Post-NAAM and Pre-Mother’s Day Thoughts

Well, National Autism Awareness (Acceptance) Month has come and gone for 2016.  I always learn something new during the month of April. This year, I learned some think it should be National Autism Acceptance Month. Sigh. I suppose.  But, in order to have acceptance (and to accept and to be accepted and to learn to accept) there must first be awareness.

There are still plenty of people out there…they must live under a rock, but I digress…..who don’t know what autism is. And there are plenty of people out there who THINK they know what autism is, and they truly don’t. There are all sorts of misconceptions of what autism is…and isn’t. It is our responsibility, I believe, as Autism Parents to help others in our communities and in our extended families understand autism and our children. A month once a year seems like a good idea, and speaking as someone who lived *back in the day* having a child with autism with NO National Autism Awareness Month, I can you, IT IS a good idea!

As far as autism acceptance  is concerned…..we must first accept OUR OWN CHILDREN.  It is difficult to expect others to *accept autism* when we do not. Does that mean NOT trying new things to help our children  be the best they can be, autism or not? NO!  Does that mean giving up? HELL NO! My Kiddo is 36 years old and we still try new things all the time! What it does mean is loving the person and accepting the disability as fact. We can all get crazy with the *autism cure* stories but there comes a point when striving for a complete cure is counter-productive to our child. They are whom they are…accept it and move on. Accept it and move on.

Mother’s Day is this Sunday here in the U.S. My first Mother’s Day, Hubby asked me what I would like for my gift.  I remember telling him I wanted some time to myself, and not much else.  Our Kiddo was about three months old that Mother’s Day. I was nursing and always seemed to smell like sour milk and spit-up.  The luxury of going to the bathroom or having a shower or shaving my legs without an interruption sounded like such a big deal. Feeling and smelling clean for a change made me giddy and, as I got into the bathroom that Sunday morning knowing Hubby would handle the baby, I thought I could handle being constantly “on call” for his childhood because his childhood wouldn’t be forever. I didn’t know how long it would actually last.

That first Mother’s Day, my mother and mother-in-law told me, as my kids got older, I would have more time to myself and I would have more freedom.  I believed them; why wouldn’t I?  But, now I’ve been a parent of someone with special needs for over 30 years and I’m still waiting for some time for myself.  It piles up, that lack of “me” time and it festers and eats away at you as a person.

Mother’s Day is different things to different mothers.  The pictures of loving children with their adored Mother, with their flowers and breakfasts in bed and trinkets made of gold spray-painted macaroni conjure a certain image of a typical motherhood. While I have received my share of flowers and pasta bedecked items, it is not the motherhood I have often experienced.

Special needs mothering is motherhood in its most condensed, purest form. Most of us in the autism and special needs trenches have to be hands-on at all times, and have been for many years. We don’t get a break and we are tired. All. The. Time. We are vigilant and detail oriented because if we aren’t, something important may fall through the cracks and our child will suffer for our relaxation of the moment. Our motherly love transcends the type those typical mothers feel…it has to. Our kids, to outsiders, may seem unlovable or impossible to love…but we love them. Unconditionally. And the only other people who understand and *get* us are other special needs mothers.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my fellow Autism and Special Needs Moms. I wish  a nice afternoon nap for you on Sunday. Or, if you aren’t able to take a nap, some chocolate (hid it from the kids!) or a glass of wine or a nice cup of coffee (tea?)or some dandelions in a juice glass hand picked by your child or…..a gold spray-painted macaroni trinket!

 

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Now What?

I have had an idea for this particular blog post since I decided to write more posts than usual in April, National Autism Awareness Month. I would write about finding adult programs after aging out of public school.  I would write about being careful about guardianship and health insurance (read: MEDICAID) and SSI and all sorts of issues you younger parents haven’t BEGUN to think about, because really, why should you? I would tell you to become political. I would tell you to begin to network (if you haven’t already) with other parents of children with autism (or whatever disability) close in age to your child so when the time comes, you have people who can come together for the good of all of your children. All those things are still valid, in my mind, but the one that strikes me as most important RIGHT NOW is to become more political. And I will tell you truly…it doesn’t matter the political party you belong to, it matters how that party and those running for election views those with disabilities, adults or children.  I do not vote a straight political ticket, I vote for those whose ideas will be best for Kiddo.

Now the time to write this particular blog has come and our family has been hit over the head by our state’s financial stalemate; the giant game of Chicken our governor and the state legislature have been playing since last summer.  We are a state without a budget, and our state has not being paying their bills because of it.  Things (agencies)can only run for so long without money changing hands….it’s so bad, state custodians in our capital can no longer charge cleaning supplies at local hardware stores and have to use their own cash-money to purchase floor cleaner…UNBELIEVABLE!

It affects us and Kiddo because, since January, his program has been reduced from three days a week (we wanted to have flexibility for him) to two days. And I was informed this afternoon, most likely, his particular program will be cut to one day if things don’t change soon.The support staff is not being paid and are quitting or being let go or put on furlough.  No one can blame them for quitting and the good ones find jobs and go; I would! Our state’s new-ish governor has lost many former supporters because of this situation.  Our state’s representatives (the majority of the other political party) have lost many supporters as well.  In the meantime, those who are the most vulnerable are the ones suffering because of their political shenanigans.

Kiddo, as do many adults with autism, thrives on routine and this has been a punch to the gut.  I am sure I will be blogging about trying to make his life as easy and as normal as possible in the months to come. Hubby and I, and Kiddo’s brothers, will have a Meeting of the Minds over the weekend to come up with something to keep him on track.  Just when we think everything is settled…….sigh.

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes about how to view the treatment of those most vulnerable in our society. It says a lot about my particular state’s government, I am sad to say 😦

“It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” Hubert H. Humphrey

Every month is Autism Awareness Month at our house!

A Bucket Full of Pinecones

Last spring and summer was a strange and difficult time for our household, as well as a very happy time.  Our Kiddo had health and behavior problems.  The Youngest  graduated from grad school.  The Middle Boy came home with a master’s degree as well and a desire to go to law school.  The whole family was back home and would be together for the foreseeable future. It was a period of readjusting to each other as well as handling some challenges.

Our house, itself, also had its share of troubles–from a leaking roof to an invasion of raccoons.  Those problems were easier to handle then Our Kiddo’s issues and we quickly resolved the roof leak and captured four raccoons–and two opossums for good measure.  In addition, our wildlife guy–he handled the critters, NOT Kiddo–suggested cutting down or at least trimming a good number of trees and bushes.  We had always liked the “cottage in the woods” look our house had but certainly didn’t want any more raccoons if we could help it.  We decided to cut down all the trees except for the glorious Ponderosa Pine in front of the house–we would have Wally-the-Tree-Guy trim that one in half so the branches wouldn’t be anywhere near the roof.

After Wally cut down the trees, bushes and trimmed the pine tree, we didn’t have much to do to clean up–except for the pine cones.  There were pine cones everywhere, in the ground cover, on the sidewalks, in the flower beds with the hostas and day lilies.  Getting the time to pick them up–the hundreds all over the place–just wasn’t going to happen with Our Kiddo’s problems taking up so much of my time.

During this time, we also played the “what’s wrong with Kiddo” game.  He was down to 112 pounds–why was he losing weight?  Why was he screaming in pain but not being able to tell us where he hurt?  Why was he not the happy guy we love?  From April to August, we tried to get him back on track.  Since he was having behavior problems, it was very difficult to keep him on the schedule he thrived being on.  He didn’t want to do his academics or the art work he so loved to do.  He loved to be outside but we kept him inside a great deal because I didn’t feel we could trust his behavior.  He was able to do some of his envelope stuffing jobs but it was torture to get him to stay on task for the two or three hours it took for each.

I kept a record of his behaviors and we tried to see a pattern somewhere. He had some medical tests, a visit from the paramedics and a trip to the Emergency Room which still did not give us a clear diagnosis.  Then, we finally got an answer. He had bulimia (he was “stimming” by vomiting after eating large amounts of food) and migraines.  Treating those things–the bulimia, behaviorally, and the migraines with diet and when he seemed to be in pain with medication–made a difference.  He seemed to be back on track, weighed 135 pounds and was almost his old self.

This leads me back to the pine cones.  All summer, I worried our postman or a delivery person would trip and fall or step on a pine cone and hurt themselves.  Each time I went outside to weed, I promised myself I would get out to the yard and take care of them.  Every time I watered or got the newspaper, I vowed to do it that weekend.

The last week of August, I knew I had to do something.  I wanted to plant bulbs to take the place of some of the now missing bushes, but I needed to weed in the front yard first.  I knew I had to get the pine cones out as well.  Our Kiddo had been spending more and more time outside, when it wasn’t too hot or wet, and seemed so much better.  I didn’t want him in the house by himself, so I got us each a bottle of water, opened the garage door and out we went.

My plan was to have him sit on the bench on our porch, sipping his water but then I thought perhaps he could pick up some of the pine cones.  The lawn waste bag was next to the garage and I went in to get a bucket.  I motioned for him to come over to me and pointed to the pine cones on the ground.  His first response was to kick the stray pine cones back under the tree, into the ground cover.  I laughed and told him no, he had to put the pine cones into the bucket and picked one up myself to show him.  Immediately, he began to put pine cones in the bucket.  I told him he could sit on the sidewalk if he wanted, throwing pine cones in the bucket while he sat.  I watched him for a while as I weeded the area he had just cleared of pine cones.  Soon, the bucket was filled and he brought it to me.  I showed him how to dump the bucket into the lawn waste bag and he smiled, took the bucket back and began again.

I weeded and he threw pine cones in the bucket, dumped them and started over.  We had been working together for about an hour when I had an especially tough weed to pull.  I put my back into it and turned around to not see Kiddo–where did he go?  Before I could move to look for him, he came strolling out of the garage with a smile on his face and a big handful of gummy bears–his favorite treat for reinforcing good behavior.  He had worked hard and now it was time for a treat–and he got it himself!  We continued for another hour or so and Kiddo got every pine cone we could see.  When we finished, he went again to my secret treat stash on a shelf in the garage for his gummy bears.

When Hubby got home that evening, I showed him what Kiddo had done.  Hubby’s first response was to kick one of the stubborn pine cones we had overlooked into the ground cover, just like his son!  I laughed and showed him the huge bag Kiddo had collected and told him what he had done.  I explained, rather than having to constantly supervise him, he worked independently.  Working independently has always been difficult for him, and yet, after a difficult period in his life, he learned something new, did the job without a lot of supervision and was even able to enjoy what he was doing.  How great was that?  After a rough patch, Our Kiddo showed us, once again, not to count him out.

As the parent of a nonverbal person with autism, I have learned to readjust my dreams for him–but doesn’t he have a right to have dreams for himself? Dreams, perhaps, we’ve never thought about?  After a very difficult time with him, I am again excited to think of other things for him to do, things we’ve overlooked in our quest to find him some meaningful work.  And we’ve tried many, many things.  Perhaps, he knows what he would like to do, we’ve just not hit upon it yet.

Our Kiddo and his peers have a right to their own dreams.  It is our duty as parents, educators and advocates to try to help them turn those dreams into reality.  We must think outside of the box and not be satisfied with what is considered the standard for those with disabilities.  We must try new things, not give up even when it seems we should, and forge on.  Who is to say we won’t find their dreams in a bucket full of pine cones?

Every month is Autism Awareness Month at our house!

Childhood

I can see that day–that perfect day–as if it happened last week or last month.  That perfect day in my boys’ childhood.  That normal, perfectly ordinary day.

It was a Monday in late October.  One of those days that is bright and warm during the day and cold and crisp as it begins to get dark.  It was like so many Mondays at that time in our lives; busy.

I was in graduate school and arranged to have early days on Mondays most semesters.  Our Kiddo had swimming class and The Middle Boy and The Youngest had piano lessons on Monday afternoons.  Rather than have their sitter take them to their activities, I wanted to take them as much as I could.

This particular Monday, my friend, who also had an autistic son in the swimming class, arranged to take Kiddo with her son.  I would pick them up and take them home.  I dropped The Middle Boy and The Youngest at their piano teacher’s home and went back to our house to get things ready for dinner.

I had baked chocolate chip cookies the night before and made ice cream sandwiches with the cookies and put them in the freezer.  I set the table and folded napkins.  There was homemade ice tea in the frig and all that was left to do was put the chicken and potatoes in the oven so that we would have only thirty minutes to wait when we got home.  I punctured the potatoes and sprinkled some salt, pepper and paprika on the chicken.  The salad could wait until we got home.  A very simple meal but one I knew my family–and all three boys–would eat.

Looking at my watch, it was time to pick up The Middle Boy and The Youngest and grabbed my purse and got in the car.  I never listened to the radio when driving with my kids–I wanted to hear what they were saying and pay attention to them!  I pulled in front of their teacher’s house and the boys tumbled out, and she waved to me.  They were happy–good lessons for both–and had had a chance to play with her daughter’s Game Boy.  They enjoyed the Game Boy part of waiting for their lessons; since I was such a mean mother I wouldn’t allow them to have one.  Each was arguing about some point of one of the games and the bickering and teasing continued down the street as we headed to the Special Rec Swimming Center, where Kiddo had his swimming class.

It was near dusk, and rush hour.  Traffic seemed to crawl.  Nevertheless, we were five minutes early picking up the boys.  I always parked very close to the entrance of the swimming pool and in that cool, crisp air we could feel and smell the warmth and chlorine–the air was heavy with it.  I looked out of the car window and could see the lights begin to come on outside of the building.  I could see the children–the children with autism–begin to leave the pool area and go to the dressing rooms.  It would be a few minutes before The Kiddo and Joshie would be ready–I could see their aide lead them to the changing area.

I ran in and led Kiddo and Joshie by the hands to my car with all of their swimming stuff as well.  I put the boys in the car and opened the trunk to put their bags in.  It was then it hit me–what I was doing, picking up kids and carpooling–was something very normal, something people with Neuro-Typical children take for granted.  I wouldn’t get to do a lot of this in my life with Our Kiddo and I should savor it while I could.

I can still smell the cool, crisp air, the chlorine, see the petrified French fries on the floor of the backseat of my car and hear The Middle Boy and The Youngest bickering about their video game.  I can see Frannie’s face when I dropped off Joshie with his soggy gym bag.  I can remember Hubby complimenting me on the ice cream sandwiches and asking me if there was anything new.  I remember my answer as well–not anything new, honey, not a blessed thing.

Every month is Autism Awareness Month at our house!

Running on Empty

I just got off the phone with The Youngest.  He was whining and I just wanted to slap him upside the head for it, too.  He probably has a bit of ADD but has a genius IQ so perhaps we (and his teachers) didn’t think it mattered when he was a child, comparatively speaking.  He’s an *absent-minded professor-type* and called because he forgot (again) something he needed at his office at the community college where he is an adjunct.  Did he expect me to find it  and drive it over or email the information or???????? No, he did not. He wanted me to tell him how to not be so absent minded in the future….whine, whine, whine! I put on my best educator/behaviorist hat and proceeded to tell him what to do (well, he asked LOL!!!!!!) and he did not like it. Sigh.  I would have cared, I really would have, but I couldn’t this time. I am running on empty.

This has been a crazy week for me, work-wise, with the upcoming weekend just as nutzie featuring several social obligations for Hubby and me as well.  I had a big community arts summit meeting Thursday morning and baked blueberry muffins under duress because MY OVEN DIED ON GOOD FRIDAY WITH GUESTS COMING FOR EASTER DINNER. Ahem, where was I? Oh yes, now I remember, the top oven of my double oven died two days before I had to feed 15 people on Easter Sunday. Hubby and I went out on Easter Monday, bought a new one and it was to be delivered this week.  In the meantime, I used the grill in a snow-shower and in a rainstorm and made lots and lots of soup. Could the oven have been delivered Monday or Tuesday or even Wednesday? Oh no, they called as I was leaving for my Thursday morning event (after baking those damn muffins I agreed to bake the night before and burning my arm because the damn thing was on it’s last legs) wanting to come over THEN.  Nope, I told them, and they promised to deliver the oven as their last stop of the day. Okay with me (it shouldn’t have been…it was finally installed at 8 pm. SIGH!).  But I wept all the way to my morning meeting.  I am running on empty.

I am weepy, I am crabby, I am impatient.  I swear this is not my usual MO.  But this is what happens when the minutia of life and other people depending on  me to solve THEIR problems and dealing whatever Autism-Crap is happening with Kiddo and not getting enough sleep or self-care.  I am the Fixer.  I am the Chief Case Manager for Kiddo.  I am the Equipment Supervisor of this Household and when something breaks, needing to be repaired or replaced, I am the one who compensates until whatever is fixed or delivered, no matter what is happening in my professional life or my life-life. And I have to figure out how whatever is happening can have the least impact on Kiddo for the least amount of Autism-Crap.  I am running on empty.

I need sleep. I need a mental vacation.  Hell, I could use a REAL vacation but I shouldn’t be greedy, should I?  If I had enough reserve of strength from some where deep inside to draw from, to reach into when the piddly crap of my life takes over, I would be fine. Every time I have been able to store up what I think is plenty of reserve and need to tap it, it seems to not ever be enough. I am always close to empty.

I am never completely rested.  I am never truly at My Zen Place (what I jokingly call it when  I feel cool, calm and collected) any more. Coffee and chocolate are not helping me get through the night (or day) anymore. Is it because my other kids are back home? Maybe. Maybe it is because I didn’t feel I had to solve their problems when they had their apartments in grad school and now I do. My bad, I suppose. It’s hard to break a 30+ year habit of always stepping into the breach.  And 14 year old ovens break at the most inconvenient times, too. But I am the one who feels I have to do it all, solve it all and manage it all. Old habits are hard to break. So I am running on empty.

I have often told young parents having a child with autism is like running a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve been running one for over 36 years and I am beat. Always running on empty.

Every month is Autism Awareness Month at our house!

World Autism Awareness Day: An Ordinary Life

If movies and television are to be believed, it would appear most of us who have children with challenges spend their days trying to find a cure, putting that cure—whatever it is—into practice and generally being unselfish and saint-like. Interviews of Celebrity Moms from The View to Ellen prove those truths. In the media, Celebrity Moms leave no stone unturned looking for a cure or an answer, look great, write books about said cure and have their nannies to help them—doesn’t everyone?  It’s an unrealistic view and it doesn’t help anyone in the real world. And in that real world—the world in which you and I live —no one could spend that much time doing what is purported they do without having scads of help.

When Our Kiddo was a young child, most of my days were taken up with ordinary things—islands of busyness with his autism of course—but those day-to-day things which make a life.  When The Middle Boy and The Youngest arrived, I had more of them. While taking him to physicians, I still had diapers to change, laundry to do and bills to pay.  When he was in pre-school, I did my grocery shopping or wrote my Christmas cards and then picked him up. I did research about childhood development while he took afternoon naps or cooked something for dinner, depending of course, if I had had time to go to the library in those days before the internet. I read in bed or when the kids were playing in the park.  I took recycling to the recycling place when I took Kiddo to swimming class. Like moms everywhere, I was a champion multi-task-er.

We can all bustle about but the truth is we are probably not as obsessed as you would think because we can’t be.  It takes energy to raise a child with autism as it does any child and we have to pace ourselves.  Many young parents of kids with autism feel guilty because they are not able to put in the time they think they should. There is a panicky feeling when you can’t seem to do everything you think you should be doing and I certainly understand. We are only human, after all, and only someone with superhuman stamina can live up to the expectations others have about what we should be doing. We can grouse about having to do laundry or any of the sundry tasks life makes you do when you have children—disabled or not–and a home and a family.  I certainly remember being unhappy having to do chores when I could be doing something to help Our Kiddo….but, someone has to do towels.

There is a mood now of how serious autism is.  We must be serious and single minded and self-sacrificing or must not understand the gravity of it. How can you get your oil changed or go to the dentist…your child has autism!  Autism is “trendy” now and I have come upon many young parents resentful of me, of our family, of our choices because they don’t think we did enough.  By that I mean, they think things should be easier for them now because we paved the way.  Our Kiddo should have been cured and research should have been in place so their child didn’t ever have to have autism. We did pave the way, things are better and autism is more in the news by what we did, but it doesn’t seem to be enough.  They wanted us to do more. What they fail to realize is they are in the same place we were 30 or so years ago, having to advocate for our child as well as raise him!

Our Kiddo isn’t cured but we have a good life—an ordinary life–in spite of his autism. What more do people want?

Autism awareness month is every month at our house!

Clearing the Air Before National Autism Awareness Month

April is National Autism Awareness Month and I plan to do a lot more blogging here during those 30 days.  It’s also a busy month for me, with many professional commitments, personal commitments and even family commitments clogging up my time. But I think it’s important to create awareness and I am making the commitment this year to take out all the stops, just do it and blog at least 15 times on autism awareness. It’s about every other day or so…..it’s a reasonable goal and I think I can do it, fingers crossed!

But first, I want to clear the air and get a few things off my chest. Especially because there are number of people out there…perhaps you know a few……who think there is no need for Autism Awareness or a special month for Autism Awareness and heaven forbid, no need for a World Autism Day (April 2, in case you didn’t know)! These are the folks who love to take the time to remind me how lucky I am and how autism is all a scam. Their lives are so much more important than yours and mine, they feel much more deeply, ya know. My late Mother used to say there were always people around who played a giant game of *can you top this*. Autism is never *bad* enough for these guys and whatever is happening with them is ten times worse!

So pull up a chair, get out the popcorn and watch Your Autism Cuppa vent for all she’s worth!

To My Mother-In-Law: I know you love Our Kiddo, I really do, and I know you want to help.  But having a son with Dyslexia is NOT the same as having a child with autism. Your dreams for F had to change but he was able to have a job (in construction, not the profession you wanted for him)and a family and Kiddo will never be able to have any of that. I long ago came to grips with it, why can’t you? And why do you have to keep nagging me about it?

To My Sister G:  I am not lazy because I chose not to home school our boys; it was a decision we made and does not mean we were going along with the crowd. Having a child with autism, we wanted  professionals working with him.  We moved where we finally did because of the excellent, nationally recognized special ed program as well as gifted programs for The Middle Boy and The Youngest.  I had regular bedtimes for my kids not because I was the *Nazi Mother* you thought me to be, but because The Kiddo needed structure. Three little kids screaming for ice cream at 2 am, like yours did, seemed stupid.  And no, Kiddo’s hairline is NOT CONSIDERED LOW and it does NOT mean he’s retarded, it just means he has his Father’s hair.

To My Sister-In-Law with the Perfect Kids: Your kids always needed to be the center of attention. They did tricks, imitated television commercials, elbowed  and pushed each other down when it was time for the yearly Easter Egg Hunt and were generally loud. They turned out to be loud adults who think nothing of screaming across the table at a formal dinner and who have inflated opinions of their own self worth.  You saw no need to explain The Kiddo or autism at any time while you were raising them and as a result, your children and now your grandchildren have no understanding of The Kiddo, his brothers and our family. Autism is an inconvenience to you so you see no need to invite The Kiddo to family weddings, Christenings or housewarmings. Even holidays when you are hosting you discourage us bringing him….Way to promote Family, folks!  Autism is not so bad, you say.  If it isn’t so bad, why can’t the Kiddo come to your flippin’ barbecue? And does everyone have to call everyone else a *retard*?

To My New Neighbor: When you moved in to our favorite neighbor’s house, we looked forward to getting to know you.  Linda* (not her name) understood Our Kiddo from the beginning and when you moved into her house, we wanted you to understand too. To welcome you to the neighborhood, I brought blueberry muffins and a children’s book about autism over so you could explain to your kids, on your own time, about Kiddo.  So when the police showed up to ask us what was happening, I had to wonder….did you even listen to a word I said about his severe migraines and his screaming in pain?  We are very lucky the police know Kiddo and know about his autism and know about his health issues with migraines (he has passed out in pain several times and we’ve called an ambulance, so they really do know).  What I don’t understand is why it’s okay for your teenagers to be dibbling their damn basketballs on your driveway, under out bedroom window, at 1 am on a Wednesday night. Next time, it might be time for us to call the police!

To Baby Sister K: When you told me you were tired of hearing about autism, I wanted to applaud. You see, I am tired of talking about autism. I am tired of having to explain, yet again, why we have a toilet paper dispenser in our powder room.  I am tired of explaining his migraine diet and why we are doing it and not the other autism diets. And we’ve been doing it since 2008, can’t people remember and do they have to make me feel like I’m taking some sort of consistency test ? I am tired of clarifying, again, what a respite worker is (a babysitter for an adult, often with specialized training working with the disabled) and explaining the day program we’ve had to cobble together because of our state’s piss poor services for adults with disabilities. And when you, with a straight face, complain we are not holding up our obligations to your aging father, I want to laugh in your face; we send money and that’s good enough for right now.  When I don’t have to explain WHY we can’t do something or you take my word for it we would, if we could, but we can’t, that’s when I’ll make the effort to help more. Until then, I’ll be talking about autism.

To My College Friend L: I’m sorry you were not able to get pregnant.  I am sorry you were married to a string of losers who took the best years of your life.   After your fertility doctor told you to forget about any sort of pregnancy, you seemed to think the best thing you could  do after was to call me and scream. You screamed that it was not fair I had children and you did not. You screamed that I didn’t deserve my boys. You screamed I was a lousy mother and a terrible person. When I reminded you Kiddo has autism and being a mother isn’t all it’s cracked up to be sometimes, you screamed back you could have cured him by being much more awesome than me. Really? Are we 21-ish and still making mac & cheese in a hotpot?  The truth is, L, you aren’t mother material, even if your child was perfect. You are selfish and self-centered and only look at things from your own point of view.  And you’re inflexible.  Having children means thinking about another person and putting them and their needs first even if that means putting yourself last.  And being the Mom of someone with autism can mean putting your life on hold for years while you get them the right sort of help and in the right sort of programs.  Sorry, but that’s not you, honey.

To Hubby’s Aunt Felice: When you told me I was selfish for having two more children after Our Kiddo, I wanted to laugh.  Selfish for having two more children?  When I was expecting The Middle Boy, we were only just beginning to think something could be wrong, so why would we not want to have another child?  In the midst of the diagnosis process in the mid 1980s, Hubby and I decided to get pregnant with The Youngest and stay with our plan of having three children, no matter what. And are happy we did.  As far as being selfish is concerned, you have nine children.  I would never venture to say you were selfish for having nine children but perhaps you feel you can say it to me simply because Our Kiddo has autism. When you have a child with autism, people feel they can say anything they want, no matter how hurtful.  But really, nine children? And you call me selfish?

Autism awareness month is every month at our house!