Why I Hate Homeschooling

Look.  Let’s be honest, I never wanted to homeschool.  I did it out of love because I didn’t want to subject the love of my life to any further stress or anxiety of being in the wrong placement in our inept school district.  I love this child dearly, deeply, with a love I have never known until he stirred in my tummy in 2009, But I HATE homeschooling.  Ok, hate is an awfully strong word.  (My mom always used to get mad when we used the word “hate.”) Maybe I don’t HATE hate it, but there are lots of things I don’t enjoy about homeschooling … and a handful of things I actually do enjoy about homeschooling. Maybe I just despise it, but I’m focusing on the things I hate right now.

REASONS WHY I HATE HOMESCHOOLING:

  1.  Not My Cup Of Tea: I’m not made for homeschooling (personality-wise.)  I’m too type-a, too stressed out, I’m not laid back enough.  I try, believe me, I try. I see my friends who homeschool — they are sooooo laid back, so easy-breezy, so ‘type-b’.  But me?  I’m a planner, and while I can be fun and say “let’s have a ditch day today” every once in a while, I’m constantly stressed out about what comes next. And I won’t let The Boy slack off more than once in a while because I know how important a routine is for him.  And if he thinks he can take a day off every Friday, he is expecting it every Friday!  So I try not to.  Weekends aren’t even fun for me.  By mid-day Sunday, I’m stressing out because I need a block of 3 hours to lesson plan for the following week.  A block of 3 hours ALONE.  The Husband considered this “me time.”  That makes me grind my teeth & want to give him a swift kick to the nuts.  Lesson planning is TIME CONSUMING and guess what I have very little of?  TIME!
  2. Time Consuming: Speaking of TIME & how little of it I have to prepare for what-comes-next, I now have pretty much ZERO “me time.”  (You should see my nails!  You should see my *once organized* closet, or any of the kitchen drawers!)  Why was my last blog post 9 months ago?  GUESS!  I was busy homeschooling!!  Who has time to blog at the end of the day.  I mean, homeschooling is like a full-time job on top of my already full-time job of being a stay-at-home-mom / boss-of-the-house!  If I could connect a wire from my brain to my laptop, I could blog around 11pm, because I have things to say, believe me … and they all come flooding into my head when it hits the pillow and I’m too exhausted to move, let alone blog!
  3. Not An Educator: What the hell am I doing?  I feel overwhelmed pretty much constantly because I have no clue what I’m doing.  I have a degree in Acting & Theatre Arts … and a second degree in English.  What don’t I have?  A Masters in Education.  So I struggle.  Seriously.  I have no clue as to what the hell I’m doing half the time. I mean, there’s no one place where you can go to find everything you need.  (Can someone please make this!?) I have to collect stuff from this book and that one, this website and that one, then I have to streamline all of the subjects so that it’s one cohesive over-arching theme … EVERY FREAKING WEEK!  And it has to be fun, interesting, engaging … and educational.  And really, some weeks I just can’t, I just don’t feel like doing it at all … It actually reminds me of my own plight with homework in high school, so I wing it, which I hate.  I’m not a wing-it kind of woman. Because when I wing it, I end up feeling like more of a failure.
  4. My Student Is An Aspie: The Boy, of course, isn’t a neuro-typical kid, so I can’t ever leave him to his own devices while we’re doing school – he needs constant behavior management & supervision.  I have stickers, mini cookies, jellybeans, fuzzies & owls.  He completes a small part of one task = cookie; completes more = cookie & sticker; completes a segment or a lesson = fuzzy & owl. Immediate rewards, long-term rewards, short-term rewards, yes, we have them all!!  Laptop, iPad, worksheets, white boards?  Yes, yes, yes, and yes.  Maybe if he were a neuro-typical child, it would be easier.  Maybe if I weren’t his mom it would be easier.  I don’t know.  He fights with me on every.little.thing, most of the time, and views himself as my “equal.”  He wants to call the shots, he wants to be the teacher.  And I do let him have a say about curriculum and schedule … to some extent.  But holy moly.  I feel like I’ve survived a battle most days.  Honestly, it’s exhausting.  I have to think at least 3 steps ahead of him all the time!  I prepare for every moment of our day, school and beyond. .sigh. Did I mention that it’s exhausting?
  5. Melt-downs:  Have I mentioned my kid has epic 45-minute, physical / verbal / emotional violent meltdowns?  Have I told you that these meltdowns are directed at me?  Have I explained that it’s mentally & physically exhausting to deal with a 5-year-old Aspie’s aggressive attack at 9:16 in the morning?  It’s intense.  It makes you want start chugging wine at 9:42am.  It makes you want to put his shoes & socks on, and drag him down to the shitty school I pulled him out of last December, and say “good luck, dude!  Be someone else’s problem!”  But you know I won’t do that because I love him too much, and I won’t ever give up on him.  But it isn’t always easy.

To be fair … I have to be fair because I was born on the cusp of Libra & fairness is a big deal to me.  I have to be fair, so I have to tell you that a) I’m totally bleeding right now & just in a bitchy, hormonal mood (but my reasons for hating homeschooling are valid!) and; b) there are some things I legitimately like about homeschooling, (which is what I focus on when I want to throw the towel, drive to a winery in Santa Barbara and just be done.)

OK, OK, REASONS I ACTUALLY ENJOY HOMESCHOOLING:

  1.  I Never Miss A Thing: I love that I get to have him here, around me, all of the time.  We (usually) have a lot of fun together – he is so damn smart, and so much fun. I love knowing what he is doing, what he is learning, who he is listening to … I love being the BOSS of what he is doing, learning and listening to!  He is no longer influenced by some unknown, happy-meal-loving, junk-food-eating, crap-manners kid with absolutely no personal hygiene.
  2. Our Day Is Our Own: There is no one lording over us with a schedule and a common core curriculum, or standardized tests, (which I do NOT believe in!)  Or homework, (which I also do not believe in … especially for a child his age.) We can go down rabbit holes of subjects that are of real interest … like, when I started teaching science this year, I opened the book and it started with earth science, which The Boy was like “meh.” Ok, clouds, yay.  But that wasn’t what he was really excited about.  He was really excited about sea animals.  He was totally into Octonauts at the beginning of the year, and so I said to myself, “hmm … let’s just close the book and make up our own curriculum for science.”  I printed out a bunch of blank “animal reports” and each week we picked a different sea animal to study & write a report about.  We went to the aquarium, we watched videos on youtube.  We went to the library & researched a different sea animal each week … He was so engaged in our science studies.  We did our own thing.  You can’t do that in any other school besides your own.
  3. Fundraisers:  THERE ARE NONE!  Enough said : )
  4. Parent-Teacher Conferences:  Oh, they happen … with me, my hubby and a glass of wine : )  Waaaay more fun than the alternative!
  5. Creativity & Playfulness:  I love that I’m able to foster a creative environment where we are playful & silly … where we use story-telling and silly voices to educate.  That is important to me & no way in the world would a typical school district create a classroom designed to stimulate the innate creativity in a child and really figure out how that child’s learning style can be utilized.

See … when I look at the (2nd) list above, I think – yeah, this is ok, i can do this homeschooling thing!  I get all pumped up.  Then Sunday comes and I start stressing about the week.  But then I take 3 hours and get ready.  Then Monday comes, and it’s a struggle to get him to engage and focus, and I think “this sucks.”  It’s like 6 of 1, half dozen of another.  It’s a conundrum.  I’m so torn.

And then I think about The Boy … and I think about what all of the professional psychologists have said to us … He should be in a small classroom environment with typical children (or children who are JUST like him.)  And I know how social he is … how much he loves to have friends and be around other kids.  I tried to find homeschooling co-ops, but there are no appropriate groups that are near us that would work for our schedule.

So I went to see a special education attorney (finally) and she thinks I have a case against the district & long story short, I’m suing the school district on behalf of The Boy to get the services I believe he deserves: A small classroom setting with typical peers & possibly a therapeutic companion for a (hopefully) short-term time period, to get adjusted.

In the meantime, we’re still homeschooling : ) and I’m still going back and forth with my love / hate relationship with homeschooling.  But I want you mamas (and dads ) to know that it is totally ok to not love homeschooling, to think you suck at it (you probably do not!) and to doubt your decisions.  Look … at the end of the day – our kids need US.  And they will learn the stuff they need to, but developing the “whole child” is more important than having them be able to recite facts back to you. Don’t stress out.  Try and have fun (I need to take my own advice!)  Just do the best you can because that’s really all you CAN do!

Each week I set a goal & when The Boy gets 20 fuzzies, he can pick from the grab bag!

Each week I set a goal & when The Boy gets 20 fuzzies, he can pick from the grab bag!

The fuzzies!

The fuzzies!

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Giving Up On The IEP & Putting Faith In Me

overcomeWell, we’ve been in school for almost 3 months now, and I’ve already had to call an IEP.  This is the wrong placement, but it’s the best one we can get right now, all things considered.  Not only is The Boy on the spectrum, (High-Functioning Autism / Aspergers,) but he’s also very intelligent & tests way above average, so that’s called a “Twice Exceptional” “2e” or “Twice Gifted” child.

He’s only 5, so he’s technically in Transitional Kindergarten (TK) because he has a late September birthday, and that’s the law here – kids have to be 5 by September 1st to enter Kindergarten no matter your intellectual ability.  He is currently placed in a Core Autism classroom with 10 boys (all boys) ranging in severity, (the majority are non-verbal, low-functioning kids.)  The ages of the kids range from 5, (The Boy is the youngest one in class,) to age 8.  TK – 2nd grade.  Wrong placement for him because of the severity of the behaviors in his class, but the best available option because he is able to work above his grade level with the 1st & 2nd graders.  In his current IEP, The Boy is supposed to push out to general-ed, but for what?  He would tear a “typical” “gen-ed classroom” apart in about 30 seconds if left to his own devices.  He’s way beyond “A makes the ‘aaaaahhh’ sound.”  He’s reading, spelling, doing math, learning geography, etc.

He needs a one-to-one aide, someone who can be with him in a typical (but advanced) classroom … not forever, but for the time being until he can learn to self-regulate.  He’s over-stimualated & easily influenced by these low-functioning kids.  He’s picking up behaviors and trying them on for size.  Behaviors that had taken a long time to eradicate are now resurfacing.  He needs to be around his more typical, higher-functioning, bright peers.  I have told the school district this for over a year now, and my assertions fall on deaf ears.  I know what they hear when I ask them for an aide, they hear the sound of money being pried out of their sweaty, bureaucratic hands.  It costs approximately $100,000 a year to have an aide for a child.  It’s no wonder they have denied me time and again.

This was my 4th IEP and I’m pretty much a pro at these now.  I read several very helpful, (and very dense,) special education books from “Wrights Law.” I have my notebooks all properly prepared, each paper at the ready in case I need to reference something.  I have my secret advisors within the district, who, (of course,) shall forever remain nameless.  I have my outline of what I’m going to discuss placed in front of me, I’m dressed professionally, and I am ready to confront them, even though “we’re all on the same team.”And, sorry, but I don’t buy that for a second.  Sure, they all say they have The Boy’s best interest at heart. And I believe that they want to believe that, but at the end of the day I’m not the person signing their paycheck.  Their loyalty lies with the school district.

We’re at an impasse here.  They basically told me that they don’t think he needs an aide, and to even get to the point where they will even consider an aide, they would have to do (another) Functional Behavior Assessment, (FBA.) Which is a time consuming process of collecting data on The Boy – what triggers behaviors, and why. So, let’s just assume they do this FBA & determine he IS eligible for an aide, the placement of an aide would not even happen until the end of this school year.  And that’s IF they decide he qualifies, which I’m here to tell you that will not ever happen without me taking them to due process.  They’re just stalling for time, trying to wear me down & honestly, I can’t deny that it’s working.  I’m tired of dealing with them!

See where I’m going with this?  How much longer do I give them to get it right?  How much longer does The Boy have to suffer from their lackadaisical, bureaucratic gridlock?  I don’t have the resources to fight them – we cannot really afford to hire a high-powered attorney & sue them, (even though I threaten that time and again.) And even if we did – who is to say that having an aide would even solve the problems he is facing?  He is riddled with anxiety that manifests itself in various ways – physical outbursts, nail-biting, aggression toward himself and others.

I can see the toll that daily “failures” are taking on The Boy.  His teacher uses a star-sheet for the day where the kids have to earn a certain number of stars for making safe choices, respecting others, participating in group activities, completing assignments, etc., and if they earn a specific number of stars, they are rewarded by being allowed to choose a treat from the treasure box.  After 60 days of school, he has had 8 treasure box days where he’s earned enough stars to be rewarded.  EIGHT.  Out of SIXTY.  Tell me that isn’t destroying his self-esteem.

I can’t fault him for not having good days – he doesn’t have the tools to be successful!  I mean, of course I will reprimand him for acting out physically toward his teachers or peers – I think he is smart enough to know how to control his impulsivity.  But how can I punish him when a big part of it isn’t his fault?  This is really wearing all of us down: The Boy, The Husband & Me.

I’ve been pondering homeschooling for a little while now – the past few months it’s been rolling around the old brain cage, as sort of a last resort option.  But I’ve been thinking about it more and more lately.  A few friends of mine home school their (typical) kids, but they seem much more cut out for the challenge – both are a lot more laid back than I am, and make it look easier than it probably is.

Well, as I was driving this weekend, (alone,) I was flipping through satellite radio, and on one of the channels, a woman was talking about homeschooling.  And, it just really struck me, that, with all the blood, tears and sweat I’ve put into fighting the school district to try and get The Boy the tools he needs to be successful in school, I’m still not even close to accomplishing this!  And all the time I spend fretting about Common Core & IEP’s, I could be teaching him myself instead of trying to find ways to convince the district to try my ideas.  steve_jobs_quote_Think_Different

Instead of fighting them, why not throw the towel in & flip the script?  Why not remove the obstacle (The School District) & empower myself to be in control of the way my child is educated?  Educated in my comfortable, loving, supportive home environment, where he could focus & receive 100% of my attention.  And, bonus: I could kick Common Core to the curb.  It’s not that I don’t have the fight left in me to battle the school district, but for what?  And for how long until I have to do it again?  It just struck me so deeply that I may be fighting the wrong battle, I may be spinning my wheels, I may be wasting my energy.  And that maybe homeschooling is something I need to seriously consider.

I sat on this idea for a day.  I didn’t tell anyone because I thought maybe it was a fleeting feeling, maybe it was a hormonal thing, maybe I was fired up by the talk radio segment I had heard.  I mean, I was on my period – maybe this wild hair would work its way back out of  me, but instead the thought of homeschooling kept gnawing at me.

Without alerting him to my objective, I started a casual conversation with The Boy about school.  Lately, he has been complaining that he doesn’t want to go … he doesn’t like that they do the same thing every day, he feels overwhelmed with all of the distractions in class, he wishes it was just him alone with me as his teacher.  I explained that I wasn’t his teacher, and he relented and said, then he would be better off alone with his 5 teachers.  So, wow, he said it, he wants to be homeschooled.  That was another a-ha moment.

Then, I went to The Husband.  He’s heard me talk about the possibility of homeschooling before, but between him and my mom, they pretty much dismissed it as a passing thought, brought about by my frustration with the school district.  They thoughtfully pointed out that homeschooling would be really, really tough & I would be exhausted by the end of the day, probably not up for the task … After all, dealing with a very willful Aspie is really hard to do all day.

The thought is actually frightening, I’ll be honest here.  I have no idea what I’m doing, true. And selfishly, where’s my “me time” going to go? I can kiss coffee with the girls good-bye.  Our entire lives will have to change – our routines, our priorities.  I’m petrified, nervous, overwhelmed … and excited.  I feel like this is the beginning of an amazing adventure & I can chart the course.  I feel like this could be really great.  Or be really awful.

outsidethbox

But, don’t I owe it to him to try a different approach?  Even if it is going to be challenging for me?  He is my only child & he deserves this.  I cannot think of anything more important than the well-being, overall health and education of my child. There is no job, no hobby, no community service that I can think of that inspires my passion more than my only little boy.

I’ve been reading some stories from parents who waited too long, and now in a crisis are forced to realize, all too late, that their child would be better off being educated at home.  I don’t want to wait until it becomes a tragedy.  I want to be that intelligent woman who sees the writing on the wall early enough on, and says, “let’s do this.”  If it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work and we will know that we gave it our best effort.  But if I don’t try it, it will continue to gnaw away at me, this feeling that we can do better.  Maybe it won’t be forever, maybe it’s only for a little while, and maybe it won’t work.  But shouldn’t I at least try?

Courage

Friends, mommies, homeschoolers, teachers, anyone who wants to chime in, please do!  I’m looking for input from those of you in the trenches.  Give me a shout out!  I need some words of wisdom & inspiration 🙂

Love, The Fairly Good Mother

 

Summer Camp Blues

This has proved to be a tough day for no real terrible reason.  Lots of tears have been tumbling out of my reddened eyes & I’ve been trying to keep myself occupied, (luckily, Ikea has been a good annoying distraction – more on that in another post.)  I didn’t bother even putting on make-up today, because I knew it would be another emotional day.

Like I said, it’s not anything tragic, but I’m a big sobbing mess.  Why?  The Boy started summer camp today, and was away from me from SEVEN excruciating hours!  It was harder on me than it was on him.  And it’s not just that camp started, it’s that preschool is finished, kindergarten looms in the very near future, and he is almost 5 … time is moving way too fast for me.

Wasn’t it just yesterday when he and I were taking Mommy & Me swim classes at the YMCA?  Wasn’t it just last week that we hatched caterpillars that grew into butterflies and set them free in the front yard, caught up in the magic of the moment?  Wasn’t it just last month when we would have long periods of quiet bonding time, me relishing in the way he discovered the world around him?

Where did the time go?

Now he’s ready to spread his wings & fly away from the nest – not too far, but far enough to cause me to hold my breath.  Will he be ok?  Will he remember to re-apply his sunscreen?  Will someone help him if he is having sensory issues peeling his banana?  Will the camp counselors remember what I told them & help him with social interactions, or will they leave him to fend for himself?  What if a kid is mean to him, pushes him, hurts his feelings & I’m not there to intervene?  My mind was swirling with a thousand “what-ifs” all morning long.  I mean, I would feel like this if he were an NT kid, but he’s not & although he seems typical, he still is an Aspie & has special needs.

My job is to protect him.  Besides The Husband, (and his Grandparents) no one else in the world takes this job as seriously as I do … and then the control freak in me just felt so uncomfortable with all the variables that are absolutely OUT of my control.  And bottom line, it’s really hard for me to trust – especially to trust that someone else will care for my child the way I expect them to.

The Boy & I talked the entire ride to summer camp; role-played on how to make new friends, what to say, what to ask, talked about how to keep our hands to ourself, talked about asking a counselor for help if and when The Boy needed to take a break because there were going to be a lot of kids around him, we went over his home phone number, my cell number, our address and a slew of other things … WITHOUT freaking him out.  Just casual conversation.  And then, after a lull in our conversation, he said:

“Mommy, I’m a bit nervous.”  My heart leaped, but I had this.

“Honey, that’s ok, it’s normal to feel nervous when you’re starting a new adventure.  I feel nervous too when I am trying something for the first time, so does Daddy.”

“What if I don’t like it?” He wondered.

“Well,” I swallowed & searched for just the right thing to say.  “I think you’re probably going to have so much fun and make lots and lots of friends, but if you try it for a week or so and you decide you don’t like it, then you don’t have to go back.  But you do have to be brave and give it a try … doing new things & meeting new people is part of growing up.”

“But I miss my friends from my old school – I want to go back there.”  Now, here’s where my heart sank … This poor child has been shuffled around to 3 different schools now & it’s been tough to put down any kind of ‘roots’ and make lasting friendships – every time he bonds with someone over the school year, we’re off to another program, never to see them again.

“Honey, your pre-k school is closed for the summer,” I explained, “everyone is going to different summer camps or they’re on summer vacation, but we will see your friend Dani for play dates, and you will make new friends here – it is going to be a lot of fun.”

He accepted my explanation and we got out of the car and walked in to this new, unfamiliar world of summer camp. We checked him in, dropped off his backpack & he was excited and happy as I took his picture for the purpose of documenting his first day of summer camp in 2014.

I walked him to the door that led to the play yard outside, and he kissed me good-bye & ran outside, full of hope and excited energy.  It was all so fast – I wanted him to linger for a minute, but knew that wouldn’t be a good thing – better to rip the bandaid off quickly.

I watched him from a window where he couldn’t see me … he wandered around aimlessly for a few moments, as I held myself back from running out to his rescue.  He was just about to strike up a conversation with a couple of older girls as a basketball slammed into the side of his head!  I had to resist the instinct to intervene – I waited to see what he’d do.  He shook it off & shortly thereafter he started a game of race with another older boy.  A camp counselor was nearby and monitoring the interaction.  I felt better, but still uneasy.  I crept out, and then found another vantage point to spy from … I spied for another 10 minutes and then I had to force myself to go.

The truth is this … I don’t want to miss one moment of his life.  Selfishly I want to be there for every little thing, I love seeing the world through his eyes – he’s always filled with wonderment & awe over all the discoveries he makes during the day.  But I know that the right thing to do is to give him some space to grow & explore the world without me right there on top of his every move narrating the story, but that’s really difficult for me.  I also want to protect him, help him, guide him, and monitor everything.

But it’s not about me – it’s about letting him drift away from the nest a little bit & letting him put into practice all of the things we’ve been working so hard on, (social skills, self-help skills,) and not ever letting him see how much it affects me.  He can’t know that it breaks my heart to have him away from me for more than a few hours, otherwise, he would want to comfort me and take care of me & never leave my side.  I will never be that kind of burdensome mother.  I’ve seen them in action & they disable their children to the point of a role-reversal. And Typical or NT, I think this kind of a transition (the growing up & letting go) is hard on any (good) parent.

So, I suck it up, I walked back to the car, losing the fight with the tears that were distorting my vision.  I got into the car, shut the door and just sobbed for a good ten minutes.  I’m not ready for this transition. If I had a magic potion, I would keep him little for a while longer.  Though I don’t know that I’ll ever be ready for him to grow up … It’s my job to prepare him for what lies ahead in this great big world.  And as with pretty much every job I’ve ever had, there are some things about the job that are not easy.  Letting go just a little bit & letting your little bird spread his wings is not easy to do, but it is the right thing to do.

When I went back to get him (and believe me, my eye was on that clock every other minute, counting down!)  He was happy to see me, gave me a hug & said “Mommy, I had so much fun!  And I made lots and lots of new friends, just like you said.”

That made me feel a little better.  A little.

I hope tomorrow is easier.  (Update: IT WAS!  I feel much better today … )

The Adventure Begins Here Photo Credit: http://stage.bsaboston.org/camp/

The Adventure Begins Here
Photo Credit: http://stage.bsaboston.org/camp/

The Karate Kid

I think we’ve finally found the key to The Boy, and slowly we’re unlocking a serious breakthrough.  The breakthrough comes with a hearty “Hi-YA!” and a karate kick in the face of Autism.

Aye-Yah!

Aye-Yah!

A little over a month ago, I called the local karate studio & spoke with the instructor of the class.  I explained that The Boy had been diagnosed with Aspergers but we were in the middle of getting him re-assessed & aren’t certain it’s AS.  We think he’s definitely somewhere on the spectrum, and thought that karate might be right up his alley.  We tried gymnastics & soccer, too much waiting around, not enough discipline.

“We have a couple of guys here with Autism who are black belts now.  Bring him in – we’ll run him through a trial and see if it’s a fit.”  The Instructor said.  I was careful not to get my hopes up.  This program didn’t accept everyone.

That Saturday, we brought him to the studio.  He was full of energy & a little unorganized, but he seemed to enjoy the physicality of karate, and he caught on to the routine pretty quickly.  I loved the structure & discipline that this class offered, and it was only 30 minutes – perfect for my little guy with the short-attention span.

The Instructor was a tough guy.  Just as The Boy began to act out & I hissed his name, The Instructor walked over to me and said “No, let me handle him.  You just sit here and watch.  He needs to know that I’m the boss here & if you’re doing the discipline in my studio, he won’t ever respect me.”  Word.  I was totally on board, but also on the edge of my seat, waiting to see how much of a spectacle this would turn into.  To my delight, The Boy didn’t buck too much, just tested the waters a little, but I loved that The Instructor didn’t let him (or any of the other kids) get away with a single shenanigan!

The Instructor told us to bring The Boy back again to the next class.  And again, and again, and again.  The Boy was in try-outs for almost 3 weeks!  He had to “earn” his “jacket.”  That totally motivated him.  He loved the challenge, he got the hang of things, (addressing his instructors as “Ma’am & Sir,” keeping his hands to himself, staying quiet & following directions – for the most part.) And although he struggled with controlling his body, he really made an effort.  After 9 sessions, he had finally earned his jacket!  He was a proud little boy, and I was a proud mama.

Yeah, I cried a little.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen the distinct look of pure pride on The Boy’s face.  He had accomplished this all on his own & he knew it! He glanced over at me & smiled, we exchanged the “thumbs up” sign.

I know it might sound silly, but I think he may have found his place.  This might be his sport.  I can’t see soccer as his sport, or baseball … He needs something that is more of a solo “team” sport.  In this class, he’s part of a team, but his success is solely based on his own merits.  And quite frankly, I’m a little relieved about this for several reasons – I mean, of course, I’m happy for him, but selfishly, I’m happy for me, too.  The thought of early Saturday soccer games out in the hot sun & weekday practices out in the hot sun don’t appeal to me.  I would do it, sure, and I even had envisioned him having the “All-American” childhood, replete with a position on the soccer & little league teams when he was growing inside of me.  But  maybe I’m not going to be a soccer mom.  Maybe I’m going to be a Karate Mom … or a Tennis Mom … or a Golf Mom.  I’m cool with that.

It’s been really spectacular to see the change in him … And it’s not just me & The Husband who see a change, his teachers commented to me that The Boy has been making big strides lately.  It’s a tough class & it’s three times a week, but it’s something that The Boy looks forward to – he enjoys the challenge & the routine, knows what’s expected of him & when he pushed back (which the instructor said he’d do,) he got his belt taken away for 2 classes!  He earned it back & learned the lesson: can’t clown around in karate.  There’s a time & a place for messing about, but in karate class, you act professionally, take it seriously & do your best.

Warning: MOMMY BRAG Ahead!

Yesterday, after being in this class for less than 6 weeks, he did this entire series called “Appreciation Form” which is a 12-step series of different hand movements FLAWLESSLY without any assistance from an instructor!  He even showed up a camouflage belt (highest belt in the class!)  The Instructor praised him “never seen a white belt do that series all on his own without any help!  Well done!”

We’ll see how it goes, but I think we’ve finally found his sport 🙂

 

 

Snakes In The Mouse House

GreedyMcGreedersons: 1 / Disney: 0

I found out today that Disney is changing their “Disability Accommodation Pass” Policy thanks to the greedy actions of some wealthy asshats & morally bankrupt disabled folks.  Thanks a lot, jerks – way to ruin it for the rest of us.  And thanks Disney for punishing those of us who genuinely need this to enjoy your park!  I was actually looking forward to taking The Boy to the Halloween celebration at Disneyland, but now, I am going to have to reconsider.

You see, before I knew what an accommodation pass was, we had a handful of stressful experiences at Disneyland, and I figured that Disneyland just wasn’t going to be something The Boy, The Husband & I could enjoy as a family.  It saddened me, because growing up 15 minutes from The Happiest Place On Earth, Disneyland was such a part of my childhood that I naturally assumed it would be the same for The Boy.

It was a sad realization that he wouldn’t have the same experiences I had there … until I had heard about the “accommodation pass” from a woman who runs a non-profit group for families of kids on the Autism Spectrum.

Waiting in line is hard for The Boy.  Much more difficult than it is for a typical kid … And being over-stimulated by all of the crowds, the fanfare, the parades, the noises, the characters — it’s a lot for a little Aspie to deal with.  It’s a lot for the mom of a little Aspie to deal with, but then I was told about the “accommodation pass.”  This changed everything!!

With the accommodation pass, we only go a couple of times a year & even then, we plan it out for a day that will likely be less busy, with less over-stimulation, and hopefully with less judgmental eyeballs on us, sizing up HOW it is we three can cut to the front of the line because we all “look” so “normal.”  We never abuse the pass & if there is an occasion where he can tolerate the line, we wait like everyone else.

And to be clear, you don’t get anything for “free” – you still pay for your ticket.  Having an accommodation pass doesn’t mean that you get to cut in front of the line and breeze on to the ride, but it does trim down on the wait times & takes you out of the regular line so that a meltdown due to overstimulation from crowds, and / or waiting is a lot less likely to occur.  It allows us to have a more “normal” & easy experience.

You cannot use the accommodation pass to cut down the wait time for dining, so there’s that barrel of monkeys to contend with, and you also can’t use it to cut into the line to meet with the characters, so we don’t get to do a lot of character meet & greets, (except recently I made friends with the character guide & asked him when the next time Sully was going to make an appearance so that I could try to time it out perfectly.  I ran with The Boy & his tow-headed girlfriend, so that we could be the very first people in line.  We almost made it, but we were like 5 people too late.  However, thanks to the sweet stranger in front of me, through a natural conversation, I briefly & quietly explained our situation, and she was kind enough to let us go in front of her & her son.

I certainly don’t expect preferential treatment, but I definitely appreciate any accommodations that kind, compassionate people are willing to bestow upon us.  It’s hard enough to confide in someone that my kid isn’t “normal,” even though he may seem to be at first glance.  I truly appreciate the courtesies that are afforded by understanding strangers.  And on the flip side, the glaring looks from those judgmental asshats anger me to no end.  You want to trade me?  I’d gladly take waiting in line for 45 minutes if that meant my son didn’t have to struggle with  Aspergers Syndrome.

No, I don’t think it is fair that other kids – “normal” kids, “typical” kids –  have to wait in long lines to go on rides.  I know it’s tough for any kid to wait, and I do think that adults with light disabilities should let all kids go first.  They’re kids after all!!  BUT, kids with mental delays, kids who are not neuro-typical, kids who have any disability or chronic disease — well, they should go straight to the front of the line.  If for no other reason than this: LIFE IS HARD when you have a disability.  And Disneyland is a magical place where that is all somehow erased … it’s a special place where not being “typical” doesn’t mean anything other than you’re super cool … At Disneyland, the playing field is leveled.  Everyone is SPECIAL.

So … some idiots totally ruined this for those of us who were just cruising along enjoying the brief respite from the storm of spectrum disorders as we meandered down Main Street.  I’m so annoyed I could rip their heads off and roll them down the crest of the Matterhorn!  (Of course after hours when the kids wouldn’t see this!)

Truly, I don’t mind proving The Boy’s eligibility with an IEP or a Dr’s note if that means that people, like us, who genuinely need the accommodation pass will still receive it.  But taking it away completely is a real tragedy.  It makes me angry that these selfish idiots have ruined things for those of us who have come to rely on this to enjoy Disneyland.   Sadly, I know it doesn’t phase them one damn bit.  There are no sleepless nights for them.  They don’t give a crap that my kid is going to suffer.  They’ll find another scam … and I’ll probably write another pissed off post.

No, I’m not sure I’ll be coming back to Disneyland if it means merely getting a “fast pass” for us.  Do you know how difficult it is for a 4 yr old Aspie to grasp the concept of “later?”  “No, sweet Boy, we cannot ride the Radiator Springs Racers right now, but in 45 minutes we will be able to.”  No, it’s impossible to understand if you A) are not an Aspie Kid; or B) are not a parent or caretaker of an Aspie Kid.  And I’m actually surprised that Autism Speaks was ok with this change.  What was their payout to get on board with this bullcrap?  They sure don’t speak for me!

Let the 56 year old lady on the little rascal wait in line with her leach family  – Let the spectrum kids, and the cancer kids, and the cerebral palsy kids and the kids who are 16 and under with ANY disability get on that ride FIRST.  END. OF. DISCUSSION.

And I’m pretty sure that Walt would agree.

And yeah, I can say that because I worked at Disney for a large chunk of my adult life & know a lot more about the Disney culture, what Walt believed, and the vision that he had for Disneyland than most of the losers who are making decisions up there now …

Punishing kids with disabilities for the bad behavior of the rich & entitled was NOT in his vision.

End Rant. (for tonight anyway.)

Putting On Shoes with a Song

So, with an Aspie kid, the simplest of tasks can be a monumental under-taking.  Like putting on your shoes.  Or his shoes.  Or her shoes.  In any case, putting on shoes and going potty seem to be the 2 most challenging things we accomplish in the morning!

I’ve concocted a song to the tune of “Hokey Pokey” (you know that one, right?  “You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out …”) that helps The Boy get excited about putting on his shoes and socks.  It’s a little hokey (yes, pun intended,) but here’s how it goes:

You put your right thumb in,
You put your left thumb in,
You pull the sock apart and put your toes-ies in,
You scoot your toe-sies all the way down to the end,
That’s how you put you put your sock on!

You put your toes-ies in,
You put your heel in,
Wriggle your foot ’til it’s comfy and then
Strap your velcro to the sides again
That’s how you put your shoes on!

shoes and socks

April 2nd: World Autism Awareness Day

a new world | the fairly good mother A year ago my life was flipped on its head, and I had no idea that April 2nd was World Autism Awareness Day.  I still don’t quite understand how “awareness” brings about what I am really hoping for, (understanding & acceptance,) but hey, I’ve only been doing this for a year, so who am I to start demanding changes?

It’s been a long, interesting road full of growth and challenges since that day when I was told we were probably “looking at Aspergers Syndrome” for my then 2 year old son.  And reflecting back over the past year, I see how many big strides The Boy has made.  I see all of the things I’ve learned about myself, my son, my family & my world as it relates to Aspergers Syndrome.  Here are some of them:

1.  Two steps forward and one step back, that’s what progress looks like in my world.  We have good days & we have challenging days.  It doesn’t mean anything when The Boy has a day of challenges & seeming regression, (well, except that the wine comes out at 5:01pm,) but it means everything when he has a day of good choices, focused concentration & positive play.

2.  I don’t always display Mother Theresa-like patience & that’s ok.  I’m not perfect.  I’m just a woman who happens to be a mom of a child with Aspergers Syndrome & I’m doing the best I can … usually.  I’m not a Doctor, nor a trained therapist & I don’t always have all the answers.  Sometimes I’m too tired or frustrated to think of the perfect way to handle a melt-down.  I’m learning.

3.  It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book just for fun.  My reading list mainly includes research about Autism &  Aspergers, Sensory Issues & IEP’s.  Sometimes I get jealous when I hear people talking about this great book that they’re reading. For the past year, I’ve been reading like a lackadaisical college kid cramming for an exam at the last minute, because time is not on my side.

4.  Having a child on the spectrum can be very isolating, especially because he “looks” like a typical kid.  I’ve learned what our limitations are in terms of play-dates & birthday parties.  It made me sad last spring when we had to leave a kid’s birthday party because The Boy was wildly out of control & overwhelmed by the unstructured environment.  Generally, it’s better for him to have smaller, focused play groups with me right there ready to intervene in case behavior goes awry.  It’s not the way I envisioned play dates & yes, I get a tinge of jealousy when I look over to see a group of my mom friends engrossed in conversation while I’m helicoptering my son.  Who to tell, what to tell them, when to tell them?  Do I want to delve into a lengthy dialogue of what Aspergers Syndrome is?  Not usually.

5.  Guilt will eat me alive … if I let it.  It’s that dark vortex in my mind where I can spiral down fast if I’m not careful.  Guilt over how I handled disciplining The Boy that day – too much or not enough?  Guilt over if I’m doing everything I can for him, guilt over mistakes I’ve made: will they be detrimental in the long run?  Guilt about whether I’m balancing all aspects of my life properly; if I’m coming up short in my friendships … guilt, guilt, guilt.  It’s a useless emotion.

6.  Run the race with blinders on.  Who cares what other people are thinking as they judge us at the grocery store while I bribe the boy with cookies & cars?   Who cares what other people think when The Boy blurts out some incomprehensible word like “beak!” seven times in a row after they ask him how old he is?  Who cares?  Who cares that The Boy isn’t really interested in riding a bike or kicking a soccer ball?  It’s not fair to compare him to other kids & it’s not fair to compare myself to other moms. This is our life & we’re living it the way that’s best for us.

7.  No matter how much you think people understand – or how much they want to understand – they won’t really to be able to, and that’s ok.  I love my close friends and (most of) my family for just trying to.  They have been a source of great support and love for me, The Husband & The Boy as we have made our journey through the world of Aspergers.  But the truth is that they can’t understand everything.  They sometimes take The Boy’s lack of affection too personally.  They don’t understand when they ask him a question and he is gazing off in the distance, wrapped up in another world why he cannot answer them or why he’s so literal.  They don’t understand that sometimes things are outside of his comfort zone and no amount of reasoning or cajoling will get him to be “ok.”

8.  There is very little “me-time.”  I knew when I became a mother that my priorities would shift & that the focus of my world would be my child.  But having a child with special needs is even more time consuming & demanding than I would imagine have a typical child would be, (I could be wrong about this.)   But me time is important, (another post about that later,) lest you lose your mind.  It’s hard to find extra time when you’re juggling IEP’s, therapy appointments, potty training and counting down to transitions.  And going away for a weekend is nearly impossible!  Who can handle The Boy besides me and The Husband?

9.  Everyone has a slew of ideas on how to help … some work and some don’t.  Every therapist, every teacher, every specialist, every doctor, every book has a different idea on how to support The Boy in making good choices & correcting unwanted behavior.  Some of them work well, and some of them work for a little bit and then don’t work at all.  It’s worth a shot, but don’t make yourself nuts about trying every single suggestion given to you.  Just because something works for one kid on the spectrum doesn’t mean it works for every kid on the spectrum.

10.  It’s going to be a long road … and it’s going to be really hard sometimes.  After this last round with our school district, I had the sudden realization that my life was going to be one fight after the other with them for the next fifteen years!  It was overwhelming to think that every single school year I’d have to put on my boxing gloves and get into the ring with people who only view my child as a number or a name on a piece of paper.  But that’s what it is & The Boy is lucky to have me, a fighter, as his mom & advocate.

So, happy World Autism Awareness Day I guess.  curious not judgmental | The Fairly Good Mother Truth be told, I really don’t know what “awareness” is going to do for people who have Autism or Aspergers … Does being aware make people more compassionate?  In my opinion, no, it doesn’t.  I think education is more beneficial than awareness, but perhaps awareness is the first step.  And maybe being aware leads to being curious and opening a dialogue with someone about what Autism is, or what Aspergers Syndrome is & that’s something I can support.

I read a blog last night  called Living On The Spectrum: The Connor Chronicles that I thought summed up the way I feel quite perfectly.  I would love to see every child educated about autism & every spectrum disorder.  Because in my opinion, only through education can people truly begin to understand what it is like to live with Autism or Aspergers. And with understanding comes compassion.  And with understanding and compassion, we can hopefully arrive at acceptance.

Some Days, Being A Mom Is Hard …

There are lots of times I don’t think I’m cut out for this gig.  I think that it takes a special person to be a mother, and an even special-er person to be a mother with a child who has Aspergers, (or any spectrum disorder, really.)  And I don’t know why in the hell the Universe thought that I was a good candidate.  I have trouble controlling my temper, and patience isn’t my strong suit … especially during a certain time of the month.

I loathe losing my temper – it makes me feel like an awful mother & a terrible role model.  And you’d never know by looking at him that The Boy has special needs & requires extra attention and patience, but he does.  And sometimes I forget that.

I can’t understand why when I explain to him that our cat just got home from surgery and we need to be extra nice & gentle with him, and not to stomp near him, or chase him, that The Boy can’t just listen to me & understand this. I explained it 3 times in the car and reiterated it twice when we got home.  But, it’s like it goes in one ear and out the other … well, either that he just doesn’t care.  I don’t know.  I mean, he’s three years old, he can’t be that diabolical.

But he seems that way sometimes … especially after he chases and stomps by our poor cat who is totally disoriented from being sedated all damn day.  And The Boy just laughs when I flip out and send him to his room, and then he refuses to stay put.  That’s when the things escalate: I start yelling & The Boy starts laughing manically.  And let me just explain to you in case you’ve never been so upset at not being understood that you’re seeing stars, being laughed at is NOT cool.  It only makes you more incensed.  And you forget that you’re dealing with a 3 year old with Aspergers … or maybe that’s just me.

Sigh.

I’m sure the neighbors were one digit away from dialing child services.  I am not proud of these moments.  And yes, I’m admitting that it’s happened more than once, and that brings tears to my eyes.  I wish I had the patience that I see other moms exhibit.  I don’t know why I’m this way, but I hate it, and I feel like every day I’m telling myself that ‘tomorrow’s another day’ and another chance to ‘start over’ and be more patient with him.

And then, there’s the dark moments like the one I’m having now, where I think … This Boy deserves a better mom.  One who never yells, never loses her temper, and always exhibits understanding and patience & never ever loses her cool.  Do they exist?  They must, right?  Because I don’t hear any moms readily admitting they, too, have a less-than-stellar parenting moment.  Or maybe I’m just this over-achieving perfectionist who doesn’t realize that all moms lose their cool every now and then.

I feel like I’m the worst mom in the world right now.  Or maybe it’s just my PMDD gripping my heart & I’m being too hard on myself … Is it time for wine yet?  🙂

Squeaky Wheel

I’m starting to get really annoyed with LAUSD (los angeles unified school district.) We were promised at The Boy’s IEP in late September that he would have 30 hours (at least) of one-on-one behaviorist services, and that if he needed more, they’d give us more. HE NEEDS MORE & I cannot get them to stay true to their word.

He started his PSM (Pre-School Mixed) class in the beginning of October.  The hours were only extended by 2 days.  Big deal. By the end of October, they were done with the one-on-one behaviorist shadowing him even though his behaviors had not improved.  I spoke with the Supervisor who put together his behavior plan and oversaw the behaviorist who worked directly with The Boy.  Over the month of November, I had about half a dozen telephone conversations with her, begging her to give us more time & that we were told that we would not be left high and dry by LAUSD during our IEP.  I told her that The Boy needed more hours, and she told me that he “has so many strengths and we don’t want to use the one-on-0ne behaviorist as a ‘crutch,'” and that he will “get the hang of managing on his own” and that “the teacher just needs to follow the plan we set up for him.”

After realizing that I would get no further with her, I went to the person ABOVE her.  I have been trying to get her engaged since early December; playing phone tag & listening to her promise that she would come and visit his class or “at the very least speak with his teacher.”  Well, I finally got ahold of her email address, (which I wanted to have in the beginning because I prefer a paper-trail, ) and shot off an email to her this week.  Well, lo and behold, I think I have her attention now.

Here’s MY email to her & below that is her response, (I omitted or changed the names to maintain & respect the privacy of all parties involved:)

Hi LAUSD PSM Specialist, 

I called your office number this morning and heard your voicemail message that you would be out of the office until Friday, so I wanted to write you an email.  

As you know, I first contacted you in December, and we spoke on Friday 12/7, you said that you would try to get over to the school to observe The Boy, but because the following week was the week before the winter break, things were hectic and you couldn’t make any promises, but at the very least, you’d get in touch with The Boy’s Teacher.  You and I spoke on the phone last week & you assured me that you would get in touch with her and also speak with Your Bosses. As of today, The Boy’s Teacher has not heard from you.  

It has now been over a month of me trying to get you engaged in my son’s situation, and I feel like I’m getting the run around.  I’m really becoming frustrated, PSM Director.  I was promised in the IEP that I would not be left out in the wind, so to speak, that if we needed more behaviorist one-on-one time, that we’d get it.  We need it.  The Boy needs the hours, he needs the one-on-one behaviorist to shadow him during his time in school.  I volunteer in his class on Tuesdays, so I see first hand what the situation is.  His teacher & the teacher’s aide are both wonderful, they follow the protocol that was set up by The Behaviorist & Her Supervisor, but it’s not enough.  The classroom aide ends up becoming The Boy’s one-on-one person.  Not only is that unfair to the other students, but she cannot devote her entire time to him, so when she has to tend to another student, The Boy will often act out & become unruly.  There are up to 16 students in that class – how in the world is The Aide expected to be able to focus her attention on The Boy one-on-one when 15 other kids need attention as well?  

When I expressed my concerns to The Behaviorist Supervisor in November, she told me that she didn’t want The Behaviorist time to “become a crutch,” but if he needs it, how is it a crutch? The Boy has many strengths, I do not doubt that.  He’s a smart, articulate, clever, funny little boy, but the undesirable behaviors, (his lack of focus, his inability to follow directions & listen to instructions, his physical outbursts that result in harming other children, spitting at them – which by the way is a totally new behavior,) are things that can be & NEED TO BE corrected now.  But it takes more than a mandate on a piece of paper.  It takes listening to me – his parent, his advocate – and believing me when I tell you that he needs help.  It takes supporting us in correcting these behaviors.  How can you support us?  By providing a one-on-one behaviorist until we all are in agreement, (the district, his teachers & my husband and I,)  that he can participate on his own in class without someone helping him every step of the way.  

I am open to discussing this further with you, but if you are too busy, or feel that you cannot help me, please let me know.  As I’ve stated above, it’s been over a month since I initiated contact with you & am still waiting for you to get engaged.  If you could please provide me with Your Boss’s contact number, perhaps speaking with her would better suit me & my son.  

Best, 
The Fairly Good Mother 

Hi The Fairly Good Mother…
I apologize for not being more responsive and available to you… I hear your frustration with this situation and agree you are your sons strongest/best advocate… I am a mother of 4 children whom have all had IEP’s and I truely hear you.  I am sorry that I was busy with many training’s for teachers when I returned from Winter break… and again I apologize for your frustration ….

I am including MY BOSS on this message.  I am also including a Behavior PKIT and is working with a student at The Boy’s School in the PSM in the afternoon. I will be asking for her to lend some interim support as well.  I will visit the classroom on Monday first thing…class begins at 8:45…I have also included my Supervisor and the Supervisor of Behavior Support to ensure we are able to move quickly in providing The Boy the proper support and to support the PSM program… 

Again I apologize and look forward to meeting The Boy and The Teacher on Monday 1/28…. 
Thanks

Well, freaking FINALLY!  Finally I have her attention & she copied her boss, as well as the Behaviorist Supervisor who told me about not wanting The Boy to use one-on-one Behaviorist time as a “crutch,” and several other people.  Her spelling and grammatical errors make me cringe, but I’ll overlook them as long as I am moving forward with this.

I am anxiously awaiting Monday!  I’ll let you know, dear reader, the outcome 🙂  And remember, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the oil.

Don’t Go Changing

Coming to terms with being the mom of an Aspie has been a journey.  Of course, I went through the gamut of emotions since we got the diagnosis 8 months ago: denial, anger, sadness, frustration, hope, acceptance.  True acceptance was a long time coming.  I accepted it earlier on, because I had no choice, but secretly in the back of my mind hoped that they were wrong, that he would outgrow it, (and he still can outgrow some – if not all – of the behaviors.)  And because I had hoped he would outgrow it, I haven’t told more than a handful of close friends & family (not even all of our family knows,) about The Boy’s diagnosis.  Not because I’m ashamed, but rather because a) I’m not sure that it’s my place to say anything, it’s HIS life, HIS diagnosis – he can tell whomever he wants to when he is old enough; and b) because I’m not sure I want to delve into a lengthy discussion about what Aspergers is, or how they came to that conclusion; and c) I really don’t want to hear more people tell me “no, there’s no way he’s on the spectrum, everything you are telling me sounds like normal 3-year-old behavior.  He seems fine & normal to me.”  YES!  He is FINE & he is “normal.”  Whatever normal is …  Personally, normal seems pretty boring.  And I’m not interested in defending his diagnosis, or explaining to people what it is & why.

different maya angelou

But I finally told our regular babysitter, (complete with printouts, lol,) because I thought, as his caregiver, she had a right to know, (even though she only babysits like once a month or once every other month.)  And I have been more open with telling strangers when it is in the best interest of The Boy.  For example, when we were at the shoe store the other day & there was only one clerk in the store.  She was busy helping another family & told us 3 times in 5 minutes that she would “be right with us.”  The Boy has trouble with waiting & wasn’t even remotely interested in shoe shopping, (he was yelling “nooooo”) so I had to be swift with my approach.  Getting him interested in Spiderman shoes did the trick, now getting him to take off his shoes was another feat, but I did it.   Five minutes goes by & she starts in with another “i’ll be right with you.”  That’s when I abruptly interrupt her & politely inform both the clerk & the family that The Boy has Aspergers & gets antsy quickly, and if she can just measure his foot so we know what size he is, then she can continue helping the family out while my mom & I try and keep The Boy entertained, (we let him try on cookie monster clogs.)   I’m his advocate, I’m his mother, so I know what he needs & I am not afraid to ask for it – nay, demand it – if need be.

When The Boy was a baby, The Husband would sing Billy Joel’s song “Just The Way You Are” when he was changing his diaper – specifically, he would sing, “don’t go changing …” The Husband was being cute, but 3 years later, thinking about those innocent moments & reciting the lyrics brings tears to my eyes.  I never want The Boy to change.  I don’t hate Aspergers, I don’t hate that he has it … I love him, and I love that he has Aspergers because if he didn’t, he wouldn’t be who he is; he wouldn’t be The Boy that I love so much.  I love the way his mind works, even though I may not always understand how his mind works,  I love the way it works.  And I love trying to understand him & figure him out.  So please don’t ever think for a minute, dear reader, that I feel sorry for him  or sad about his diagnosis.  My Boy is going to do great things in this world.  Just you watch.

born to stand out suess

The only thing that makes me a little worried is the way other children regard him.  Kids are mean.  I’ve already witnessed kids shunning him when he gets too close to their faces and speaks in jibberish or goes off on a non-sequitor.   I wish more parents would teach their children about acceptance.  I wish more parents would educate their kids about being kind to other people even if they are different, look different, speak different, act different, play different.  DIfferent isn’t bad or evil.  Different is awesome.  Different is what makes our world beautiful.  Different is what creates new inventions, amazing books, gorgeous works of art, new trends, new ways of thinking.  Different is OK.

normal is boring

And just because I love them, here are the lyrics to “Just The Way You Are” by Billy Joel:

Don’t go changing, to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore
I wouldn’t leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are

Don’t go trying some new fashion
Don’t change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care

I don’t want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard
I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are.

I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew
What will it take till you believe in me
The way that I believe in you.

I said I love you and that’s forever
And this I promise from the heart
I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are.