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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

You Are Uninvited to my Pity Party

I'm good for telling my boys, when they feel sadness and depression for no apparent reason, to just change the channel. Do something different to get your mind off of your worries.  Watch a funny movie.  Listen to good music. Go do something physical. Count your blessings!  Your life is so full of them.  The past few days, I've needed to take my own advice.

I have a friend who is going through an excruciating time right now.  I've been there to encourage her to get off the couch. Get busy! Eat! Go to the beach! Go for a walk...do something...anything.  All the while I'm dishing out this advice, I'm feeling like crap myself.  

The thing is I have absolutely no valid reason to be sad, or down.  In fact, I have some pretty damn good reasons to be happy.  Red is away at camp right now.  That means no daily phone calls to say...
-Mom I'm hungry. What am I supposed to eat? 
-I'm bored! 
-I am NOT going back to that high school next year!  

Not only is this an investment in him.  Truthfully, it is also an investment in my sanity.  There is no bickering and fighting with between the two boys.  No bickering and fighting between Red and my mom.  They both seem to get a kick out of pushing each other's buttons.

Also, Hubby took off on a trip to see his father for a few days.  So technically, that's two less hungry men to cook for, and worry about.  The only boss I have in the house is Blue.  And even he has been keeping himself pretty busy, with his own social agenda.  Of course, I am on stand-by, beck and call for transportation, but at least it's only for one child and not both.

I'm blessed right?  Right! Hell! I should be dancing on the ceiling!  But the truth is...I haven't been dancing at all.

So yesterday I sat down to write this pity party blog post -whining about every thing I hate and why I'm sad.  When I finished writing I went to bed.  As I lay my head on the pillow, I think to myself ...you are the biggest whinny baby!  You should be happy! Karen -you are focusing on the negatives, when actually you are blessed. 

Writing is so cathartic.  From writing down my feelings yesterday...I figured out how pathetic I was being.  I was also able to figure out what it is that's giving me that feeling of ...ugh, something is missing.

I have more time on my hands than I've had in a long time. I have peace in the house and I don't know what the hell to do with it.  I'm just not used to it.  It is not my normal.

Instead of keeping myself busy doing fun things or anything for myself, I've been still sitting around at Blue's beck and call.  I've also been working on some long neglected projects in my house.  I've been doing some deep cleaning and organizing.  Not exactly fun stuff.  At the same time, what a blessing that I've been able to finally get to it.

Another thing that is missing ...is my partner in crime -my husband.  As much as he drives me nuts when he is here. We do still manage to have fun together.  Especially, when we can get time to ourselves.  I miss him right now. I miss him more than I usually do because I'm usually too busy to miss him.  I think it's making me a little sad that he's off vacationing, while I'm here doing all of the things.  The mostly boring things.  I'd rather be with him.  On the other side of the coin --he totally deserves this time with his father. He works so hard and doesn't do a whole lot for himself. So I should be happy for him right? Right.

The other thing I figured out from writing is  that I'm coming down off of a high, after spending a few weeks in California, in the cool breeze -hanging out with my friends and my family.  There was hardly ever a dull moment.  And when there was a dull moment -I was happy to just rest. There is so much to do there and there are so many people that I love. Being at home is a natural high for me.

The truth is ...I really do not like Texas. I hate that there is no escaping the heat here in the summer.  My backyard is luscious and green right now, but I can't go back there and enjoy it because of the heat and mosquitos.  No offense Texas lovers,  but I am and always will be a California girl.  It hits me about this time every year when it is excruciatingly hot.

The only difference this year from others, is that I'm usually too busy to think about how much I hate it here.  But with things being a little more quiet than usual, my mind keeps drifting back to that little itch.  I'd rather be at the beach.  I'd rather be anywhere but here, giving kids and my mother rides to camp, to friend's houses,  doctors and the freakin' grocery store.

After reading through my pity party post ...I decided that I needed to look at my blessings instead of my problems.  I need to sincerely appreciate this quiet time in my life.  I now have an extremely clean bedroom.  I mean every corner and crevice has been covered, much better than any maid service ever would.  I have re-organized all of the cabinets and drawers inside of my freshly, deeply cleaned  master bathroom.  I got rid of so much clutter.  I now have room for everything.

Aah...cleansing breath.

So this morning I woke up and decided to approach the day in a different way.  Here is my Facebook Status from this morning...

~Today I choose to focus on solutions rather than problems. 
On Courage rather than fear. 
Make it a positive day...
And don't forget to laugh...even if it's at yourself.

And I have chosen to do just that! Oh...and I finally got my hair colored.

Here is one reason for me to smile today.  I haven't seen Red look this happy in ....forever!



Sunday, July 21, 2013

This one time at Autism Camp....

This summer I wanted to go to Paris for my husband's 50th birthday. But, with Red quickly approaching his senior year of high school and his 18th birthday, we decided that it would be a better to invest our money in him and his future.  We want to do whatever we can to help prepare him for independence.  We are pushing him towards his potential to hopefully, get him ready for the world beyond the safety of these doors and his mommy.

I'll admit it.  I am his crutch.  He would like me to be the other half of his brain so that he doesn't have to think.  I want him to live a full-life. I want him to use all of his own brain-power without me to fall back on.

I always thought I looked forward to the day he would turn 18 and then graduate.  The truth of the matter is I.am.scared! Freaking out really.

Maturity wise, he is nowhere in the ball park of being ready to be an adult with all of the responsibility that it brings.   There are so many details about life that he just does not get yet.  His decision making process, impulsiveness, and different way of seeing the reality of the world leaves him with so much more to learn. There are so many social nuances that simply escape him.  This is autism.

I am terrified about the potential of his first real male/female relationship --his first heartbreak.  It's bound to happen right? I watched my now 25 year-old son go through it.  He was clueless as I watched heartbreak heading toward him like a gigantic meteor.  It hit him hard, as it does most people the first time your heart is really broken by someone who you think you love.  He did get over it, of course...eventually.  He doesn't have autism, yet to this very day, he continues to make one bad judgement after bad another, one decision always dumber than the last.

Watching my older son make so many bad judgements only compounds my worries for Red. The older one has taught me that no amount of good parenting in the world, changes the bad decisions that an immature person can make.  Red is a smart, talented kid as far as common sense?  He has some gaps -little missing links that will make his day to day decision making process just that much harder.

This is especially true when it comes to social and emotional relationships.  Red does not bounce back well from rejection.  He has experienced so much of it already in his young life, from simple friendships with both males and females.  He does not get over it easily when someone is done being friends with him.  He fixates and perseverates. He wants to fix whatever it is that he thinks he did to make things go wrong.

The truth of the matter is, it may or may not be anything that he did.  Relationships are not easily "fixed".   Sometimes, it's just the nature of people --especially, immature people who change like the weather, and have no loyalty, or energy to give a person who is different and doesn't fit in seamlessly to their social norms.  Let's face it.  People can be crappy.

So we try to keep Red busy --keep him focused on the positives.  We redirect his energy toward activities that will help him survive each day and in god-willing, help him with his future.  He loves his church...or I should say churches. (He goes to more than one.)  He loves his video shooting and editing projects.  He also loves working with kids with disabilities.

I found a sleep away summer camp this year that would incorporate many of the things that he loves, and some things that he has never experienced.  This camp is about 4 hours away from  home, with no phone calls home allowed.  Yay me! It is a Christian summer camp designed specifically for kids with learning differences and social difficulties, like ADD, ADHD, High Functioning Autism and Aspergers.

I can not say for sure exactly what he is experiencing while he is there.  Nor will I disclose the specific location of this camp since he is still there.  I will write more specifically about his experience when he comes home and can tell me about it.  I can say for sure that I am so happy for him to have this opportunity. What a blessing!
In the mean time...these pictures are worth a million words.

Snorkeling

Appears to be some form of Martial Arts

Kayaking 

Blue is not happy that Red found an audience
for his singing!

Red with one of the Camp Counselors
 Visiting from China 





Sunday, July 14, 2013

On This Night...

As I tuck my boys in on this night, I feel blessed to be able to do so.  I can not help but think of the mother of Trayvon Martin, who will never hug her boy, or tuck him in ever again.

Red and Blue may be a little old for "tucking in" so we don't really call it that. We call it "me time".  It may be 10 minutes, it may be 2 minutes.  But after all is said and done for the day, no matter how many meltdowns we've had, or  how many words that have been screamed, I tell them that I love them every-single-night before they sleep in this house.

It should have been a simple, ordinary day, but nothing in our lives is simple or ordinary. Blue had his orthodontic appointment at 10 a.m.  Afterwards, we had breakfast together at a local diner.  We came home so that I could get Red all packed up for camp.

For Blue, there would be no friends over for the day.  Everyone is unavailable, for some reason or another, rather it be traveling with family, or ordinary family obligations.  This means it's a day for him to chill here at the house.  As much as I love to chill, here at home ...he hates it!  He doesn't know how to relax.  He's a full-fledged teenager, Aspergers or not, who wants to socialize with his friends at every possible, free moment.

I am busy washing clothes, labeling them, running up and down the stairs, getting Red's trunk packed for the Autism Summer Camp that he will be going to the following day.  A few years ago, I looked at these camps and only dreamed of sending him to one.  They are so expensive!  We fall somewhere in the middle, making too much money for scholarships, but hardly able to afford this luxury.  Hubby and I decided to sacrifice our vacation for 2 for his 50th birthday, in order to be able to send Red to this camp.  He is so close to 18 ...we are putting all of our money on getting him ready for adulthood.  We are hoping and praying that every step we take, will help him grow, mature, and get a grip on reality!

This mama washed brand new clothes, underwear,  and sheets, out of the package, so that they would be April fresh when he put them next to his skin and on his bunk.  I had to buy new, twin sheets, because he has a queen bed here.  Blue has a full.  I pray that those sheets will get used again very soon when one of them goes off to college.  I bought the twin extra-long kind, just in case.

Well of course, through out the day there is one fight after another, one melt-down after another, over simple things.

Blue -Why do you leave the bathroom door cracked when you use it?  Close the door!
Red -What difference does it make?  Stop being so bossy ...telling me what to do!
Blue -Stop making so many mistakes!
Later that day Blue tells him -You don't know shit from honey!
*Yeah...thanks a lot Grandfather.  You taught your grandson these fine words while he visited you this summer.

Red hunches up his shoulders in his tough guy, I'm-gonna-kick-your-ass stance.  Blue does not back down.
Fighting ensues.
It's ridiculous.

Later, Blue melts down because Windows 8 isn't working correctly.
"Technology never works the way it's supposed to! Damn this Windows 8!"

I actually make him come and watch television. I miss those days when Disney movies were the best babysitter ever.  Now I can almost never get Blue to sit down and watch t.v. or a movie here at home.

"Sit down! I mean it! You're going to watch a movie or a t.v. show until you laugh damn-it!"

What mother has to make her child watch television?  An autism mother...that's who!

He would rather fight with the computer and be angry than to literally change the channel and zone out with a little television.  I make him watch an episode of the Big Bang Theory.  Love that show! You can't watch it and not laugh.  Well...I can't anyway.  
After the episode, we found a movie on HBO that he had never seen ...Cowboys and Aliens.

He was actually distracted for a while, until he made cookies and couldn't enjoy them because his teeth were hurting from the earlier ortho appointment. Then it was meltdown city all over again!

In between all of the packing, refereeing, and meltdown wrangling ...I would periodically check Facebook hoping for some quick laughter with some of my friends.  You know...to lighten up the heavy mood in the house.  Only towards the end of the evening, I started to see the posts.  "Zimmerman Found Not Guilty."

Ugh, I felt it down in my gut.  I was not surprised, but disappointed.  I did watch parts of the trial thanks to my mother, Mrs. T.V. Court Shows.  She watches them like it's her job and she is getting paid.

Perhaps the case was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  However, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind, that the young man did not have to die that night.  He did not have to be shot in the heart.  In the end...God will be the final judge.  There are no winners in this situation.

I ache for my own young-black men, who can be and have been, profiled at some time in their lives.  Assumptions have been made because of the color of their skin.  It's happened at one point or another to every single-black man that I know, including my husband and brothers.  My brother was once harassed right in front of his very own house while washing his car ...a black man, in a white neighborhood, washing a fancy car.  How dare him! They actually hassled him, because he didn't have an I.D.  Who has an I.D. when you're outside washing your freaking car!? 

On top of the fact, that racism that is still very much alive in America, my boys also have a hidden disability.  They have autism. They see the world differently.  They have issues with explosive anger and depression.  They have low self-esteem in some ways, because of constantly fighting the battle of feeling different.

We live in a county in Texas that is known for putting poor whites, and young blacks behind bars at the drop of a hat.  I fear the day that they encounter the police and assumptions are made, before there is an opportunity to explain who they really are and why they behave in certain ways.

On the very day of this verdict, I found myself explaining to Red why you can't say certain things because they will be considered a valid threat, even if you don't really mean it.

"You're 17 years-old...you will be held accountable for things that you say, even in anger.  You never want to end up in a situation where a police officer, an attorney or a judge has to determine your fate."

I swear for the love of me...he honestly could not wrap his mind around these facts.  He does not get it!  I don't know if he will ever get it!

I try to teach him about personal responsibility for his actions and his words.  He will come back at me and say things like, "Well that's just not fair! Why are police officers so mean?  Why are judges so selfish? These laws are just unfair!"  He really does not get how cruel and unjust the world really is.  He does not automatically receive the value that he assumes he should have.  He doesn't even seem to understand that he has to live by the rules of the world, not by the rules that are in his head.

But you see...that is autism.  He lives inside of his head...inside of his very own world.  The problem and the reality is, that he also lives in America.  He lives in the state of Texas, where the color of his skin,  compounds the microscope that he is under.  Chances are ...if he ever gets into a legal situation, his disability may or may not be taken into account. I can't walk in his shoes...I can't be with him all of the time.  I can't protect him from the reality that is America.

As I tuck Blue into bed on this night, he says to me, "I'm so sad Mom.  I'm so tired of being angry.  I hate when I upset you.  I'm just tired of this."

My heart is especially heavy.  I want to take away his pain.  I want him to be happy and be able to see and feel the blessings of his life.  All I can do is say, "You're going to be fine.  We just have to get through these teenage, hormonally imbalanced years.  It will get better."

I tell him that I love him before I say goodnight.  I feel blessed that he has both myself and his father in this home, together, raising him, loving him, rooting for him.  In reality, I don't know if that will be enough to keep him safe...to help him make it in this unjust society.  I can't tell him my deepest fears.  He has enough of his own.

Minutes later, I bribe Red into bed.  "If you want me to make a nice breakfast for you tomorrow...you will go to bed now.  Otherwise, you can have cold cereal before you go off to camp."

He gets in to bed...and I give him the hug that he has been asking for all day.  He asks for hugs at least 20 times during the average day...usually, at inappropriate times, for no other reason I think than to bug the shit out of me!  I am trying to teach him about boundaries and space.  He is twice my size and weight, and he wants to swallow me up in smothering hugs.  I don't like it...it becomes annoying, especially when it's hot or I am in the middle of something that requires focus.  Some day, there will be a girl, who may or may not welcome all of these hugs, and he will have to learn to respect that.  It starts right here with me.

But on this night...the night of the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman verdict.  I think of Trayvon's mother who can no longer hold her teenage son in her arms.  I give Red the hug that he has been wanting and that I am so blessed to be able to give him.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Grumpy Teenager Makes Breakfast




You know ...when your teenager wakes up at noon, in the summertime and he is smiling.  Yeah...that never happens.

Blue comes downstairs to the kitchen with mom's laptop in hand and places it on the counter.  He opens the refrigerator and freezer doors --looks for what seems like eternity,  as if something new is going to suddenly appear.

"Oh, Thank you for bringing me my laptop," says Mom as she starts to pick it up.
"I didn't bring that for you!  That's not fair! You can't use it."
"Um...excuse me.  I can't use my own laptop.  Surely, you're mistaken.  I will think about letting you use it after you get your breakfast."

Moments later, he finally decides on pancakes and sausage.  He begins the process of making Bisquick (in a bottle) pancakes.  First he pours in the milk.  I taught him to use milk, not water.  It makes them taste a little better.
He grumbles, "Ugghh!!! I always pour too much milk! It's past the line."
"No worries.  It usually needs a little extra milk anyway," I say.
Next he attempts to put in a tablespoon of raw sugar. Some of it spills onto the counter.
"Ugghh! I'm always spilling everything!"I come over and pick up the bisquik bottle.  I pick up the same spoon, tilt the head of the bottle over the sugar container and spoon in the sugar.
"You see this way, if you spill any.  It goes back into the container."
He frowns and rolls his eyes.  "I need the vanilla!"
"You do?  That's nice." She's unsure if this is a demand, a request, or just general information.  Surely, it couldn't be a request with the tone of voice that he is using.
"Well...do we have any?"
"Yes we do.  It's in the pantry."
He gets it out of the pantry.  He starts to pour the vanilla into the cap of the vanilla bottle.  I stop him in his tracks, attempting to avoid another disaster.  I pour it for him.

I can sympathize with his grumpiness, in part because I have a bit PMS myself.  I've been especially grumpy for the past few days.  In fact, if had this personality all month,  I wouldn't  like myself very much.

Blue is stomping and grunting at every possible turn ...fussing about anything and everything.
"I'm going to record you, so you can hear how grumpy you sound."
"This is private!!!"
"Yes...you're right.  It's my own private hell. Thank you very much."

He tries to open the sausage package.  He can't get it open fast enough.
"I can't do this! I give up!" He storms around the kitchen huffing and puffing.
"Can't you just do this for me?!" he says in a nasty, directive tone.
"Um...if you can just change your tone and speak to me respectfully.  I'll be glad to help you."
He is perfectly capable of doing this himself, but in his agitated frame of mind, I know it will only go from bad to worse. Once he corrects his tone and asks nicely, I agree to take over for him.  No...we can not work together.  That would be a disaster.

Finally, I finish up and he sits down at the table to eat.  The attitude slowly creeps back up.

"This food is really escalating me! I hate this syrup! It pours too fast!"
Yeah...that was my attempt at cutting out high fructose corn syrup.  I bought authentic, very expensive maple syrup. Of course, he hates it.  He is used to Mrs. Buttersworth. 
He moans and groans showing contempt for the meal that I helped him prepare. The angrier he gets the more problems he seems to have.

"You know...when you fight with the food it has a tendency to fight back!" I say and laugh at my own  joke.  The grumpy teenager is not amused.

He finally finishes eating.  He takes his paper plate and throws it into the trash can.  As he storms out of the kitchen he says, "If this kitchen were a restaurant...I'd only give this breakfast 2 stars!"

"Wow!  Well that's rude.  I tell you what...next time I won't help you at all." 
"No! I didn't mean you.  I meant the kitchen ...like if this were a restaurant."
"Yeah...but I am the cook in this restaurant." 
"Well...that's not what I meant!" he yells. "You turn around everything that I say!"

Yeah...sure.  I turn it around.

He finally goes up the stairs and his phone rings.  He yells down the stairs, this time his voice actually sounds a little more pleasant.  

"J is on the phone.  He wants\ to know if you can drop us off at the movies later." 

"Tell J. that you've been extremely rude to your mom.  And when you turn that around, you will call him back. Because right now, I'm not taking you anywhere."

Meanwhile, I make myself a few pancakes and warm up the now room temperature sausage.  Mmm mmm!  Delicious! I enjoy my breakfast in peace.  In fact ..I give the meal 4 stars, including and especially, the expensive, 100% pure maple syrup.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Tale of Two Dinner Parties -Part II


The Tale of 2 Dinner Parties tells the story of two different parties and two very different sides of of my  17 year-old autistic son, Red.  He can present as a mature, creative, loving, and caring soul.  He can also be an argumentative, impulsive, loud, ball of teenage angst, attitude and defiance. 

Depending on the circumstances his insecurities can get the best of him --thus bringing out the competitive side of his nature. When he feels like he is not winning at this self-imposed competition,  we see more impulsiveness, lack of self-control and attention-seeking behaviors.  This side of him is exacerbated when he is surrounded by his entire, immediate family, his little brother who takes every opportunity to point out his flaws and his father, who demands his respect. He competes for the alpha-male position with his dad and his brother.  Me? I just generally annoy him and require him to do too many things that he does not want to to. 

We can also see this side of him in the high-school environment where he is surrounded by peers.  There, we also see this self-imposed competition.  He wants to be like everyone-else and sees himself as different, and therefore --unhappy.  Subsequently, we see a lot of negative behaviors.  The only way to keep him out of the downward spiral is to have him heavily engaged in positive activities, that add to his self-esteem,  such as working with peers with more severe disabilities or being engaged in his first love, video-editing.  

In is the second Tale of a Dinner Party, we are invited to the home of one of my fellow autism bloggers Phat Jaye of "Find My Eyes" .  Jaye has two children, precious Jade, age 3 and Jack who is 6.  Jack is on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, with many behaviors and ways similar to the way Red was at Jack's age.   We thought it would be a great idea to get the two boys together in hopes that in some ways they would identify with one another.  I also love meeting children on the spectrum because of the unique way that they see the world.  Each one of them are like precious snowflakes --specially created human beings.  

Jaye and I met online through a bloggers group on Facebook.  We connected almost instantly.  We are both kind of witty, smart-ass writers who are willing to reach out, share and help a fellow autism parent in whatever way that we can.  I will also admit, I have always enjoyed having males as friends in my lifetime.  However, the opportunity to do so has dwindled  since I got married, moved to Austin and became a full-time mother.  I work at home.  I write and provide personal care services to my children, my mother and my husband.  I do get involved in volunteer opportunities, most of which leave me surrounded by women. What can I say?  I love my sister/friends and have many that I am extremely close to…but sometimes, women come along with drama that I don't need in my life.   
Me and my friend Phat Jaye! 
After connecting with Jaye, reading his blog and getting to know his 6 year-old son Jack, I also wanted to meet the woman behind Jaye --his wife Julie.  They seemed like an awesome team of parents who are doing everything within their power to meet the needs of their children.  This includes Jaye being a work-at-home dad while his wife Julie works as an attorney.  Julie and I also became personal friends on Facebook, thus getting to know each other a little better. 

Me, Julie and Princess Jade
I have quite a few friends, both male and female who work at home so that they can be more readily available to their children.  This includes my brother who does a helluva job playing soccer dad to his two-youngest children.  What can I say?  I love a fella who is man enough to put his children first.  It's not easy putting your own career goals on the shelf for a while, so that you can be there, front and center for your kids.  A man who takes care of his kids and who cooks!  Now that is sexy! I think Jaye cooks.  I've seen pictures of his grilling prowess.    He didn't cook the night we came for dinner.  But I still love him! 

So back to the party …when we first arrive, Jaye gives me a big old-bear hug.  I introduce him to Red and I meet 3 year-year old Jade, the woman in charge of the house.  Julie hasn't come in from work yet.  Jack is chillin in his room, with his IPad after a hard day of summer school and behavior therapy.  I can't wait to meet him! Dad prods him to come out and say hello, which he does with a bit of hesitation.  I mean who cares about company when you've got your IPad right? Shortly afterwards, Julie comes home and we hug like old-girlfriends.  I fall in love with her. Instantly.  The warmth of her heart shows in her smile and in the way that she greets me. 

We pop some wine and everyone sits down at the table to eat together.  Julie and Jaye are engaging conversationalist.  What is really awesome, is that they engage with Red about high school, friends, and his interests in art and video editing.  Jaye identifies with Red's hatred of all things high-school, telling him that he really didn't get into the people all that much when he was there and couldn't wait to get out.  He tells him that college was a much better place because he started to meet more like-minded people who shared many of the same interest.  

Me? I am fascinated by Jack and Jade, their youth, and innocence.  I try to engage in conversation with them.  They are both beautiful redheads, Jack with blue eyes, and I believe Jades were a shade of hazel green.  Julie and Jaye made sure that Jack plugged in to us and engaged in conversation with Red.  It was a touching moment when Red told him, "I have autism too." It was kind of like…it's cool man.  No worries.  

Now don't think that this party was completely behavior free.  Like Red, Jack does not always appreciate parent directed activities.  He wants to do what he wants to do.  I love the fact that once Julie came through the door, she took over with the kids.  It wasn't like…I worked all day.  I'm tired.  You've been home all day.  You deal with the kids.  They didn't just allow the kids to do whatever they wanted, and not do what they did not feel like doing, to include socializing.  

When Jack starts getting upset because he wants his IPad and doesn't want to talk anymore.  Julie takes him to his room, and has a little chat with him.  When he returns, he has a few questions for both Red and I.  He asks them, actually makes an effort to make more eye-contact, and awaited our answers.  Once he is done, Julie is  all too happy to give him his Ipad back and he is  just as happy to get it.  

Huh! I think to myself.  This is what I mean what I say parenting looks like. I gotta get me some of that! 

No doubt, this is a benefit of the behavior therapy that they have on board at this early stage in Jack's life.  We didn't have the benefit of the proper diagnosis and early intervention therapy for Red or Blue.  They both had speech therapy, as they were speech delayed.  They also had some Occupational Therapy, early on to address some developmental issues.  However, Red wasn't officially diagnosed with autism  until age 12, in the 6th grade.  Blue was diagnosed shortly thereafter, at the end of his 4th grade year.  

After Jack goes to his room, Julie and Jaye give Red the floor to talk about whatever his heart desires.  We talk about everything from high school, to music (rock & roll, heavy metal, and of course, Christian rock).  We talk movies, videography, editing and art.  Jaye is a published writer, I beg him to show us some of his work.  We talk about Red's goals post high-school. 

We even discuss a little religion.  Yep! Red has to bring his Christianity into almost every conversation.  When it comes to Aspergers, there are no taboo subjects, no filter on what comes out of his mouth.  But it is fine.  We all roll with it. I am just thankful he doesn't bring up girls and sex!  That is in the forefront of his mind these days.  Much to my dismay, he brought this up at our last dinner party  with friends. Ugh! 

Red revels in the positive attention.  He presents as a mature, creative, thoughtful and caring soul.  This is the other side of his personality -the side that I hope will prevail someday.  There was no anger…no competition from his brother, or his father for attention.  It was all about him, Jack,  and of course the boss lady, princess Jade.  Julie and Jaye saw Red as a peer role model for their son Jack.  Can you imagine that? My son?  A peer role model! 

Red with his new friend Jack
This is the side of Red I hope to see more of once he graduates from high-school.  He is such a great person when put into the right environment.  He seems to do so much better socially with adults, or with people who are younger than him.  Julie and Jaye took the time to get to know him.  They showed sincere interest in the way that he sees the world.  They asked him to draw for them and sign the drawings that he made.   He showed them one of his editing projects online.  They praised his work. They didn't seem to mind his dominance in the conversation.  They got their words and questions in when they could.  They were patient.  They were kind.  These are traits that he won't find in the average peer of his age.  

And I must say, he is blessed with a couple of really good friends, who do get him.  They love and accept him for exactly who he is.  He is also blessed with a number of adults in his life, who stand with him and behind him.  They look at him as a loving soul…with a good spirit.  They see beyond some of the behaviors, they actually understand some of the anger.  They don't judge him. They mentor him and let him know that he is okay the way that he is. 

Before we leave, Jack and Jade are dressed for Bed, but they come out to say their good-byes.  Jack has a burst of energy and he is jumping up and down, talking excitedly, I think it was something about the moon or the stars.  Before we head to the car…he gives Red and I a great.big.hug!  My night is made.  Yes.  We have certainly made some new friends. 

Thank you Julie, Jay, Jack and Jade for loving and accepting my son.  We will be here to watch Jack grow into his full-potential as an adult on the spectrum, who will be more than okay because he has parents like you behind him.  I hope that sooner than later, you will be able to see Red do the same. 

You can read more about Jaye's perspective on meeting Red " You've Got A Friend In Me" here.   You can also follow Find My Eyes on Facebook.  Tell him I sent ya! 

You can also read about the First Dinner Party here.