Monday, May 27, 2013

When the Nightmare becomes a Reality.

Last week the Autism Blogger Community came together to support the families of Mikaela, Owen and Drew. With the deaths of these children it brought to light the huge issue, we parents(especially Special Needs parents) have to deal with "Elopement" or "Wandering". It was called upon the Nation to bring awareness to the issue. With so many children out there with autism or other developmental disorders out there, there needs to be more done. Its easy to blame the parents. But when the parent does all they can to prevent elopement and it still happens, why is that called bad parenting?

This weekend, a very real nightmare for me became my reality. My youngest son got out of the house, wandered across a very busy street in our neighbourhood and was found by a group of young men that happened to be driving by and saw this toddler. Within the five minutes it took me to tear the house apart, that is what he managed to do. He figured out the door, which I have locked up,and child locks as well,he took the opportunity of me being in the kitchen and walked out. Now we had company visiting who might have forgot to lock the door, I don't know. But I was lucky. He was lucky. I would like to think he had force looking out for him yesterday. I just kept thinking that people must think I am the worst parent. How could I not know where my children are at all times?

Calming my nerves, I reminded myself that I am not a bad parent. That I do everything in my power to ensure the safety of my children. Sometimes I am little over protective about it. I know that I am but one person doing this whole parenting thing by myself. I know that my spectrum children are wanderers. This will be the fourth time, despite me doing everything I can, that one of my spectrum children have wandered. Thankfully one of them has grown out of it and has attachment issues.I am very thankful that this weekend, my son had something watching over him. I am very thankful for the the group of young men that stopped had guarded my son on the grassy knoll, until they figured out what to do with him. I am very thankful that I was able to put my son to bed last night, and breathe a sigh of relief, as I know there are parents out there have not been able to do that. 

This weekend sucked for me. As I try to move past this, again I will learn from this. People who come to visit, will have to understand and follow the system that works for me. I live this life every single day of my life. I know what these children are capable of. If I have to put a sign on my door to remind people to make sure its closed and locked, I will. I don't expect people to understand. You can't understand something you haven't had to experience. But you can respect the reason why somethings are done a certain way. It may be silly to you. But its serious to me and my children. 

It sucks when a nightmare because a reality.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Is there a Memorial Day Sale on the Ultimate Sacrifice?

In Canada, we don't have Memorial Day. We have Remembrance Day. A Holiday the Country takes very seriously. November 11th. Its cold, most times its rainy and its somber. The way the day should be. We don't have a lot of "Remembrance Day" Sales. Only the Major cities will stay open, but for the most part people have the day off. We go to the Cenotaph to honor those who had fallen in the wars we were involved in.We lay our wreaths,bow our heads and listen to bugle play. We take the time to honor those who never came back. This our day of mourning for our War Dead.

Since living in the United States, Memorial Day always baffled me. Here was a day that was supposed to be about the War Dead of this Country. Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice. And yet I get bombarded with flyers for Memorial Day Sales both in the mail and on the TV. Has Memorial Day turned commercial?  Its like this country has forgotten what this day is about. I know this is the weekend that kick starts the BBQ parties, pools open and the summer activities start up. But it makes me wonder just how many of us will take pause and remember why we have this weekend.

To most military families, we get it. Why? Its our way of life. Our loved ones go off to war, some come home and some don't. War Never Changes. We know just what sacrifices our service men and women have made for this country.  When my Husband was in Afghanistan, this was the year that my eldest finally realized what Memorial Day was about. He had a hard time with it. He knew his Father was off to a place where there was fighting going on. His response was this.

" If Daddy dies in a war that we are fighting in, I honor him on this Weekend? We should honor him everyday."

"Yes, son"

He was 7 at the time. It hurt my heart a little to hear that come out of the mouth of someone so young. But it made me proud to think, he gets it.

I know people will say,"Well we have Veteran's Day for remembering those who have fallen" Here is the thing, shouldn't those who made a decision to sign their life over to their country deserve more than two days a year? People may not agree with where the military gets sent to or the policies. But when it comes down to the nitty gritty of things, when something happens in this country, Terrorism or a Natural Disaster, the military are normally the ones called in to help. Whether it be the National Guard or Service men and women from a base. Those people enlisted. Those people, if need to will go to war for this country. Some will return and some won't.

I guess what I am trying to say is, between the BBQ parties, pool openings and the Memorial Day Sales, take the time to put this Country's War Dead in your thoughts. Reflect on why you have the freedom to live your life.

If you want to do something this weekend that shows you care, visit a War Cemetery or a local Cenotaph. Read up on our War history. Educate yourself. Or help a Veteran out. Say thanks. Some times its the little things that go a long way. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Flat Stanley Obsession.. Autism Style...

Flat Stanley. He is cool... He is flat and he has adventures, right? To most children his adventures inspire imagination and a sense of travel. To my 7 year old daughter he has inspired an obsession. 

A few weeks ago my daughter's class started their Flat Stanley projects in order to understand Geography and mapping. Cool. Little Miss wanted to send hers to Canada where her Amah and Grandad live. Great Idea. Flat Stanley is going to Canada. At this time My parents were getting ready to go to England(That is where my Father is from) to visit family. They thought it would be a good idea to take Stanley with them and he would have adventures there. Before he left for the United Kingdom, my parents made this social story about Stanley's adventure in Canada and send it back to her class in the meantime. Fantastic I thought! The social story was wonderful. Pictures of Stanley feeding squirrels. Him at the lake that I used to kayak on.You get the picture. 

Stanley has not come back from England yet. And Little Miss is stressed over it. She is more stressed over this paper doll coming home than her father being deployed. I am used to the 20 bazillion questions every hour. But this has reached the point of obsession. We had a complete meltdown over Stanley yesterday after school and again this morning. You cannot bring up this guy's name without someone shutting down. Is it wrong to say that Stanley is giving my daughter  a complex with traveling paper dolls? I think its hard for her to understand fully that he is coming back. And it makes me wonder if this is a reflection of how she feels about her dad being deployed?

I will so be glad when that envelope arrives in the Mail with the 'Royal Air Mail' Stamp on it. Little Miss will be relieved that her Flat Stanley is back and safe from his adventures and I will be relieved to have a bit of my sanity back. Next time we have to do a Flat Stanley project he is going to have an adventure across the street at a neighbour's house. 


Monday, May 20, 2013

My Children's experience with Wandering..

 I am the mother of two children on the Spectrum. Two. Both are very curious about the world they live in. Both like to wander. They are children. When I wrote in my last blog about Mikaela Lynch, two more stories of children with special needs who wandered away and died because drowning made the news. For many of us parents, our hearts again dropped deep into our chests. We mourn with these parents, as we know. We have been there at one point in our lives, the fear when our children have wandered. It does not make us bad parents. We are overwhelmed parents.

I will share two stories that gave me my heart attacks. I share these stories because I want parents, especially those of Mikaela, Owen and Drew to know I am with them and understand.

My daughter was three when she wandered off.My husband was deployed to Iraq that spring. Walked right out of our fenced in backyard, across a busy street and went over to the daycare. I had walked inside my house to put a load of laundry in. I thought since the back gate was locked it was safe. This was the day she figured out how to unlock the gate. I thought at first she had come back inside the house. I spent about 15 minutes looking for her. Tore my house apart. I walked outside and saw the Daycare and thought she might have wandered over there. She did indeed do just that. The police were called, I was written up for being a neglectful  parent and had Family Advocacy showing up at my door. We got the Autism Diagnosis a couple of months later. Now she has out grown her need to wander.

My youngest hasn't. We have done everything in our power to make sure he doesn't get out of the house without us. He wandered away during a Base Fourth of July celebration again with my husband deployed. He crawled out the little tent I had put him down for a nap in. Asked people who were with us, to watch over him as I took my eldest to the bathroom. Unnoticed he crawl out and wandered. I had come back from the bathroom, went to check on him and he was gone. I was fortunate to get an MP who had just picked him up, remembering him as I was giving him the description of my child and just brought him to the first aid stand.

Both times I wanted to die right there on the spot. Both times part of me died a little. Here I thought I was the worst parent on the planet. I came to realize, that I am not the worst parent. I am a parent that does her best with what she has. I am going to make mistakes. But I have certainly learned from them.

Autism and wandering go hand in hand. We need to spread the awareness. Three children have lost their lives in a span of a week. And as the summer months approach, more kids will be outside playing.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Mourning the Loss of a Little Girl..An Outpouring Love for Mikaela Lynch.

Parenting has to be one of the most daunting and hair raising experiences one can take on. We are constantly making choices that we think are the right ones. We are judged, criticized and sometimes shunned for the choices we make. Parenting is hard enough and shouldn't have that added stress. We all do our best with what we have. Even the best of parents have slip ups. Remember that. No one is perfect.

This week many of us parents of special needs children mourned the loss of one little girl. We mourned  along with her parents as we knew this could have happened to any one of us. We do everything in our power to keep them safe especially the ones who have the wanderers. It is every parent's worst nightmare when their child wanders off. Whether it be in a mall, crowded place or simply just out the front door. We do everything. Pad locks, harnesses..and still the need to wander is so strong it still happens. So if Parents still are doing everything in their power to prevent this from happening, why are they being so harshly judged? By the outside world that doesn't live the lives of others?

It bothers me that social media has taken this tragic death of Mikaela Lynch as a platform to blast the parenting choices of Special Needs Parents. One fine example can be found on Twitter, by a "Reporter" for the Who, I might state is not a parent. But this person felt the need to rake Mikaela's Parents and every other special needs parents out there over the coals for doing what she thought was bad parenting. If this is the kind of negativity that is happening over at, then no thanks. Many outraged parents have already contacted this publication. They can be reached at or click on the button below. This is just another fine example of the ignorance that is out there when it comes to Special Needs.

Personally, I have two children that wander. One of them, who darts off like a rocket. If I put him in a harness, I get judged for being not letting him be a child and that he no better than a dog. But if I don't he is all over the place and considered a terror. So what do we parents do? There is no right or wrong answer. We do our best. As that is all we can do. Ignore the nay sayers and the haters. Know that you are doing a good job.

To Mikaela Lynch's Parents, We are with you. We, the parents that have special needs children understand.We are mourning right along side you. You have the support of all of us.

And to the haters, the ignorant and judgmental, before you start critiquing the lives of others, you better make sure you are perfect yourself. While you are busy making assumptions and misconceptions, the skeletons in your closet are slowly coming out. Don't underestimate the fighting spirit of parents that have had to fight for their kids since the time they were born.

Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect. Journalists should: * Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. * Show good taste. * Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity. * Use special sensitivity when dealing with children. * Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. — (

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mental Illness shouldn't be a Back Burner Issue.

I have always been an a supporter of Mental Health and an advocate of the Mentally Ill. I was fortunate to have a Mother that worked with those who's Mental health effected them daily. If you don't have your mind, where does it leave you? Just a Shell of someone. With it being Mental Health Awareness Month, I could not help to tie it in to Military Appreciation Month. Why? PTSD. Its one of the biggest ones. Not to mention the depression and the anxiety that family members go through during deployments.

Deployments are stressful enough on both the service member and family. The service member's mental capability is put to the test on such a vigorous scale its a wonder they can function at full speed. Think about it. They have the stress of doing their jobs, finishing a mission without incident or finishing a mission with incident. Then trying to wrap the mind around the most horrible things a person can see, witness or sadly be involved with. They have the worry of whether or not their family back home is doing ok. Then when they get back home, what is available to them as support? It has gotten a lot better the past couple of years, but its not perfect. Trying to switch your brain from the fast paced thinking they are trained to do, back to the slow, laid back way of thinking of the everyday life. I can see how that would be hard for someone to do. Military Spouses, Husbands and Wives are the first line of support for our returning men and women. We know our spouses better than anyone. So we would know if something was not quite right with them.The military has gotten a lot better over the years about recognizing  PTSD as something that can be debilitating. There are more screenings done. More Service members are getting help with the triggers and managing them.Its sad,  that its taken this long to figure out the going to War, does a number on the human psyche. An even more sadder note, the majority of our homeless are Veterans that suffer from one from of PTSD and other mental illness associated with their time in the service. That says something doesn't it?

Mental Illness doesn't just stop with the service members, We the spouses have our own mind to think about. It isn't easy to say goodbye those we love. We worry about them. We have anxieties of our own. Yes we get nervous when the phone rings or if we see a recognizable group of Military members come to our door. We also have the stress of solely running a household and being both parents. Let's not forget if you are a family with special needs. It adds on it. We get depressed. Deployments are often long and communication is lacking at times.We also have our triggers. 

Mental Illness is one of those things that no one wants to admit they need help in. But its one of the most important things to be seen about. I personally have dwelt with it. I will fully admit that I am depressed and that I have anxiety. If I admit that I have to take medication in order to feel better, I am one more person that has taken the step to making sure my mental health is taken care of. Mental Illness is invisible. You can't see it. But it needs to be recognized. People need to know that just because someone looks healthly on the outside, they may be hurting on the inside. People also need to get over this stigma that having a Mental Illness is a sign of weakness. Its not. Acknowledging you have a problem and getting help for it is the biggest sign of courage and strength.

Making people aware that its ok to admit they need help or that they need to be screened for a Mental Illness is the key. Its a hard and long road, but if you have people in your lives that support you and love you, the road traveled will be an easier one.

With that, Imma Navyspouse and I have depression and Anxiety. I hope that helps someone out there that needs it.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Breaking down the Stigma of a Bully...

Bullying seems to be the norm these days. Its in the news pretty much once a week. The stories of children bullied so bad, they don't want to go back to school or they have to change schools to get away from it or the stories of the young taking their lives because they just can't live through any more torment. What does that say about the generation we are leaving this world when we pass on?

Bullying has been around for ages. The art of picking on the weak. We see it our history. Racism.Discrimination. We see it everywhere. Especially in our Children.

There has always been this need to fit in or be part of the "Cool" gang. But when you look at it, What is a Bully? Is it someone that thinks picking on a person is appropriate to make themselves feel good? Yes. A bully is a person who is insecure about themselves. A person that has to belittle someone else in order to make themselves feel better. Whether it be a jealous thing or something that this person lacks in personality or a physical attribute. But what ever it is, a Bully has something they are insecure about.Is it right? No.

It saddens me in this generation to come just how cruel people can be. I look at the one of the most  prominent media cases. Shamefully from my own hometown. Rehtaeh Parsons. A girl that took her own life, after something horrific happened to her. But people instead of being compassionate, bullied this girl till she couldn't take it anymore. She killed herself. What does that say about the kids that thought this was ok? What does it say about the Parents of these kids?When it comes to children, they learn by example. So if you have a parent that isn't open minded and doesn't except that others are different, then the vast majority of those children are going to look at people and think its ok to pick on the short comings of others.

Its not just children as well that are affected. Adults too. You see it in the difference of opinions. Attacking someone because they simply do things differently from you. Or that they think differently. Or that they live a different lifestyle than you. Ignorance and Insecurity.

We all have our own personal experiences with a bully. Either being one or being the victim of one. Most people are the victim of ones. Personally, I was the victim for many years. I was a freckled Face kid, with a really bad over bite, who learned differently from the rest. My biggest fault was I was too nice to people. I got taken advantage a lot in school. People I thought were friends, weren't. Played horrible tricks on me and thought it was funny when I was upset about it. What is really sad, is that I see the same thing happening to my children. My eldest. The kid with the big heart. I see people try and take advantage of him. I see the pain in that child's eyes, when his picked on for being small. Every morning I always tell him to surround yourself with people who make you happy. Who lift you up, instead of bring you down. One thing he does have, that I didn't is the courage to say " No, this is not ok"

My biggest fear will come with my other two children. Who do see the world differently. That will not understand why someone is making fun of their uniqueness. I know children can be cruel. I stress that I love them for who they are. How they treat people shows the world that they are doing something right. When it comes to bullying the Special Needs, the main reason is Ignorance. The inability to learn and educate one's self.

I wish the world would change. I wish that for my children's sake, they will not have a world of ignorance and hate to grow up in. I think sometimes that is wishful thinking. The whole celebrate the uniqueness of others. One thing I can teach my children is that there is always people who love them for who they are. People that are going to accept them for who they are. And to have the Mentality of " Hey, I am a good person, if that other person can't see that, their problem, their loss"

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ode to the Military Spouse

With it being the beginning of Military Appreciation Month and Month of the Military Spouse, I look back at the 11 years I have been married to my sailor. It wasn't a lifestyle I would have thought I would be living. But here I am.

Military Spouses, have been around for centuries. As longs as there has been a military established, there have been the people who love them. Think back to the Ancients.Greeks, Roman, Egyptians and the Persians and many others. They all went off to work to conquer new lands or to fight off invaders. Imagine those spouses, not even knowing if their husbands have lived or died in battle, unless a messenger was sent back to report battle news and causalities. That has got to be a rough life to live.

Even when I look back at the lives of  military spouses during the past 200 years or so. Its still has to take guts to love the uniformed person.At least in the last 200 years the art of letter writing was perfected. The rate of travel these letter got faster and faster. But still waiting months just to hear from a loved one, would hurt anyone's heart. Spouses had so much riding on their husbands back then. As Women, they weren't allowed to vote and didn't have the rights as a man. So if you lost your husband to war, you were stuck. You had children to raise and a life to live in a society that didn't give you the rights as your husband. Life was not easy.

The 20th Century open up the doors for women. We got the right to vote. We got the right to establish ourselves within a Man's world. The 20th Century also brought two major World Wars. WWI, the War to end all Wars brought Military Spouses from all over to support the uniformed services in one War. From the Battlefields of Europe came letters telling of the flowers that grow to the horrific day to day in the trenches. Spouses supported from home. They still loved their returning men, broken but still alive. WWII, my grandmother's generation, we saw more spouses out there pulling that working man's weight. They were in the factories contributing to the war effort. We saw them in the War Offices. Still it was a time where communication, had gotten better, but waiting to hear from a loved one still took some time. Spouses still kept the house running, raising children and the continuing support of their servicemen. It had to be tough to go so long without seeing or sometimes even hearing from your spouse.

It wasn't until 1948 when women were allowed to join the Military, when the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act was signed by congress. where we saw our Military Husbands. Not a lot as the Military was still a Man's domain. But with women now allowed to serve, we had military husbands. With more women joining up between 1948 and modern day, the number of husbands grew.

The Modern day Military Spouse is just that. Modern. We have better communication. We have more support out there. I see the Military Spouses of the past as our trailblazers. They made some of the services we have today possible. They endured so much more than we did. But those who are still alive and remember, know that its not an easy life. They understand that loving and supporting someone who proudly serves their country is difficult. I am always very humbled to sit down and listen to the Veterans and their spouses. There is always two stories. The war stories and the stories from back home. So when we thank the Veterans for their service, if their spouse is with them, thank them as well.

I can proudly say that when I said "I do" 11 years ago, I joined the ranks of some pretty awesome people and to them, I salute them. They have given me some perspective. They have understood my frustrations. Most of all they have understood this love I have for my sailor.

Gram, this one is for you. Thank you.