Sunday, February 27, 2011

Marching For Muscles

This has been a great week of progress for Blue.  Which has been a blessing, because on the other hand, I have been facing some real challenges with Red.  In fact, I've been so bitter about the latter, that I haven't been able to write anything for a couple of days.  As I process my feelings, I will be writing about it --so stay tuned.  Thankfully, I finally have something positive to say so here goes...

First this week Blue decided to try the food in the cafeteria!  This is major.  He hasn't eaten cafeteria food since...I don't know....before he could talk!  When he learned to speak in sentences his first words were, "Hell no! I don't want any of that crap!" (just kidding).  Well, he saw a friend eating oven fried chicken and it looked good,  so his Social Skills teacher suggested that he give the cafeteria a try.  (I will be forever in her debt.)  The following day, he did.  First a baked potato, then a corn dog, and he ended the week with a cheeseburger!

 Do you know what this means? I don't have to make lunch for him in the morning! Yay!  This is big! Big! Huge!  He topped of the week by also riding the bus in the morning!  No lunch, no ride --independence! Load of my shoulders! I'm turning cartwheels!

Second, Blue received his report card for the last 6 weeks.  He kept it going with the straight A's!  Yeah baby! That's my boy!  (Well actually --that's his daddy boy.  I never made straight A's.)

Third, we participated in the MDA Muscle Walk in support of one of his best friends, Jacob. Here are a few pics:

Blue and Bestie Jacob

Marching for Muscles
Making Muscles by pulling a firetruck! 

Of all the feelings I have had to deal with this week, the best ones are Love and Pride...

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Computer Heaven

This is the conversation over breakfast this morning with Red, my 15 year-old:

"Mom can you talk in heaven?"
"I don't know son.  I've never been to heaven,  but I assume you can."

"Can you use your computer in heaven?"

"Nope! All of your THINGS stay on earth.  You can't take them with you.

But who knows, there may be something better than computers in heaven."

"Not in my world," he mumbles.

"Well...that's the thing son.  It's not YOUR world.  You won't be able to tell God how to run heaven."
(Like he tries to tell me how things should work here on earth.)

"From what I understand son, heaven is a wonderful place.  There is no sickness, no pain, no sadness."

"You mean I won't have Aspergers there?"

"Nope!  No Aspergers," I say

"Then why can't God make it like that down here?"

This is a question I am not prepared to answer. 

I kind of giggle inside at the naivety of this his questions.  They seem like questions and thoughts that would come from a much younger child.  (He is now sitting at the table tearing up a paper bowl for no apparent reason.  Then he decides to pout and put his head down on the table, as if to tell me --I am not getting ready for school right now  --kind of like a 5 year-old)

At the same time, his questions and statements are indicative of the way he thinks.  The world should run according to Red's reality, instead of Red living according to the way of the world.  This is the way of his Aspie mind. 

As I drive home from taking him at school,  it is quiet and I can think clearly for the first time in this day.  Sadly I  begin to wonder if he asking me about heaven because he's thinking about death?

Suddenly,  his questions don't seem so naive. 

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Birthday Blue -Part Two

It comes down to this...when I was a kid, my mother became a Jehovah's witness therefore, so did I.  I'm still recovering from the damage.  We did not celebrate birthdays or Christmas and I've been making up for it every since.  I make my own birthday last for at least a month.  I give my husband holy-hell if he doesn't turn cartwheels to spoil me.  Most of all,  I make absolutely sure that my children have great memories of their birthdays.

Our tradition is to start with pancakes or waffles in the morning with a candle and me singing "Happy Birthday." (Dad is never awake for this -or he's traveling on business.)  I usually bring lunch to school and cupcakes, cookies or whatever  (at least during elementary).  The fait accompli is a home-made fried chicken dinner or a choice of your favorite restaurant.  Sometimes there's a party with friends, other times, there's a weekend trip and other times it's just a family-night out.

This year Blue had friends over to hang out and play video games, shoot a few hoops and watch inappropriate videos on You-tube.  He had the twins over whom he has known since pre-k.  His friend Josh who was his best friend and classmate from 1st to 4th grade.  They still get together to play since Josh moved on to another school in 5th and 6th.  He also had Jake an elementary school friend who has since moved on to another middle school.  Finally, a new friend that is in his social skills group at his new middle school.

Some of these guys have special needs, some do not.  They are a wonderful bunch and Blue is blessed to have them as friends.

We took the party over to the elementary school where their friendships all began.  Mom got a little nostalgic and teary at the thought of how long they have known and supported each other.

I think my emotion is raw because of what Red is going through right now.  He has lost touch with all of his elementary friends and struggles to make new friendships in high-school.   We were blessed today that he had a session with his new Social Skills counselor which also involved meeting a new friend.

Can we take a silly one? Of course you can!
(Jake-not pictured) ego is bruised because I'm dropping in the ranks on TOP Mommy 
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Happy Birthday to Blue

Today we celebrate Blue and the beginning of his 12th year of life.  There is much to celebrate as he has come such a long way over the past year.  You may be wondering why I refer to the boys as Red and Blue.  Well..when I started seriously blogging I thought the colors suited their personalities.  Red is the explosive like dynamite.  (Today is not his day so I'm not going to go in to detail about him.) Last year in 5th grade, Blue was very sad, anxious and kind of...Blue.

He started to feel different than his peers and he wasn't quite sure why.  He loathed the fact that his anxiety was so high -that he was deathly afraid of thunderstorms.  He felt defeated every time he had the compulsion to hide in the bathroom with fan, earplugs and IPod for hours on end.  He had frequent misunderstandings with classmates and sometimes with teachers.  P.E. was a nightmare with so many kids and so much noise.

It made him sad when he would get angry and say mean things, and subsequently feel really bad about it afterward.  He couldn't control his anger.  He knew that some of his classmates thought he was a little "weird".  He tried desperately to please them and fit in.  He wanted to be funny like the popular boys so he tried to imitate them, but the kids didn't laugh.    

1 year and a small dosage of medication later, he has come into his own.  As he celebrates his 12th birthday, he has a 4.0 grade point average and has been invited to participate in some wonderful challenging classes and activities.  He now works well with his peers and has developed excellent leadership qualities.  He is still not in love with thunderstorms, but they no longer bring life to a grinding halt.  He's getting there on that one.

His fuse is a little longer than it used to be.  For instance today at school some kid called him chubby and he didn't go ballistic.  He didn't go running to a teacher either.  In fact, he didn't say anything.  It hurt his feelings enough to tell me about it, but he readily excepted my explanation:

"Sometimes middle-school boys are just rude and silly.  There will be a fare share of name-calling mostly because they are insecure and want to make themselves feel better.  You just have to try to ignore it, unless it makes you really uncomfortable, then you let them know."

"That's why I am so glad I have you, because you love me more than anyone," he responded.  My heart absolutely melts.

I told him I still remember the teasing I got in middle school when my nose was much bigger than the rest of my face.  They called me "Sir Nose".  Lovely! My nose is still on the grander side of life, but I have learned to live with it.  I even have my days when I think I'm pretty darn cute! Make-up helps  a lot!

This weekend he will have an all boys birthday party here at the house.  They will play games, eat pizza and just hang out.  The party will include a friend he has known since 1st grade who has since moved on to another school.  He will also have the twins that he has known since pre-school and a new friend he made this year.  For someone with Aspergers he's doing pretty darn well in the friendship department.  Of course, some of his friends also have special needs but they all get along great.

Birthday Pancakes 7 a.m. Thanks Mom!

Home-made fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, salad and finally Birthday Cake!

I am so proud of my birthday boy! He makes me glad I decided to try one more time for a girl. Instead, I got the most special boy a mom could ask for.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pray with Me Today

Dear Lord,

Please open the heart and mind of my son today.  
Help him to feel the love of his family and friends both near and far.
Help him to recognize your love and see that you and your son reside within his heart.
Help him to love himself as you love him -as I love him.  
Help him to realize that what he is going through is just temporary. 
Help him to see his future as a positive one -that high school is just a means to an end.  
Help him to find at least one special friend who will be a positive influence and help him feel supported at school.  

Let someone reach out to him today.  
Help him to reach out in service to others.  
Let helping others, even in a small way, fill his heart with gladness. 
Keep his thought process positive. 
Bless him with a smile on his face so that others feel invited in to his heart. 
Lift his head to the sky. 
Guide me to continue to put the right supports in place for him.  
Help us to parent him with patience, love and balanced discipline.  
Guide those employed to assist him to come up with creative ideas. 
Let our home be a refuge and haven from the storms of life.  
Let it be a peaceful place where love flows. 

In Jesus name


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Commercial Love Day

I really hate the whole commerciality of Valentines Day.  I have this vision of retailers salivating at the thought of getting some of our money.   You have the cheesy jewelry commercials.  Flowers and balloons are everywhere!  The mailbox is full of ads.  I just think...what kind of suckers do they think we are? We don't need any freakin' gifts for Valentines Day.  For heaven's sake, Al and I have been married for 17 years.  I know he loves me and I love him.  We don't need to go spend money to prove it.

Last year I made him a picture for Valentines Day.  It was in oil pastel  --two golden hearts linked together.   I mean doesn't that say it all?  No money spent...bam!  Here it is.  I can't even remember if he bought me anything.  I'm sure he bought flowers, and I'm sure I didn't cook.  We probably ordered in or something.  I can't even remember what we did for sure.  One year just runs into another when you've been married for so long.

I do however remember making him something with my own two hands.  It still hangs in our living room.  That's what this love day should be about.  Giving something you made -from your heart.

<< Here it is.

Well so much for that, we broke the rules.  He offered to take the afternoon off and take me to out to lunch.  (Cha-ching$$) So off we go to North a fancy Italian place in the Domain a fancy-smancy outdoor shopping center.  I have a calamari and arugula salad with some kind of lemon dressing...yum!  He has baked ziti.  Very fresh -delicious!

After lunch we go for a walk through the outdoor shopping area.  Oops  --I forgot my sunglasses.  We go into Brighton and he buys me a new pair. (Cha-ching$$$)  My old ones have scratches on them.  They are overpriced.  I seldom buy anything that is not on sale.  But hey -it's Valentines Day.  He's feeling generous...I go for it.  Such a hypocrite!

On the way home we stop to pick up lunch for my mom and a special Valentine treat for Blue.  Since Red told me emphatically that he "hates Valentines Day!"  I wouldn't want him to benefit from a day that he hates. I mean...what an insult that would be.  After all, he just about cursed us out after we took him to his favorite restaurant for dessert last night.

We break another rule and buy flowers for my mom before we head home.  (Cha-Ching$$)

We arrive home and Blue has gone "out for a walk."  He walked to Walgreens to buy me and Dad chocolates and a card.  I have 3 sons.  2 of them are older, 22 and 15.  He is 12 and the 1ST to buy cards and gifts without prompting!

So sweet!  So thoughtful! 

Red comes home and gives us the wonderful gift of a nice screaming rant about how much he hates Valentines Day. "It's not even real!  It's just a fake holiday!"   He goes off to his room and proceeds to tell the facebook world "F*#! Valentines Day!"  We stop him just before he clicks post.  I tell him that he can express his negative feelings about the day without swearing.

"What do you think your grandmother, your cousins, aunts and uncles will think about you if they read  language like that coming from you?"

Of course, he hadn't given that any thought.  He changes his mind, but continues to rant about how horrible his life is.  -Just Lovely!

What a miserable existence -to feel so angry most of the time.  I ache for him --literally.  I will not however, let this completely ruin my day.

For the most part really was a great Valentines Day.

I failed to mention my favorite part of the day:

As we walk through the shopping area we hear the Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta Song "You're the One That I Want".  Hubby and I are holding hands.  We break into full song and dance right there in the middle of the sidewalk like were in the musical "Grease."  People are looking and smiling.  The spontaneity of that moment was priceless.

That moment, the card and especially the thought from Blue made it a nearly perfect Valentines Day, despite the fact that we made the local retailers happy.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

White Chocolate Macadamia

It's an absolutely perfect Sunday.  We go from freezing temperatures during the week to seventy degrees and sunshine.  I go into the backyard to do poop patrol and to pick up a few weeds.  The sun feels so good, I decide I can't possibly go back inside.  I have to take advantage of it.

I sit my bottom on the bottom of the slide on our playscape which is drenched in sun.  I lay back.  Five minutes later, my back can't take it.  I can no longer lay on my back without cushion.  I pull the cushion off of the bench and put it on the slide.  I position it just right so that Harry (my dog) and I can lay down. It is so peaceful --so quiet, I meditate. I fall asleep.

I am awakened of course, by Blue who comes to ask me where I want to go have dinner.  We decide on a new place that has a little bit of everything in hopes to satisfy everyone.  I tell Red that we will leave promptly at 4 p.m.  If he wants to go, he must be ready on time.  We will not wait.  Surprisingly, he agrees, and is actually ready on time.  Of course, he has to argue about where we are going because it's somewhere we have never been.  All things must be familiar.  The place has cheeseburgers.  That's all that should really matter.

We arrive at the restaurant which is not very crowded at all.  That should have been the first sign that the food wouldn't be all that great.  Red decides not to sit with us, but to sit at the table next to us.  Whatever -the place is nearly empty.  He actually puts his head down on the table laying his upper body on it as well.

"Are you too weak to hold your body up?" I ask.

"No...I'm just bored," he replies.

"Do you see anyone else in this entire restaurant laying down on the table?"

He looks around.


"That's because it's inappropriate.  A restaurant is not a place for a nap."

He sits up but his shoulders are slumped over  --his body is in the shape of the letter C.  He is wearing a sharp, fitted Calvin Klein shirt which could make his upper body look quite attractive.  The effect is ruined by his slumping shoulders.  I give him a mirrored image of himself and ask, "Would you be attracted to a girl if you saw her sitting like this?"

"Stop it mom!" he says as he sits up straighter.

Dinner is less than fulfilling for all of us.  I bring up the idea of going somewhere else for dessert.  Blue perks up with a huge smile on his face. "Dessert! That's just what I need right now," he says excitedly.

"I want to go home! I don't want to go anywhere else!"

Discreetly, I ask my husband what he thinks about going to BJ's  Red's favorite place for dessert.  He agrees.  We make the announcement to the kids, suddenly we get a huge uncharacteristic smile out of Red.  He absolutely loves their white chocolate macadamia cookie with ice cream on top.

BJ's Famous Pizookie®

The Gorgeous $5000 (cost of braces) smile that we don't often get to see!

Yum! From the grateful one...

The smile from Red was solicited before he goes off on us about not having enough dessert, because I didn't let him order the large one.  He goes on a fifteen minute rant about how unfair we are.  How he hates he brother, because of course Blue is being gracious and Red can't stand that.   

Gotta love it! Or NOT... 

Happy Valentines Day! May your day filled with Love.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Self Medication

I woke up this morning thinking about my last post.  They say when you put something personal on the internet you should think about it at least three times before you publish it.  Well...I thought about it twice and published it anyway.  This blog is my reality.  Why should I hide any of my truth?

Here's what I wrote in Downside of Anger

"Red comes down the stairs with a scowl on his face.  He grits his teeth and starts being ugly to everyone.  I'm cooking dinner. I have no wine...I'm trying not to drink vodka martinis during the week.  There's a bottle of champagne in the fridge.  I have to make due with a glass of that."

So my thought this morning was...people may think I'm an alcoholic.   If you have a drink to take the edge off of your nerves when your children are being obnoxious and stressing you out...does that make you an alcoholic? If you only have one drink but you feel the need for it does that make you an alcoholic?

Well, the truth is I have a few vices.  Am I alone in this?  I don't think so.  I can choose on any given day or night what my vice will be?  Will cookies be my self-medication?  Will it be piece of lemon-pie?  Maybe a brownie or two -but not more than two.  Will it be a glass of wine?  Or a Z-Tejas margarita? We can't forget the shrimp tostada bites to go with it.  Oh -I got it!  I'll go shopping.  A good bargain found at TJMaxx is excellent stress relief.

When there is time available I go to Zumba class (Latin dance exercise).  Yoga is another great way to release stress.  Deep cleansing breaths, stretching and meditation is a great way to clear your mind and forget your worries.  The latest thing I've been doing is going to art lessons.  I paint -mostly abstract.  I just play with color on canvas.  It's a divine hour of peace.

These healthy stress relievers are not always readily available.  When children are fighting I can't always run out the door to go to Yoga.  In the middle of homework and cooking dinner -I can't break out and start painting.  Half the time I miss Zumba because Red makes me late, and if you don't get there early -there are no spots left.

People in my family drink.  We love good food and a good cocktail.  We love a good party and we give plenty of them.  When I was a teenager, I used to call my mother an alcoholic because she drank almost daily.  I never saw her drunk.  She functioned well. We went to church 3 days a week (in hindsight -maybe that's why she drank on the off days.)  She took  damn good care of us by herself.  We never had a hungry day.  We had nice clothes on our backs and a roof over our head.

As much as we try not to turn into our parents...somehow we do.  At the same time,  I try to have,  and subsequently give to my own children a little more than I received as a child.  Where my mother drank several glasses of wine daily  --I have one (o.k. maybe two).  Where my parents broke up and I had a single mother  --I have remained married to my spouse through good times and the not so good.  I want them to have both of their parents involved in their daily lives.  We've been married 17 years and counting.

I exercise as often as I can.  Whereas I watched my mother and my grandmother battle with being overweight there entire lives.  I refuse to go there  --or at least all the way there.   O.K so I'm not the size 6  that I was before I had babies, but I'm holding steady at a size 10.

I probably get the active gene from my dad.  He was and is still very active.  He's 82 years-old.  He walks daily and he doesn't miss a jazz concert at the Hollywood Bowl or anywhere in L.A. for that matter.  He too was a drinker  --or I should say a partier, until he was diagnosed with diabetes.  Then he cut back to the occasional beer.

The bottom line I guess is that we all have stress.  And we find ways to deal with it and to minimize it since we can't totally eliminate it.  There are good ways, there are not so good ways.  I do what I can do given the resources I have available in the moment.  If it happens to be a Yoga class --Namaste.  If it happens to be a martini --cheers!

BTW...doesn't the martini above look yummy?! I think I'll have one now! 

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Downside of Anger

Red comes down the stairs with a scowl on his face.  He grits his teeth and starts being ugly to everyone.  I'm cooking dinner.  Asian meatballs, baked potatoes, and smothered cabbage.  I have no wine...I'm trying not to drink vodka martinis during the week.  There's a bottle of champagne in the fridge.  I have to make due with a glass of that.

"Mom...I'm hungry! What am I supposed to eat? There's no food here! There's!"

I'm cooking dinner and he says there's no food.  The refrigerator is full.  Of course, he is welcome to cook whatever he would like if he doesn't want what I'm cooking.

Next he starts in on his brother just saying random shit that makes no sense...being mean.

"You're weird! Blue."

"You look like a girl."

I implore Blue to not feed into it.

"He's just being ugly to you because he's in a bad mood.  He feels bad, so he wants you to feel bad," I tell Blue.

Red admits that basically I'm right.

"I'm not really mad at you Blue.  It's just that my life is horrible! I hate my life so that's why I'm being mean to you."

Isn't that true of most people in the world? They are mean and ugly to people because of some pain or hurt they are feeling...because someone else hurt them in some way.  Only Red really doesn't have this awful life that he complains about.  He has two parents who love him and take care of him everyday.  I would say he doesn't want for anything...but he does.  He wants for everything even though he has so much. Still in his eyes -his life is horrible, or at least he loves saying that to us on a daily basis.

His father just went out and bought him a new game last week.  He said he was "buying some peace."  It's a flight simulator game.  It did buy us peace for a couple of days.  It kept him occupied so that he wouldn't focus on the negatives in his life.

For a few days it was, "The best game I've ever played!"

Soon that turned into, "I Need HELP!"  (Because he doesn't want to read the directions.)

Then we move on to, "I need to download such and such to make this game LOOK better!" We don't have the basic functions of the game down, but we need to add something to it!?

In the middle of dad working on a contract or a conference call in his home office he interrupts, "Daaaad! I need these add ons!"

Or when dad comes in from a long day and he's trying to relax for a moment, "I need you to help me NOW!"

So much for peace.  When I see that dad is fuming -I check him on that.  "You are not showing appreciation for what your father has done for you. He didn't have to go out and buy you that game.  And here you are just days later finding a way to complain about it. Do you think maybe that makes him sorry that he bought it?  Do you think that makes him want to help you or buy things for you in the future? Hmm...he had to think about that one!

It pains me that he is so miserable that he has to try to make those of us who love him feel his pain constantly.   I feel bad for him, but sometimes it's such a downer to be around the constant negativity.  I really feel sorry for his little brother who can't tune him out very easily.  It's hard to stay positive especially when it seems like the more you try to do for him, the more he complains.  He's like a bottomless pit --a black hole.

I get that he has yet to develop many friendships, especially at school.  He talks everyday about wanting a girlfriend.  He says he wants a group of friends to hang out with, but he hasn't been able to make that happen.  I'd be happy if he had just one or two positive friends who love and accept him for the way he is.  I pray that in due time, that will happen for him.

In the mean time we love and support him the best way we can.  Even though most of the time, he is NO fun to be around.  There is so much love and positive energy in this family, but he can enter a room and just suck the life right out of it.

-I took this picture of Red on one of those mornings when I was dropping him off for school.  I got him out of the car by telling him how handsome he looks in the leather jacket handed down from his uncle to his dad, and now to him.  He is handsome just like all of the men in our family.  "No I'm not.  I'm ugly! That's why I don't have a girlfriend!" No my dear...being ugly is not the problem.  Acting ugly...??? Fortunately, that is something you can change.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Autism Students Training Teachers

Why should students participate in their ARD meetings? That was the question on the table at a session of the Teachers Improvement Conference in our school district.  Blue was a presenter.

* (Here in Texas I.E.P. are called ARD meetings. Everything is different in Texas!)

For the first time last year in 5th Grade, Blue not only participated in his ARD (admissions, dismissal, review) meeting...he ran the meeting.  He did the introductions.  He ran through the agenda.  Via Power Point presentation, he told us all about his strengths and the things he needs help with.  He told us about his concerns about going to middle school.  He participated in setting his goals and listened when we talked about his accommodations.  It was all about him!  Six adults were sitting in a room to talk about the plan for his education for the next year.

At the conference Blue had the opportunity to inform a room full of teachers about what the experience meant to him.  The point was to encourage these teachers to get their students involved in their own 'Powerful ARD'  meetings.  He said he loved the fact that the meeting was all about him.  It made him feel important and it helped him feel better about going to middle school.  The Special Education Lead from the middle school attended his ARD meeting.  At the end of the meeting she addressed all of his concerns about middle school.

Blue presented at this year's conference alongside the Special Education Lead Teacher from his elementary school, (whose brilliant idea it was to have him involved in his ARD) and two peers, another 6th grader and a 3rd grader.  All of the boys have high-functioning autism.  Blue and his 6th grade friend were particularly articulate and appeared to love being charming and speaking in front of the crowd.  The boy who was in the 3rd grade had participated in his ARD mostly by making a movie so that he didn't have to worry about being nervous in front of a room full of adults.  He showed us parts of his movie during the presentation.  Apparently he is a major fan of Star Wars, as he used the theme music and graphics from the movie in his movie.  It was awesome.

The parents were also asked to speak briefly.  I told the group how having him participate and be involved in his ARD gave him a sense of empowerment and ownership in his education process.  He knows his diagnosis and how it effects him.  Last year, he started feeling really bad about himself asking,  "Why am I different? What's wrong with me? Why do I get so angry?" We had the talk and went through a workbook together.   We were able to turn what was a negative concept in his mind into a positive by giving him the knowledge and helping him focus on his gifted abilities, instead of his areas of difficulty.

This helped him prepare for the process of  being involved in his ARD  process.  He now knows exactly what he needs and he has no problem letting teachers know that.  It helped him have the confidence to go right into middle school and let the teachers know exactly who is is,  what he needs and what his accommodations are.  The very first day he was like, "Hi I'm Blue...did you know I have autism?" He also has no problem letting other students know.  He wants them to understand his differences.

It seemed like the elective teachers were the slowest to get it.  He also had a few little issues with his math teacher at first.  I think that teachers look at his grades,  his test scores and the way he speaks and presents himself and they think, 'This kid is bright.  Why he can't do things just like everybody else?'

His disability is invisible.  They don't always take into account his extreme anxiety, or the way he can misinterpret social situations and even instructions.  Sometimes he just gets overwhelmed and can be unorganized.  He may become distracted by another child making some annoying noise, or by the weather for heaven's sake, and completely loose focus.  He may need extra time to complete an assignment.  He just may not make it through homework if he's had a particularly stressful day, especially if there are multiple assignments.  Just forget about it if you yell at him, or make him feel embarrassed in front of the whole class.  You will loose him completely.

Because he knows what he needs and what teachers should be doing to help him, he will readily let them know when they are not following his individual education plan.  If he is afraid or too intimidated to talk to them directly, he will go to his SPED tracking teacher and talk to her, or he comes to me and I send an email.  Sometimes we sit down and have a chat with the teacher he is having an issue with.

In attendance at the session of the conference was the Transition Coordinator for Special Education in our district.  She was touched so deeply by the boys presentation that she had a John Boehnor moment...tears flowing, though she tried to hold them back.  She told us how important it was for her to change the system in our district.  She feels it's imperative to make the children's needs a priority.  She believes that having the children and their parents involved in their educational process is imperative. She told us about a parent she met at another conference who had always insisted on having her child involved in his ARDS from the time he was 3 years-old.  That student now attends Yale.

As we were leaving,  we walked through the campus full of teachers and administrators, suddenly I could see my boy becoming not just a teacher, but a counselor or an administrator who knows inside and out what students need to be successful in the classroom.  Perhaps someday he will become a leader who will make sure that Special Education students definitely get what they need.  He will know from his own educational experience.

I mean why not? At the age of 11, he is his own advocate and he loves to help others.  He makes me a proud and hopeful mama!

Blue And His friends...yes they are twins


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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Parents Night Out

It seems like it's been forever since I've been on a date with my husband.  It hasn't just seems like it.  He reminded me last night that we did go see "The King's Speech" a few weeks ago.   For the past two weeks however, I've been wanting to go see the new Natalie Portman/Ashton Kutcher movie but it just hasn't worked out.  A romantic comedy that my husband actually wouldn't mind seeing.  He loves all things Natalie Portman.  He even took me to see "Black Swan," so I guess I really should quit whining. 

I thought that the boys getting older would mean that we could go out all the time  -that having teenagers would mean that we don't need a babysitter.  Then my mom moved in with us last year.  I thought 'great...we can even spend the night out if we want to!'

I didn't plan on the fact that having two teenagers on the autism spectrum would make for explosive fights that can break out at any given moment.  Therefore, it's not so simple to just leave them at home alone or even with their grandmother.  It was actually easier to leave them at home alone two years ago, than it is now that they are older.  They didn't fight as much then.  Now hormones have kicked in and the little one doesn't take any crap from the older one.  He will whack him upside the head in a heartbeat!

The last time I left them at home with their grandmother for just an hour...I came home to a whole in the wall.  "It was Red's fault Mom," says Blue.  "I'm sorry...but he made me so mad! He wouldn't get out of my room!"

Now what we have to do is arrange for one of them to be out of the house while we're gone.  Last night Blue went over to play with a friend in the neighborhood while we went out.  When we went to see the "King's Speech" a few weeks ago, he went to play with another friend.  Thank God at least one of them has the ability to maintain friendships.

On this "parents night" we went to a concert to see Esperanza Spaulding -a wonderful bassist and jazz singer at quaint venue here in Austin called One World Theatre.  We love this venue because there is not a bad seat in the house.  It's a Tuscan styled mansion that is nestled on top of Barton Creek Hills with beautiful views of Austin.  Part of the mansion is converted into a concert hall that only seats about 250 people.  There is also reception hall and patio downstairs where you can have drinks and dinner beforehand.  They also rent if for weddings and events. The theater is a very intimate venue.  You get very up close and personal with the artist.  Our seats last night were 2nd row center.  (Not bad hubby! I think I'll renew his contract for another year.)

We met our good friends at the concert and afterwards we went out for cocktails together.  It was great to remember what it feels like to be an adult  -a couple, sharing adult conversation about art, music, politics and Oprah's new half-sister.

It is so important to remain connected as a couple.  It's easy to get lost in being parents of special needs children.  So many couples don't make it through the difficult process or raising high-maintenance kids.  These boys of ours desperately need two parents in tact.   If we're going to make it, we have to keep our connection which means, 'Parents Night Out' has to be a big priority.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

MDA -Muscle Walk

What do you tell a little boy who asks for hope?

Blue and I are participating in the MDA Muscle Walk for his best friend Jacob and to give hope to people with muscle diseases, which affect more than a million Americans and over 600 families right here in Central Texas.  You can help me help MDA by joining the team or making a secure donation online.  Flex your muscles for those who can't.

I set my goal for $500.00  Won't you help me reach it?


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Social Skills 101

Tonight is Red's first private high-school social skills group.  There are protest and objections when I remind him that we will leave at 6 p.m.  He is motivated only when I say we will stop for a cheeseburger on the way.  This gets him to get up from his computer and into the car.

In the car we start with the negative conversation about how this won't do any good:

"It's not going to help me get a girlfriend."

"No one likes me at school anyway.  I mean no one really cares about me."

"So and so is not really my friend anymore.  All she does is talk to her stupid boyfriend all the time."

We get off the highway and drive down Anderson Lane through an eclectic Austin neighborhood.  "Keep Austin Weird" is the city motto.

"Is this a bad neighborhood?' he asks.

"No...this is just Austin."

We pull into the parking-lot of the coffee house thanks to the trusty navigation app on my phone.

"This can't be it.  It's too dark."

There are no lights on the little parking lot and very little light emitting from the venue of tonight's meeting.  It's dark and it's cold at around 27 degrees.  The wind is blowing fiercely. Red has a tendency to move excruciatingly slow.

"Well...this is it and hurry up because it's freezing out here."

"I hope we don't get shot," he says before we get out of the car.  Wow! Really? Shot?

I think he's a little anxious.

"Stay here," he says.  "I mean make sure you stay here the whole time."

"Don't worry son.  I'll be right out here."

He meets the group. They disappear behind closed curtain to their own private area.  I can tell he feels a little out of place.


"How was it?" I ask.

"It was fine."

"Did you like it? Do you want to come back?"


In the car:

"Can I stay up till like midnight?"

"Of course........not."

"Can you tell me about it?  I mean what did you talk about?"

"Social skills."

"What specifically about social skills?"

"I don't know."

Is this going to work?
Will this do him any good?
Will it help him make some friends?
Become more self-aware?

I have no idea.

Will we go back?
Will I shell out more money for the possibility?


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