Life With A Side Of Autism

LIFE WITH A SIDE OF AUTISM

Saturday, December 31, 2011

This One's For Lil



Several years ago I worked for a publishing company, as a secretary in the sales office. I loved that job. I had a blast with my coworkers and I enjoyed what I did and actually looked forward to going to work every morning. Of course the company got bought out, people were laid off, and that was that. Welcome to life, ladies and gentlemen.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

NOTE TO PARENTS:

When buying your children two sets of Soccer Boppers so that they can beat the snot out of each other (as usual), there exists the possibility that they will TURN ON YOU.



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Picture Of Contentment

Beatrix the cat sleeps in her favorite box on the kitchen table. I've had to tape the sides together because her fat arse has busted through them so many times.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Silent Night

Here it is....my first Christmas Eve all alone.

Don't know how I feel about that, other than it's not the greatest feeling. I console myself with the knowledge that it won't be all Christmas Eve - by agreement I get the kids back late tonight. And tomorrow is Christmas and I'll creep out of bed early, start the monkey bread in the oven, climb up in the attic to pull down the sleds that Santa brought the kids, line the batteries up on the kitchen counter, and ring the jingle bells to wake the house.

But that's tomorrow, and right now, I'm alone. Even Beatrix the cat is ignoring me. She was kind enough to barf of the carpet, though, just to remind me that I'm not entirely alone here. I guess that's something.

I'm heading out the door in a few moments to drive to a local nursing home. I'm going to be singing Christmas carols for the residents today, in an effort to get my mind off all I don't have and onto being thankful for all that I do have. I hope it works.

Wherever you are, I hope you're having a wonderful holiday with family and friends and all the trimmings. Life here will continue moving forward, and soon the chaos of another Christmas morning will decorate my world with love.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My SuperGuy

David did a self-portrait at school yesterday. I said "David are you wearing glasses?" He gave me a vehement shake of the head and said "No, I'm a superhero."

Well. Okay, then.

And apparently his superpower is being able to elongate his neck in order to dodge swords.
 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Enough Already!

I am done Christmas shopping. Done. Not a thing left to buy.

That is until I see something that the kids will love and I really must buy it. With money I don't really have, but will have when it comes time to pay the bill on the credit card. Or the late fee on the electric bill because I used that money to buy stuff my kids will cram into a corner and ignore anyway until it gets broken or I throw it away.

This year, I will not cave.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Empty Gestures

I was just 18 years old, and it was a week before graduation. In a few short (though they’d feel like an eternity) months, I’d be off to college and out of that podunk town. No more ridiculous rules enforced by my stifling parents. No more watching every word I said, everything I did, and being the daughter I was supposed to be, just so I don’t make waves.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Once Upon A Time - Season 1, Episode 7 : The Episode Whereupon I Wish The Writers A Fiery And Gruesome Death



We open the episode with one of my favorite Storybrooke plot points: The DartBoard of Hot Manflesh. You'll see this appear again a few more times, and other than one brief moment with Emma, there's always an insanely hot guy playing with those darts. I need one of these dart boards. Now.

Emma runs into Sheriff ManCandy Graham at Granny's and he wants to explain why he's banging the mayor, even though he doesn't exactly know why himself. Emma shuts him down cold, Graham kisses her and something freaky happens - he starts to remember. Wow, Emma, those are some magic lips.

Not that I ever doubted it, of course.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Big, Fat Hawaiian Movie Recommendation

If you want to see a man go through the entire range of human emotion in 2 hours (and I do not exaggerate that in the least), and the performance of a lifetime from George Clooney - you need to see "The Descendants". Hell, it would be worth going just for the soundtrack, but really, this was one amazing movie. Just amazing. This was co-written and directed by Alexander Payne, who wrote and directed another of my "so not what I was expecting" favorite movies: "Sideways".

I want to see this again. This will definitely go in the DVD file once it's out, and I would personally gift wrap George Clooney's Oscar for the Academy.

And deliver it.

Rawwwwwrrrr.

Friday, December 9, 2011

It's The Little Victories

This may not seem like much, but to the mother of a child with autism, this is the world. David told me this morning (and completely unprompted) what he wants to be when he grows up. I just kissed him and sent him off to the school bus and now I'm sitting here sobbing and trying to pull myself together before work.


Not too many years ago, he only knew a handful of words, tantrumed constantly, and "growing up" was a concept that was light years beyond him. Now he knows it, and he's planning for it.


He's going to be a waiter, by the way, and he will be AWESOME.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Once Upon A Time - Season 1, Episode 6 Recap: Sometimes The Secondary Characters Steal This Show



We begin the episode with Catherine, sweet, loving Catherine, throwing her amnesiac husband who's been in a coma for as long as anyone can remember a great big party. 'Cause he's sure not to have any social anxiety or anything, coming back to reality like this. Henry theorizes that David is immune from the curse because of his amnesia.

Regina, on the other hand, is doing some girl-bonding with Catherine, trying to convince her to work harder at making things work with David - mostly because she knows David belongs with Mary Margaret, and Catherine takes a moment to thank her for being a good friend. This is one of those wonderful, subtle moments where Lana Parilla really shines. Instead of going for the smirk behind Catherine's back (because her plan is working), she chooses to let us see her vulnerability at the mere mention of the word "friend." We get the feeling that Regina hasn't had many in her life, and her heart can't help but respond to the promise of that word.

David leaves his party, seeking out Mary Margaret, and valiantly leaping her white-picket fence (like a princely boss) to get to her. David confesses his attraction, but Mary Margaret reminds him that he's married and shuts that nonsense down.





Monday, November 28, 2011

One Touch

He was eight simple cells when I first saw him, through an electron microscope. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Once Upon A Time - Season 1, Episode 5 Recap: We Need Elf Tonic - STAT!

This recap begins with my firm assertion that this is one of my favorite of all the episodes, and I can say that so firmly because I'm retro-reviewing this season. Oh, God, do I love Jiminy's backstory. And I love, love, love his parents. This story has it all, love, sacrifice, bitterness, pain, and creepy, creepy puppets.

"You are who you are, son."
We open with a medieval puppet show - and who doesn't love a medieval puppet show - complete with a pickpocketing kid working the crowd who turns out to be a young Jiminy, the third and most lucrative part of his parents' puppet act.

Jiminy waxes philosophical about the innate goodness and freedom of crickets, and his parents shut that shit right down (with impeccable actorial timing - these two actors are magic together) because he's part of the family racket and that's that.

Which brings us to a thoughtful Henry, who is sitting in Archie's office having his therapy session. He mentions that there are no crickets in Storybrooke, and sure enough, there aren't. Archie wonders briefly why that is before trying to get Henry to figure out why he believes the whole town is full of fairy tale people.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grip

When we first started coming to the playground, he wouldn't play on the equipment. He only wanted to climb up on the bench, walk its length, and then jump back down. He couldn't step up by himself, so I had to be there to hold onto as he pushed himself up. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Uphill, Both Ways

My mother and father grew up in the shadow of a war. I remember my mother telling me about the time she and her sisters went to the local market for their mother, and upon returning home discovered that they’d lost the sugar ration card.  Her mother sat at the kitchen table and cried.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bounce

It was a Saturday, David was five, and we were bouncing.

Yes, bouncing. A local place down the road opened up with giant inflatable moon bounces, slides and obstacle courses – an indoor playground full of cushioned fun and energy-burning action. In short, it was a kid’s paradise and it only cost us $10 a head. Normal entry was $8 for a bounce-all-day pass, but we paid an extra $2 as part of the fundraiser. I caught the sign as I drove by on my way to work one morning: “BOUNCE FOR AUTISM 10-2 SAT”. Bouncing? For a cause I had a direct relationship to? You better believe we were there.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Afterthought

She stands behind me, quiet as always when she meets new people. It's not that it would be noticed if she spoke up, anyway. All eyes are on her brother. Mister Congeniality. The star of the show.

It's hard not to adore David. He's not your usual child with autism (if there even is such a thing). He's funny and loud and extremely social with adults. He's also very, very cute and he knows it, milking it and using it to his advantage whenever he can. Wherever we go, he's front and center, and Anna hangs back, silent and beautiful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Slow Down, Ellie

I was driving home from work last night and I have to tell you, the sky was magnificent! The autumn sunset made it look like it was on fire in streaks of red, orange and fuschia. It was amazing. And I never would have truly noticed it if I weren't stuck behind an accident on the interstate for a good 30+ minutes. I realized how sad it was that I had to be forced to slow down before I could really drink in the beauty that's around me.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Old Yeller

I grew up with a Mother who was a yeller. She could scream until the veins stood out in her head, scream herself into a coughing fit if it was cold and flu season. Once, she screamed so loud and so long at me and my brothers, she got lightheaded from the rise in her blood pressure. I learned very early on that you can't outscream a screamer. It's an exercise in futility. So I perfected the cool-as-a-cucumber defense, pasting a blank look on my face and staring at some point right between my mother's eyes because God forbid I should not be looking at her when she yelled at me.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Once Upon A Time - Season 1, Episode 4: Sheriff Graham Took A Shower And I Forget The Rest



We open tonight's episode with that old, tried and true tale of (yawn) Cinderella, given a fun spin by the appearance of Rumplestiltskin as her replacement fairy Godmother. He agrees to help her to her happily-ever-after as long as she promises him a favor. Rumple is so delightfully creepy. He absolutely makes the scene because Cinderella is sweet, but forgettable.

It's a beautiful day in Storybrooke (and believe me, bright, sunny weather is a serious rarity here) where Henry is happily chirping about Operation Cobra and Emma runs into Sheriff Mancandy Graham, who offers her a job as deputy. She turns him down, despite the fact that the job has dental and she'd be working in close proximity to a former underwear model who steams up the screen every time he appears.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Milestone

Eight years ago today, I became David’s Mom, and my life was never going to be the same again.

Various writers, ministers and philosophers have said that God picks certain people to be the mothers of special-needs children. I disagree. There was nothing particularly special about me, until David exploded into my world and gave me some serious parenting lessons that I wouldn't trade for the world.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Listen To The Mustn'ts

When my son was four, a little boy down the block invited him to his birthday party. The party was booked at a local sports center owned by another neighbor of ours and the place was state-of-the-art. There were batting cages, pitching machines, a professionally trained staff and all in all, it would have been loads of fun. Well, for most kids, anyway. I remember thinking that my kid would most likely spend the time rolling a ball back and forth on the ground, or running in circles. I might be able to get him to hold a bat, but odds were that he won't try it. I was going to take him myself, standing uncomfortably against a wall while all the other little boys and their Dads - and maybe a few Moms - pitched and hit and batted and laughed and ran and just behaved like regular kids.

Monday, November 7, 2011

No Can Do

I came across this little item in my internet travels today. Yes, that's just what it looks like - a canned PeanutButter and Jelly sandwich. Supposedly, you can only find them in Utah right now. Will they catch on? I must admit, I'm curious about the taste, but not sure I'd buy it more than once to say I ate it. Or some of it. God only knows what that's like once it hits your tongue. It could be a complete fiasco, like the cheeseburger in a can.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Once Upon A Time - Season 1, Episode 3 Recap: Snow Falls And So Do I



This week, we get some backstory on our beloved Prince Charming, who is seen traveling with an un-named-as-yet princess who is clearly not Snow White and is also, clearly, a bitch. They're ambushed on the road and Princess Bitchytoes gets all screechy when a hooded bandit makes off with Prince Charming's family jewels.

No really, it's a pouch full of jewelry.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's A Hard Thing To Watch, When A Life Deconstructs



"Where are my car keys? I just had them! I just had them!"

"Evelyn, you don't drive, honey. You're at home. I drove you here. Remember?"
My mother tried in vain to help Evelyn remember what she couldn't. It happened on a daily, almost hourly basis.

"I need my keys!" she said again, vehemently. Then her head swung toward me. "She took them! I saw her rummaging through my drawers!"

I glanced at my mother, my eyebrows raised. I hadn't left the room since we got here, just a few minutes before.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Perchance To Dream Of Viggo

Holy cow, has it been a long week. Work has been so frantic - I don't think I've TGI'd an F so much in a good long while. On top of that, the kids are in fine form this evening. Calgon, take me away!

I'm going to climb in bed now and put on Lord of The Rings. It's good fall asleep to because there's lots of murmuring. And walking. They walk and they murmur.

Occasionally they yell and kill, but mostly they walk and murmur.

Yeah, baby...it's Viggo time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On Mothers And Daughters

My whole life, I just wanted my Mom to respect me for the person I was.

I used to make a joke with my friends - I'd tell them that if you put my Mom in a room with me and a hundred other girls my age and told her to pick her ideal kid, it wouldn't be me. Ever. Not that I had a bad childhood, mind you. My father always had steady work, we always had food, clothing and shelter. My Mom and Dad loved me, and I never doubted that. I just frequently wished they didn't love me quite so much. I was relatively sheltered, mainly due to my strict father and my evangelical Southern Baptist mother.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Once Upon A Time - Season 1, Episode 2 Recap: Oh, The Bitchfight Is ON.

What the hell is going on here??
I loved the opening of this episode - and since I'm reviewing this season retroactively, I can tell you it's still my favorite episode opening. The use of Cat Stevens "Don't Be Shy" just sets the mood beautifully. A new day is dawning in Storybrooke, and it shows.

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Little Mischief Makers

The kids are so excited about Halloween. I finally got everything together for Anna's costume, and that was quite a bit of work. How is it possible that you can't buy a Coraline costume anywhere? Are my kids the only kids that LOVE that movie? It's so beautiful, and while it is a bit scary for the pre-school set, my ten and almost-eight year old thought the spookiness made it better.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Honey, Honey

My son has a bad cough and it's been bedeviling him, especially at night. Whatta ya gonna do - it's that time of the year.

Recently, there have been reports about how ineffective childrens cough medicines are. I've also seen several studies reporting that if you give your child a teaspoon of honey, it will stop their cough better than any over-the-counter medicine you can give them. It apparently coats the throat really well. So I put some honey in the medicine syringe this morning and told my son to open up.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chance Encounter

The kids and I had been shopping all afternoon, and with two of  Anna's best galpals along, it was quite a rowdy crowd. I had one more store I wanted to visit, but as we all piled into the car, David begged me for a drink because he was thirsty. Come to think of it, I was thirsty too, and really, I didn't need anything at the last store in a major way.

As we headed down the road, I made a snap decision to go through the drive through at McDonald's and skip the shopping. Unfortunately, the line at the drive-through was a dozen cars long, but luckily, this was a McDonald's with an indoor playground, so another spur-of-the-moment decision led to us sitting down to a pile of McNuggets and Fries, and a bunch of happy kids.

As we sat eating, a boy who appeared to be a year or two older than David walked over to the girls at their table and began talking to them, but something about his conversation was a bit off. Disjointed sentences. That "deer in the headlights" look in his eyes. I had a hunch, and a moment later he confirmed it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bad Parenting

I am a lousy mother. OK, that was a bit melodramatic. I'm not lousy, exactly. Just...inattentive. When you become a parent, a whole new world opens up for you. A world of wonder. A world of joy. A world of PARANOIA.

Oh, yes indeedy.

It starts when you're pregnant. Did you have a sip of champagne at that wedding? Oh my God, you're going to give birth to a mutated human skull attached to a set of flippers! Are you eating enough folic acid? Taking showers and not baths?

Once you have the kid, the paranoia gets worse, and everyone chimes in with their horror stories and one-upmanship. If I told a mom that my daughter slept 4 hours straight, she was either lapsing into a coma or hyperactive, compared to their child. My kids have been too small, too big, eating too much, eating not enough, too energetic, and not getting enough exercise. And it's all my fault.

Once Upon A Time - Season 1, Episode 1 Recap: Iconic and Irresistable



We open with one of the most iconic scenes in all of fairy tale lore: Prince Charming awakening Snow White, and I want to say now that the triad of Snow White, Prince Charming and The Evil Queen are perfectly, perfectly cast. They look great, they sound great, and the costumes and settings behind and around them are beyond gorgeous.



We flash ahead to Henry, a little boy of ten, seated on a bus and reading through a very old story book that detailed the very scene we just witnessed. He gets off the bus and gives a taxi driver a credit card, so we can only assume he's out and about on this adventure all by himself.

Now we meet Emma – hot, sexy Emma with the sad story of a hard life who turns out to be a ballsy broad and a bail bondsperson, much to the chagrin of the cheating scum she just apprehended – in five inch stiletto heels, no less. You go, girl. She ends the date by beating her target's face into the steering wheel of his car, which, in later episodes will mean that she really likes him, but there I go foreshadowing (since I'm reviewing these retroactively…)


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Disappointed

"So they told me they're sure, after all that testing. He's autistic. He's pretty high-functioning, they think, but he's autistic."

"Oh my God," she said, horror filling her face. "Oh, how awful for you. You must be so disappointed!"



She didn't know how she sounded. My friend meant well. What she probably meant to say was "Oh, if only you could have had an easier diagnosis - something you can clearly understand and work with that would eventually all go away and soon."

Autism doesn't work that way.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Baby With The Bathwater - Or Resistance To Feces Is Futile



He was incredibly proud of the fact that poop had never touched his hands.

While other people bragged about their new baby's cuteness, or intelligence, or the fact that they clearly inherited both from only one side of the family, my husband chose to brag about the fact that he'd been changing diapers off and on (mostly off) for fourteen months and had not ever, not once gotten any feces on his hands. He was fiercely proud of it, too. As if he had some poo-repelling gene or some Daddy superpower that other men would surely trade a part of their souls to have.

He should have known better than to mock the excrement gods.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I Remember: Graduation Day

He marched down the aisle, in his bright gold gown, his hat perched jauntily on top of his head. "Hey, he's keeping the hat on!" I said to his father, and he echoed my surprise. For a moment, I thought he'd blow the whole ceremony because he saw me and immediately raced down the aisle into my arms screaming "Mommy!" I gave him a quick hug, and reminded him that he needed to keep walking till he got to the chairs. He said "OK. I'm walking!" Then he jumped back into the procession, made it to his chair, and stayed in it in a very well-behaved manner, in fact, he was better behaved than most of them.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Nearly eight years ago, I said goodbye.

Goodbyes happen every day, and not all of them are bad, you know. There are the garden variety goodbyes you give to your neighbor, your children as they head off to school, your spouse as he climbs in the car. Then there are the harder goodbyes, those of death and separation and failed love that stamp your soul and leave it forever marked. Don't forget the good goodbyes - several past jobs and bosses come to mind, a few acquaintances, and some unwanted pounds around my middle.

Nothing prepared me to say goodbye to my child.