Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dear AJ

Starbucks responded!!!!

Here's what they said:


Thank you for filling out a comment card when you came to our store on October 16th.

I want to say that I'm sorry the music was too loud and we haven't put up signs before we change things in our stores.

Your suggestions were great! What I'm going to do is send them to the store managers so that we can try to change things.

If you are ever in a store and the music is too loud, or anything else that we can change so that we can make the store better for you please ask the staff working.

We are happy to help!

Thank you for helping us improve what we do.

If you have any more questions I can help you with please let me know.

Warm wishes,
Monica L.
Customer Relations

They actually included contact information, too.  I'm going to show it to AJ tomorrow.  I'm pretty impressed that they responded, in something other than a form letter.  We'll see if they do the things that they said, but I'm impressed anyway.  And, AJ can get to see that constructive criticism is more efficient than whining and complaining.
Two thumbs up, Starbucks!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dear Starbucks

AJ HATES Starbucks.  Not the coffee - that he really likes (black, no sugar, thank you very much).  It’s the actual buildings.  They are too loud, too quiet, too bright, too dark, too small, too large, just too.  He’ll walk in there in a perfectly good move, and come out 10 minutes later like a hungry black bear that was woken up during hibernation.  Just not pretty.

So, he decided to do something about it.  Boycotting wasn’t working - cause Mama and Mamu LOVE Starbucks.  And we like to go there, and sit and talk - you know - with actual adults.  So, AJ found comments cards.  He decided that they were going to get his comments. God help them!!

Here’s what he wrote. Word for word. I didn’t change a thing. Swear it. This is actually how he talks…

To Whom It May Concern,

I am a 9-year old kid with autism, which is a neurological issue that changes the way I see the world. Kids (and adults) with autism also may not be able to process/compute too much noise, etc, or changes. But some changes are good. For example, if the music was quieter, I could keep it together longer, or if there were “coming soon” signs before an appearance change. These changes wouldn’t just be for me, but for autistic people all over the world.

Kid Who Wants Change

Let’s see if we get any responses from Starbucks. I think it’s a pretty good letter, and I like that he is doing something other than complaining.

Pretty cool.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Before 9AM

OK, pity party is over.  I want to thank Ivy from Into The Wind (great blog - check it out), for her very kind comments.

Now, for something completely different - OK, not completely...  Still whining, but in a more light hearted way.  Here goes:

Here's what I do before 9AM on most mornings.  Wonder why I'm exhausted all the time??

1. Get up (after 2 hours sleep)

2. Work Out

3. Help AJ Meditate

4. Finish Our Laundry

5. Start AJ Laundry

6. Take Shower

7. Get Ready

8. Help AJ Finish Getting Ready

9. Make AJ Breakfast

10. Make My Breakfast

11. Eat My Breakfast

12. Encourage AJ To Eat His Breakfast

13. Make My Lunch

14. Make AJ Lunch

15. Start Dinner

16. Put Dry Dishes Away

17. Wash Breakfast Dishes

18. Take Trash Out

19. Kill “Bug” That’s Making AJ Freak Out (it’s a dust bunny)

20. Look Up Directions to whereever we are going today

21. Print Out Directions

22. Get AJ To Put His Shoes On

23. Put My Shoes On

24. Type This List

25. GO CRAZY!!!!!!!!

And that's before 9.  After we come home from said field trip, there is still our standarad home school curriculum, lunch, playing, more laundry, more cleaning, getting dinner started...

I need a nap!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I usually blog about the cool stuff that AJ does - stuff that’s funny or cute or touching. But what about the other stuff?

What about when it’s raw and painful?

What about when it’s just ugly? Does anyone want to hear about that?

What if a little boy walks up to AJ and says “Do you want to be on my team?” and AJ screams in his face “NO!”, and the little boy cries?

What if AJ says “Yeah, I know I made you cry, but I don’t feel bad about it?”

What if AJ hits me and laughs?

What if I cry and AJ’s response is “Will you shut up, I’m trying to think?”

What if AJ spends an entire day hitting, screaming, and making fun of me?

What if I completely lose my cool and scream back at him?

What if it all gets to be too much and I consider residential placement because he’s getting so violent?

What if the only thing I want for my birthday is to be alone, and I can’t get it?

What if the bad days outnumber the good?

What if AJ runs away in a corn maze and I can’t find him for what seems like forever, and when I do, he runs away again?

What if this is the new normal?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Just a Little Funny

If you are easily offended by blasphemy, stop reading now!!

OK, you're still here.  If you get offended, remember, you were warned...

When I get annoyed, sometimes I blaspheme.  Just minor.  I say "JESUS!!", but I say it so that it sounds like "Hey-Zeus".  I don't know why - I just do...

So this morning, I was carrying something heavy down the stairs, and "hey-zeussing" all the way down.  AJ was down there waiting for me.  Here's what he said:

"Mama, why do you keep calling me 'Zeus'?"  (You get it right??  HEY ZEUS)

Needless to say, I laughed so hard that I now need a new tool box.  I will not be explaining to ANYONE what happened to the current one.

Also this morning, AJ and I were working out to an "Arms & Abs" video.  What?!?  It's part of the P.E. curriculum.  Anyway, the guy in the video kept talking about his "abdominals", and how we could have fantastic abdominals just like him.  AJ's take on this?  You asked for it:

"Mama, why does he want us to have 'fantastic dominoes'?"

See, this is why I never get anything done.  I keep hurting myself laughing too hard!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

We Must Be Doing Something Right

AJ was watching Penguins of Madagascar.  Lisa and I were talking about some friends of ours that are going through a difficult time.  I commented to Lisa that many of our friends had difficult childhoods, and some of them were horrific.

AJ: "What's a bad childhood, Mama?"

What - he's listening???  Crap!!

Me: "Well, some kids grow up with parents who don't always do the right thing for them."

There, that should do it.

AJ: "What do they do?"

Did I really think that would work - silly Mama!!

Lisa: "Some parents don't give enough hugs, or say 'I love you' enough."

Cindy: (getting emotional) "And those kids grow up to be adults who need a lot of love - they need people to tell them they are good people - that they deserve love."

I may have babbled on and on, and on, and on but for brevity sake, let's pretend I was concise...

Suddenly, AJ is giving me the tightest hug.

Me: "Thanks, AJ.  What was that for??"

AJ: (as he's tackling Lisa with a giant hug) "That's for being great parents!"

Go ahead - tell me you're not crying a little bit!!  Gotta love this kid.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Take That, Economy

I was driving around with my son talking about the economy. What??? Doesn’t everyone discuss the economy with their 9 year old?? OK, so we were. Whatever - don’t judge. J

He wanted to know if the economy was getting better. I was telling him about leading economic indicators, and all that kind of information. You know us home schoolers, everything is a teachable moment.  Then we started talking about all the construction we noticed as we were driving, with people fixing up their houses, painting and doing repairs. I told him that people were fixing and maintaining their homes, because they couldn’t afford new ones.

He said: “I think this is Nature’s way of teaching people that they should be happy with what they have and not to always want new things that they don’t need”.

I was so proud. My son is so clever, so insightful. I’m such a great mom, I raised him so well, I taught him such good values, I...

My thoughts are interrupted by the following:

AJ: “After the dentist, if I do a good job, can we go to the toy store?”

What???  Sometimes bribing is good parenting.  Sometimes....  OK, never mind...

Me: “But, AJ, didn’t you say that Nature was trying to teach us to be happy with what we had?”

AJ: “Yeah, but I didn’t say it was going to work!”

Got me on that one!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Keep The Cold Germs Away From Us!!

Last night, AJ came into our room at 10:00. That’s not unusual. But, he was upset. Normally, at 10:00, he wants to tell us all about his new invention, or something like that. But, last night,:

Me: “AJ, what do you need?”

AJ: “I need to be close to someone.”

I sat up and opened my arms. He knows that means he can get up on the bed, and get hugs - if he wants them. He did.

Me: “Are you OK?”

AJ: “No.”

Uh-oh.  One word answers.  That does not bode well.  Something is definitely bothering him.

Me: “Can you use words to tell me what’s wrong?”

AJ: “Just need to be close.”

OK, Question and answer time.  It's the only way I'm going figure this one out.

Me: “Are you scared?”

AJ: “No.”

OK, no monsters.  Move on.

Me: “Are you sad?”

AJ: (starting to cry) “Yes.”

Tears.  This could mean anything.  We don't see tears alot.  So it's not good.  But, we might be able to figure this out.  I’ve been sick for a week. Nothing too bad, a cold, fever, blah, blah. Not even worth a doctor’s visit. But, I’m guessing he’s worried about that.

Me: “Because I’m sick?”

AJ: “Yes.”

Time for a shot in the dark.

Me: “Are you worried that I won’t be around to take care of you?”

AJ: “Yes”

Me: “Like Grandpa?”

His grandfather died last year, and he’s still not completely over it.

AJ: (really crying) “Yes”

OK, now I’m crying too. He really misses his grandfather. He’s still processing it, but soooo slowly. And, it was the first time he really figured out that parents can die. It’s bad enough to him that most people don’t always live with their parents forever, but the fact that parents could actually die - it’s too much for him. And, then I got sick. I’ve probably been whining about it too much, without realizing how it was affecting him. And, before bed, we told him that I would be going to the doctor’s office, and Mamu would be home to take care of him. We told him that, because I am always with him during the day while Lisa works. We never thought that he would freak out over that. So, he probably has worked out this cold into some horrible disease. Poor kid, he’s so scared.

Me: “You know that Mamu and I are REALLY healthy, right? I just have a little cold. Just some sneezing and coughing. The doctor is just going to look in my ears and in my throat and give me some medicine to make it go away. I’m fine!! Mamu’s fine!!”

Lisa: “We’re both healthy and strong.”

AJ: “You’re OK.”

Not a question, just repeating what we said.  But I'm not sure he gets it, or he's just repeating it.

Me: “I work out, everyday, right?”

Lisa: “I do karate, right?”

Me: “ We’re strong. We’re healthy. And we’re young.”

Lisa: “Grandpa was really old. But, we’re young, and we’re healthy. We’re going to be here a really long time.”

We’re tag-teaming here. Trying our best to say everything he needs to hear. We’re a good team.

AJ: “When I’m old?”

OK, he's hearing us, and he's processing it.  He's back, he's got words again, and he can use them.  Making progress here.  He’s feeling better now. I think it’s safe to try for joking.

Me: “Long enough for you to get sick of the sight of us!”

AJ is giggling now. I go for a tickle and a tighter hug. I ask him if he’s ready for sleeping now. He says yes and goes back to bed… but not before this:

AJ: “Love you guys!”

Us: “You too baby!”

Whew - that was a tough one. I think Lisa and I did OK, and I think we need to make sure not to get another cold.

Monday, September 21, 2009

We Don't Want Your Pity

AJ and I were at my chiropractor appointment a while ago.  While waiting to go in, there was the normal waiting room chit chat.  Just strangers making small talk.  A man came in with a stroller of triplets.  Of course, everyone was cooing over them, and talking to them.  They were seriously cute.  But, AJ is not a fan of babies.  Mostly because they are unpredictably noisy, but also, because I pay attention to them, which takes my attention away from him, however momentarily.
Anyway, that ramped him up.  We got called in for my adjustment, just in the nick of time really.  We almost escaped a meltdown, getting away from the horror-inducing infants.  And, some woman touched his head and said how great his hair is.  CRAP!!!!!  He was already losing it.  And she TOUCHED HIS HEAD and TALKED ABOUT HIS HAIR.  These innocent sounding events are major triggers to AJ.  He hates unwanted touch, and he hates anyone talking about his hair.
But, he very calmly said, "I don't like to be touched."  Apparently, this was the height of rudeness to this woman, who said in return, "Well, exxxxcccuuuussssseeeee meeeeeeeeeeee!"  I turned to her and calmly said "My son is autistic, and unwanted touch is painful to him." 
I wanted to educate her, to let her know not to assume he was just a snotty kid, with an attitude problem.  Instead, what she said was "Oh, the poor child.  And how terrible for you.  What a horrible thing to deal with!!  Horrible!!"  I tried to tell her it wasn't horrible, that I was just letting her know what was going on, that we didn't want her pity.  But,  the doc was waiting, and more importantly, AJ was waiting.  He'd had enough, and at that point, so had I.
So, how do we educate without it looing like we want pity.  We really, really don't .  I don't want people thinking my kid is an ill-mannered brat, but, I don't want the reaction I got either.  Maybe I just shouldn't care, but somehow, most of the time, I do.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


GLEE - by definition (according to your lively joy; gaiety; merriment

Also a television show. I was waiting for this show with great expectation. Jane Lynch is in it. I love Jane Lynch. She’s smart, funny, acerbic, and just cool. The show is about a glee club and the teacher that’s trying to keep the glee club at the school. It’s really about mocking the social hierarchy of high school. Now, in high school, I was in band and the math club, so I know something about school hierarchy. Not to say I had no friends, or that I got picked on, because, for some reason, I didn’t. But, to say the least, I wasn’t in the stratosphere.

In the series premiere, there is a boy in a wheelchair. He’s in Glee Club. He gets picked on, but no more than the other geeks in Glee. So, I was very happy about that. He was just one of the kids. There is a gay student. Not as happy about that. A walking stereotype. But, I’m still giving the show a chance.

Jane Lynch plays the coach of the Cheer Squad. She’s just nasty. They need to establish that. Here’s how they chose to do it:

JANE LYNCH: (As Sue Sylvester) So I had a little chat with Principal Figgins, and he said that if your group doesn't place at regional, he's cutting the program. Ouch.

MATTHEW MORRISON: (As Will Schuester): You know, you don't have to worry about glee club. We're going to be fine.

JANE LYNCH: (As Sylvester) Really? Because I was at the local library, where I read Cheerleading Today aloud to blind geriatrics, and I came across this little page-turner: "Show Choir Rule Book." And it turns out you need 12 kids to qualify for regionals. Last time I looked, you only had five and a half. Here - cripple in a wheelchair. I also took the liberty of highlighting some special ed. classes for you. Maybe you could find some recruits because I'm not sure there's anybody else who's going to want to swim over to your island of misfit toys.

UMMM, WTF??? Really, was that necessary? Really? Making fun of special ed?? Really? Don’t these kids have enough obstacles in life? We need television shows to make fun of them?

But, OK, I think. I’m being too sensitive. They need to establish that she’s horrible. OK, she’s horrible. Job done.

Next episode. The gay student is talking to the girl who’s the “best singer”. She is thinking that if Glee does well, maybe it’s her chance with the popular kids. His response:

"Even the Special Ed kids get more action than us."

OK, not necessary. Doesn’t move the plot forward, doesn’t move his character forward. It’s just played for comedy. Oh, ha ha, those pathetic special ed kids. We must be horrible if those losers get more action. What could be more pathetic than special ed kids? That’s how bad we are - we’re worse than them. Oh, yeah. That’s funny. Can’t stop laughing.

Excuse me if I don’t feel the “Glee”.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Being AJ's Mama

Kate - an update for you. :-x

There are lots of things you learn when you become the parent of a special needs kid. You learn patience, you learn to fight - HARD, you learn unconditional love, and you learn to ignore the unsolicited advise from the parents of NT kids. And lots more. I can't remember what else, because you also learn that you have no memory because you've learned to live with very little sleep.

But, I've realized lately that AJ is teaching me lots about myself.

1. I am a drama queen

I learned this one when AJ was helping me pick out frames for my glasses

Me: "AJ, I've narrowed it down to two choices. Which one do you like?"

AJ: "That one, Mama. Because they are dramatic, just like you. Because you are a drama queen!"

Sadly, he was right. And I love those frames!

2. I have spit bubbles in my mouth

Apparently, when I open my mouth just a little, like to do something annoying like breathing, you can see "disgusting little spit bubbles in my teeth". Ewwwwwww.

3. I have gross sweaty arm pits

I had just finished working out downstairs (no more gym for me - I just can't get up at 5:00 anymore and pay for the privilege of doing that - I work out at home now). Normally, I shower right after that, but I was so hungry, I decided to eat breakfast first. AJ was eating breakfast too.


OK, I was confused. Did we move to a country where it is indecent for a woman to show her armpits???

Me: "Ummm, OK. But why?"

AJ: "Because your arm pits are sweaty, and it's disgusting. I'm trying to eat here!"

Just try not to laugh. Go ahead, I dare you. It's just funny!

4. I'm not a teenager, and I shouldn't dress like one

AJ and I were getting ready to go swimming. I normally wear a one piece. I'm 44 years old (almost), and I've had a child. Some things should not be seen in public. But, that suit had not dried (we swim ALOT), so I have an emergency bathing suit. That one has a sports bra type top and LONG trunk bottoms. Trust me, not much was showing. I'm not exactly a flasher.

AJ: (top volume) "WHAT ARE YOU WEARING??"

Me: "Ummm, my bathing suit?"

AJ: "Mama, some things really should just be for teenagers. Don't you think you're a little old for a bikini?"

Me: "Well, it's not really a bikini, AJ..."

AJ: "MAMA, I CAN SEE YOUR (whispering) stomach"!!

Heaven help us. A 40+ stomach seen in public. Alert the media!! :-)

5. I give "wet blubbery" kisses

AJ doesn't like kisses. Never did. Even as a baby. Really hard kisses are OK, soft kisses - not so much. So I was giving AJ hard kisses, just playing with him. Suddenly:

AJ: "Mama, no more kisses!"

Me: "OK, why not? Too soft?"

AJ: "No, too wet. For God's sake, Mama - dry your lips before you kiss someone. Noone likes wet blubbery kisses, you know!"

6. However, despite my many flaws, too numerous to list:

AJ: "Don't worry, you're still a pretty good Mama. I love you!!"

Well, I guess that's alright then!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'm OK Now

It had been a hard week. Hard does actually not begin to cover it. There were days when we couldn't leave the house. Days when there was more yelling than speaking. There were meltdowns on both our parts, and there was hitting on his part. I don't hit, or rather I don't hit people. Pillows on the other hand - well, they got hit this week. Anyway - a hard week (maybe even several weeks - I lose track).

At one point though, there was a break in the action. AJ came up behind me and gave me a big hug. It was the first time in at least week that he touched me without violence. At first I just enjoyed the hug. But, I gradually realized that it wasn't a regular hug. It was too intense. And it was getting more intense.

I turned around and picked him up and put him on my lap. He's a big kid, almost as tall as me. He doesn't fit on my lap - but he hasn't noticed that. Anyway, he started to make this screaming sound. But without opening his mouth. You know, the kind you can make in the back of your throat. Go ahead and try, I'll wait...

Ok, if you did it, you realize that after awhile, that hurts your throat. It's the kind of noise you would make if you were in serious pain. So, I knew he was in pain - serious emotional pain. He sat on my lap, making that sound for almost 45 minutes. I just held him, and spoke nonsence words quietly. Sending my love, feeling his pain. Trying not to cry.

Then he started to cry, for about 2 -3 minutes (he's not much of a cryer). Then he just stopped. He looked up at me with his giant blue eyes and said:

"I'm sorry. I'm OK now. Thanks, Mama."

Five minutes later we were playing and wrestling. I'm exhausted, but I'm OK now too.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Stranger in a Strange Land

I have always known that my son has a difficult time with the social aspects of life. He's autistic - that's kinda the thing. I give him all the tips and tricks I can for dealing with people. He asks questions about people and what to do. But I just didn't understand the depth of his lack of understanding until we had this conversation:

AJ: "Mama, I've noticed people like to socialize."

Me: "Yeah, it's kind of an NT thing."

AJ: "But, why? WHY do people like to socialize? WHY do they NEED to socialize?"

Me: "Hmmmm, not sure. I guess people just like to feel connected to other people. It makes them feel less lonely, I guess."

AJ: "Why can't they just feel connected to themselves? Why do I have to learn to socialize - why can't they learn to NOT socialize?"

Me: "Because there are a lot more of them than you."

AJ: "That's a stupid reason!"

He's right, though. Why should he have to change? Why can't we all just let people be who they are? Why do we all feel the need to make people do things that we like, that we need? Why can't we just accept that everyone is different and everyone needs different things to be happy?

It's a difficult world for people who are different. Maybe we could all learn to help to make it easier.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Happy Birthday

Today, AJ turned 9 years old. It's unbelievable to me. It seems like just yesterday that I was in a neverending labor (76 hours all together). When he was finally born, it was a miracle. I was never supposed to be able to get pregnant in the first place. He was so tiny, only 6 pounds even, but 21 inches long. You could count his ribs (still can, actually). He was absolutely perfect. So incredibly beautiful that he took my breath away.

Right away, though, he seemed more sensitive to stimulus than other babies. He cried more and slept less. We just thought that he was high maintenance, like his mama. He was developing cognitively right on track or early. He was speaking words by nine months old, and sentences by 1 year old. He read early, too. But, he didn't crawl until 1 year, and walked by 18 months. He didn't want to play with the other kids. We thought maybe he was so bright that he was frustrated by the other kids. That may have been part of it.

At first, he didn't seem that much different than other kids. Even after his diagnosis of Autism, the differences were pretty minor. He social skills were a little delayed, he gross motor skills were a little delayed, he melted down a little more. But in kindergarten, and even first grade, it didn't seem that big.

Now, though, the differences - well, they're huge. The kids his age care about fashion already. They care about their friends, and don't want to hang out with their moms. They don't meltdown, at least in public. They get embarassed by their parents in front of their friends.
AJ doesn't do any of that. And it breaks my heart. I watch the gap between him and the other kids get bigger and bigger. I wonder if it's unsurmoutable. I wonder how he will function in the world. I wonder how he will handle the working environment. He just doesn't like people, and he just wants to avoid any and all socializing at any cost.

So, I worry. Constantly. But, those big blue eyes, and that amazing giggle still take my breath away. That sweet smile can melt anyone's heart. So, on his birthday, I'm making a wish. I wish people would learn to accept differences. To open their hearts and notice the beauty in our kids. To make the world a safe place to live and love and be safe for everyone, even if they're different, just because they're people. For my son, and all the people in the world like him, I'm working my butt off to make this wish come true.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Too Funny

I'm upstairs checking my e-mail. AJ is downstairs, reading. I try to encourage individual time. Since we homeschool, we are ALWAYS together. So, my opinion, we just need some separate space.

So, anyway, I just heard hysterical laughter. HYSTERICAL!!!

Me - Hey, AJ, what's so funny?

AJ - Funny stuff, Mama.

Me - What's funny, AJ?

AJ - Tom and Jerry Marathon on TV.

Me - What are they doing that's so funny?

AJ - I'm not sure, but it's making me laugh my ass off.

OK, WHAT?????????????? Now I'm laughing my ass off.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This Is Where I Belong

AJ and I joined the Audubon Society. It's our plan to do all the hikes in our area. So, on Monday, we headed out for our first one. AJ loves the woods. It's quiet, with very little stimulation. Also, AJ HATES bugs. HATES! And, he is terrified of them. But, in the woods, he decided not to be scared anymore. Being there was more important to him. More important than the hated and feared bugs. That is amazing.

I let him use my digital camera. He was taking the most beautiful pictures. He's got a great eye. I was so impressed. I'm thinking he's getting a digital camera for his birthday in August. He has a "kid" one, but the resolution sucks, and he knows it. He's just so good, and it makes him so happy to take pics. He's really gentle with the camera, and knows how to use the macro features, and turn off the flash.

Anyway, the point was, as we were walking around, AJ was just so happy. He kept saying "This is it, Mama. This is where I belong. This is my place." And it is. Everyone has a place - a place where they feel whole, and comfortable. Nature is his. We are going to spend more time there - in his place, where he belongs.

Peace out.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What Are You Doing?

Lately, whenever we are together in a room hanging out, AJ will ask me "What are you doing?" He's sitting next to me. He'll be watching a video, or reading. I'll be doing one of three things - working on making jewelry, checking my e-mail, or reading. It's not hard to figure out. So, at first, when he started doing this, here's how it went.

AJ: "Mama?"

Me: "Yes?"

AJ: "What are you doing?"

Me: (calmly) "Reading, sweetie."

I was thinking that if I just answered, eventually he would figure out that I was doing exactly what it looked like I was doing. Nope, it didn't work. Here's what I tried next:

AJ: "Mama?"

Me: "Yes?"

AJ: "What are you doing?"

Me: (calmly) "What does it look like I'm doing?"

AJ: "Reading?"

Me: (really trying for calm) "That's right, reading, sweetie."

I was thinking that if I asked him what he thought, and he found that he was right, he would stop asking, and just look. Strike two. Here's next:

AJ: "Mama?"

Me: "Yes?"

AJ: "What are you doing?"

Me: (as sarcastically as possible, cuz it's the only way he gets sarcasm) "Wrestling aligators, sweetie." (or trekking the great northwest, or voting for the president - really, I've got millions of them)

AJ: "Mama, come on!!! You're reading."

Now, I'm thinking I won, but two minutes later:

AJ: "Mama?"

Me: "Yes?"

AJ: "What are you doing?"

Strike three! AARRGGHH!!!!!!

Peace out.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

When You Notice That They Notice (Especially When You Forgot)...

When you have a child with special needs, you don't forget about it very often. I am alway researching on line, reading about autism, taking AJ to his appointments, etc. So, I don't "forget" that he has autism very often.

But, last week, AJ and I went to the Children's Museum in Boston. He LOVES that place. LOVES!!! So, he was playing in the climbing structure. Being a kid. And I was just being a mom. Just a mom. Hanging out, watching him. He came out of the structure all excited. He made it all the way to the top and back. He was so proud. He couldn't do it last time, so I was so proud of him.

He was doing his happy AJ thing. He was flapping hard. When he flaps like that, you can actually hear his bones. And he does this "Stevie Wonder thing" with his head. Like when Stevie plays piano. Just freely moving his head. I'm used to it. Just AJ being happy.

I happened to look to my left for a minute. And, BOOM. I noticed that they noticed.

I heard and saw the other mothers staring at my kid.

I heard someone say "What's wrong with that kid?"

Another mother said "Probably a retard."

First mom "Glad that's not my kid."

Me: "Yeah, he's glad too."

It wasn't nice of me, but I think they had it coming. Because he's just a kid, just being a kid. Since when is that a bad thing?

Peace out.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Is He Always Like This?

"Is he always like this?" This is a question I've heard, sometimes in slightly different wording, since AJ was an infant.

I always ask: "Like what?" just to be annoying. Their answers have varied, depending on AJ's age, stage, development, mood, or the person asking the questions age, stage, development, or mood.

Basically, is he always so: cranky, clingy, chatty, loud, energetic? Ummm, yeah. He's intense. He's all those things. And whatever mood he's in, he's in it 200%. So, yes, he's always like THIS. Whatever THIS is - that's what he is. He's also ALWAYS intelligent and engaging.

Where am I going with this? I don't know - but I'm so sick of that question. It just seems weird to me. It's weird enough when people who know us ask this question, but it's freaking weird when complete strangers ask this. What difference could it possibly make to them. I don't know - maybe I'm being cranky and I just need a nap.

Peace out.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Words, words, words

I've not blogged in a looooong time. We are not at a loss for event, but more at a loss for time, energy, and words. I've got so much in my head, but I just can't seem to make it come out.

We've been homeschooling since January. It's had its ups and downs. It's difficult to impossible at times. But, I know he's so much better off with me. I know that he's not being hurt or abused, and I'm not nervously waiting for/dreading the phone ringing. It's better all the way around.

He graduated on Friday. I gave him a choice. Write a 2 page book report, or continue with 2 more weeks of our regular curriculum. Truthfully, I was hoping he'd choose the book report. He's getting so far ahead on the curriculum. He's supposed to be in 3rd grade, but all of our work has been 4th or 5th grade work, some 6th grade.

He did choose the book report. It was incredible. He described the settings, the characters, the beginning, middle, and ends. He gave opinions on each section, and how he felt reading it. A+++ work all the way. We're going to give him a graduation party - he deserves it.

We took him to a carnival a few weeks ago. He had a really good time. And, as it turns out, he's quite good at carnival games. You know the balloon one, where you throw the dart, and if you hit 3 balloons, you win? Well, he won. The guy running the game was shocked. He kept saying "the little kid popped all the balloons - all of them!" AJ was so proud. We were stunned and proud. Who know he had such good aim?? He didn't get it from me, that's for sure.

Anyway, lots more has happened, good and bad, but it's just stuck in my head. There'll be more blogs when the words shake loose.

Peace out.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Less is More

I was at the gym last week and just dragging. I decided to do my usual bike routine, but cut back on the intensity. I usually start at level 3, and wind up at level 16 or so. But I couldn't do it. So I just stayed at level 3. At the end of 45 minutes, I was shocked to see that I had burned more calories, and increased milage. Why? Because I was able to pedal faster without all that tension.

Why am I writing about my workout?

The parallels are there. To homeschooling. On some days, my son just can't do it. He doesn't have the emotional strength to handle learning. So, we take it easy. Work at level 3, or 2, or 1. Or on some days, not at all. Because we can. Because that's the point of home schooling.

Because, sometimes, that's the point of life.

Slow and steady wins the race. Less is more. Blah, blah. The point is, and I do have one, that there's just no need to push past the point of reason. Do what you can, when you can.

See, I told you there was a point. :-)

Peace out.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pretend Play

AJ loves superhero and superhero action figures. I guess that's pretty typical for 8 year old boys. Normally, when we play with his actio figures, one of them is the bad guy (which I always have to be), and one of them is the good guy, and they fight. I have to do the sound effects, and I have to lose - because the bad guys always lose, right?

So, when he got out his new Batman (is that one word?) and Bruce Wayne action figures, I thought I knew what was coming. I could not have been more wrong.

"OK, Mama, you be Bruce Wayne. Let's pretend he is Batman's financial advisor."

WHAT?!?!?! Oh, yeah - financial advisor. And he's trying desperately to get Batman to make sound financial decisons. So I actually had to say things like this:

"Batman, I've been looking over my spreadsheets, and it is quite plain that you are spending WAY too much on capes. And black shoes. How many black shoes do you need?"


"Batman, you need to diversfy your portfolio. Seriously - way too invested in companies that make masks and black material"

Yeah - I've got a million of them. And, for some reason, AJ thought these were all hysterically funny, and made me say them over and over.

I think someone's been watching too much Bernie Madoff coverage. Where does he come up with this stuff!?!?!

Peace out.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Could this be OCD??

Last night, AJ couldn't sleep. He was in and out of our room at least 5 times before 10:00. Finally, he said he played a scary computer game, and he couldn't get it out of his head. He and I wound up in the guest room, where he slept just fine - because I was there. OK, that sounds like anxiety to me, and we're working on that one.

This morning, AJ wouldn't get dressed. Actually, all week, he hasn't wanted to get dressed. But, this morning, he was hysterical about it. Finally, after he yelled at us for about 30 minutes, he said he was afraid that there was something in this clothes, and he was afraid to put them on. Lisa showed him how to turn them inside-out to check. Then, he put them right on. So, OCD? Anxiety? Anyone have a clue.

He does have lots of quirks and rituals, but that's just typical of autism. So, we're having a hard time deciding where this one falls. We finally got the name of a good child psychiatrist. I'm making an appointment with her on Monday. Maybe she can untangle all the pieces. But, it could be a while before we get the appointment, so in the mean time, I'm trying to figure this one out. If anyone has any insight, maybe drop me a line.

Peace out.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More About Cures

AJ is very concerned about "curing autism" lately. It's all over the news and the blogs I read. He's also been thinking about cancer lately. We live near a Starbucks that is involved in the American Cancer Society fund raisers, so we see the signs all the time.

I knew that eventually, the two would collide. I've been waiting to see the result when they did. On Friday, I heard about it.

I was making AJ some breakfast. He was being quiet, so I knew something was percolating. He's never quiet. Here's his thoughts (with no prelude - he just says what he thinks):

"They should use the money they are spending on curing autism, and use it to help cure cancer. Autism isn't even a disease. Why cure it? Has anyone ever died from autism? No, I didn't think so!! Why not ask the people they are trying to cure if they even want to be cured? AARRGGHHH!!! This makes me so angry!!"

And with that, he stomped off to play with his transformers, and think about saving the world from all the people that aggrivate him.

Yeah, our little activitst for neurodiversity.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More Social Stuff

AJ and I were talking about socializing. A home school group we decided to join was cancelled due to lack of interest. AJ was disappointed because he was excited about it. He asked what we were going to do for socializing. I promised him we would find another group. I also asked him if he missed his friends at school. Here's his response:

AJ: "At school, I learned something that no kid should learn."

Me: "What was that?"

AJ: "That you can't trust kids. They act like they're your friends, but then they bully you."

Me: "I know that happended to you with D."

AJ: "Yeah, but C. taught me that you CAN trust kids - just not all kids."

C. is the friend that he met that I discussed in the previous post.

Sometimes the things you learn in school are not things that you want your kids to learn - at least not at 7 years old. But, thanks to home schooling, he has seen the other side of that. Now, he feels OK about trying to meet kids, but he will always be more careful than he should be at his age. That makes me sad - but at least he is learning to trust now, instead of having to learn this as an adult.

Peace out.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

But What About Socializing?

Every time you tell someone you home school your child, the first question you hear is "But what about socializing?" Some people are judging, but some people are just really concerned or curious.

Being a brand new home schooling mom, I didn't have any "pat" answers yet. Luckily, the last time someone asked, there was another, more experienced, home schooling mom present. She said "The social skills you need in life are not the same ones you learn in school." And I thought "Well, that's it - that's THE answer!!" And it is. If you think about it, adults rarely have to learn how to defend themselves against kids beating them up in the playground (yes, this happened to my little guy).

And, here's another thing. AJ is autistic. 50 kids running around a playground yelling and playing is not condusive to him learning how to socialize. That is an oppurtunity to freak out over the lack of structure and the abundance of noise. He never tried to socialize at recess, and his "aide" and teachers did not try to facilitate this either. At one point, AJ thought he had a friend. He was very happy. But, it turned out, the kid was playing him. This kid, after AJ trusted him, just started tormenting him. He told AJ before school one day, I'm going to get you in so much trouble today that you're going to spend all day in the principal's office. So that's the social experience AJ was getting in school.

But today, a home schooling mom that I met in an Asperger's group brought her son over. He's 13, so I didn't know if it would work, but it was worth trying. AJ was soooo nervous. He just didn't want this kid to come over. I think he was afraid of it turning into the same situation. But, it went absolutely great. This kid was just amazing. He played with AJ, and they just hung out. They both had a really good time. AJ was so happy!!! When he left, AJ turned to me and said "Mama, I think I maybe found a friend - a real one!" I almost burst into tears. I just gave him a big hug, and told him I think he did.

Now, that's socializing!!

Peace out!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Normally, changes in schedule don't go over well in my family. AJ HATES any disruption in his routine. We try to avoid disruptions, but sometimes life happens.

On Saturday night, we had a friend from high school over to our house. We began preparing AJ a week before it happened. He doesn't know our friend. He wasn't happy. He kept saying he wasn't going to talk to her, he wasn't going to go out to dinner with us, etc. etc.

On Saturday, we were nervous about what would happen. Our friend is pretty laid back. And very non-confrontational. We knew she would not get all up in his face, the way some adults do. Also, she has very curly hair too, so we knew she wouldn't comment on his hair - which is a big trigger for him.

So, she got to our house, and AJ took off upstairs. We finally got him back downstairs to discuss where to go for dinner. Everytime we all agreed on something, AJ changed his mind (even when the idea was his). Finally, everyone (including AJ) agreed on a place. We went there, and he calmed down alot. He ate almost all of his dinner, and occasionally engaged our friend in conversation. He did great.

At home, the plan was that the adults would watch a video, and AJ would go to bed at his normal time. His bedtime routine was completely screwed up. Every single thing about it was different. And he just rolled with it. Didn't complain once, didn't melt down, didn't fight. He went to bed at pretty much regular time. We were shocked!! He only came downstairs once (he usually comes into our room multiple times). Even then, he just wanted an extra hug. Then he went right back upstairs. Our friend stayed until almost 2:00. And, when we went upstairs, he was asleep.

Maybe it was just a fluke, or maybe he is learning to deal with change. Either way, it felt good - and boy did he get lots of high fives the next day!!!

Peace out!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Differences of Opinion

AJ and I were watching a show about cloning a dog. There was a couple whose dog died. They missed him and decided to clone him. AJ wanted to know more about it - so I gave him the Reader's Digest version. I told him: "They take the DNA from the dog, and use a female dog to have a puppy with the same DNA as their old dog. So the puppy is the baby version of the dog that died." He thought that was so cool.

My reaction to cloning is just based on the "Yuck" factor. I can't help but take it to the inevitable conclusion of cloning humans. Just can't go there. So, I told him that I don't like cloning, and it makes me uncomfortable. AJ just thinks I'm missing the point. He told me "Well, if they love their dog that much, they just can't be without him. It's simple." Hmmmm...

He then told me that when I die, he's going to clone me. OK, kinda cute, kinda creepy.

"I would just be a baby. You'd have to take care of me."

"I would do that for you."

"You would have to change my diaper."

"I'd get someone else to do that!!"

"You'd be my dad."

"I'd still love you - you'd still be Mama - just littler."

OK, that's hard to argue with. And maybe it is that simple. Or maybe it's still yucky.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Search for the "cure"

When I tell people I have an autistic son, they often ask me what I am doing to try to "cure" him. I don't have an answer to that. Here's why.

When we first got a diagnosis for AJ, he was almost 4. We had suspected Asperger's for quite some time, but couldn't get a doctor to do any testing, because he was sooooo verbal. Anyway, as soon as I had a diagnosis, I explained it to AJ. He asked questions, and we moved on.

After talking to some parents, and doing research, I started reading about "cures". I explained to AJ about these cures, and asked him what he thought. He sat there for a while, and then blew a raspberry. Yep, a raspberry. At the age of 4, that was AJ code for "I'd rather be boiled in oil".

Periodically, since then I've been asking him about it, every 6 months or so. And I always got the same old raspberry.

Recently, though, I asked him again. He thought about it for a really long time. Here's what he said:

"Well, you know, autism makes some things hard. I don't understand people, and they don't understand me. It's hard to make friends, and I don't understand alot of social rules. But, autism is who I am. It's a part of all of me. I wouldn't want to change me. You know autism Mama, can't live with it, and can't live without it!"

And so, that's the decision. And I agree with him 100%.

Now, lots of people tell me that I would feel differently if I had a "low functioning" child. And so I dutifully did my research. I read blogs from people on the "low" end of the spectrum. Sure they need supports, but from the blogs I've read, they're pretty happy with their lives, and don't want a cure, thank you very much.

I've learned alot about "communication skills". I've learned that everyone communicates, just not everyone communicates verbally. Some communicate with pictures, some with writing, some with actions.

So, when you're thinking about cures, it's probably best to ask the people you want to cure if they want to be cured.

Just my opinion (and my son's). I know this is very controversial. Let's play nice.

Peace out.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Social Skills and Songs

Yesterday, AJ and I were driving from a homeschool group (which didn't happen - but that's a story for another day). He said something which most people would consider rude. I knew what he meant, and I knew he wasn't trying to be rude. But, still, I felt the need to explain to him that what he said would normally be considered rude, and how to say it differently. These explanations are usually completely meaningless to him, but I feel the need to keep trying. Not everyone will be accomodating, or even understand that he isn't trying to be rude. He just says exactly what he thinks. Tone and semantics mean nothing to him. At least at this point.

Anyway, after my explanation (probably long-winded), he asks me "Why do you have better social skills than me?". I tell him that he has Asperger's, and sometimes these kinds of issues will come up for him. He answers me that I have Asperger's too. This is his theory. I have never been diagnosed. But, I figure, he knows more about Asperger's than a doctor who isn't autistic, so he's probably right. I am left with explaining to him that I'm older, so I have more experience dealing with people.

But this makes me remember all the times when I've made social faux pas. Or when people have been angry with me and I haven't understood why. Or when I have believed lies, or trusted someone not worth my trust. I've been told that I'm rude, or not very flexible, or too sensitve. So, he's probably right. Whatever. I'm me, and he's him. And we just are.

On another note, AJ's been writing poems/songs. These are songs that are not to the tune of anything I've ever heard. He makes that up too. Here they are:

By: AJ
You tell me to do
This that this and the other thing
You tell me it's all so important
And I tell you
I'm not a bumper car
So why don't you just stop
Pushing me around now
I can't believe how lazy
You have gotten

By: AJ
In the morning, as school starts
I think it's gonna be a sleepless night
Sleepless night
Sleepless night
Sleepless night
With the moon shining bright
It's gonna be a sleepless night
All night long

Yep, he's a cool kid.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Restaurant Etiquette

A few days ago, we decided to go out to dinner. This can be tricky, so we usually let AJ have some say in where we go. Some places are too loud, some too bright, some too small, some have no good choices for him, etc. So, he picked one of his favorites.

We go to the restaurant, and there is a wait. Luckily, it was a small wait and all was well.

Then, we got our table. Next to an entire soccer team of 10 year olds. All boys, and all loud!! Really, really loud. That was to be expected, there were like 15-20 kids. It's going to be loud. NT kids socialize. We get that, and we, including AJ, were dealing with it. Then the running around started. The parents of these children were sitting at a different table, and didn't even once look up, and ask them to behave appropriately.

These kids ran around, bumped into wait staff, threw food, yelled, pushed, and did everything that you are basically not supposed to do in a restuarant.

It made me think of all the times, when AJ was having a tantrum, that people said to me "Can't you control your kid?" Well, obviously, we are doing a hell of a lot better than these people were doing. And let me just say, that if that behavior is what passes for "normal", they can have it.

My little family sat there with our ears plugged, AJ crawled onto my lap and rocked, and we just hoped they would leave soon.

So, I wanted to ask these families "Can't you control your kids?!?"

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Home Schooling is HARD!!

Well, we are on day 4. Day 1 was easy. AJ was extremely cooperative. He worked hard and was willing to learn. Day 2, still pretty good. He was still trying hard. Day 3 was yesterday. He was in a bad mood. Home school had lost its newness, and he discovered that he still has to do work. All of a sudden, he was uncooperative and just not willing to try.

Today was just impossible. Every time he came back from a break, he wanted another break. And today was supposed to be the first day of his theater group. It was sponsored by our local home schooling group. I drove an hour to get there. Ten seconds after we got there, AJ was making faces at me, and covering his ears. I'll admit it was a little loud. They hadn't started yet, and the other kids were playing. Not screaming, mind you. Playing. I made suggestions to leave for a few minutes, until they got settled. But no. We had to leave, immediately. MELT DOWN was imminent.

So, 10 minutes after driving for an hour, we got back in the car to drive home. Was I frustrated? Oh, yeah. Frustrated was not even the word. But, I stayed calm and just drove. And drove. And drove. Because there was traffic. We finally got home 2 and 1/2 hours after we left the house. AARRGGHH!!!! I gave him a break before we got back to work. A long break. 10 minutes after we got back to work, he wanted another break. Yep, 10 minutes. OK. So, maybe he just gets burned out. Maybe we try to do everything in the morning. Maybe he gets burned out by afternoon. But we were working on a puzzle. Fun stuff, right. Not like I was asking him to work on something hard. He likes puzzles. But, he wanted to play on the computer. Maybe I need a new rule? No electronics before 3:00. No matter what. Even on a break. Maybe I'll try that tomorrow.

We'll see. Peace in and out.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year

Wow! Christmas (all holidays, actually) on the spectrum are "intersting".

Christmas Eve was a complete disaster for AJ. We went to a local restaurant with my family. My sister, her husband, their three kids, assorted boyfriends, and my parents. The restaurant was horrible. The music was too loud (we asked them to turn it down), the flourescent lights were buzzing (they were driving AJ and me nuts - but no one else could hear them). The service was just plain bad. They were soooooo slow. AJ was going nuts waiting for his food. At some point, he just needed to be on my lap. Then he started moaning (which is new).

Finally, the food came. It was awful!!! AJ would not even eat his, and we had to order something different for him (which was only marginally better). Almost everyone else had to send their food back (the meat was barely cooked). Mine was disgusting. There was no way I was going to send it back - that was just make the whole process longer.

AJ and I kept getting up to take walks around the restaurant - that usually distracts him and gets him through the experience. But, then, when it looked like no one would EVER be done, AJ just lost it. He was moaning loudly, and started saying "I just can't do - I can't take anymore). That did it. AJ and I just went to go sit in the lobby. We played tug of war. People stared, people glared, people discussed my child, and my parenting skills. We just played tug of war.

Finally, everyone was ready to go.

We were going to my sister's house for dessert. AJ was up for that. He knew there was going to be presents involved, and chocolate. Even AJ can't resist presents and chocolate!! :-)

That part didn't go too bad. He got one present that he really loved!!! My sister got him a plasma car. Google this. It is so cool. Even I played with this, until AJ wanted it back. It's FUN!!

At home, AJ just could not get to sleep. This produces anxiety for AJ, because he worries that Santa won't come until he's asleep. The anxiety just makes it even harder to sleep. It's a vicious cycle. But, finally, he did get to sleep. Finally. Really, really late. But, Santa understands about insomnia, and came anyway. AJ loved all his presents from Santa, and from us. Yay!!

He got a really awesome electronics kit from Santa. We actually spent some time learning about resistors in series and paralell. He built a circuit to turn on and off an LED. It was so totally cool, and I really had to break out my brain. It was good for me to relearn my circuits, and there are 74 more projects to go! There are home school projects for days!!

We had one week off, which we spent just trying to have fun. Some of it was not so fun. Sometimes anxiety takes over, and AJ has a difficult time dealing with life. Sometimes we have difficult times dealing with life too. The combination is not good. But we muddled through, and managed to have a pretty cool vacation.

Today was our first day of home school. It started out with an IEP meeting at his most recent placement. This meeting was setup before the final decision to home school was made. I started the meeting by letting them know about the decision to home school. They were clearly not thrilled with our decision. But, clearly, what were our choices. After what happened at that school, we did not feel that it was a safe place for him to be, either physically or emotionally.

AJ was soooo easy to teach. Yes, he needs lots of breaks. He needs lots of redirection. He needs visual stimulation. But, he is so eager to learn new things. We did math, spelling, reading, civics, science, and PE. He is even smarter than I thought. He is able to retain anything in his "filing system". Amazing kid, just amazing.

I really think this home school thing is going to work out just fine.

Peace out!!