Celebrating in Silence

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Veteran’s Day is a very important day to me. I come from a family where all of the men served. My father, all my uncles, my grandfathers and their father’s before them all proudly served. It was what was expected. It was an honor and a privilege.  And now I proudly add my husband to our list of veteran’s.

To many this day is a time to stock up on linens at a department store sale, a day off work, one extra holiday before the winter holiday season kicks in. Not for me. It is a somber day. Autism Boy grew up admiring the fact that so many men in our family before him served. He would often say he wanted to join the Air Force and serve like Daddy when he grows up. That was the day my heart sank and Veteran’s Day took on a new meaning.

Veteran’s Day for me is still a reminder of all of those who serve, those who paid the ultimate price. But now it is also a reminder of all those innocent like my little man who long to serve but never will. One this day we will have the talk about the things he can and cannot do, but today I let him dream. Today he takes his takes his tanks and lines them up to play  war. Tomorrow we shed the tears for our dreams which can not come true.

The rocky road of school

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Rocky Road – When I hear those words I think of dark chocolate, creamy marshmallows, crunchy walnuts, and hot fudge drizzled over the scoops of decadence heaped in my bowl, as I slide onto the couch for a cozy Saturday night. That is the way I like to think of Rocky Road, but I also have another image that comes to mind. It is an image of pain, tears, heartache, mistakes, grace, love and acceptance. It is what we go through at the start of every home school year.

Autism Boy loves home schooling and 99 % of the time so do I, that is until we start a another year. At the start of every year is the pain of the curriculum change, teacher change, new ways that we have to do everything and it is a living nightmare. The last two weeks for us have been filled with tears, long talks, revamping the system and tons of prayers to God for peace.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise each year as we walk this road, but it does. Somehow the bliss of the 99 % of awesome makes me forget the horror of the first few weeks. So as we are smoothing out our road of homeschooling this week, I think I will settle into my chair with a giant bowl of rocky road ice cream.

Sharknado

640Heavily caffeinated mommy loves b rated movies. I love sitting with my Ben and Jerry’s and trashing a movie to shreds. This has been a solo activity for a long time, and I have dreamed about the day when I would have a companion to laugh along with me. Today is that day. As Autism Boy is growing up, he has asked to see new and goofier movies. Sharknado was one of these.

So on a hot summer evening we curled up in the couch and watched our first Sharknado. This was of course preceded by a long talk on what is real, what is fake, how CGI works, and the fact that no sharks or humans were harmed during the making of the film. Well this quickly started Autism Boy’s love affair with bad movies.

We have been blessed that Autism Boy’s friends also have a sick love of these horrible films. So a few weekends ago they hosted a Sharknado party. It was a dream come true for the kids. We all curled around the TV and laughed, yelled and cried at the TV as we rooted for the sharks. Sometimes we think our kids can’t handle these things. But given the chance they may really enjoy it. The talk Autism Boy and I had was long. It lasted several days but was worth all the effort. Hang in there. Maybe there is a B rated movie in your future.

Deep Fried Heaven

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The fair is a huge in our house. We have never missed a year. In fact, when I was 9 months pregnant, I walked my way around the fair. As soon as Autism Boy was born we started taking him so he could enjoy this summer tradition.

Usually the sights, smells and crowds would be something that would send him into over-drive, but the regularity with which we have gone has created a welcome routine for Autism Boy.

Each year we follow the same path. We head tot he new products where we ogle the junk being hawked and walk away with more infomercial stuff that we could not live without. Then we head to the arts and crafts displays to marvel at the craftsmanship of our community. Then comes Autism Boy’s favorite part…the food. Rows and rows of food trucks lined up with every fried concoction from here to the east coast. Each year we get daring and try a new something fried and cross it off our bucket list. This year he tried the deep fried Oreo’s. Not my favorite but the sheer joy of his smile made it worth it.

As you wander through your summer, I hope you too have some fun and memorable routines to look forward to.

Planes, planes and more planes

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The Air Force Thunderbirds (U.S. Air Force photo/Adam Bond)

 

Several months ago we had a major event in our life. Exhausted Daddy and Autism Papa were both proud members of the Air Force, so air shows are in our blood. However, they have never quite mixed with Autism Boy. Let’s look at the issue. Air shows are loud, full of strange people, crowded, full of strange smells and generally hot. Well, we have had a personal triumph. A close friend invited us all to a practice session for the air show at our local Air Force base. Honestly the thought had me freaking out, but I had faith. So on a hot Friday afternoon, with the wind blowing we all headed over to see the planes.

My friend, a Sargent with Air Force had arranged for us to see the practice without the crowds, noise and congestion which would happen then next day. Sitting on the empty spectator stands we got to watch the planes looping, diving, flying and swerving.  It was an amazing day. I was thoroughly impressed but my friend had another surprise in store for us. We met the Thunderbirds. Yes, the elite flying squadron of the Air Force.

Having never been to a real air show, I was so impressed, but even more so when I met these fine young men and women. Their professionalism and ability to interact with Autism Boy was amazing. I watched as a young crew member got down at his level and answered all of his questions. As he saw Autism Boy getting excited, his excitement grew and he took him on a tour around the plane. We have amazing pictures of the planes, crew and family all over Autism Boy’s room so he can share with everyone. Years ago this would not have been possible, but we never give up and constantly try to press our limits. Keep trying. You never know what you can do, unless you try.

Early Intervention Threw Us Out

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As an Autism Mommy I frequently see ads, articles and postings on Facebook about early intervention and how it will “Save the World” or some crazy claim like that. Now before I get to high on my soapbox, let me start by saying that I think that early intervention is awesome. It is a great start. Early intervention was a huge piece of the puzzle for Autism Boy and helped us to start to map out how we could best help him. But……..there is one huge flaw we need to discuss. Early intervention covers children who are roughly 6 months  of age to 5 years. Well, what happens at 5 years old? Will the autism simply go away because my child is no longer covered by the programs?

In our experience everything was golden during the early intervention ages. We had resources, support, care, and there was funding for all of those things. We felt like we had a team. People cared. But then Autism Boy turned 6. That was our hardest year. All of the programs he was in kicked him out. All the state, local and educational resources simply dried up. At the magical age of 6 he no longer needed resources or at least that’s how we were treated. We were on our own.

That first year felt like we were walking through Death Valley and the vultures were circling around us. It was the worst year for us. The isolation was overwhelming. Our cries for help went unanswered. The medical professionals were a joke. They didn’t have any answers for support since Autism Boy had surpassed the magic age. So what is the answer.

Well people, need to stop supporting early intervention. Yes, I said it. There are so many fully funded programs for the early intervention ages that we need to redirect our focus and develop programs for children 6-18  years of age. Programs that help children after the early intervention age are few and far between and we need to correct that. It’s time we look at support services for children of all ages.  I challenge you, the next time someone asks you to support an autism program and they start their sales pitch with “we support early intervention”, ask what they do for older children and adults. Be the change. Help individuals at all ages.