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!

 

Young Autism Mommy Update

A week or so ago, I wrote about a Young Autism Mommy who called me by mistake.  I met her and her ADORABLE Little Boy last Monday at the local McDonald’s playland. Her Little Boy was a very *busy*, very *active* very *typical* of many an almost-four-year-old. And yes, I could tell he had autism just by looking at him. No real eye contact. No real communication other than taking his Mommy’s hand to show her what he wanted.  Some communication is better than none but it still is very stereo-typical of many people with autism.

All Young Autism Mommy wants is to feel respected at her IEP meeting and wants to know what to expect. She feels she was blind-sided a bit when, after the Case Study was finished, she had her first IEP meeting. When she was told she had to sign it before anything could be implemented (not true….you can initial the items you approve of and not initial things in dispute and then sign the new, REVISED document after the revisions. An IEP can be revised at any time during the school year as long as BOTH the school and parents agree to the revisions), she signed against her better judgement.

Her IEP Meeting is the week after Mother’s Day. We’ll go out for coffee the week before so we can go through what needs to happen this time. I’ll suggest to her speech therapy and OT total minutes per week for a half day program.  I’ll also strongly suggest the district hire an autism consultant to help get the most out of what is available in the district.  And since I know *where the bodies are buried* in her district, so to speak, I can honestly say this district has hired an autism consultant in the past–ten years ago, to be exact–because I am the one they called for referrals. School Districts just love precedent!  Ho-boy, this is gonna be fun!

Every month is Autism Awareness Month at our house!

 

The Right to Raise Autism Awareness and Acceptance

I would like to share an experience I had and tell you why I think it happened.

April is National Autism Awareness Month so I was wearing an autism awareness bracelet.  As I was waiting in line to check out at my local craft store, the person behind me noticed the bracelet and asked if I had a child with autism.  I laughed and said my “child” is 36 but still has autism.  She started to YELL at me because *my* generation didn’t do enough to “cure” autism and how dare I wear that bracelet because I didn’t do “diddly”–she just wouldn’t stop.  I actually started to cry.  I have been going to this store for over 20 years, including those years I served as a local chapter president of the Autism Society of America, purchasing yards and yards of puzzle ribbon to use for Autism Awareness ribbons.  This was the first time I have been accosted for trying to create awareness for autism and told I had no right to do so, and I was shocked.  The young woman left in a huff, left her items and accused me of not caring enough about my own child to “cure” him.

I had never met or seen this young woman before our encounter.  If she had known me, she would have known my husband writes much about autism for his profession, I have been active in the autism community both as an ASA local chapter president and an advocate and our family does what it can to promote awareness and acceptance.  We have a pretty good life, in spite of having a child with autism.  And yes, my son is not cured.

I would pose this question to you–what happens when you do everything you can–fight, try new “treatments”–and your child is still not cured?  And if your child is not cured, are you supposed to write your kid off, resign from parenthood as a “failure”, and slink away into the sunset?  This is the impression being given to many young parents of children with autism; if they fight the medical establishment, try untested “theories” and are as angry as possible, their child will be “cured”.  If you don’t fight hard enough, your child won’t be cured and it is your fault.  It is almost as bad as the theory of the “refrigerator mother” touted by the late (and wrong) Bruno Bettleheim.   And autism celebrities seem to be telling us bucking the system gives you an “advantage” in finding a “cure” and certainly gives you the panache the media likes to highlight, but what happens when that doesn’t work?

We tried diets, vitamins, drugs, behavior therapies and many other things.  Our son began an early intervention program at 27 months, very early for the 1980s.  Some things helped, such as a form of ABA (applied behavior analysis), sensory integration therapy and intensive speech and language therapy, and some things did not, such as vitamins and diets.  Our Kiddo is better in many ways than we thought he would be, is nonverbal, uses American Sign Language and tests in the mentally challenged range, eventho we know he is much smarter.  He is certainly not “cured” in a real sense, but is able to function in many situations; however, he will never be able to live independently. At 36, he still is learning something new every day and is proud of himself when he does.  I suppose, since I accept my son for who he is and what he needs right now, my views are different from those with younger children.  This doesn’t mean I have given up or I am happy I have a child with a disability.

We fought, as many did in our generation, to get services in the public schools and in 1991, autism was officially “allowed” as a disability to be put on IEPs (individual educational program) to qualify for those services.  We are still fighting in our state to get quality services for adults with disabilities.

The young woman I encountered was not the first person to deride me for not “curing” my son.  As a local ASA chapter president, I did not bring my son to chapter meetings, simply because I wanted to focus on the meeting and not on him.  On one occasion, I had to bring him early to set up before our meeting because my other sons had events at their high school and my husband was seeing patients (he’s a physician in private practice)later than usual.  He would be able to swing by to pick him up before my meeting started.  Our Kiddo helped me set up the meeting room by arranging the table, bringing the chairs, and setting out the snacks.  He wore his lately acquired letter jacket and was very proud of it–what better place for him to try out the social skills we worked so hard on, right?  Wrong, apparently.  A young couple who were attending our chapter meeting for the second time were offended I brought a MONSTER–my son–as he was not cured and told me so, in front of my son and other chapter leaders.  The young couple told me I had no right to be president since I was a “failure” and by bringing him, I was not encouraging them or giving them “hope.”  They wanted me to lock him up and not bring him out in public.  When my husband came to pick up Kiddo, I was shaking–and my friends were horrified.  I soon resigned, after my commitments to chair a fund raiser, simply because I didn’t feel I should be berated by parents who have not walked a mile in my shoes with no concept of what was to come and no desire to.

How about another view of autism?  After doing everything you can, you have to accept whatever happens at the end.  It may not be a complete cure and you have to come to grips with that.  With 20/20 hindsight, it is easy to tell young parents to try everything but keep in the back of your mind, it may not work–and you have to be okay with that.  It is not so bad, but it is different.  We bring Our Kiddo out in the community as much as possible since he is not a “failure” as those young parents felt him to be, but a “success” of the spirit–his and ours.  We are proud of the things he CAN do and focus on those things, rather than what he CANNOT do.  My husband and I feel we have a good life, an intact marriage, three great sons and are happy, for the most part.  Our two other sons are wonderful, bright, talented young men and love their brother but it is tough.  We wish Our Kiddo did not have autism, but he does.  This is NOT the life we signed up for when we decided to have children, but it is the life we have.  Our family’s mantra is “when God gives you lemons, make lemonade–or an Old Fashioned”.  It takes time to get to that place, and no one expects parents with newly diagnosed children to come to this quickly, but it is a healthy option.  I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who said, “People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be”.  We have made up our minds to be happy and Our Kiddo takes the lead as the happiest.

Every month is Autism Awareness Month at our house!

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!

Listen Up, Teachers!

I’ve mentioned I am a *retired* local ASA (Autism Society of America) Chapter Prez..  I still get autism calls because my phone number is out there on some forgotten website in the cyber-sphere, collecting cyber-dust I would imagine. I spent an hour and half today with one such Autism Call from a Young Autism Mommy and I have to tell you….I am livid.

I really thought with autism in the news and much more *popular*,  all these antiquated and tired views and reasons for autism would be retired.  I really thought the treatment I received thirty-plus years ago because I *caused* my son’s disability would not be happening to the Young Autism Mothers (my daughters-in-autism) of today.  I really thought folks (especially educators) knew about some of the challenges of parenting a young child with autism, such as  lack of sleep, the screaming, the feces smearing, the temper tantrums from even slight changes in their lives, the food and feeding issues, the lack of fear of dangers, and the sheer exhaustion and guilt that goes with all of it…because, well, autism seems to be much more prevalent and trendy than Back in the Day. I was wrong. My Young Autism Mommy has been guilted so much, she is afraid her child will taken away from her by the school district.

Her Little Boy was diagnosed with autism a few months before his third birthday last year, weeks before the District’s Early Childhood Screening. She was able to get a last minute appointment for the screening and, armed with the appropriate papers from the diagnosing physician, off they went. She was told Little Boy was eligible for all services and was given the option of having him begin right then because they had space for him in an afternoon class. She was also told they would be doing a Case Study (For those of you not familiar; Case Studies are done every three years throughout a special education student’s school career and can include behavior, academic, speech, physical, occupational and social evaluations) during the summer no matter if he began the EC Program immediately or waited until the fall.

She and her spouse decided to wait until fall since Little Boy was in a Montessori Preschool in the afternoon with teachers who loved him and he loved them too.  Since the EC Program he would be in was only half-day, they reasoned that in the fall they could keep him in the Montessori program he loved for half the day and do the therapeutic Early Childhood Program the other half. As well, she was promised the Case Study could be done during the summer. As you can imagine, nothing went according to plan.

They tried to bully  her into enrolling him right away and when she refused (beginning a school program the last 6 weeks of school with a young child with autism….were they NUTZ?), they became belligerent.  They told her he would NOT be able to start school in the fall until the Case Study was finished and oops, they misspoke, couldn’t do it over the summer. They scheduled him for the morning program, as she requested so he could continue with his Montessori Pre-School. Then just before school began at the last minute, decided he would be in the afternoon program afterall.  The Montessori School didn’t have room for him in their morning program so Young Autism Mommy and Young Autism Daddy decided to try the EC program alone.  It took the District four weeks to do their initial Case Study (their home visit didn’t go well). Then, it was as if the District had never heard of autism when Little Boy had daily meltdowns, lost what speech he had, had to be put back in diapers, flapped his hands (loudly) when he was required to sit for any length of time and ate crayons behind his teacher’s back. He’s now improving, behavior-wise, but they have to get these things under control before real learning can begin.  Transitions are hell for children with autism and you would think the school district would have a plan for children such as Little Boy. Apparently, not. And the District is blaming his family environment for the regression.

I am going to Young Autism Mommy’s first spring IEP meeting with her.  I haven’t gone to an IEP meeting since Kiddo aged out but I feel so outraged by her treatment, I am going.  Don’t think me gullible; I am meeting her and Little Boy at our local McDonald’s Playland next week, a week before the IEP meeting, to meet her and her child to see if this is the real deal.  My instincts tell me it is.

We’ll decide what she wants when we meet at McDonald’s and what Little Boy really needs.  If I do end up going to the meeting, I will explain it’s Young Autism Mommy’s show, not mine. I will be there for moral support and to *translate* from education-ese to regular English anything she doesn’t understand.  Young Autism Mommy is going to need to step up and not be emotional……in a way, the District is manipulating her by frightening her by their vague threats.  If she’s frightened, she is less likely to push for what Little Boy needs and is entitled to. And if Little Boy doesn’t get all the services he’s entitled to, it’s less money for the District.  (A quick IEP tip from Your Autism Cuppa here–it’s all about money so you should follow the money!)

I’ll try to write about what happens at McDonald’s next week.  The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Every month is Autism Awareness Month at our house!

 

The Sleepless Sisterhood

For Laurie and Ellen

 I read many child rearing books when I was pregnant.  Being the eldest of six, I knew what to expect about diapers and feedings and teething but was worried I wouldn’t be the Perfect Mother I dreamed about being. After Our Kiddo was diagnosed with autism and all hope of perfection was gone, there were many things I felt no one else could possibly be experiencing.  I was ashamed and did not know where to look to ask questions. There are still no parenting books for children with autism, at least, not the kind I wish there had been when Kiddo was young.

What I wanted was a Dr. Spock-like tome, to tell me what was normal for a child with autism, what was normal simply because he was 7 and the wisdom to know the difference.  Dr. Spock told us to trust ourselves because we know more than we think but for a parent of a child with autism, or any disability, how could we know anything?  Where is our Dr. Spock?  I wanted to have an expert tell me to trust my gut and be creative but there wasn’t a book like that anywhere.

With normal mothering, the generation before helps the young mother, not just with advice, but with building her confidence and self-esteem and perhaps some babysitting. No mother or aunt or sister or cousin came before me parenting a child with autism.  I felt alone and afraid and a failure.  How could I explain Our Kiddo’s feces smearing to my sister-in-law when her kids were so perfect?  How could I explain to my mother the reason I was so tired was because Kiddo hadn’t slept for days and was why I was taking a nap at 11 am?  Whom could I ask about perseveration and flushing unripe pears down the toilet so often I knew where my plumber vacationed every year?

I dreamed of a scenario—a kitchen table–where parents of younger and older children and adults with autism gather.  There is coffee and tea and a great big bowel of M&Ms.  There is laughter and some tears, handholding and grateful thanks.  And we all leave the table; if not happy, then comforted, knowing others have gone before us and others follow us and accept our help.

Some autism-related behaviors are so unspeakable, so unnerving, so disgusting and exhausting; no one talks about them at all.  It wasn’t until Our Kiddo was school age and I met other parents, I felt a little better. Joining a parent support group, I begin to share.  The sharing began in frustration to show others how “bad” I had it but I didn’t know other parents had the same problems. Once it came out, relief came and a sort of camaraderie—a very odd camaraderie—began.

Many of us are ashamed and disgusted and terribly hesitant to ask other parents for help with our children’s feces smearing but many have had this problem.  You don’t know it until it is blurted out. Then the gates open and we babble, grateful to know we are not alone and begin to make jokes about poop with the only other people in the world who can understand and not be disgusted.  I was stunned to know these weren’t unique problems.  I see the same look and hear the same tone in young parents now when I first tell them they are not alone.

I knew a child with autism who had to see a train—or wait for it–when crossing a certain set of railroad tracks. It sounds “charming” but the mom and dad had to wait for a train to pass, each and every time they had to cross those tracks several blocks from their home, or be subjected to a screaming, flailing fit.  They kept a train schedule for both the commuter train and the regular freight trains so they could avoid or not avoid those tracks. Going to the grocery store or park or school or grandma’s became a plotted out adventure and exhausting. And yet, this is “normal” for many families with kids with autism and would be nice to know something similar can be part of your child’s behavior. And it isn’t unique to your child or because you are a bad parent.

Rituals of any sort can be frustrating, such as the child who HAD to ask everyone to name greeting card companies instead of saying “hello”.  What do you do?  When does it become something maddening?  Those parents would try to tell new people he would meet beforehand about this “quirk” so they could be prepared. They insisted he “allow” people he knew only one or two companies and be done with it–“you know Grandma knows more than two, Justin!”–and would give strangers a laminated list to read, which he allowed, when meeting the first time.  It was through frustration and many difficult situations they came up with this solution, a good one in my opinion.  It would be nice to have a boilerplate solution in place to start with but who could predict this?

Autism is a spectrum disorder and while those of us with lower functioning children or higher functioning children can complain about the other not understanding, but the truth is, sometimes there is overlap with quirks. Between all the other things, dealing with behaviors and odd quirks make our lives a challenge no matter the functioning level.  We are tired because our children have not slept with any regularity for years—and I mean years.  The higher functioning kids can fall back to feces smearing if there is a change in their lives or a frustration. The lower functioning kids can sleep well for years but illness or some little change can derail their sleep pattern.  It takes a well thought out behavior plan to get them both back on track. And it is normal.

We—and our children—are more alike than we are different.  We all know the frustrations of this disability and even share our solutions with each other. If we let them, other parents can be our biggest allies and our best friends.   After all, we all belong to the same Sisterhood.

Every month is Autism Awareness 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!