeling restricted?  Did he too, wonder where the finger paints went? 

"Oscar, the school called. They said that you are shaking and eeeing and laughing a whole lot. Whats going on?"

"I'm shaking."

"Yes, I know. But you seem to be doing it more than usual. Is there a reason?"

"Shaking feels good"

"I agree, it does feel good...but, you are doing it a lot. Is something bothering you?"

"I'm shaking and shaking..eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!"

"I need you to focus here buddy...WHY are you shaking so much at school?"

"I shake because of tricky work."

"The work is hard?"

"Yes! Can you be done now?"

"For now, but we have to figure out how to make the work not so tricky, o.k.?...O.K.?...Oscar?"

"Yes!! Can I have a snack now?"

"Wait-one more question...You haven't by any chance been whistling have you?"

"Whistle? I don't know how...Why whistle Mama?"

"Never mind...go get your snack"

 Oscar, unlike his mother-loves being at school.  He likes the routine-he likes his's the work that he doesn't really care for.  I'm not quite sure how to fix that.  But, like everything else, we'll just have to take it a step at a time.  Help him to focus-without losing his humor. Maybe I should teach him how to whistle?  
  Later  that night, as I was going upstairs to say goodnight , Oscar started yelling  "help!  help!".  I ran into his room to see what was wrong.   He had taken his arm out of his pajama sleeve, and replaced it with a tiny stuffed animals arm . It was a little creepy looking and yet so very funny.  So very Oscar. Wonderful and stimulating. How I love that boy.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Do dogs have autism?

~"Whatever they grow up to be, they are still our children, and the one most important of all things we can give to them is unconditional love. Not a love that depends on anything at all except that they are our children.:~ Rosaleen Dickson

  "Mama? Do dogs have autism?" .."I  really don't know...but that's a very good question Lil.." It really was a good question from my seven year old.  Lily is an interesting girl. Head strong.. independent. So full of joy and energy..over full even so that at times it can turn on her..making her restless and obstinate.  She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to demand tell you-forcefully at times..Out of all my kids, she is the most like me in temperament..sigh. Which sometimes makes her my most difficult... Have you ever tried to butt heads with yourself?  I must say, she has taught me a lot about patience. The girl has moxie. I adore her.

  We were new to all things autism when Lily was an infant.  I used to worry that I wouldn't ever be able to give her enough..time, energy, attention.  That somehow, because her brothers needs seemed so enormous(at the time)-hers were going to be put on the back burner-lessened somehow. It took me about five minutes to get over that.  Lily never SAW  autism.  Instead, she saw her brothers-her competition.   To her-they were all on equal ground-if she wanted attention-she learned how to get it. I don't mean that in a negative way. It's more like she sees herself as any sibling does. The parents are fair game-and if you want something from them you jockey for position to get it. May I say-she does a very good job.

  So although I wasn't surprised by her question-it was the reasoning behind it that made me think.   "Autism" is a word that we use at home. Our boys are of an age where THEY notice that they are different.  So we have been very open with our kids-how could we not?  Lily, however, sees this as her brothers and sister having something she doesn't. "Sam has autism?" "yup"..."Oscar has autism?" .."yup"..."Zoe has autism?" "yup..."So they all have autism and I don't." "yup.".."Well that's not fair! What do I get??!!" .."A big hug and kiss from me?" "MAAAMA!"

  We have always talked to the kids about how people are different-and that some people by their behavior or words or lack of words might appear more different than others. But no matter what the differences, everyone was deserving of dignity and respect. Everyone.  We didn't use the word "autism" until we saw it on on the television show- "Arthur". ( You know the show-where the lead character(Arthur) is an aardvark who has a dog as a pet and a friend(Binky) at school who is a dog...and a friend(Francine) who is a monkey who has a pet cat-but also has a friend(Jenna) who is a cat?..It makes my head spin)  It wasn't as if I was ashamed of the word. It just needed to be put it in a way they could all understand. Sigh...sometimes, I guess it doesn't take a village...sometimes it takes an aardvark...even if he does have a pet dog.

  All of my kids require some sort of accommodations.  All of them...and yes, some more than others.(we are a great example of what a spectrum is) That's just the way it is. It doesn't make anyone less for needing them or more for not. I could not imagine placing such a heavy load on my kids. Weighing one against the if their worth were measured by needs or lack thereof. They are children first-my children, and they are equal.

  So, do dogs have autism?  I couldn't tell you. What I said to Lily was "Would it matter if they did?" she thought about it for half a second.."I guess not." The conversation was left at that. Because, she was already off and running on to the next thing that caught her interest. Because autism doesn't really matter to her. She looks at our family and see's just that-her family. Where she knows she is loved and cherished for being who she is. A sister and a daughter who sometimes thinks she is queen...sigh.. She gets the last part from me.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Laundry lists and losing innocence...

 ~"You can do anything you want to do.  This is your world"~ Bob Ross

 It's hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago I was lamenting the fact that my kids were back in school. I was sad because we had had such a lovely Christmas break. I even thought that I was going to miss having them around... that I might even be lonely..Oh, how young I was...and naive! I had forgotten about winter-until it hit-HARD.   There has not been a full week of school since it resumed in January..either because of snow days, holidays or sick kids. So I look back at my misbegotten youth of three weeks ago  and wonder "WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?" Oh.. I suppose that I could blame my innocence on the  abundance of  holiday cheer (candy) frolicking gleefully through my system .. or maybe it was the eggnog?..Perhaps the combination of both? But whatever the reason-I was NOT in my right mind when I wrote that. Really.

  It feels as though the past few weeks have been spent doing nothing but laundry, filling snack requests, taking care(cleaning up after) of sick kids and watching the weather channel. There are just so many goldfish/popcorn/pretzel requests one can many toilet mishaps one can clean  before one loses their mind. I know that I can't be the only stay at home prisoner parent who feels this way.  I was talking to another mom the other day on one of my rare solitary escapes trips out . After exchanging a few pleasantries the conversation turned to what life in the BIG house has been like lately...and from there...well...

Me-"It has gotten to a point that the minute I'm done doing something-like the laundry..another load magically appears."
Them-"Oh I know what you mean..I feel like all I do is laundry"
Me-"Yeah! I think I'm doing something like four loads a do my kids generate so much of it?..I don't know where it comes from!"
Them-"Well..I'm doing at LEAST FIVE loads a know..with my two kids AND my in-laws.
Me-"umm..yeah..I'm glad I have one of those high efficiency machines so I can stuff it full.."
Them-" Don't washer is so old I have to kick it to make it work."
Them-Whenever I hear someone complain about doing laundry I feel like screaming at them "At least your washer works!!"..We can't afford a new washer..I don't even have a spin cycle..I have to wring it out by hand! Do you have ANY idea of how much work that is?"
Me-"beats going to the river and pounding it on rocks.."
Them-"Oh you just don't know..." and on and on it went.. Sigh...I guess they won..I was outdone by a broken down washer..Crazy thing is-I didn't even know it was a contest.

 Did you ever notice that? You make a statement about being tired or overwhelmed and more often than not-the person you say it to is COMPELLED to let you know that their tiredness trumps yours.   I mean, there I was...discussing something as..mundane as laundry(yes I need a hobby)-and it got turned into a "who has it worse" event. Whats the point?   It wasn't as though I was trying to steal her laundry thunder-I swear! She could be queen of the Maytag or hussy of the hand wash for all it mattered to me. It is just laundry!  sigh.. I was just happy to be out of the house.

  The only time that I find this oneupmanship game really annoying  is when I see it in the parenting community..My goodness, the things that are said!..The "How dare they! They have no right to complain!!" and "Their child does this and MY child will NEVER be able to do that" statements..It kind of freaks me out. Look, I get being wits end.  I am a parent-it goes with the territory.   I believe most parents (if not all) are pretty experienced in these things..perhaps even overqualified- in all three. I know that I am.  But complaining because your three year old will NEVER be president or a basketball player? I mean..they are THREE!  Unless you are counting in dog years..doesn't that seem a little bit...extreme?.

 Maybe it upsets me because I see how hard my own kids have worked. Hind site IS always 20/20.. Oh sure, there are days when Sam finds it necessary to tell me about every Pokemon character in great detail (I think that there are millions of the little..uhh creatures) Or Oscar asks me to say "Big Belly" over and over followed by uncontrolled laughter when I do..when the girls play the theme song to "My little pony"over and over until I feel like ripping my teeth out (Why I equate "My Little Pony" to dentistry I do not know). But we muddle through..we get by..and more often than not-we laugh. Because, there was a time I'd have done anything to hear them express themselves in a way where they were understood by everyone.  Now that they do-I can not complain...vent perhaps..but never complain.

  So here we are at the beginning of another weekend. It is  going to snow and be very cold. Which in turn means that we will be stuck inside...all day. Four children and one mother-stuck inside the house. I for one, am very much looking forward to Monday. I guess I've lost my innocence  If there is anyone who wishes to "one up" me on this weekend-please, be my guest.