Life With A Side Of Autism

LIFE WITH A SIDE OF AUTISM

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: A Place Called Home





They lived here for nearly two millenia.
Seven hundred years ago, they built their homes
Planted crops
Raised domesticated stock
Fished the nearby river
Lived their lives and loved their families
Now all that remains are the ruins
Carefully excavated
The mural drawings on the walls of the sacred Kiva
The bits and pieces found within
Some marvel at the architecture
Or the progress of their descendants
But I want to know who they were
What they cared about
What moved them
I touch a stone and I wonder
About the hand that placed it there
Gone, but not forgotten
Stories that need to be told

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

When A Bad Date Is More Than A Bad Date



When I was seventeen-almost eighteen, I met a guy at church. You have to understand, I went to a very, very small Southern Baptist church in the middle of nowhere, and having a new young man show up at church service one day - particularly one that wasn't an airman from the nearby Air Force base (and therefore actually had some hair) - was cause for extreme celebration among the handful of girls in our youth group.

This guy was an older guy, too. He was twenty-one, if I remember right. He was new to the area, and trying to find the right church home. He was the son of a preacher somewhere in Indiana, and he had aspirations to be a youth pastor in his own right, and start his own Christian rock band. To top it off, he was really, really good looking. I mean crazy gorgeous. And cool. So cool! I was starstruck.

We talked a little that Sunday morning and flirted a little that Sunday night, and he showed up at Wednesday prayer meeting and we flirted a little more. By the following Sunday, he had my phone number and we were talking almost every night. 

He finally asked me out on a bona fide date and I was over the moon! He showed up that next Saturday night, dutifully met my father (who sternly eyed the college-aged guy that was talking to his high-school aged daughter) and then he and I headed out to a local pizza place where he talked about himself and his life plans for the next ninety minutes as I listened with rapt attention.

What happened next I never told anyone.

Monday, August 29, 2016

New Mexico Diary: Caverns And Cloud Climbers



Day four of our New Mexico whirlwind tour began in the early a.m. with a three and a half hour drive to the biggest must-see attraction in the state: Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

You may think you've seen a cavern before, but unless you're a scientist who studies the world's geological formations, you probably haven't seen one this entirely enormous before. It takes about an hour to descend down the winding path from the entrance to the first rest area (which used to be an underground cafeteria back in the day, complete with boxed meals. Now it's more like snack food and pre-made sandwiches, which I'm sure is better for the eco-system of the cave).


Thursday, August 25, 2016

New Mexico Diary: Las Cruces And Mesilla - Old Town, Great Food


Our great southwest journey took us next to the town of Las Cruces, and it's partner, historic Old Mesilla. Located just over the magnificent Organ Mountains, Las Cruces is a city steeped in tradition since its colonization by the Spanish in the late fifteen hundreds.

That picture above is the plaza in the center of Old Mesilla, a place full of great little shops, and behind the gazebo there is the Basilica of San Albino.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Look Closely


Look down there! I tell them
At the bottom, there's a little waterfall 
And a pool with water so clear and cold
Really, really cold
We used to hang out there
My friends and I
We'd come up here
Hike the trail down in the hot sun
Splash in the pool
Laugh about the cold
And then we'd sit on the rock
We'd talk about life
And who we were going to be
She smiles at her friend
Then she looks over her shoulder at me
This is a good rock, she says
I know it is
You never realize how much a rock
Can be a part of your life
Until you share it with someone

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

New Mexico Diary: Space And Sand And Fun All Around



Our second day in the New Mexico sunshine began with a trip to the New Mexico Museum of Space History (that's it above), which also houses the International Space Hall of Fame. Alamogordo is rich in its history of rocket development and testing, and this museum is a must-see if you're in the area. Lots of cool exhibits inside and out, including a moon rock!


Monday, August 22, 2016

Found A Great YouTube Channel For Kids On The Spectrum



Today, I want to share with you a terrific YouTube channel that a friend shared with me recently. Autism Brain Boosters has several simple, effective videos presented in a visually effective way that cover everything from alphabet letters to shapes and cause-and-effect scenarios.

This is their video for "Positional Words" (something David really struggled with for a long time):





David couldn't figure out which was top or bottom, or which item was between, in front of, or behind. Autism Brain Boosters uses visually recognizable items to create interest, and then repetitive, simple words to reinforce.

Check out all their videos on their YouTube site.

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Ellie's journey with her son David has been one of joy, patience and discovery - one that changed the very framework in which she used to view autism. Through David's eyes, she's learned that an autism diagnosis isn't the end of the world - it's just the beginning of an interesting new one.
Available at Amazon for Kindle.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Fun On A Friday: Time For Another Edition of "Today In The News"


It's Friday, folks, and other than the Olympics, the news rarely brings us much joy anymore, does it? That ends today because there's always something worth reading when I handle the news...

There's a story behind this one. I'm sure of it...



 You don't say.





Thursday, August 18, 2016

New Mexico Diary: Pistachios, Burgers and Technicolor Sky



Our New Mexico odyssey began at the Albuquerque Airport (or the Albuquerque International Sunport, it's official name that sounds nothing like an airport so I didn't use it), then into a rental car and down the road we went. We have Anna's best friend, J, along for the ride, and the two girls and David were loving the scenery and the big stretches of nothing between towns....

For exactly twenty minutes. Then they all crashed out, a combination of having to get up at 2:45am to drive to the airport to catch our plane, and the altitude change. I spent a couple of hours in silence just loving the drive, but I woke them up near Carrizozo to experience Valley of the Fires State Recreation Area. Sometime between 5,000 and 1,000 years ago, this was an active lava field, and the rocks are really cool. We hiked the trail for a bit, the kids climbed some lava rocks (like the ones pictured above) and then back in the car we went.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: From The Dust It Rises


There was a time 
When I couldn't wait to shake the dust from my feet
Leave this place
See the big, wide world
Yesterday, my feet were in the dust again
Relishing the heat
Seeing its beauty through much more appreciative eyes
Realizing that no matter where I go
Some part of this will always be home for me
And that's a fine and a good thing
The dust flows in my veins
And strangely, it's cleared my eyes as well

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

What Do You Love Or Miss About Your Hometown?




As you read this, my children and I (and Anna's best friend) are in the air and on our way to my beautiful home state of New Mexico.

Oh, it feels good to go home again. It's been three years for me, but for my children, this is a first visit of sorts. I say "of sorts" because Anna has been here before - but she was 20 months old when my mother died and we returned for the funeral, so she hardly has a memory of it.

It'll be interesting to fly from the crushing humidity into the clear, dry air. To feel truly scorching heat and see craggy, jagged mountains instead of gentle, rolling hills. My hometown is surrounded by a wealth of natural wonders (as is my current home, to be fair) but they're different and exciting and familiar in a wonderful way for me.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Autism? There's An App For That!



I wanted to pass along this fantastic list of 11 Expert Recommended Autism Apps For Kids.

So many of these are helpful - I wish I could have taken advantage of some of these when David was first diagnosed but that was before the age of smart phones and tablets, so apps weren't an option.

I especially love the First Then Visual Schedule - I  used cartoon pictures and First-Then labeling to chart David's days for him when he was younger with tremendous success. If he could have had an iPad (which he LOVES) then and an app he could access, he would have been even more invested in it.

The age of technology has brought in so many ways to help our children navigate with autism, and I am so very glad we have these kinds of resources.

Do you have any autism-related apps (or mainstream apps that you've found to be helpful) that you'd like to recommend?


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Ellie's journey with her son David has been one of joy, patience and discovery - one that changed the very framework in which she used to view autism. Through David's eyes, she's learned that an autism diagnosis isn't the end of the world - it's just the beginning of an interesting new one.
Available at Amazon for Kindle.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Fun On A Friday - The Bathroom Sign Edition!



I really don't want to think about why they needed the sign....

It's Friday! Yeah!


And it's a very good Friday. They've decided to total my previously wrecked car and write me a check for a lot more than I thought I'd be getting. I go on vacation Tuesday (yay!) and I am rarin' to start my weekend.



In the meantime, I've put together a collection of signs found in bathrooms. A little toilet humor, if you will. Enjoy!


Let's start by laying down some rules...



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Inquiring Minds Want To Know: What Was Your Favorite Childhood Toy?





That, my friends, is Zippy.

He was given to me at the age of five, and while he may look more than a little demented now, he was my best friend for a lot of years. 

Zippy protected me from the things in my closet that whispered to me. I swear, every time I went to bed it was like an episode of LOST. Never saw a smoke monster, though. I guess I owe that to Zippy and his constant vigilance.

Monday, August 8, 2016

He's Not Sick, He's Not Cursed - He Has Autism



I have always maintained that my son is not in need of a cure for his autism.

Okay, I'll be honest. I haven't always maintained that. When David was first diagnosed, I was desperate for a "cure." This horrible, horrible disease was robbing my son of all he could truly be, keeping him from showing his authentic self. I was determined to search out every avenue, every study, every hint of a possibility of a way to get this autism stuff out of him.

I agonized over the fact that I took two acetaminophen for a bad headache once in my second trimester. I worried that the sunscreen I rubbed into his arms at the age of 8 months triggered something, because he licked it. His father didn't talk until the age of four - was that where he got autism? Every decision we made, every blip on our family tree had us playing the blame game.

After several months of miserable failures in diet restrictions, experimental behavioral therapies, and hair-tearing frustrations for both of us, I slowly came to realize what I know as a surety now:

David's autism is intrinsically a part of him, as much as his dark brown eyes, his sense of humor, and the birthmark under his left ear.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Fun On A Friday: Let's Play Dress Up - With Cats!


I have a brother who'd tell you that the only good cat is a dead cat, but he'd probably settle for torture - figuratively speaking. He's a dog guy through-and-through, but come on! Cats are adorable! Cuddly! So fun to dress up! (As long as you stay away from the murder-claws and flesh-ripping incisors...)

So to celebrate the coming Caturday, here are a few cats who are surely plotting a way to wind between their owner's legs on the staircase, or perhaps smother them in their sleep.

Doctor, Doctor, gimme the news
I got a bad case of killing you


 
He's not big on cooperation

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Excuse Me As I Strap In



Life is seriously trying to throw me off the rails, here. I just came off a really lousy month filled with acute poison ivy, weight gain from the steroids they gave me for the poison ivy, bronchitis, and then it ended with a five-car pileup on the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I was car number 2). 

Yesterday, the auto shop and insurance company declared my car a total loss. I'm not terribly surprised - the damage wasn't horrific and it was driveable, but the car is 7 years old with over 150,000 miles on it. There isn't much to value when it's in good shape.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Water And The Wandering Soul



Bye-bye beach
As always, I'll be thinking of you
Longing for the day
When I can greet you every morning
Feel the breeze on my face
And with toes planted in the sand
Watch the sun set on the open water
I was made to be here
And I will be here
Someday, every day

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Can't Sleep? I've Got You Covered - Welcome to Insomniac Theater!



The other night I found myself up entirely too late (I'll admit that wasn't an anomaly) only this time, I really, really needed to go to sleep. I also needed to do some research on Iceland for a book I'm working on, so I fired up Netflix and Amazon Streaming video and started looking through documentaries.

There I found item one on this list, and I sat there transfixed for half an hour, watching the northern lights and just feeling overwhelmingly at peace. It was a great mental break, and I ended up drifting off to sleep and waking with a dozen great ideas bursting in my brain. It made me curious as to whether I could find more documentaries and videos like it, so I went on a search. Here's a list of some that you might want to check out:

Monday, August 1, 2016

Pokemon Go And Your Autistic Child - A Great Combo Of Exercise And Socialization



When my daughter first started crowing about Pokemon Go, I waved her off with a dismissive hand. This girl finds a new and exciting app that's all the rage approximately every seventeen minutes, so I figured this was just another trending thing.

Then she took her brother out Pokemon hunting in the neighborhood, and I realized this app really was something awesome. It took my sons love for cartoons and video games and put it in his hand, demanding that his feet follow.