Life With A Side Of Autism


Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Fine Line Of Raising A Fierce Daughter

From the moment my daughter was born – even before, really – I wanted her to be fierce.
I wanted her to live fiercely and love fiercely and go after her dreams with purpose and drive and determination. I still want all of that for her.

I've raised her to be outspoken about what she wants. To voice her opinions. To believe that she matters and her voice counts.

I've raised her to expect to be respected for herself, for her views, for what she brings to the table, and to not tolerate anyone's lack of respect for any of that.

And it has worked, so far.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Night Tide

"Take a picture, Mom!" he said, and I did. 
Of course, it was dark, and hazy, and a phone picture
doesn't do justice to the crash of the waves,
the seagulls in the background bobbing on the surface, 
the smell of the sea
or the sand in my toes
So I hold this mental picture
Of him and me and his sister 
Frozen in time, looking out at the waves
Drinking it in
Just being

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

5 Smells That Take Me Right Back To My Childhood - What Are Yours?

A coworker brought me tomatoes and green beans from his garden yesterday. I opened up the bag, and suddenly, my childhood rushed out at me, wrapping me in a big fuzzy blanket of memory. It's amazing how a smell can take you back.

That got me thinking about all the other smells I associate with childhood - and here they are in no particular order:

1. Tomatoes

My grandma had a garden where she grew tomatoes and green beans. We used to play among the taller plants, and always helped her pick tomatoes and snap green beans (and the green beans always got cooked in a big pot with a bunch of bacon). The smell of tomatoes on the vine makes me four years old again, and I love it.

2. Rain on Sagebrush

I spent the majority of my childhood years in New Mexico, and that smell is unlike anything you'll smell anywhere else. It's clean and fresh and wonderful.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Atypical On Netflix: My Review

So I finally got to sit down and watch the opening episode of ATypical on Netflix - a series I was very much looking forward to as it features a character on the autism spectrum, and the family that lives with autism every day.

Overall, I think this was a solid effort. They really do make an effort to show us the story from Sam's point of view, letting us see what he's fixating on, hearing a word loop over and over in his head, his discussion of sensory issues and how that can be a difficult thing to navigate in daily life -  but it wasn't quite as terrific as I think it could have been.

Friday, August 11, 2017

It's Friday - Time For Another Edition Of "Today In The News!"

It's a big news day here in Fridayville, so let's grab the paper, or click on the website, and see what's new and unusual in the media today.

Here's a headline you won't see every day:

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Horror Of Horrors - I Forgot My Phone!

I realized it when I got too far from home to reasonably turn back, and fretted over it all the way to work. What if I break down? Will anyone even stop? Why would they - they'll all assume I have a phone.

What if my kids need to call me? What if one of them falls down the stairs or trips into the stove (even though I know they'll both sleep to noon like they have all summer long)? What if my boss (who has texted or called me on my cell exactly four times in the six years since they hired him) changes his mind about emailing, Skyping, or calling my desk phone?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Managing Your Child's Meltdowns – Five Tips To Get You Through And Back To Control

As the mother of a child with autism, I can tell you with no false modesty that I have mad meltdown skills. My son was three at his diagnosis, and at that time his vocabulary consisted of a handful of words – and they weren't always used contextually. He tantrumed dozens of times a day, and often for no cause that I could define or for the most innocuous reasons: his shirtsleeve got wet when he washed his hands, the smell of the cleaner they just used on the counter at the drugstore set him off, or I gave him his sippy cup with the wrong color lid.

Once he started tantruming, it would often move into full-on meltdown, and a lot of the things I did with his sister when she misbehaved were ineffective. A time-out didn't work because he threw himself from the chair. He self-harmed, which was another issue entirely. It was frustrating for both of us, but eventually, I learned how to read him, and I learned how to manage him – and me, in the process. 

Here are a few of the things that I learned in managing serious meltdowns:

Monday, August 7, 2017

I Am SO Jazzed To See Netflix's New Show, ATYPICAL!!

I've often lamented the portrayal of autism in movies and TV - they tend to focus heavily on people who are Aspberger's sort of autism, meaning they're very, very verbally acute and almost always in these portrayals they are hyper-smart and overly rude and sometimes even given superhuman autism powers. Ugh.

This show seems to get it. And while my son is not nearly as verbally fluid as the boy in this show, as the mother of a now teenage son with autism, this show is going to tackle what it's like to have a kid who wants - and deserves - to be like other kids, even though he's not in many very important ways. It's about the family that supports him and it's about his own struggles to fit in even when he's capable of realizing that fitting in can be ridiculous. It's about helping hands and letting go.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Pull Up A Chair And I'll Slice You Off A Big Serving Of NOPE

Good ole Nopey the Pooh, my favorite cuddle companion. *shudder*

That is seriously wrong. Just wrong. But it's Friday and we're all looking for a diversion, so here's a whole bunch of NOPE to carry you into your weekend.

Let's start with this moving blob of NOPE, found in the Brazilian rainforest:

If that doesn't give you a case of the heebie-jeebies, how about this?

(Those are New Zealand Weta Bugs, by the way)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

I Need To Find A Cat Whisperer

Guys, this is Annabelle. She's a sweetheart. She's adorable. And I don't know what to do with her.

Here's the sitch: You may recall that we adopted Annabelle a few months back. She's the sister of my other cat, Niko (from the same litter) and her previous owner had to rehome her after they got a couple of big, loud dogs that scared the bejeezus out of Annabelle. She spent most of her time hiding in their daughter's room, and crying when no one was in there with her, so they felt that rehoming her was the best thing to do, since the cat could not adjust to the dogs (we're talking a couple of years, here, that they tried).

So we took her in, and the first week or so was rocky. We kept her in a room away from the other two cats, and she hissed and tried to claw anyone who came within a couple of feet. Gradually, that gave way to letting us pet her for a second or two, and then letting us pet her every time we entered the room.

We let the cats into the room one at a time, supervised, to see how she'd interact, and that went badly. She hissed and growled the second she saw them. We did this daily for weeks, hoping to desensitize her, even let her out of the room to walk in their space while they were locked away, but all she wanted to do was hide under the bed in the next bedroom over. Finally, after a month we opened the doors and just kept an eye on the situation. GoGo ignored her. Niko kept coming in to try to play, he'd get down low and subservient, tilting his head playfully, and she'd try to take that head clean off his shoulders. This has been going on for months.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: People Watching

We take a seat at a table on the upper level
Resting our tired legs as we walk the mall
He peers down, watching
And he asks
"Mom, do you think they like Mulan?"
"Do you think they eat cheeseburgers?"
"Does she have a cat? Is is a girl cat?"
"Are they best friends?"
"Is that his favorite shirt?"
He wants to know everything about them
These people passing by
He wants to know their stories
Because the world is full of stories
And they make the world more interesting
I wish everyone was as curious
About the stories of others

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

5 Great Websites For Insomniacs

Ah, insomnia - a very good friend of mine. I don't think I've slept an entire night through without the aid of NyQuil in my entire life, so I'm pretty much used to it. Even with waking a time or two every night, there are still some nights when a brief wake-up lingers into irritating hours spent wondering how I'm going to function at work tomorrow.

If you have those nights, here's a list of a few websites I've found particularly helpful for passing the grueling overnight hours:

1. A Soft Murmur -  Terrific site for ambient noise like rain and crickets.

2. Primitive Technology - There's something incredibly peaceful about this chill guy in the forest building his own habitat, weaving his own baskets and making his own sandals - all without a word or a modern tool in sight.