Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Season of Miracles

XboxImage via Wikipedia

*Friend* in the house, playing Xbox with Elmer.
Just a couple of guys doing stuff.
That's a miracle for Elmer, whose elementary school years were miserable and lonely. Whose wonderful 7th grade year met all his needs but one: friends. A friend was the missing piece; his heart's desire.
Earlier the two boys, who look like Mutt and Jeff, played Killer Bunnies and got something to eat before moving downstairs to the Xbox. No need for management or parental intervention.
I am going to have to renegotiate my contract -Elmer does not need the same level of services. These days we are enjoying the blessings of normal.
And for us, normal is a miracle.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Mystery solved

Not genetics. Not the environment. Nope, Autism is increasing because of study.
Get me copy!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Festival of LIghts

Happy HanukkahImage by Ben Golub via Flickr

If you have a kid on the autism spectrum, you know that there are a thousand points where things can go wrong, every day. So we carefully manage our kids, picking and choosing where they go and what they do; prepping them; having Plan B's in place; all the while, schooling them in life skills, social skills, self-awareness, and flexibility.

Last night was loaded with opportunities for things to go wrong: company. We were having company for dinner; company Elmer didn't know; a family with a 6-year-old I'd invited to share Hanukkah dinner.

After spending the morning volunteering at the YMCA Xmas tree sale, Elmer was in good spirits. I asked if he knew of anything a 6-year-old could do in our house: "Nope". "Oh, well," I said, "I trust you will be a good host."

Mamas, he was a delightful human being, as my father would say; charming, witty, appropriate, de-light-ful. (on the festival of lights!)

He ushered in our guests, offered them beverages, sat on the couch and chatted with them, found books for the 6-year-old, stayed at the table for the whole meal, exhibited decent table manners. He even demonstrated advanced etiquette; asking, before polishing off the salad, "Would anyone like more salad?" He got the dreidel* game going, parcelling out gelt and pennies; and kept everyone happy and entertained for scores of spins.

*The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top that children play with on Hanukkah. Each side is imprinted with a Hebrew letter. These letters are an acronym for the Hebrew words נס גדול היה שם (Nes Gadol Haya Sham, "A great miracle happened there").

Here, too, Mamas. Here, too.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Alexander Graham Bell speaking into a prototyp...Image via Wikipedia

Elmer's 6' tall. He runs the snowblower. And he got a phone call.
He's on the call right now with "Nickolai from Camp Kodiak", apparently a pal from last summer. I'm eavesdropping from the top of the stairs as they talk about paintball, snow, rain, school, normal stuff. It's one of those milestones Tania at TeenAutism writes about. Not a big deal for most kids, but meaningful for him.
And me. My cheeks ache from grinning.
He's hung up now and returned to Xbox live, normal teenage stuff.
I imagine Nickolai talking to his Mom about the call; her pride in his milestone.
Thank you, Alexander Graham Bell*, Camp Kodiak, Nickolai, and his mama.

*his mama, too.
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Saturday, November 28, 2009

A long way in every way.

"This was the best day ever and I'm not kidding. The best day of my life so far.
I got to shoot a gun. It was awesome."

Ever since Elmer learned that Texas law allows 13-year-olds to shoot guns, he's been dreaming about this day. So when Aunt and Uncle A invited us to Thanksgiving in Texas, his heart rate soared.

Our last visit here was no picnic; we were exiled to a motel. But Elmer has come a long way -- as have Aunt and Uncle A -- and we journeyed here with hope in our hearts.

When Uncle A got the green light from a nearby ranch -- belonging to a champion skeet shooter -- off went the boys, not to return for hours. They shot and shot and shot; all kinds of guns at all kinds of targets, including skeet. He had instructions in gun safety, a tour of the walk-in gun locker.

He came home, exhausted, exhilarated, with so much to process, he was unable to turn on a dime and go out to dinner. Which Aunt and Uncle A thought was lazy on his part and bad parenting on mine.

I began to worry we'd be exiled to a motel again. Which I suppose could still happen.

But, ladies and gentlemen, he had the best day of his life so far, and I'm not kidding.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I give thanks for my sister auti-mom bloggers. You cheer me, sustain me, and inspire me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Runaway with Aspergers-11 days alone on Subway

"No one spoke to him. Asked if he saw any larger meaning in that, he said, 'Nobody really cares about the world and about people.'"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mapping the transition

It looks like a mountain range or a roller coaster.
This is Elmer's diagram of his transition.
Clearly, it hasn't been smooth sailing.
The team tells us to expect more of the same, so I'd better batten down the hatches.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bad mama

Tom Otterness:  Mad MomImage by IndyDina with Mr. Wonderful via Flickr

I'm a bad mama. Bad, bad, bad.
And I don't mean bad in any cool, ironic sense.
I made a mistake this morning, which in and of itself, is ok.
But I did not have it in me to make it right. No patience. No grace. Not enough love.
Elmer (I don't even like the name) was having a rough morning. Dad hadn't shown up to cover the morning routine for Mom, who had a 7:30 meeting. Guess what? That threw Mom, too, but Mom was sucking up and dealing, nudging Elmer through his morning routine, when Elmer asked if he'd really be walking to-and-from school, even in winter.
Warning! Red alert! Think before answering, Mom! (Oh hindsight)
"Of course you'll walk, Elmer,unless it's -15 and blizzarding."
"Mom! That's child abuse! How? How could you?!?! Do you know what I'm dealing with now? Do you? If you did, you wouldn't have said that."
I get that, now. And I have since apologized.
What I could *not* do was stick around to process and fix it. Could not do it. Told him my day had gotten screwed up, too. That I would drive him today, that we would laugh about this tomorrow. But he was stuck. Asked to go see his therapist, who had no openings today.
I just did not have the patience to be a good auti-mom today. I had things to do, errands to run, and I asked him to come, but he refused. Instead of sticking around, I left. I did my errands. I am now at the library. He will have to work this out on his own.
Because I am a bad mama.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

And now for something completely different

One of the gifts of writing this blog is getting to know other auti-mama bloggers. They strengthen and sustain me. Today please read Tanya of Teen Autism.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

You know your kid's an aspie, part 3

Xbox 360 Wireless ControllerImage via Wikipedia

"Mom, if we cut out Nutrisoda, switch our Direct TV from Choice to Family Package, take one week's allowance and one month's incentive, we can get Xbox 360 live."

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mom, trust me.

The New SchoolImage via Wikipedia

He's off.
To the new school,
in the dark,
ahead of schedule.
He catapulted.
Just took off on his bike in the dark.
"Mom, for once, trust me."
I do.

Update: Email from New School ASD person to me:

He’s here, walking with a swagger and acting like he’s done this every day of his life!

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lost in transition

We are transitioning. Formally. Because its not as if we've been static since the first day of school. But we've decided on a school placement, a timeline, and Elmer's first visit to the new site is right now. He is there for the afternoon with his beloved teacher.

We (well, I) visited school after school; private, public, charters. The only place that looked a perfect fit was full and Elmer had to move yesterday. So all the grand poo-bahs (a team of 13, including the District Sped Director) gathered round a table, discussed the options, and decided. He is moving to a custom-tailored program at our neighborhood Jr.High. And it will be customized unlike anything they've done before.

As the principal of his Magnet School told the poo-bahs, "There is no ready-made setting that works for Elmer. Even special ed settings must be tailored. Elmer will challenge you. He challenged me. And he made me a better principal."

"Anonymom," said the Sped Director, turning to face me, "What can we do to win back your trust?"

"The proof is in the pudding,"
I told her, "He needs to succeed."

Elmer, meanwhile, is entirely appropriate. Last night, when I asked if were nervous about the move, he shrugged and said, "I'm happy."

Before he got on the bus this morning he asked me to tell him jokes, which I did. Then he muttered, "I don't want to go to neighborhood jr. high this afternoon."

Then the bus pulled up and off he went.

But I, ladies and gentlemen, am even better than a girl scout. I am an auti-mom, so I am preparing a Plan B.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

You know your kid's an aspie

When he glances at the TV shot of the runaway balloon, he says, "I know how to grab that balloon,' then proceeds to bring up this on YouTube.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

You know your kid's an aspie....

BiohazardImage by Totoro! via Flickr

Two inches of snow on the ground this crazy morning meant letting the dog out instead of walking him. When we finally got home from the loco day of meetings, school visits, consultations, appointments, we found the poor dog had had an accident on the floor. Elmer nodded toward his backpack, and muttered, "Bio hazard bags, second pocket."

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Response from Elmer's teacher

If I would have known what I know now the first week of school, I would have suggested pulling him then.
On the second week of school, I did suggest to leadership that we move Elmer into the high school classroom, but was told it was full and was reminded that there is a student in the class who does have a history of aggression. Again, in retrospect, I should have pushed harder. I am sorry!

I know Elmer will receive TLC in the older classroom. Elmer knows most of the students in the older
classroom, and knowing the boys, they will talk among themselves
about the struggles and that in itself will be healing for Elmer.
I will check in with Elmer on a regular basis and I know others will continue to be there for him.
If you have ideas of other ways in which I can help Elmer, please let me know. I do believe that it is important for us to affirm with Elmer that he demonstrated great strength and skill in not only using his coping stratagies at school; that we help him see how strong he is, and that we (as a team) acknowledge we asked more of him than we should have - that his stress is a reflection of the team's mistake (not a reflection of Elmer).
Anonymom, we remain a team and we remain there for Elmer as a team with added knowledge and wisdom.
Please try to care for yourself too as finding a program with a good fit may be a process.
Take care.

Moving forward

Email to Elmer's IEP Team:
Elmer is going to need considerable help to recover from this month. While his team observed him coping with the chaos at school, at home he has been stimming, depressed, overeating, irritable and moody. While these have not been in large quantities, they are behaviors I haven't seen for years. This is painful, scary, and frankly, heartbreaking and infuriating.
I think we erred by maintaining the status quo for even this month. I wish I had pulled him sooner.
I know we can't go back in time but we must devote whatever resources are needed to reverse this.
Elmer must be nourished so that he is once again the boy who showed up ready to soar on the first day of school: confident, even-tempered, easy-going, charming, curious, optimistic, and a happy leader. That's the boy I sent to school and that's the boy I want back.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Good evening

Our lives have been as gloomy as the weather, as our outgrown school situation stretches on. Both Elmer (The Aspie formerly known as Diver) and I are stress-eating, cranky and depressed.

And yet.

Last night offered a glimmer -- more than a glimmer -- of hope that we will weather this; that Elmer has maintained his mighty growth; that he will be a competent adult among adults.

He had wondered outside with his poi balls and begun practicing, throwing a teen-aged "Mom, what are you looking at? I'm just hanging out" my way.

So I crossed the street and joined neighbors accompanying their toddlers on a bike ride. I returned to warm up at their fire pit, when Elmer joined us with kettle corn, six pack of soda and chair. That's a good guest; someone who BYOB, food and chair.

He gracefully entered the conversation and spent the evening socializing around the fire, discussing kayaking, WWII, Hitler, Stalin, Minnesota resorts; always polite, always appropriate, navigating run-on adult talking, adding interesting information even I didn't know.

I did not have to manage, monitor or worry. Miracle. Miracle!

I could tell that neighbors,who once feared him, not only enjoyed him, but respected him.

So maybe his team is right; learning to deal with the chaos at school will prepare him for anything that comes his way.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Another Day in Paradise

FORT RILEY, KS - AUGUST 13:   Soldiers in the ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

"That's what Kevin and I kept repeating today," reports Diver.

But Kevin is a paraprofessional and is paid to be there.

Yes, another day coping with violent-chaos-meltdowns in the classroom. And with a safe space to retreat to, Diver now feels safe in the building, 'tho not in class.

Today's festivities included one student attacking another. Teacher hit by flying book. Two students in physical alteration.

Diver is coping and the team has met and discussed transition to a new school, but to his list of physical stress symptoms (stammering, tic, stress eating) is a newbie, nausea.

Yet, God bless him, he mustered his strength and moxie to go to his funjoyment social skills group tonight.

"You are the strongest boy I know." I said to Diver.

"I know," he replied.

Diver's been asking me to change his name to Elmer Fudd. Today's the day. He earned it.
Elmer, it is.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Growing Pains

It's not all good news.
Diver has grown so much that he has outgrown his school. Thrilling, right?
Yes and no.
Going back to school with such high hopes only to find it no longer works.
We thought this day might come, but not so soon.
He is coping valiantly with classmates in constant meltdown, whose social skills he describes as "bad as Hitler's."
But the stress is taking a toll. He trudges in, dispirited and silent. He becomes a dead weight in front of the big screen, unable to move. He struggles off in the morning for another day of chaos.
We've caucused with his teacher, who concurs that its time to move on, and we have a team meeting next Wednesday.
Mainstream is not the answer. Don't know the answer or how the home district will respond. In the meantime, misery.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Morning Checklist

Got on bus.
Went to school.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Jump the Snark: Tomorrow

Jump the Snark: Tomorrow

Monday, August 31, 2009

That's my boy

Last night at bedtime, Diver lamented, "I'm jealous of Andy. He gets to start school tomorrow."

Ironic, isn't it? Kids are trudging unhappily back to school. Most would be jealous of someone with another week off.

But Diver like school and loves routine, so the week ahead was yawning like a chasm. All of my brainstorms had been rejected when Diver came up with one of his own. Might he help at the drop-in child care franchise he occasionally attended when he was younger?

Brilliant boy.

This morning, I called the manager, who was amazed that an older kid would even set foot in her door. But she remembered Diver and said, "Bring him over."

That boy had a good day at work. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being amazingly awesome, Diver called his day a "7".

Which is pretty impressive for a day at work.

He was not paid. In fact, I paid the standard $8/hour. But it was money well-spent.

"You're an impressive boy, Diver," I told him.

"I know," he replied.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"You know what I want?"

"To go to school."

From the mouths of babes, and smart aspies.

Diver knows exactly what he needs: routine. Routine of camp is over. Routine of camping trip is over. Routine of school doesn't start for almost two weeks. Oh, pain and misery.

Doesn't want to go to Fair. Doesn't want to see movie, play splatball, or go to Air Guard Museum. Just wants to go to school.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The icing on the cake

Diver lost 22 lbs during his 7 weeks at camp.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

T-6 hours

His swing has been moved. The angle of the big screen adjusted. I've been sitting in his chair. There are new slipcovers on the couch. There's a different powercord for his laptop. A new toothbrush in his cup.

Diver will notice all of this and more. Minute alterations to the house that I'd never note in a million years. It's a blessing and a curse and I haven't thought about it for 7 weeks. I'm already anticipating his reaction and ways to prepare him; preparation, as we auti-parents know, being key to success. On the way home from the airport, I'll mention how we'll both need to adjust; to change in the house and each other.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The prodigal son

Diver returns tomorrow.
I'm nervous.
I've been solo for 7 weeks. And while it's been lonely, I've become accustomed to it.
Diver has been at camp for 7 weeks, in the heart of the place he loves best, with structure, routine and community that meet *all* his needs. He's become accustomed to that.
I can't provide it, which I regret. Like all kids on the spectrum, Diver likes routine and structure. Despite my best efforts, I have never been able to match what he gets at camp.
School doesn't start for three weeks. We will survive, but it will be precarious.

Monday, July 27, 2009

An app for that

1st Generation iPod TouchImage via Wikipedia

Remember my fond wish for an iPod app that would guide Diver in social situations?:

My 13-year-old fact-quoting Asperger's egghead has found an app called Cool Facts.Which is just that: an unending collecting of cool facts.Its the last things he needs. He is already a storehouse of arcane trivia, a Jeopardy champ in the making.With the iPod Touch in his hand, he never shuts up.What he needs - what all kids with Asperger's need - is as an app to guide them through reciprocal conversation.Is there an app for that?There's certainly a market.Anonymom, AnonymomBlog, Jun 2009

And now there is an app.

It's as if the fairy godmother had heard my plea. Right here in my hometown, smart minds at Fraser have developed an ap for Aspies.

Now I'll have to click my heels together three times and get my hands on it. Fairy godmother, are you listening?
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

mama on the edge of autism: Life on the treadmill

mama on the edge of autism: Life on the treadmill

Diver loves Mama on the edge. We read it aloud and laugh. Though Diver is at camp, we can still read it aloud. And laugh.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fill in the blank

Have you heard from Diver?

Yes and no.  

As I blogged previously, I've been mailing Diver pre-written letters.  All he has to do is select one of my witty multiple-choice answers.

And he has been mailing them back to me.

Folding them, putting them in envelopes, sealing the envelopes, and sending them off.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Everybody's happy

Like many kids with ASD's, writing is difficult for Diver.  

So I expect little in the way written communication from camp.
To make his life easier, I send pre-written letters with multiple choice statements.  

Yet, miracle of miracles, today I got a postcard from Diver himself.  His message is clear as day.



Thursday, July 2, 2009

Very Single Auti-Mom

For all the demands parenting Diver places on me, it does give my life meaning. And structure.

In his absence, my singleness feels profound.

Yes, Diver is intense and complicated and loud. But he fills time and space.
Now that he's at camp, it's empty.
So I took advantage of a four-day free-trial of a dating service, quickly posting my info, and just as quickly receiving some queries.

Until I added: I'm a plus one. With me, you get my 13-year-old with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. He is funny, smart, complex and requires patience and understanding way beyond the ordinary. Caring for him has left me way-out-of-practice in socializing with adults. He's worth it. So am I.

It got very quiet.
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

On his way

FLIGHT: 2401 STATUS: In Flight

Departs: Minneapolis/St. Paul-Int'l, MN (MSP) Arrives: Toronto-Pearson Int'l, ON, Canada ( YYZ )
Departure Date: June 28 Arrival Date: June 28
Scheduled: 10:15AM Scheduled: 1:21PM
Actual: 10:14AM Estimated: 1:10PM
Gate: C27 Gate: B14
Aircraft: CPJ Weather: YYZ

There you have it, Ladies and Gentlemen. Diver is on his way for his third summer at Camp Kodiak.

What a difference from Year 1, when he was at DefCon 1 all the way to the airport, at the airport, boarding the plane; and this with me by his side all the way to Toronto.

I learned my lesson last year and kept myself together better, as did Diver, who maintained his composure through gritted teeth and serial Bubblicious chewing.

And this year; laughing, joking, "This is kind of boring" stating.

How far he's come. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Is there an app for that?

SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 09:  Two men hold th...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

My 13-year-old fact-quoting Asperger's egghead has found an app called Cool Facts.
Which is just that: an unending collecting of cool facts.
Its the last things he needs. He is already a storehouse of arcane trivia, a Jeopardy champ in the making.
With the iPod Touch in his hand, he never shuts up.
What he needs - what all kids with Asperger's need - is as an app to guide them through reciprocal conversation.
Is there an app for that?
There's certainly a market.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Faith and the Auti-Mom

v2.323 and 17/366: January 17th (Gotta Have Fa...Image by Phoney Nickle via Flickr

As he boarded the bus for week 2 of his YMCA L.I.T. (Leader in training) program, Diver noticed that someone was sitting in *his* seat.

I paused. Then high-tailed it out of there.

It is the first of many challenges he'll face today.
My challenge is a) to prepare him; and b) to trust. I will not always be there to advocate for him; to say, "Diver has an Autism Spectrum Disorder and needs; a) routine b) order c) space d) quiet e) chill time f) whatever. "

I must trust that he can advocate for himself. That he has the skills to meet his challenges. That even when he stumbles, he will be all right. He will learn.

That's what will make him a successful, independent human being. Not me.

All of this requires faith on my part and I am trying to exercise it. Having tried the way of faith and the way of no faith, I know that the way of faith works better. I do not have the faith of my sister auti-mom who blogs at Autism in a Word .

But I admire it. And my faith can only help Diver. So I am going to keep exercising it.
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It takes a village

Badge of Defcon 13Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes an army.

He's not at Def Con 1, but Diver's anxiety is high. Watching him grapple with the beast is inspiring, tiring, and funny.

Last night it was the Blizzard from Dairy Queen; followed by a long Xbox sortie; processing; yes and no questions; and, a flat out rejection of all suggested anxiety-busters. This morning, when asked what would help with the anxiety, Diver muttered, "A blizzard. An actual blizzard so there'd be no camp."

And yet with the help of two parents, a different water bottle-that-did-not-sweat, an early departure for the bus stop, a parental backtrack for juice and muffin, a ban on jokes, and a code of silence, he got on the bus (first, of course), sat down in his seat (front, of course), and went to Day 2 of his Leader-in-Training program.

All hail the king of coping!

He has more to cope with than I thought.  Here's the email I just sent to the camp director:
Diver and I have been sitting here processing the first couple of days and doing some problem solving about things that are rough for him.  
He reported that on Monday he got hit in the face  and while he was upset, he thought it was accidental.
Today he told me the he was kicked by the same camper, someone named George.  Diver believes it was intentional. He says that that third boy in the L.I.T program has been harassing him about his stuttering.  That has to stop.  He reports that the hardest part of the day is at the end when everyone awaits the buses in the amphitheater.  He says that the combination of the noise and the crowd and the heat at that time of day overload him and make it unbearable.  He asked if he might wait in the office instead.  I hope so.  That seems a reasonable accommodation. 

Diver says that is all he can think of.  I will keep you posted if anything else arises.  

The Y has been a great resource for Diver and we are grateful.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Long live the king

As I waited for Diver to return from his first day as a Leader-in-Training (L.I.T.) at YMCA Day Camp, I calmly prepared for the worst scenario: Snarling teen gets off bus, stomps to car, muttering, "I'm never going back"   

That had been Diver's standard response to new experiences.  
I resolved to be different; to prepare, remain calm and unflustered.

The bus pulled up.  Diver climbed off, handed me his heavy backpack, and announced, "Dairy Queen or Burger King." 

"Hungry?"  I asked.   
"No. I got hit in the face. " 

As the evening went on, details of the day filtered out.  Noticeably absent was the "I'm never going back" declaration.  Right before bed, Diver announced, "I have emotions."

I sat with him and we talked through his day, processing the experience and identifying the feelings.  The "hit on the face" was someone trip during a game of tag.  And it was fine.  He was fine.  And insists I come to Family Night Thursday.  

Monday, June 8, 2009

Approach with caution

InterregnumImage via Wikipedia

The interregnum approaches. The gap, the break, the uncomfortable period between one activity and the next.

(Originally: the period between two kings.)

"Be nice to me. It's the last day of school," a nervous Diver announced this morning.

The last day of 7th grade. The first year in a new school. The first good year since 3rd grade. He is a changed boy, grown from an unstable, wildebeast to a mature, even-tempered, sometimes delightful teenager.

His beloved Camp Kodiak does not begin for 2 and a half weeks. Like all kids on the autism spectrum, Diver likes routine and this is a break.

So I am nervous. Not terrified. We are punting for the rest of this week, and then Diver spends two weeks as an L.I.T (a leader in training) at YMCA day camp. Fingers crossed.

So be nice to me. Its the last day of school.
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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

mama on the edge of autism: Turning it around, part 1: Autism and mood regulation

mama on the edge of autism: Turning it around, part 1: Autism and mood regulation

This is what it used to be like here, as well. 


The Atomic Super BoyImage by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Diver just cleared his throat.

It's a nasty, fleghummmy snort. He used to make it umpteen times a day, grossing out one and all.
"I have to clear my snot!" he'd insist.

Was it a tic? An inability to blow his nose? One thing for sure: it was gross.

When I heard it this morning, I realized it had disappeared. Hadn't heard it for weeks. Wow.

Which put yesterday's events into a clearer light. Diver's pants split at school and he spent the day in a funk. He announced he was not going to Civil Air Patrol Cadets, and proceeded to shoot Xbox bad guys.

At dinner, he asked, "Are you mad at me? Why am I asking this?!?"
He was reading my non-verbal signals.

Shortly thereafter, he said, "Where's my B.D.U.*? We're going."

He had gotten himself unstuck.

Major accomplishments. Super powers for someone with an ASD.

He's not just growing tall.

*Battle dress uniform
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Saturday, May 30, 2009


Superman (Alex Ross)Image by chanchan222 via Flickr

SuperSensitive. SuperStupid. SuperDumb.

I chauffeured a quiet Diver to his volunteer gig at the Air Guard Museum. (He is mute with loneliness these days.) Before leaving, I stopped to chat with a volunteer in the gift shop. She told me how much better Diver was doing.

"He used to make Major S. nervous," she grimaced, "the way he followed him around."

I cringed. Diver has worshiped Major S since his first visit to the Museum, three years ago.

And he's been making him nervous.

As I drove away, I started revisiting every conversation I've had with folks at the Museum; every glance, every exchange. Are we a nuisance? Should I care?

We spend so much time greasing the wheels for our ASD kids; forecasting, planning, managing. I even volunteer for the Museum now, trying to counterbalance the challenges of working with Diver.

Good thing I snagged them some major media, 'cause it seems that to some people, Diver has been a major nuisance.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Not the TV show

Palestinian children in NazarethImage via Wikipedia

My boy wants friends.
Of course he does. Everybody wants friends.
Even kids with autism.
There's a common misconception that people on the autism spectrum are loners. Not Diver. Diver is very social; out going, charming, a party animal.
He may not have the most advanced social skills, but he is still a social creature.
In past years, I got him a cat. I got him a dog.
But it's friends Diver craves.
Me, too.
Every day for the last week, Diver has talked about his desire for friends, and has asked both me and God why he has none.
"Just a friend or two. Is that too much to ask?" he implores.
"Then why don't I have any?"

Post script:
Last night, we drove past Diver's ex-friend, A., bouncing on his trampoline.  Diver and A had been close until Diver's undiagnosed autism made him a wild child.  His periodic attempts at rekindling the friendship were rebuffed, and Diver sadly let it go.  But when we got home last night, Diver hopped on his bike, saying, "I'm gonna go see if A wants to do some guy stuff."
An hour later, he came home, happy.  I don't know if this friendship will be rebuilt, but for one night, Diver felt that he had a friend.
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Two words

Pubic hair.

We really are 13.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Now we are 13

Today is Diver's birthday. He's barefoot in his swing, sucking on pop rocks while rifling though his bag of goodies from Dave & Buster's. 
Which turned out to be a good choice for his birthday. It's the grown-up version of Chuck E. Cheese, where he spent many a juvenile birthday. Dave & Buster's provided three hours of major fun;  so much excitement that Anonymom and Diver's Dad were sufficient company.

When the server brought the lunch bill to the table, Diver pulled out his wallet saying, "I got this" and paid the tab with his birthday money.

Now that's 13.

So is this:  Diver's 13th birthday photo opp with hose. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Suck up and deal

Subject: :en:Buzzcut Photographer: Photographe...Image via Wikipedia

As I detailed earlier in Hunka Chunky Burning Love, Diver likes his hair cut short, Quantico-style. And now that he is in the Civil Air Patrol Cadets, Quantico is more than a style. It's "regulation", he explains.

"But Diver, I love your hair. You have great hair!" I protest.
"Mom," he barks, "Suck up and deal."

.......................... ............. ........... (That's the sound of Anonymom, sucking up and dealing.)

Yesterday, when another substitute bus driver showed up in yet another vehicle to take him to school, Diver poked his head in the door and alerted me, "Mom, it's another sub!"

"Suck up and deal," I replied.

........................... ............ ....... (That's the sound of Diver realizing the trap he himself has set. And sucking up and dealing with it.)


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Monday, May 11, 2009

Truth, consequences

Dickinson wrote and sent this poem ("A Ro...Image via Wikipedia

Not to get all metaphysical but what if
We told the truth
Not, as Emily Dickinson wrote, the truth slant
But the truth
Is there such a thing?
Or is it all perspective
And if truth is relative, are consequences real?
So was my Mother's Day
Really crumby
Or did it just feel that way?
After all, the sky didn't fall, the creek didn't flood, fire didn't break out.
So how bad could it have been?
My child (and I do have a child) can walk and talk and laugh and run.
He was not able to worship me, as I had joked.
Nor was he able to put me first, which is what I really wanted. A day that was about me, instead of my child; when my wishes were indulged and my needs were met. News flash: a kid can't meet my needs. Not a kid with autism or any other kid. It's not fair for me to expect him to. So of course I was disappointed.
On the bright side (why must I always find a bright side?), my son has learned the concept of "pity party," which I held briefly yesterday.
Onward, upward. Summer (and camp) is coming.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Diver and Drivers

Rolling thunderstorm (Cumulonimbus arcus)Image via Wikipedia

Diver doesn't like change. Nobody with autism does.
Even Jerry, Diver's school bus driver (Bless him) knows this. After telling me he was leaving for his summer job in a week, Jerry let Diver know. We processed this with Diver, as did his teacher. And Monday morning, Diver waited anxiously to meet his new driver.
Only to be met by a new vehicle and 2 new drivers.

*!* Diver's emergency light flashed. *!* He couldn't get on the bus. And felt terrible about it.

I drove him to school. That afternoon, he came home in yet another vehicle driven by two different drivers during a thunderstorm. (Any thunderstorm sends Diver to the crawl space under the stairs, where he spent the evening.)

When he came out, he said he needed to rock and to talk. "Will you be my shrink, Mom?" he asked. Diver told me how much he liked Jerry; how steady and dependable Jerry was; and, that he was surprised at how much he was missing him. "Maybe I could have coped with a new driver," Diver continued, "But two new drivers? A different bus? A change in the route? And then two more drivers in the evening? And one of them, Mom, is so old, I don't trust him."

"I hate myself."

This is where Anonymom got really concerned. Diver continued, "I need to see Cindy" (his real therapist).
Bless her. She had an opening the next day, and found him "stressed and fragile".
Last night again, Diver repeated, "I hate myself" And this morning, when he could not get on the bus again, "I hate myself."
Diver is disappointed in himself, and unforgiving. He's made such huge strides this year, approaching something resembling neurotypical. I wonder if part of his disappointment is that he is behaving like his lower-functioning classmates, who he regularly criticizes.

I'm thinking humility and compassion may be part of his lessons for the week.
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Google SketchUp and Autism

Like many kiddos on the Autism spectrum, Diver has amazing spatial skills, 
but like many kids with autism, putting pencil to paper to illustrate this is excruciating.  
I'm intrigued to learn of how useful this google application has been for kids on the autism spectrum.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ye old swiss cheese

Shabbos (shabbat) table at my house, a few min...Image via Wikipedia

I've posted before about Diver's "swiss cheese development"; his ability to do theoretical physics side-by-side with his inability to spell.

Last night was Shabbat. I desperately wanted company, so despite Diver's insistence that he was company and no one else was needed, I invited family friends. I was fine with Diver's plan to spend the evening alone with a "Do Not Disturb" sign on his door.

Anonymom gets company. Autistic Diver gets to be alone.

In the middle of dinner (shabbat table cloth, crystal, baked chicken, wine), THUD. Something flies into the room: a piece of paper weighted down with an old squeeze ball. It looks like a ransom note. It reads:

muor chikin




Communication that didn't involve social contact. Finally a chicken recipe he liked. And he remembered to say pules*.


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