Life With A Side Of Autism


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ten Songs That Make Me Stupid Happy

I was in a little shop last weekend that was playing island-type music, reggae, calypso, etc. and I was lovin' the vibe. Reggae is my favorite background chillin' music and any song that puts me on an island mentally is like a three minute vacation for me.

Anyway, the music turned to Harry Belafonte, a lesser-known song of his based on African tribal myth that makes me happy every single time I hear it. It got me thinking that I should make a playlist of songs that make me stupid happy like that one does. Here's my playlist beginning:

Turn the World Around (Harry Belafonte) - He did a splendid version of this with The Muppets:

Just Haven't Met You Yet (Michael Buble) - I know I joke about dying a lonely, old cat lady, and I know I haven't had the nerts to sign up for online dating or have any sort of date for years, but I haven't given up hope on love. It just seems like I have. Anyway, Michael Buble makes me feel better about that.

Ray of Light (Madonna) - She wrote this song for her daughter, and I think of mine when I hear it, as well. Anna has such a frenetic, brilliant world swirling around her and she navigates it with a grounded sense that amazes me sometimes. This song is pure energy and dynamic force and it makes me think of Anna, conquering the world.

Monday, May 22, 2017

My Week In Autism: Oh, The Little Oddities

Every once in a while, someone remarks on something odd that David says or does that just doesn't even register with me anymore. The little oddities and idiosyncrasies of autism are so much a part of his life - and mine now - that it feels weird to imagine things any other way.

Just last week:

  • I apologized because I cut his waffles wrong. I was in a hurry and my cut did not line up exactly with the lines on the waffle
  • I made tacos. On Tuesday. It's the only day we can have tacos now. Thank you, LEGO movie.
  • I tried to outline my next book project, all while the theme to "The Office" played on repeat. For nearly an hour. 
  • We had a long discussion about what we're having for Christmas dinner. Four times in one day. We even had to discuss the size of the pieces he'd cut his ham into.

Friday, May 19, 2017

This Shall Be A Sign Unto You - That It's FRIDAY!!

Friday! Yeah!! I'm feeling it - how about you?

And to celebrate the close of another week of working my life away, let's have a chuckle or two over some entertaining signage. We'll start with this:

Apparently, you can only park on odd-numbered Tuesdays 
provided your car is blue and you carry a stuffed squirrel.

Well, at least this guy is honest:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Parenting A Teen In The Information Age

From the moment my daughter was born, I was ready. Ready to impart all the life-lessons I've learned, ready to be a steady shoulder with a valuable and entertaining anecdote or parable that will solve any of her life dilemmas. In me, she would find an ever-bubbling font of wisdom at the ready, and she would drink deeply, shouting my name to the world as the wisest mother of all mothers.

Yeah, right.

She's a teenager now, so most of the time when I start to share, I get an eyeroll. Or a "Mom. Stop." Or I'll finish my anecdote and say "You see, honey? That's what I'm getting at here…" and she'll look up from her phone with a puzzled expression and say "Huh? Were you talking to me?"

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Today Is A Milestone Day - I Didn't Trim My Hedges

I was outside after work pulling weeds this evening, and eyeing my hedges out front, which badly need a trim. That thought led to a memory, and I started laughing.

You see, shortly after the ex moved out, I needed to trim the hedges. I'd never used the electric hedge clippers before, but really, how hard could it be? Unfortunately, before I could plug them in and get started, the ex texted me to argue about something. I don't even remember what, but it really pissed me off. I finished my conversation with him, grabbed those hedge clippers and tore through those bushes like I was giving him a haircut. A really angry haircut.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Portraying The Spectrum: Meet Mickey Rowe, An Actor With Autism

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a mystery novel by British Author Mark Haddon, and it's told from the perspective of its protagonist, fifteen year-old Christopher John Francis Boone, a teenager with autism. It has since been adapted into a stage play to some acclaim, and now, for the first time in its run, the lead role is being played by a person on the autism spectrum.

Actor Mickey Rowe details his journey as both an actor and as the character of Christopher John Francis Boone in the May 14th edition of Playbill magazine, and oh, what an amazing read! Here, Mickey gives us his take on how his autism has enhanced his skills as an actor:

"I believe that in theatre, my “weakness” is one of my strengths . . . Autistics use scripts every day. We use scripting for daily situations that we can predict the outcome of, and stick to those scripts. My job as an autistic is to make you believe that I am coming up with words on the spot, that this is spontaneous, the first time the conversation has ever happened in my life; this is also my job onstage as an actor."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fun On A Friday - Autocorrect Can Really Duck You Over

Before I get started, I want to give full credit to the source material for this post. I found all these while I was perusing Reddit last night, and this thread about bad autocorrect had me laughing so hard I ended up in a coughing fit that surely tore the last residue of this chest cold from my body.

We're going to look at some great stories of autocorrect going horribly wrong. So go to the bathroom before you start reading, and I'll pull a few of the highlights out for you here. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mother's Day Is Sunday - Here Are 5 Things You Can Do To Help A Single Mom

Being a single parent comes with all sorts of everyday struggles. You probably know at least one single parent who could really use some help, but you're not sure the best way to lend a hand. Here are a few suggestions that might make their lives a little – or a lot – easier:
  •  Just listen. Sometimes, we just plain need someone to vent to, and without a spouse around to commiserate, we need an outlet. We certainly can't vent much in front of the kids, and a sympathetic ear over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine can really be a godsend some days.
  • Find ways to help them get out. Another big challenge when you're a single parent is getting out of the house and having a life. Even if you're fortunate enough to have some kid-free time, you may not always have someplace to spend it. Offer to take a painting class with them, have them over for a Netflix night, or just go out and walk around the mall. It's nice just being out!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

In The Time Of The Falling Pollen

After many fits and starts
Spring has finally sprung
The heater is off (I hope)
The lawn is new-mown
And the Claritan is our best friend
Pollen may about in Spring
But I'll take it over the wasps of summer any day
Coughing and rubbing my eyes
I'll try to appreciate the flowers while they bloom

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Sensory Room - A Great Idea For Students On The Spectrum

Years ago, when David first integrated in with his peers in kindergarten, they gave him a koosh ball to hold during story time. I thought that was odd at first, but the truth is, he needed it if he was going to have any hope at all of remaining quiet and listening to the lesson. His mind had to have that extra stimulation to act as "white noise" against all the other sensory stimulation he was being bombarded with.

He also spent time between lessons in the hallway riding a plasma scooter, or down in the learning support room bouncing on a mini trampoline. Sometimes in class, he'd sit on a large exercise ball instead of a chair - this not only helped him with his core muscles (an area the physical therapist works on with him) but it also provided just enough stimulation during class without being a major distraction to the other kids.

Monday, May 8, 2017

We Have A New Cat - And She Needs Some Extra Love

This is our new cat. She doesn't look very happy, and that's because she's not. Right now, I have her in David's room, where she promptly ran for the corner and that's mostly where she stayed.

She's had a rough time lately - her previous home was one where she was well-loved, but they got a couple of big dogs a while back and this little sweetie is terrified of them. She hasn't had a great quality of life since, so they had to re-home her.

I swore to myself that I'd never have more than two cats  - I really don't want to be some crazy cat lady, here - but you may notice, she looks a hell of a lot like Niko, our younger cat. That's because she's his sister. Annabelle came from the same litter, and when the kids and I saw that her owner was looking to re-home her, we took a vote and all agreed that she needed a family reunion.

Once Upon A Time – Season 6, Episode 20 Recap: The Song In Their Heart Sets A Fire In My Soul

Holy Damn. Damn. I just . . . Damn. Forgive me, but the words aren't coming so good. Perhaps I should sing! I do have a Theatre degree with a minor in music, you know, so my inner Theatre nerd was squirming and bouncing even before the damn episode began.

Then they all started singing and I found myself clapping, oohing, aahhing, and squirming for entirely naughty reasons (at both Killian and Regina). Was this the dream episode, or what?

Friday, May 5, 2017

Cue The Friday Happy Dance - Followed By A Heaping Helping Of NOPE

That's right - it's finally Friday and I finally seem to be on the upside of this miserable chest cold, courtesy of some unknown sneezer on the way back from London. It's been a lousy couple of weeks but I spent my first night without NyQuil last night and didn't cough up a lung this morning, so I'm hoping I'm on the mend.

Now that I'm over that nonsense, it's time for a big ole plateful of NOPE. We'll begin with my knee-wobbling fear of heights:

Thursday, May 4, 2017

London Diary: Odds & Ends

That's right: Snickers Milk! And Mars Milk! And Maltesers Milk (Maltesers are like Whoppers - malted milk balls). You can buy this stuff and drink it! 

I opted to spend my money on cider instead. Maybe next time.

There were a few not so usual (for us) things on the trip - like the double flush button toilets, but I know all about them from my time in Ireland so they weren't a surprise. The biggest surprise we had in London was this:

That is a Cadbury Creme Egg McFlurry from McDonald's, and it is surely what the angels eat while lounging indolently on clouds. Holy cow, was it good. Soooooo good. I ordered it with a large Diet Coke (I know, I know, but it's what I'm used to drinking) and did a double-take when they gave me a 500ml Diet Coke, which is a little under 17 ounces. That's slightly larger than a small (16oz) here and nearly half the size of the large (32oz) I'd normally get. Cost as much, too. In fact, it was a little more, without even figuring in the exchange rate. Yeesh.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: A Quiet Place

So green a place
Just a slight breeze
Birds - but barely
As though they know
The souls that slumber here
Some for more than half a millenia
Shuffling off the woes of the world
And settling into the good earth
In this quiet place

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

My London Diary: St. Pancras & King's Cross

That, my dears, is a nighttime pic of St. Pancras station from the outside. It sits across the street from King's Cross, they both have trains, and I'm not entirely sure why they're not just all one station since they're joined together underground. From what Wikipedia tells me, King's Cross has the rail lines for all the UK, and St. Pancras is the hub for the Eurostar trains that go to the rest of Europe. Together, they both have the Underground. Anyway, St. Pancras is just gorgeous inside and out.

Inside, there's a lot of shopping (at King's Cross, as well), and a couple of different pianos set out for people to play at their whim. Most of the time when we were walking through, someone was playing, and beautifully. It was really wonderful. One of the pianos was donated (and signed) by Sir Elton John.

Monday, May 1, 2017

My London Diary, Day 4: Marbled Baths, Cobblestones And Big Neolithic Rocks

Our one big extravagance on this trip was the tour I booked for our final full day (which really wasn't our final full day, thanks to a flight reschedule - but that's another story). On Easter Sunday, we got up bright and early (for Anna, anyway) and boarded a bus for a cruise through the English countryside. Even through the tinted bus window, the landscape looked like a big, lush quilt of green.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Once Upon A Time – Season 6, Episode 19 Recap: The Saviors Of Storybrooke

We begin "Many Years Ago" at the moment of Rumple's immaculately clean birth to a still-human Fiona. In a callback to Henry's birth scene, the candles flicker, flame out and revive. Rumple's parents clearly love the hell out of him, and as they're oohing and aahing over their little bundle of joy, in poof Blue and Tiger Lilly - the latter being Rumple's assigned fairy godmother. I'm loving Blue's new outfit. It's about damn time. At least she doesn't look like a poorly-frosted doll cake anymore.

Why does the baby get a fairy godmother, you ask? Because a prophecy told them a boy would be born with great light magic - a child known as The Savior. Apparently, saviors are nearly as common as magic beans, because it's getting to be that you can't swing a dead cat in Storybrooke without hitting one.


Friday, April 28, 2017

Signs Point To Friday - Let's Get Our Weekend On!

It's Friday again, and I can't complain. It was a two-day work week for me since my father is visiting, but I'm guessing the rest of you poor working slugs could use a break. Kick back and enjoy this finely curated selection of signology.

For those slow learners out there:

Thursday, April 27, 2017

My London Diary Day 3: Revenge Of The Jet Lag (And Mummies!)

Day 3 of our London odyssey began with a very frustrated me trying to wake up a very jet-lagged teen. Anna couldn't fall asleep on Friday night, and was up till nearly four a.m. Consequently, she resisted every attempt to get up at nine, nine-thirty, and ten, and finally by 10:30, I gave up and went across the street to King's Cross to do some shopping without her.

Once at King's Cross, I found what I'd been looking for since the night before: The Platform 9 3/4 Harry Potter Shop! We'd wandered in on Friday night briefly (just before they closed) and the place was packed. I saw one of the store workers walking around with the world's most adorable plush Dobby on his shoulder, but alas, they were sold out and he wouldn't sell me that one. Check him out!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

London Diary Day 2: The Royal Observatory Was A Royal Pain

Day 2 in London began with such promise! We didn't get up quite as early as I'd like - Anna was having a serious issue with jet lag and she's never great with morning to begin with, but eventually we made our way to St. Pancras Station for a hearty breakfast at a great little Italian place called Barzetti. They were one of the few places you could get a real, sit-down breakfast (vs a pastry) and Anna wanted eggs. It turns out it was a terrific decision. I had the Uova al Forno Con Pancetta, which was Two eggs baked in a rich tomato sauce with mozzarella, parmesan, vine tomatoes and topped with pancetta. It was served with crusty brown bread and it was amaaaaazing. Take a look!

Monday, April 24, 2017

My London Diary, Day One: High Tea On The Thames

Our first day in London began with an hour and I forget how many minutes long queue for customs and passport control that I would like to never repeat again in my lifetime. We had filled out our landing cards on the plane, but that did nothing to expedite the process. This is the world we live in, I suppose.

The cool thing about the endless queue (and yes, there was one) was that it was truly a melting pot unlike anything I'd ever seen in my melting pot of a country. I think every nation on earth was represented in that queue and the writer in me was fascinated watching them all speak and interact and gripe about the queue. I wanted to know all their stories. But mostly, I wanted out of that line.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Once Upon A Time – Season 6, Episode 18 Recap: Oh Baby, Gimme Some Pancakes

We open tonight on teen Zelena who comes upon a young woodcutter who's trying to rescue a fallen bird's nest. Zelena heals the broken egg with magic and replaces a nest in a tree. The woodcutter's name is Stanum, and he also saves Zelena when some bullies target her. He firmly proclaims that they are friends, since Zelena used her magic for good.

Forward now to Zelena's farmhouse in Storybrooke. The Black Fairy has got baby Robin in her arms, where she coos, "I never grow tired of that new baby smell." She wants Zelena to team up for the final battle, but Zelena's not afraid of her and is now full-on mama bear since the Blackened Bitch dared to touch her baby. She tells her royal Dark Hotness to piss into the wind.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fun On A Friday - Time For "Today In The News"

It's Friday and I'm ready to rock it. But first, let's check in with the local news to see what's on tap. We'll start here.

Australia. Of course.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Saturday, I March For Science - And Here's Why

I had planned to start my London Diary today, but I'm holding off to next week because I think this is too important. On Saturday, I join thousands of others all around the world who will be marching for science.

Those of you who follow me know I'm a theatre girl. And a writer. I'm as far from a scientist/engineer/mathematician as you can get. I was raised by a fundamentalist evangelical mother and an engine mechanic father in a small town in the southwest, surrounded by a lot of camouflage wearing, gun-toting people.

And while I am a meat-eating, kale-despising girl who really has no use for homemade granola or Birkenstock sandals, I can see that we're on a planet in crisis, one that's at a turning point. Legislation has paved the way to reversing the damage we did to the ozone layer, many of our wild and free places have been sheltered, our water and soil has been tested and in some places, purified - but not at the levels we need to have any sort of legacy to pass on to our kids. The current administration has already peeled back many of those protections and is targeting more.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: In The Place Of The Silent Stones

Five thousand years is a long time
Some say, they're just rocks after all
But you can't help but feel the history
The majesty and awe
The wonder that repeats through generations
The commonality that unites us
The feeling of the sacred
No matter who or what you worship
Ancient things carry great power
And we are all a part of it
I stood among the giants
In the silence
Breathing it in
Just content to be

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Flight Got Bumped By A Day - And I Am Incredibly Grateful

We were supposed to have gotten in from London yesterday afternoon, but things did not go as planned. Instead, we were deplaned, sat in an airport for hours, then shuttled to a hotel, given food and room vouchers, and stuck in London for another night. It was quite the frazzling experience, and I am sincerely tired of airports. I don't need to see one again anytime soon, thanks.

Monday, April 17, 2017

I'm Not Looking To Cure My Son's Autism, Thanks

A few years ago, I sent out a Facebook blast to my family and friends to let them know I was taking part in an autism fundraiser - one that I participate in every year. This particular event raises money for autism research, which I think is a very worthwhile cause. Every bit we learn about autism gets us valuable therapies and innovations that help people live their lives to their fullest potential, and I'm all for that.

One of my family members shared the post and added this tidbit:

Please support Ellie and help us find a cure! Autism is a terrible curse and we need to help these children!

I didn't lash out at my family member, even though I really wanted to. There is so much wrong with that sentence.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Once Upon A Time – Season 6, Episode 17 Recap: Plot Points, Pixie Petals & Placeholder People

We open tonight's episode with Hook and Blackbeard fleeing the Lost Boys in Neverland. It seems they are determined to make him pay for unseating Pan. Suddenly, a tranquilizer dart takes down a Lost Boy and it's Tiger Lilly to the rescue! Except she's not rescuing at all - she defies proper Hook-concussing protocols and smacks Killian with a tranquilizing dart before she drags him off. Blackbeard is - well, he's just gone after that. Poof.

Meanwhile, in Storybrooke, it turns out Henry's glassy-eyed scribblings refer somehow to "The Final Battle" - which Rumple foretold back in season one. David thought that phrase referenced the curse (as did we) but apparently it was a breadcrumb trail the writer's seeded for when we get to this point. Or so they would have us believe.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: London, Here We Come!

Today's the day
Our first official Mother-Daughter birthday trip
And I hope, the first of many
For a long, long string of years
Seeing the world 
Through my eyes, and through hers
Touching hands to stones that were laid centuries ago
Walking streets that have known
Millenia of blood and triumph and tears
Laughing and eating and shopping
And remembering
Always remembering our time
With just us

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Orchids Are Fascinating - And Wait Till You Hear Why

I love words. I love all the various languages that feed into the words we use here in America, and all the origins and offshoots that go with those words. One of the things I've done with both of my kids when teaching them how to read is to look at the root word of something with a prefix or a suffix and see how many ways you can use it - this can help you determine a word's meaning or the general gist of it if you're unfamiliar. Like aquatic and aqueduct both deal with water, so an aquanaut is someone who explores the water.

I'm always fascinated by the origin of words and my trivia-loving brain is always on the lookout for little word tidbits. This weekend, I came across a couple of live ones.

Take orchids, for example.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Check Out This Great Point-Of-View Video About Autism

The National Autistic Society of the United Kingdom has a load of great YouTube videos that you should watch. I wanted to shout out one of their videos today because I think it really gives a great perspective into the world that people with autism have to navigate every day:

In addition to their Youtube channel, their website is full of great resources and support. Check them out and give the videos a view - and don't forget to pass them along!

Once Upon A Time – Season 6, Episode 16 Recap: One Book To Rule Them All

We open tonight on the Black Fairy, gleefully flying Gideon to her dark cavernous lair, where the children she's stolen mine her dark fairy dust in eternal, miserable servitude.

She find the copy of Her Handsome Hero that Belle tucked in with the baby and tosses it aside after ascertaining his name from the inscription.

A decade or so later, we see young Gideon reading Her Handsome Hero in his cell to an excited boy named Roderick who shares the neighboring cell. The Black Fairy shows up and finds the book he'd stolen back. Gideon tells her that he thinks his real mother gave the book to him so he'll remember to be a hero.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Fun On A Friday - Help Yourself To A Big Ol' Serving Of NOPE

Welcome to Friday and another fun-filled edition of the world of NOPE. Let's get right to it, shall we? We'll start with a bit of advice: Never irritate a Huntsman spider: