Life With A Side Of Autism


Friday, August 17, 2018

Time For Another Edition Of "What The Hell Am I Looking At?"

We made it through another week, folks, and now it's time to ask the age-old question:  what in hell am I looking at? I guarantee these pics will leave you with an odd look frozen on your face.

Japan. Of course.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Netflix Picks: The Tragic Beauty Of Our Vanishing Coral Reefs

This week, we're taking a trip underwater to a magical world most people have only glimpsed in a Pixar animated film. Our coral reefs are a place of wonder - and now, thanks to very real climate issues, they're becoming a watery graveyard.

This is a short film that will take your breath away and fill you with equal portions of awe and grief.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Impulse Control And Autism Can Be A Frustrating (And Scary) Combination

One of the perks of my day job is that I occasionally get invited by local hotels to tour their meeting and conference space. The tour almost always ends with a small gift - usually a mug or a pen or a bag of candy or fresh baked cookies, but sometimes if they're really trying to land my business I get a gift certificate for a complimentary night at the hotel. I was awarded two of these at two different hotels last fall and held onto them since they're good for an entire year. Both of these hotels have pools that are outdoor only and Lord knows David loves to swim.

Going to a hotel is a real treat for us because it's not something we get to do often. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to cash one in and away we went for a day of fun and sun and splashing coupled with walking around the local mall and plans to see a movie after we checked out the next day.

Friday, August 3, 2018

And Today In The News . . . Check Out These Hilarious Headlines

I know, I know . . . I've been a negligent blogger. I started back to work at the day job, and physically, it's been a challenge. Exhaustion is my new best friend, and trying to fit stuff in around it (or despite it) has not been easy. I'm getting back into the groove now, and I promise, more blogs from this point on.

In the meantime, it's Friday and I'm ready to have a laugh and go home.Let's kick the weekend off with this collection of newsworthy items.

That's some pig!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

I Survived San Diego Comic-Con! Go Me!

Yep, that's me in the middle - sitting on an author panel at San Diego Comic-Con International last Saturday. It was amazing. It was outrageous fun. 

Okay, it was exhausting. But worth it. So very, very worth it.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Netflix Picks: Fall In Love With Our National Parks

Originally an IMAX feature at Smithsonian, National Parks Adventure was a breathtaking bit of joy to be found on Netflix. Narrated by the great Robert Redford, this short film takes you from Yellowstone to Chaco Canyon, from Hawaii to Niagara, on a breathtaking tour of some of America's most picturesque national parks.

From the opening aerial shots set to the strains of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, this film will hold you spellbound and leave you planning a road trip around the wonders of our nation's protected lands.

Check it out - you'll be awed and amazed.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Netflix Picks: A Journey To Healing Through A Photographer's Eye

One of the things I did during my long recuperation is watch a lot of Netflix. I was looking for yoga programs because my physical therapist had recommended yoga to combat my muscle spasticity issues and hopefully to give me further insight into pain management.

What I found was the story of a man recovering from a devastating injury through yoga, and a fascinating journey through the lens of his camera that taught me far more about humanity than yoga. This was one beautiful trip.

Monday, July 9, 2018

I Am Working Woman, Hear Me Roar (In Pain)

Well, I did it. I survived my first week back at the day job.

All in all, it went pretty well. I chose an easy week - most of the office was away for the holiday, and with July 4th falling on Wednesday, I got a bonus day off in the middle of the week. It turns out that was insanely helpful.

Monday went by quickly, and was mostly spent visiting with coworkers and catching up, weeding through 4 months of emails ( they numbered in the thousands), and just trying to re-acclimate. I did a lot of walking around our office complex, and even made myself take the stairs a few times just because I felt like I could. I got home Monday night, sat down on the couch, and the tired hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized I may have overdone it a little, and dragged myself upstairs to bed at eight o’clock.

Tuesday I was a little more tired, but still managing well. I got home from work, sat down on the couch and couldn't get up again. I slept through my evening medications, and woke up at 2 a.m. wracked with pain. I dragged myself up to bed, very grateful that I had the day off on Wednesday.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Big Day For Me - I'm Back To Work!

That's right! Today I'll be dialing back the muscle relaxers and sliding into a cubicle - just another forward step to getting my life back. Do I feel 100% ready? Hell no, but it's time. It's not going to be easy, but my employer and my coworkers are all terrific and working to support me through the transition back to working life. 

I'm excited. I'm scared. But I'm back.

Baby steps.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Fun On A Friday - Check Out The Array Of Bar Signs

It's Friday! Not that it means much to me sitting on my couch every day, but this particular Friday is my last couch potato Friday since I return to my day job on Monday. I'm nervous, but it's time. I need the rest of my life back.

So let's have some Friday fun and check out this assortment of bar signs, shall we?

Good Question.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Thank You, Paul McCartney, You Were Just What I Needed

I simply adore James Corden and his Carpool Karaoke series. The musical theatre girl in me just eats that stuff up. And it's not just because of the great music or getting to see some of my favorite artists in a more casual setting. A lot of the joy in that series comes from watching how much fun James Corden has doing it.

And that brings me to his latest installation: Paul McCartney. To say this is epic would be an understatement I'm sure that James Corden will be remembering this all the way to his death bed. It hit me pretty hard as well, but for my own reasons.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Great Big (Terrifying) Bucket List Thing

For those of you who don't follow my author blog or Instagram account, I had a major announcement today. Major for me, anyway, and on more than one level.

Yep, that's yours truly, sitting on an author panel at San Diego Comic-Con next month. Attending Comic-Con has been a bucket list item for me for ages. Just the attending. Never in my wildest dreams would I have pictured myself on an author panel there when I first started writing. Hell, I was just hoping to get published someday. 

So yea, big, big deal for me.Me, the recovering stroke patient.

I spoke with my physical therapist and my doctor before I ever agreed to take this on, and they both think I can do it, as long as I pace myself. My physical therapist has me training like I'm in a marathon. This is going to be a challenge, but a great one, I think.

No guts, no glory, right?

This is big. And I am ready for big, which is, well, big.

See you in San Diego!

Friday, June 15, 2018

These Guys Really Do The Dad Thing With Flair!

Ahhh, fathers. They're strong and supportive and find innovative ways of parenting that keep moms shaking their heads in the background. We love their dorky clothes and corny dad jokes. Father's Day is almost upon us, so lets check out some guys who've really got the Dad thang goin' on.

First, they begin at Dad Training Camp . . .

Friday, June 1, 2018

Time For An Edition Of "What The Hell Am I Looking At?"

I'm still home and off work for a while, so I've got time (and plenty of crazy friends who share odd stuff) so you get to sift through this collection of wildly wrong stuff. Let's begin!

Lookin' sexy!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Forgetting Your Child In A Car: Don't Think It Can't Happen To You

Over the weekend, someone in a Facebook group I belong to posted a link to an article with helpful tips to keep you from accidentally leaving your baby in a hot car. It suggested putting your laptop bag, purse, or cellphone in the backseat so that you're forced to open the back door and look in the back seat.

Unfortunately, the poster added this comment: "What kind of idiot leaves their kid in the car?"

"A drug addict, probably," added another commenter.

"If you have to put your cellphone in the backseat to keep from forgetting your child, you've got major problems," another chimed in.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Some Days, You Just Can't

It's been a rough week.

My pain level went from about an 8 on a scale from 1 to 10 to somewhere around 12 and decided to hang out there.

Paperwork and red tape and circuitous logic from the insurance companies I'm dealing with is making my head swim, and believe me my head is swimming enough with some of the medication they've got me on.

All of this with the book deadline approaching, and a return to the day job looming on the not so far away horizon.

Thee honest truth? I need to be on a beach somewhere. Like, for the rest of my life. But I don't get that life I get this one, and once I'm over this hump I'll make the most of it. It's just slow going right now.

Thanks for listening to me whine. I promise, we'll get back to our regularly scheduled programming soon.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

5 Great Sites For History Lovers

One of the big perks of being a writer is I get to indulge my addiction to history and cultures. I've always sworn that if I hadn't studied the arts, I would have been a cultural anthropologist. History is about stories, after all - of people, of places, of the things that were cherished, or left behind, or passed down. Fascinating stuff.

Anyway, during my research travels across the web, I'm come across some great collections and archive sites. You can fall down a rabbit hole into each one of these and not connect with reality for several hours.

Friday, May 11, 2018

It's Friday! Let's Kick The Weekend Off With A Whole Bunch Of NOPE

It took you a minute to feel the full horror of that pic, didn't it?  Now you probably want to go wash your hand, but there's no time for that - we've got a great big wonderful world of NOPE to explore!

I'm sure you'll want to look your best before our journey - better get a haircut:

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Being An Introvert Makes For Difficulty - Married Or Single

One of the many things that affected our relationship back in my married days was the fact that I was an introvert and married a social butterfly. While my idea of a great evening was being cuddled up on the couch next to him eating food that had preferably been delivered or picked up on the way home from work, his idea of a great night was being out somewhere - a restaurant, a movie, or a bar (not that he was some sort of drunk or anything he just like the festive atmosphere of being at a bar with his friends). 

Happy hours were his forté, while to me they were a form of personal torture. First of all, I don't drink much - mainly because I'm a lightweight and I don't especially like the feeling of being drunk. So there I am at a happy hour nursing one drink over the course of however long I'm stuck there, making small, talk standing around because there's almost never anywhere to sit. I don't play pool either - so unless there's a wicked trivia contest going there's really not much to interest me at a bar for more than about half an hour.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Time For A Little More Bathroom Humor!

This is the third bathroom humor post I've done now, and it boggles my mind that there's enough bathroom fodder to keep on going with this. I am flush with bathroom fodder! Flush, I tell you! And on that note, away we go . . .

This apartment was billed as a "one bed efficiency."

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Settling Into The New Normal

It's amazing how resilient a human being can be. Friday will be two months since I had my stroke, and now I'm settling in to what I call The New Normal.

The New Normal means it's going to take me twice as long and sometimes three times, to do anything. Cooking dinner? Twice as long to chop the vegetables, twice as long to get the packaging open on any kind of meat or side item, twice as long to pack the leftovers away to container, all because it all has to be done one-handed.

Going to the movies? Or the Mall? I'll need my cane - its a visual signal in a busy place that I'm going to be moving slowly, so give me some room, please. I wear my arm sling, too even without the cane because my awkward arm frequently unbalances me with the way it swings.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Healthy Eating Is Now Part Of My Glamorous Lifestyle

Ever since I got out of the hospital, I have been reveling in a world of decent edible food. After three weeks on a hospital diet ,my palate has altered dramatically - and that's a good thing. To say I used to be a salt-aholic would be an understatement. I'm telling you, I would salt my mother before I kissed her. Eating something is simple as fried chicken involved peeling the skin off (because chicken skin is gross) and then salting the meat underneath. In addition to that, I poured an extra pile of salt on my plate to dip the chicken into. I'm not kidding about any of that. When I was a kid, if we had ham at Easter or Christmas, I would salt my ham. So, yeah, the salt thing was a bit extreme.

Now that I know my stroke was partially caused by undiagnosed high blood pressure, I look at salt with very different eyes. It's impossible to eliminate it entirely from your diet, but whoa Nelly, have I cut back. When we go to the movies I allow myself one small fistful of popcorn and that's it. Mexican food? Three tortilla chips with salsa and that's it. And as far as the salt shaker goes at home, I get one shake on whatever it is I'm eating, and the list of things I give salt to has been easily cut by two-thirds.

I am also adding more fruits and vegetables into my diet. The problem is, all of this requires a lot of prep time, cutting and chopping vegetables, figuring out how I want to combine them and season them with the grilled chicken or lean meat on cooking them with or with the quinoa I'm serving them over. And that my friends, is work - and a lot of it. My fatigue level is still pretty high, and I'm also still on a strong dose of muscle relaxesr that isn't necessarily conducive to holding a large, sharp kitchen knife.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Autism Research Study Recruitment Request - With Gift Card Incentive!

I saw this posted on Reddit in their autism community and thought I would pass it along. A doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at Binghamton University (SUNY) is conducting dissertation research investigating how parents of children with autism make decisions regarding their child's treatment.

Here are all the specifics:

Looking for parents of children with ASD to take an online survey about how they view themselves, how they make decisions, and about their experience with specific treatments. The survey will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. This study has been approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB), and participants will have the option to be entered in a drawing where five people will be selected to each receive a $50 gift card.

Click here to the link to the survey.

If you have further questions you can email the author of the survey at with any questions.

Friday, April 27, 2018

All Signs Point To Friday! Check Out This Hilarious Collection!

 Hooray! Friday! (Not that I'm punching a clock right now, but I still feel the vibe). Let's get right to the fun stuff.

That's quite the apology.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Young Adult Autism:Let The Talks Begin

David is now fourteen, and he's taller than me. He’s a good sized kid and built like a bull moose. As he's aged into puberty he hasn't lost a bit of his exuberance. Somehow David utterly disproves the myth that kids with autism are introverted and withdrawn. He is, as always unfailingly cheerful and friendly. To him, a stranger is just a friend he hasn't met yet.

And while that's a wonderful sunshiney way of looking at life, it creates a series of problems - particularly when you have a kid who doesn't easily read or understand social cues. Facial expressions are generally lost on him unless they are extreme. Gentle or subtle hints sail right over his head.

So I've had to previously address this on occasion, and those occasions are getting more and more frequent as David's height climbs higher, his voice drops lower, and he's looking less and less like a young teen and more like a grown man.

For instance last night we were in Target. David has been on a Disney kick lately, and he was singing from one of his favorite Disney movies. He was off in the movie section while I was shopping elsewhere in the store and as I headed back to his section I could hear him down the aisle as he was singing. I've spoken with him before about singing loudly in public and I have to keep reminding him.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

My Apologies, Folks . . .

Sorry the blogs have been so sporadic lately, but I've been having a lot of muscle tone issues in my arm and leg as my brain reroutes itself to the muscle groups. This results in a whole lot of aches and pains and tightness that we have to work through extra hard in physical therapy. And that, of course means I have to take my muscle relaxers afterwards,and on top of the fatigue I'm already feeling - which is unreal, by the way - means I'm spending the rest of my day sleeping.

That is, until the muscle relaxers wear off and the pain sets in again. So there's this endless cycle of working my muscles, getting pain from my muscles, and medicating my muscles. Work, sleep, work, sleep. And somewhere in there, I'm supposed to be writing my next book! And blogging! And keeping up with all the social media I need to keep up with, particularly since my second book just came out last week. It's more than a little overwhelming.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Partial List Of The Crap I Can Do One-Handed

Along with having to blog and also write my next book one-handed, I've had to pick up a whole new range of one-handed skill sets. I shower one-handed, fold laundry one-handed (badly, but I do) and a whole bunch of other stuff like:

Putting on socks one-handed. And don't tell me to use one of these things because my brother got me one and they're useless - because they expect you to get the sock on the contraption one-handed first. Its faster to just maneuver it on your foot with a few choice curse words.

Wrapping a towel in a turban after a shower. Yeah, I can do that one-handed, bitches. Fear me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Back In The Saddle Again

Getting back to writing every day
Sometimes one-handed
Sometimes with voice recognition software
But always with an audience

Missed you, too, old girl

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Great Big Thank You Post

I've been meaning to do this for a while and I feel badly it took me so long to do it but I have a number of people to thank in regards to my rehabilitation.

First, my  neurologist at the University of Kansas Medical Center: Dr. Yunxia Wang, who held my hand and talked me through what was happening to my brain with compassion and calm intelligence as I layed there, scared and weeping.

KU Rehabilitation doctors Schuessler and Eickmeyer,stopped in to see me every morning, remaining positive and upbeat and and celebrating every single one of my successes. I will confess now that I nicknamed Dr. Schuessler “Dr. Dreamboat” and was secretly squealing when he asked for a copy of my book.

My speech therapist Lauren was only with me for a couple of sessions, mostly because as a theatre person I was already doing my vocal warm ups and exercising my mouth, lips, and jaw every chance I got. She still offered some practical instruction and a whole lot of positive support.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Series Of Fortunate Unfortunate Events

I had a fortunate stroke. I know that seems like an oxymoron, but despite how completely awful it is to have had a stroke at my age, it could have been so much worse.

To begin with, my trip to Kansas City for a family wedding almost didn't happen. I was waiting on my tax refund, not really sure it would come through in time for me to purchase the airline tickets. Lucky for me it did, and we were in Kansas when I had my stroke. Otherwise, it would have been my children's weekend with their father. I would have been home all alone when I had my stroke. My children would have returned from their father's house that morning and found me. Instead, I had my stroke at my brother's home, in front of my sister-in-law, who happens to be an ICU nurse. To go one step further, if I'd had my stroke 8 hours later, or booked the earlier return flight, I would have had my stroke on the plane, sitting next to my kids.

My sister-in-law also happens to work for the University of Kansas Hospital which is where she took me that morning. The University of Kansas hospital has a stroke center -  not something found at every hospital.They also had an open bed in there inpatient rehabilitation facility, also a good piece of luck.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Seven People With Mad Skillz

Do you see this statue? This statue is 'Disillusion' (Il Disinganno) by Francesco Queirolo and dates to 1754. The net is sculpted, too. I cannot fathom that level of skill. Some people are just astoundingly good at stuff. Did you know I can pick up laundry with my toes? And press CTRL-ALT-DELETE with one hand? Being one-handed is pulling out all sorts of skills I never knew I had.

But I digress. You're here to be entertained, so here are five people with crazy levels of skill.

We'll start with this guy and his soccer ball:

Monday, April 9, 2018

Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center Receives Sensory Inclusion Certification

Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center is home to both the Philadelphia Flyers Hockey Team and the Philadelphia 76'ers basketball team - as well as thousands of screaming and cheering fans.

Being around that much noise, and movement, the smells from the food vendors, and the flashing scoreboards can make rooting for your favorite team a real challenge for people with sensory processing disorders such as autism.

To better promote inclusion for their fans, Wells Fargo is now offering special "Sensory Kits" for those with sensory challenges. Each kit contains noise-cancelling headphones, a fidget device, a weighted lap blanket, and verbal cue cards. They also have a sensory room where fans can watch the team in a more comfortable, somewhat muted environment.

These accommodations make Wells Fargo is the first arena in Pennsylvania to receive sensory inclusive certification. 

I'm thrilled when I see inclusion at any level, but this will mean the world to so many of those on the spectrum.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Life After A Stroke: A Confluence of Irritants

Recovering from a stroke is more than dealing with your useless hand or your shuffling leg or the fact that you can only smile with one side of your face right now. And I got off light! At least the gray matter is intact and believe me, I truly do realize how fortunate that is, especially after sharing the gym with several patients who weren't as fortunate as I was.

Aside from the frustration of bathing and dressing one-handed, and the exhaustion of trying to walk with a shaking and uncooperative leg, there are other factors I never anticipated.

I got hiccups Lots of them. I'm talking twelve to fifteen times a day. It was my brain trying to rewire its way to my partially-disabled diaphragm. A good sign, the doctors said. But soooo irritating.

Monday, April 2, 2018

"What Is Autism?" A Film Written By People On The Autism Spectrum

It's World Autism Awareness Day, and if you want to know what autism really means, you should go straight to the source.

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Frightening Food Gallery Of Horrifying Hospital Cuisine

Hospital Food. Two words that strike fear in the hearts of mere mortals, and for good reason. I've done some research on the subject, and while some places have truly lovely hospital food, this wasn't one of them. I've received excellent care in this place, but the food . . . oh God, the food . . .

This was one of my first breakfasts. I ordered wheat toast, peanut butter and banana, and I was kind of looking forward to it. What I got was a soggy, plastic-wrapped piece of previously toasted bread, peanut butter, and an unpeeled orange because they ran out of bananas. An unpeeled orange. For the girl with one working hand.

This is 7/8 of a mostly-burnt pizza. I don't know why it's shorn off. It is possible it was used as a weapon, perhaps against demons.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Now Comes The Hard Part: Stroke Rehabilitation

That very next day, I met my team. I had two doctors - at least one of whom checked in with me every morning to check me over, update my status and listen to my concerns. I had a physical therapist with cats named after Harry Potter characters to help me walk, an occupational therapist with the world's smartest dog to help me regain use of my hand and arm and a sweetheart of a speech therapist to help me regain my diction and clarity.  I had a psychologist with the kindest soul, and a social worker who rode herd on paperwork for my insurance company and located outpatient therapy for me back home for when I returned. I had a nutritionist who talked diet and meal planning and a recreational therapist who invited me to group events. I had a nurse and an aide on every shift, and they were all terrific.

Anna and David were making do but it was a lot of stress on Anna. She couldn't hang at her father's house as much due to her part-time job (he lives over an hour away), and her course load of AP-level classes this semester is brutal. She was alone in the house a lot more than I would have liked, but there wasn't a lot of choice, really. David was managing okay once he got used to the new normal. That first week or so I limited our daily contact to texting only. When I said goodbye to the kids the day of the stroke, I wasn't doing too badly. I didn't want to frighten them with how much worse I'd gotten. But we talked and we joked as we texted, and my sister-in-law, neices and nephews all came by to lift my spirits.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: My First Visitor

His name is Escobar
"Eskie" for short
And he's a sweetheart
I'm really tired, I say apologetically
But that's okay with Eskie
He climbed right up and cuddled right in
I even managed to shift my useless arm
and lay it against him
The first time it's moved in two days
Thanks, buddy
You're just what I needed