Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Season of Thankfulness

With the aroma of a turkey cooking, pies being made and the promise of a parade with big giant balloons, we gather together with friends and family to give thanks. It is a time that we all look back and reflect on the good things we had happen to us and the people that helped us along the way.

For a lot of us out there, we have so many people who have helped us out on our journey. The people who have been there through the toughest of times. Or the ones who go out of their way to make sure you are ok. These are the people who take the time to remember the littlest of things, knowing that those things will make your life run a little smoother. They are the ones that should us that the human race isn't full of mean spirited people. That acts of kindness still happen. I am thankful for those people.

Most of us have people that have a profound impact on our lives. The people who have made a difference with either your live or the lives of the people you love and hold dear. They are the teachers that have gone out of their way to make sure your child has confidence in themselves or the ones who will fight to get you something your child desperately needs in order to grow. They are the aides and therapists who love doing their job and are there to keep either you or your loved ones on track.  They are the Doctors that don't see you or your child as just another number. Who will do their professional job to make sure you and your loved ones remain healthy and taken care of. I am thankful those people.

Family and Friends will always have my gratitude, not just on Thanksgiving, but all year round. These are the people, who, when you are having a tough go at things, will be there to lend an ear and a should to cry on. They are the people that will travel across a country or even half across a country just to make sure you have family during the holidays when your spouse is deployed or not there. They are the people who will be there to help you pick up the pieces when it seems the world is crumbling down around you. Your friends will be there with a good bottle of wine and laughter just to see a smile. Friends are like your extended family. And good friends are the ones who know you best as they are the ones you trust when you need someone to cheer you on. They are the people who don't give up on you when you are at your worst. They are also the people who will support you. Whether it be your online community or you close inner circle, they will be there to share a laugh and tears. I am thankful for those people.

Finally, its the people who challenge us. The ones who test our strength and resolve. I know what you are thinking. Why would you be thankful for those people. Well, its those people who show us everyday just how good we do have it. That we are happy and not miserable. That we are not ignorant, but open minded. That we are good people. They are the reminder that life can still keep us on our toes, but despite their insecurities, you are grounded  in the type of person you are. You believe in what you want to believe in. You fight for what you want to fight for. But you can walk away from these challenging people, with your head held high being thankful that you are a good person.

This Thanksgiving be thankful for yourself. Look back on the year, reflect on all the good things you have done. Whether it be getting through difficult IEP meetings where you fought hard for your children or advocating for them when things weren't what you though. or getting through a difficult time in your life. Be thankful that you are person worthy to be here.

I wish everyone a safe Holiday. May it be filled with Love, Laughter and Warmth. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Birthday Ballons

A couple of days ago my youngest celebrated his 5th Birthday.  It was a simple affair. There wasn't a party at the local bounce house place or at the high priced amusement palace for kids. It was celebrated with people who matter the most to this child and in a way that helped him celebrate on his terms.

As a non verbal child, that has a host of interesting quirks, the mainstream idea of birthday parties for children doesn't work for him. He is happy to celebrate his birthday in a way that makes him feel happy and loved, not overloaded and over stimulated. For him, a small cake and balloons were what made that child's day.

Now, I don't expect the outside world to understand that. I just don't. And some might view my approach to birthday parties with autism a bit lax. A day where he can get balloons, cake and presents to unwrap. Its a day he knows that people who love him, come together, and make him feel special. And just because We don't do what the norm does on birthdays, doesn't mean that thought wasn't put into this child's special day.  

My son loves balloons. Balloons with his favorite things on them. Trains, school buses, Sesame Street, colourful ones and ones that sing. And if that was all he got for his birthday, that kid would be golden. Its a very simple thing.But he loves them. But he knows that something special is going to happen to him, when he sees balloons. So on his birthday, I take him to the grocery store for him to get his birthday balloons. This kid knows as soon as we get to where the helium tanks are that special things are coming to him. The shopping cart is practically vibrating. For me as a parent, there is nothing more special than to see your child in absolute sheer joy over something as simple as mylar balloons. And the balloon lady knows who we are. She takes the time to make sure that there is lots of ribbon and makes lots of curls as she knows that he is fascinated with them. Once he has his treasure, we continue  on our way. And yes I am the parent that is doing the rest of her shopping with a child that very loudly expressing his total joy over his balloons. To be honest, I don't care how everyone else sees that. But its the comments that get to me.

"Does he even realize it's his birthday?"

" Oh it must be so hard not to be able to throw him a party like the other kids."

Here's the thing. People celebrate things differently. Autistic persons, are no different. Some people are low key and some people aren't. But to sit there and ask me if my child even recognizes his own birthday, well he does. Just in his own way. No he doesn't understand age, but honestly, what child does at this stage in life? And its not hard to throw him a party, where he feels special. So what if it is a party of the four most important people in his life, surrounded by the things he loves in a place that he feels comfortable in.

Celebrating a person's life on this planet, should be about them. And if that means you buy them an ungodly amount of balloons, as that is what gives them the most joy on their special day, then so be it.

My son celebrated his 5th birthday in a way that was easy for him. He knew he was loved. And at the end of the day, that is all that matters.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Yup, its a Glamourous Life, but someone's got to live it...

Its three o'clock in the afternoon, I am still in my pjs. There is no ounce of care to even put clothes on today. My hair is going sixty directions from Thursday, making the 80's British Punk Culture relevant at my kitchen table . There is a mountain of laundry that needs to be sorted, done and folded. Mt.Washmore as I like to call it. The dishes have yet to be done from two days ago. If anyone were to visit my house right now, they would think they were stepping into an episode of hoarders. With every toy that Toys R US, could possible sell me, littered in every single room in this house. Lunch today was popcorn and Hot dogs. Yeah, you heard that right,  popcorn and hotdogs. And supper? Well that is going to be cereal. They might get their fruit intake from the fruit flavored Disney inspired gummy treats that they got on Hallowe'en. Thank god for Flintstone chewables.

With my children running around maybe half dressed or in various degrees of some sort of a superhero costume depending on the hour and who needs to be saved. The verbal stimming screeching as loud as it can be, Thomas the tank engine blasting on it's 1,232 viewing of the day. An argument about who is the other's side of the couch is occurring every 5 minutes. Honestly, I  really don't know why they haven't made a meditation CD of children, arguing is beyond me.

Today, I just want to go back to that trashy romance novel, with the beefcake dude on the cover, who looks slightly dimwitted, but it doesn't matter because his pectoral muscles make up for the lack of a brain. You know the story, its always the same... Just want to get lost in this dude's flowing mane of stallion hair for an hour, maybe two. But alas.. reality is not a friend of mine.

 Its not that I don't give a fuck, I do. I am just having a down day. A day where no one is going to care if stuff doesn't get done or that the kids aren't eating a meal that has all the elements of the food pyramid in it.  Or when I just don't have the energy to throw everyone in the car to go to the park. As it is never as simple as it sounds.

I don't get that much time, to loose myself in a good novel or a movie. When the kids are at school, that is when I need to get stuff done. Like shopping for food, without " Mom, Momma, Mommy... Can we get this?" every second. Its when I get to clean toilets without the help of a child who loves playing in water. 

So when I have days like this, where all of that gets put on the second burner, and I am surrounded by chaos, looking around at the decoration of fruit loops and legos, I think

"Gee.. Ain't this the glamorous life.." I say that as I have just discovered that at some point one of my children have used me as a kleenex.

I am not one for spas or pampering. Shit, I can't even sit through a manicure without thinking, "Yup that is going to look like shit in an hour"I am lucky if I make it out of the house without a stain on my clothes. When I do have 3 seconds without interruption to actually put make up on, its normally hurried, and the depressed clown theme I am going for has been mastered, then I think I am doing ok.

Down days happen. Its ok. The world is not going to stop rotating around the sun. SO what if today pj's rule supreme or that cookies are what's on the menu. The important thing is that everyone is fine. The house, may be a mess, is still standing. The kids, who might be half dressed and covered in cookie crumbs, are fine.

And myself? Well I have that five minutes in the bathroom to get lost in Mr.Kilt wearing beefcake's Fabio-esque locks and pecs,  while the little fingers under the door jam make their appearance.

"Mom, just making sure you are doing ok.."

" Yes, son, I am ok."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

One Little Poppy... #RememberThem

With the blood red petals and it's stamen black as night, the poppy has always had it's own unique beauty about it. In some cultures it is considered the gateway to the dreamworld or even to the land of the dead.The Victorians saw as a producer of a powerful drug that could either be a hinder or help to a person depending on the want or the need.The generations of the 20th centuries see it as a symbol of Remembrance.

A small little flower that was immortalized thanks to a poem written by a Canadian soldier during the height of the First World War. In his poem, he describes these blood red flowers that grew in the fields where the resting places of thousands young men found themselves. In his thoughts, he remarked about the beauty and sadness these flowers possessed. They were a calm and moment of peace during a time of chaos, death and madness.

Lt.Colonel McCrae's poem at the time became more than just the words and thoughts of a soldier on the battlefield, who was trying to honor his fallen brothers at arms, it was the beginning of a symbol that would carry on from generation to generation to respect and remember those who had died during times of war.

The wearing of poppies was introduced back in 1921 by the National American Legion, thanks to an American YWCA worker by the name of Molina Michael. She had campaigned that the poppy should be worn as a symbol of Remembrance. With the help of a Frenchwoman named, Anna E. Guerin, the artificial poppy was born. Field Marshal Douglas Haig, founder of the Royal British Legion, adopted the idea of getting these poppies out to the general public. Thus the British Poppy appeal was born.  From there, the countries of the commonwealth in time adapted their own poppy to remember their own war dead.

These days most people have forgotten the reason as to why the poppy is prevalent. The wars of old are forgotten, as the history of the stories of those men and women are dying off. The younger generation don't often think about those who fought and died for the life they live today.

I am often asked why, I so proudly wear my poppy over my heart. It was a tradition for me. It was something that was always done. From the time I can remember, from my father pinning one on my jacket lapel, not really understand why. It was hearing the stories of my Grandfather, who did fight in WWII, that brought the meaning behind the poppy full circle. I wanted him to know that his efforts and the efforts of his fallen comrades where not forgotten. Now that my Grandfather is no longer with me in the physical sense, I feel that his stories and his courage, bravery and strength should always be remembered. My poppies are with me all year round. As a reminder. To always remember, that there are people out there who are deserving of being remembered for their sacrifices.

Every November I have always had a poppy. Whether I have had to have my parents smuggle them from Canada or sent from England. I have always had one. And every year I get asked where did I get mine. The Legions out here, who do their own poppy campaign, need more than just our support. They need our time. I will always buy my buddy poppy and support my local legions out here. At the end of their run, I normally have a lovely little bouquet of poppies. Wearing one and buying one shows that you care. That the good fight they fought in their perspective wars, was not done unnoticed. That the friends they lost didn't die in vain for a generation to forget.

One little poppy... shows that you care. It shows you remember them.

If you can't get a hold of a poppy, then do something nice for a Veteran. Help them to their cars or with their groceries. Buy them a cup of Joe. Or just taking a moment to thank them. Something. Anything to let them know that they are appreciated and that they served their country with honor and dignity.

 Lest we all forget. Remember Them.

For more information on poppy appeals and campaigns, please check out these following websites

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dear Tricare, Here's the deal.....

Dear Tricare,

Here's the deal. I am angry at you. I, like many other military families, rely on you to help us with the on going medical expenses for our special needs children.Now, I know in the past we have had our differences over what should be covered and what isn't. But I am getting to the point now, that I don't think you are really out to help us out.

You may not know, but a couple of months ago, after you messed around with our ABA coverage, my youngest son, who is autistic, was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called Fragile X. I get that most of the general population have no clue as to what that is, or how that effects the people who have it. It became quite clear, that the person I talked to, who handles all the calls from pissed off service members, who's benefits you have been messing around with, had no clue what it was I was talking about, when I stated you  had refused to cover the most important part of my son's medical, Genetic Counselling.

Here's my beef. If you have a patient that clearly has a confirmed diagnosis that has to do with genetics or any other field, why on earth would you refuse to cover something that is part of this person's medical life? That is like saying to person with thyroid issues, "Hey, Guess what? That appointment with the endocrinologist you have, yeah we aren't going to cover that, even though, we know you have to have visits with that person"

Now I know what you are thinking.

"Well, Mrs. Thomason, there are somethings we need to save money on"

 The fact of the matter is this, You have messed around with the service member's medical services, that we are all beginning to wonder just why you still continue to provide us with medical necessities.  I am not going to call them benefits. As these are things that our military members have essentially and literally fought for and that a lot of these services are a necessity.

My son is just a speck among the thousands of people you don't cover services for. I get that. But when I look at the grand scheme of things, I know he is not the only one out there that needs services from the Genetic area of medicine. And trick of it is, these are the services that this person will need for the rest of his life.Why? Because he has a genetic disorder that isn't going to go away. Its a genetic disorder that his siblings will have to worry about when they start having their own children.

Its not ok for you to say to me,

"Mrs. Thomason, its just a couple of hundred dollars, why are you so angry about this?"

Its simple. Not everyone can afford just a couple of hundred dollars. And in time that adds up. Depending on how long we have to meet with this particular Doctor. A math equation that a third grade common core student could figure out.

This is just one of the many reasons why you are failing your clients. I get that you are an insurance company. And that we are nothing but dollar signs in your eyes. But if you are going to have the audacity to sit there on your earnings and then turn around and tell us you can't cover something that is crucial to person's well being whether it be ABA therapy or a consult to a Doctor, then be prepared for a lot more letters like this one.

I am but one out of thousands of military members and their families, that have spoken out concerning the lack of coverage for those who have proudly served their country. So while our service members out fighting foreign wars, we the family members are fighting our own fight. The fight for decent medical coverage for both the military member and their families.

Very Respectfully,

A Speck among thousands of annoyed Military Families.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Little Puzzle Piece that said Boo..

With Hallowe'en fast approaching, I am sure that everyone has gotten their costumes sorted out, candy bought, pumpkins carved and house decorated to delight even the ghostly of visitors.  Hallowe'en has always been a favorite of mine and my husband's. In fact, we love it more than Christmas. Before we had children, Hallowe'en parties were always fun to attend. Getting to be someone else for an evening was rather fun. When we started having children, our hopes to pass down our love of this holiday just added to our excitement. Cute costumes for babies and toddlers. The joy of seeing them get their first piece of candy in their bag. Or how they got grossed out over pumpkin guts. But that all changed when we had our children with Autism.

Autism is a funny thing. In regards to it being unpredictable. You never know what is going to be a trigger. So Hallowe'en being one of those holidays, that things don't appear to be what they normally are, we had to brace ourselves for the possibility that the holiday we loved so much would be celebrated differently.

Most of the general population, doesn't understand why this would be a triggering holiday. From the Costumes choices( or lack there of) or the inability to utter those famous words "Trick or Treat". Or not understanding the concept of why we don't go directly into someone's house, even through they are giving out treats. People don't understand that the strobe lights or the fog machines put our sensory children into a tailspin. I don't expect them too. Its just the way things are. But what I do expect is for people to have some understanding that there are little ghouls and ghosties out there, trying to do their best at trick or treating.

Our son, who is non-verbal has a hard time with this. I have been asked on many occasions, why I didn't leave him home. Well the answer is simple. I will not shut him out of society, because other people aren't comfortable with his existence.  He has every right to be with his brother and sister trick or treating. My response is always the same. He is just a little puzzle piece who says "Boo" in his own little way.

Hallowe'en and every holiday is for everyone. It doesn't matter how they experience the world. They are entitled to partake in the festivities.

Please if you do see a child that might be scared or overwhelmed, be a comfort to them. If they are not wearing a costume, don't get on their case about it. It could be that the costume is made from a material that bothers them. And if they don't say "Trick or Treat", it could be that they can't. They would if they could. And for most of us parents who love this time of year, hearing that would be awesome. But a lot of us just want our children to be accepted.

Just remember that there are going to be children out there who say "Boo!" or "Trick or Treat"in their own way.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Why its important to talk about tragedies with the young

There are always going to be things that happen in this world that are beyond our control. Whether it be due to a natural disaster or a man made terror. We as adults are custom to trying to deal with what life throws at us. Our children are the ones that often times get forgotten in the chaotic aftermath of tragedy.

By now most of the world's children have either suffered  or have learned about the horrible stuff that goes on in the adult world. You don't have to be a child psychologist, to know that children understand the world differently. Their understanding of events that shape their lives, is a different reality to how we adults understand a situation. And that is the reason why it is important to talk about tragedies.

What I am not suggesting is an explanation that full of the nitty-gritty or the very serious nature of a situation. But talking to your child about how a certain situation made them feel. Most times, for a child, its fear. They will see the full range of emotions that most of us have, when something tragic happens, but to full comprehend those emotions, they just can't. They are going to hear about things that happen in the world, as we have entered into an age where information is passed so quickly and openly, that is its hard to tune stuff out. So you can't shelter them off from the world.

So what do we do to help our young ones understand tragedy?With so much going on in the world, its very easy to get confused.

There are so many things from Mr. Rodgers to Sesame Street that have excellent starting points on how to start a conversation. But you need to find a dialog that is appropriate for you, as well as your child. You know just how much your child can understand about things. Trying to find the right wording or basis can be hard. Its hard to talk about difficult things. Especially things that deal with death or a disruption of their daily life. Maintain that open dialog. Address those fear that they have. Make sure they know who to trust and who not to.

Children are ultimately going to learn about the world, whether we like it or not. But it is our job to make sure they understand that things aren't going to be rainbows and puppies. We, as parents need to be prepared to talk to our children about things, so they have a better understanding of this world. That they know if something bad does happen, certain feelings are ok.

For me, I have had to have the open dialog with my children, as their father is military. I don't get into the specifics of why their father has to go away. But they do know that there are people who live on this planet that aren't nice and that they do bad things. They understand who they can go to if something bad happens.

With the world being the way it is, it is important that our children know that fear is only natural. Its ok to be uncertain. But that they know they have trusted people they can talk to about their feelings.

The world is shaping up to be a scary place and our children need to be prepared for that reality.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Little Girl who added a little Sparkle to her world.

Most people see glitter and sequins as the bane of the craft world. Most of us parents balk at the art projects that come home covered with so much glitter you could see it from orbit. But for the nine year old little girl that lives at my house, glitter is what makes her happy. For her there is no such thing as too much glitter or sparkle.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Missing Sensitivity Chip

Its not a big secret that this world has it's fair share of assholes.Most of us learn to deal with a great deal of them on a daily basis.The ones who cut you off in traffic or don't hold the door for you, we tend to just shrug them off.

Its the ones that are missing their sensitivity chip, who this post is for.It seems that this is a problem that is getting out of hand. More and more, people out there are forgetting just want it means to be sensitive to others or the world  around them. Either from just sheer ignorance or just plain malice. It troubles me.

I understand that people have a right to their opinions. Right or wrong, you are free to voice your thoughts about society and the world. But what bothers me is there is no filter on the statements that are being made. None. Zero.

It's easy for one to silently judge someone within the confines of their own head. All of us do it, whether or not you want to admit it to yourself is your choice. But we all have our own thoughts. The problem is those who verbalize their judgement and thoughts. As though they are immune to the sensitivity of the situation or person.

These past couple of years, with having special needs children, has opened my eyes to just how bad people can really be. From the stares to the comments. Even the suggestions are a lot to take in. Its almost like people can't help themselves. This verbal diarrhea syndrome.

I see it everywhere. It doesn't just apply to just my children. From the rampant racism in this country to the homophobic slurs.From conversations online from everything from parenting to how you cook your breakfast.  It's disturbing that people would treat or judge each other the way they do.

It does seem that most of the world is missing it's sensitivity chip. No one gives a shit about how their statements might come across as hurtful or demeaning. But whatever, at least they got out what they wanted to say.

So the next time you are tempted to say something about someone or a situation that you have no experience about, tap into your sensitivity chip. Ask yourself, how you would feel if the roles were reversed. Do humanity a favor and be a better person. And by better person I mean, keep those judgmental, asshole opinions to yourself. And if you can't, then be prepared for people to question your morality.

Please don't be one of the assholes that roam this planet.

I am not out to change the world. I am just a small, insignificant blog that normally writes about Autism and the joys of military life. But it does indeed scare me. With social attitudes the way they are, how is it that the next generation is going to learn anything about being more culturally or socially aware of their planet, when it's up to us adults to teach them. When in all honesty, we can't even help ourselves with that lesson.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A House Divided.

By now the news of Kelli Stapleton has reached a world wide audience. I wasn't going to write about her, but I feel that there are certain aspects of this situation that need to be addressed. It has indeed rocked the autism community to it's core. It has pitted parents against self advocates, the real world against the autism community and so on. I honestly believe that the house has been divided.  The people who support Kelli vs the ones who consider her a monster.

For those of you, who consider her a monster, I know that you can't fathom any parent trying to kill their own child. Whether it be out of malice or due the mental instability of the parent or the fact that the parent doesn't want to see their child suffer any longer, you can't wrap your mind over the fact that someone would do this. Murder is Murder.You want justice for that child(ren).

Those of you who have supported Kelli, you have understood that feeling of reaching the point of no return. When every outlet that you had, either slowly diminishes or goes away. That feeling of being backed into wall, with no where to turn.

The media has not been kind to this situation. It seems that, as usual, it has all missed the important component. Autism. Kelli Stapleton brought Autism out of the shadows. She made it possible for people to talk about it. In a very sad way, she brought to light, the pressures that most of us caregivers are under, while trying to make sure our loved ones are taken care of. It is remarkable just how much we can take, before we all snap. Kelli put that experience on the map.

It is sad to me, as a parent of not one but two children on the spectrum to see a community divided. To see the nastiness flowing so freely. Attacking one another like a pack of rabid dogs. Instead of talking rationally about how we can prevent circumstances like Kelli's. We can all agree that the final choice of Kelli's was a bad one. There is no one denying that trying to murder her children was a very poor judgement. But it was the judgement made by a person who had lost all hope. A person who thought that, this was the only way out. When she needed to have someone help her, she hit road blocks.

We, as a community need to learn from this. We need to stop pointing fingers at each other. Instead of victimizing and vilifying, we need to take a stand. So when we do have parents or caregivers out there, who have felt that they can't fight any longer or that they have reached the end, that there is a community out there that will support them. Help them get through a tough situation. We need to stop playing the blame game and stop being a house divided.

Be kind. Be accepting. Be there for someone.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Perfect Imperfect world.

Designer Babies. When I was pregnant with my youngest child, this term was being tossed around the baby world, as something that people could now do. Make sure you had the sex of the child you wanted or if they were going to have the eye colour you wanted even before your child was implanted into your womb. And I could remember at the time, as I felt my little one kick within my own womb, what would happen to the world if we didn't have imperfection? If we started having these genetically modified children. Sounds like a Sci/Fi  movie or concept doesn't? Now I really don't know anything when it comes to talking about genes or chromosomes. Just the basics that I remember from 10th grade biology class. But at the time it really got me thinking. What really made me think, was how would societies' view change when there isn't an imperfection within it's norm.

When I think about all the children that grace this planet with their presence, I look at the things that make them different from each other. Skin colour, eye colour, hair colour, short, tall..etc.. If we were all the same, how would we learn about accepting differences?

With in the special needs community we have a hard enough time trying to gain acceptance from the outside as it is. Whether or not our child has a physical, developmental or mental aspect about them, it seems that they are the ones that garner attention from those who do not understand. But what if the imperfections that society puts on them, help the human race figure out what acceptance is?

A lot of us, who are the old war horses in the special needs communities, get sent those stories of that special needs child that made a difference. The one who proved to everyone to not discredit them from society. Those stories of those who change the way someone thought about a certain syndrome or disorder.

They are the ones that will inspire others to be better human beings. The ones that will make people stop and think. Out of all those people who stare or make comments about a special needs child, those parents who fight to educate those who don't know, most times those people will either walk away learning something or they will be left to their own ignorance.

Most people who become a parent, looks at their children as perfect. It doesn't matter. Special Needs parents look at what society deems as imperfect, as perfection as these are our children. They may need a little extra love and time to grow and prosper, but we would never change anything about them to make the perfect in the eyes of what society deems perfect.

Celebrate the imperfections. They are what uniquely make up you. They are what is going to teach the rest of the world that there is no such thing as a perfect person. People may try, but at the end of the day we were all still that imperfect person.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Things I wish my Children's Teachers knew...

Before I start this post, I am going to state that not all teachers are created equal. We have some amazingly awesome teachers out there, who truly love their job and their students. But we also have a good number of teachers, who have either lost their way or have forgotten why they became teachers in the first place. We have been blessed with a good number of fantastic teachers, that have enriched all of our children's lives. But with those, we have also had the ones who didn't take the time to properly teach or even get to know the special students within their classroom.

As the school year begins in full swing, its thus starts for us parents the scheduling of IEP meetings as well as trying to get our children back into routines. Its stressful. Most times we have children that either very keen to get back into something that gives them comfort or we have children that fight us every step of the way, as it is a change that is monotonous to them. That is not say that this will be the norm for the rest of the remaining school year. But it will take time adjust. With all of that, these kids are adapting to a new classroom, sometimes a new teacher, new aides and a slew of new faces. It can be hard for a child with Autism to navigate. Again, once there is an adjustment, certain behaviors will decrease.

With all that being said, us parents have a difficult task of trying to figure out things that will help our children into this transition. Which is why we rely on our children's teachers to help us out. You guys are with our children most of the school day. You will know what is setting them off and what is working to help them get through their day. Now, all of us parents know that teaching children is not an easy task, again one of the reason we are so grateful to you all.

That gratefulness comes though, when we can see just how much you mean to our children. When our children come home from school, still having that wanting and joy to learn, it means you have done your job. When our children, who are verbal, talk highly of you, it means you have done your job.

But when our children, have no desire to learn, refuse to go to school, or even script from the bad days you have, which is them screaming the same things you have done in class  or the report cards aren't reflecting the IEP goals,  then sadly we parents, become "Those Parents" That is when you start to see the fighter in us. We don't want to become those type of parents that you complain about. But its just one of those things that happens to a parent when they see that things are not what they are supposed to be or IEPs that aren't being followed.

Speaking of IEPs, the meetings are just as stressful to us as they are to you. Especially when you know that our child is struggling. Its one thing to sit there and tell us that our child is a joy to have in class, but then list all the things they are doing wrong. Work with us parents to find a plan to help our children. Except that everything is trial and error. Somethings are going to work, but somethings aren't.  It is very demotivating for us parents, when there is no interest or when you have no idea what this child is capable of.  There is a reason they give you a snapshot of the IEP at the beginning of the school year.

Again, I am not saying that every teacher out there is bad. There are some absolutely fantastic teachers out there, who really love the job they are doing. But if you are a teacher, that finds themselves screaming a lot at your students or singling out the special needs children because you can't deal with how they deal with the world, then maybe you need to take a step back and reevaluate your job.

Most of us parents, don't want to seem angry all the time at the school system. Most of us just want a decent education for our children, that happen to need a little special attention. So when you guys sit down and decide who is going to have the opportunity to have a special needs child in their class, please take the time to really think about it. Review the snapshot of the child's IEP. Familiarize yourself with your students. And its ok, if you aren't up for having a special needs student in your class, but be honest about it.

For those who are blessed with having our children in your classroom, you are the teachers that will concrete that love for learning. You are the ones, that will make an impact on our children's academic life. I know that there are going to be days, where its going to be crazy, but you have a room full of impressionable children. I can't not stress that enough.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Seeing past a Disability is a Lesson on Humanity: Third Grade Memories.

Before I had my children, the world of special needs was something of my own childhood. I grew up around those who needed a little extra love and attention. Back in those days, the special needs children were often in separate classrooms. Occasionally we would have children who had Downs or physical handicaps in our classrooms. In my third grade, my best friend was a boy who had Spina Bifida, who had later died due to other things happening inside his small body. It was knowing him, without seeing the very obvious thing that made him different, that allowed me to see a person beyond the stated or pronounced issue they were having in life.

With that sense, it made me realize, when my own children were diagnosed, wouldn't it be wonderful if people could see past that one distinctive factor. Even though, there have been a lot of advancements in medical science, it still seems that the ignorance of long before, still reigns. 

I  have written a lot about the daily struggles both myself and my children have navigating around in this world, that seems to be, some days, a sea of assholes. But every time I encounter someone that can't quite figure my children out, I think back to looking in on those classrooms that were filled with children, who just wanted to play and have friends. And I think, it really hasn't changed all that much. Sure we are starting to see more and more special needs children within the classroom, but its the attitudes that haven't changed. Policies have. But not the way of thinking. We still have teachers that don't respect the uniqueness of their students and the adults out there that still try to take advantage of those who they think are weak.Bullies that are born from the  way of thinking birthed by those who are around them. Its those attitudes that get passed down, that bother me. 

I take the experiences I had growing up as something to teach my own children. I want them to see people with an open mind. I don't want them to think that just because someone is different from them, that they need to excluded from society. I want them to be able to stick up for someone who maybe can't. As they have a sibling that can't verbalize. Just as I was the voice for that friend, I want them to have that. 

After we got the diagnosis of our third child, I remember all those years of looking inside those special classrooms, thinking to myself, why can't they come out and play with us. I see my son, who is very happy where he is, in one of those classrooms. I hope that the day will come that he will be able to be with his peers. I know in my heart that it will come. 

I hang on to those memories of a person that taught me so much. At the time, I didn't think much of it as I was a child. But looking back I just see a person who was willing to be my friend and I his. Looking  at school pictures, he was always at the end, in his wheelchair and megawatt smile. I remember at his funeral, his mother thanked me for being such a good friend. To this day, I was just happy to have had him in my life. To me, there wasn't any labels or diagnosis. If a person was a good person, that was all the mattered, to me.

It is sad to me that even back then, disabilities were what made a person, no one saw past that.The refusal to educate, segregates those who just yearn to be part of this society, which is no better than those attitudes of old of wanting to put these children away or separated.  To this day, as we fight for acceptance and simple compassion, those same attitudes are still there.. Just a different translation of it. 

I hope that one day, everyone will be on the same page, speaking the same language when it comes to accepting our children. Being kind and compassionate. Looking back, me just being a friend to someone that was different, meant more to me than anything else, as he taught me more about being a good human being than I think he realized.And that is the lesson many people still need to learn.  

Billy, I hope that you know just what kind of lesson you taught me way back then about how to be a compassionate person. I hope that my children can teach someone out there the same valuable lesson you taught me many many moons ago. .You are always remembered fondly.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Hero within...

Normally when we think about Heroes, we tend to think about those who don a cape and have special, unique powers that make them immortal or the ability do things at an extraordinary level. They tend to be those who have fan base or a following of sorts. They are the characters that young children dream of being, wearing their costumes, pretending to save those toys from an evil entity from their imagination. When I think about heroes, its everyday people.

A far cry from your Supermen and your X-Men, but the everyday Joe who makes a difference in their life, as well as the lives of others. It doesn't take superhuman strength or a gazillion gadgets. Nor does it take a radio active spider, to prove to society that you are hero. It takes compassion and kindness. Courage, and internal strength. Heroes are those people who without a second thought, try and make a positive difference in the world. They are the ones that come from their own personal struggles to raise above it and come out of it ok.

They are the mothers and fathers, that go to ends of the earth to make sure that their children are taken care of. The single parents that are working two to three jobs just to make sure there is food in their children's bellies. They are the parents that get devastating news concerning their child, but yet put a brave face on, so their child doesn't worry. They are the parents that have had to prematurely bury their children when they have departed to soon from this earth.

They are the people that swear to protect and up hold the law, still with honor and dignity. They are your members of the military, that bravely enlisted to protect the freedoms you have today. They are the family members that are left behind during deployments. The child that waves the American Flag so proudly while they watch their parent go.  They are the mothers, fathers, wives, husbands and children that sit in front of a grave stone watching a 21 gun salute.

They are the person who doesn't see the disability that has labelled them. They are people who fight for acceptance. The people who take what is given to them and who make it work.

They are the fighters and dreamers who try to make this world a better place. They are the figures that personify just what equality and peace is. They are the Dr.Martin Luther King Jr's, The Ghandi's, the Dali Lama's of this world. They are the people who never gave up. The Rosa Parks', The Nelson Mandelas and the Harvey Milk's of this world.

Heroes are everywhere. They are the people that hold the door open for you. They are the people,who when they see you struggle  are there to help you back on your feet. They are the good Samaritans that help in an accident or who help you calm your nerves. They are the people,who pay it forward. They are the people who don't care where you come from or who you are but are willing to respect you as human being.

So when we look at heroes, very rarely do we look at the person staring back at us in the mirror. Most of us don't think we are the all that special, but in reality, we just might be a hero to someone and just don't know it. Within ourselves there is a hero that is either waiting to emerge or they are part of who we are.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dear Impatient Person....

Hi there!

I am sure you don't remember me. I am one of the countless people you have encountered in your day that you have not given a second thought to. That is ok. I wouldn't expect you to remember those people who's day you have made worse because you didn't have one ounce of decency towards your fellow human beings. Its ok, I get it. Most of us get it, the world moves at a slow pace than you do, and you being the most important person to ever live, we must somehow must step aside and let you do your thing.

But here is the trick with that way of thinking, it well sucks. I am going to blow your mind here.You are not the only person on this planet that has places to go and things to get done. Let that sink in a little bit.

So when you are the person that calls the bus company to complain about a school bus taking up too much of your time, because you are running late or that you want to get home, this is what happens. That bus now has find another way to drop the kids that it's transporting back and forth to school. Sometimes the route they have to take is the safest to get the kids on and off the bus. But little did you know that the bus you called to complain about is a bus that is carrying special needs children and that maybe, just maybe the route they were taking was the safest for both parent and child to get on and off the bus. So now, that parent and that child have to get on a bus on one of the busiest streets where most people don't pay much attention the bright yellow bus with flashing lights. Getting stuck behind a school bus slows you down. But think about this, if this was your child or someone you loved, getting on and off a bus, won't you want them to be safe?

So when you were so quick to complain about one school bus, I bet you didn't even stop to think why this bus had the route it did. I don't expect you to understand. But let me tell you why this bothers me. I have a child that bolts. He is autistic. And if there was ever a chance that he got out of my grasp and bolted into the street in front of the bus and into the traffic that doesn't pay attention, then what happens? And who is at fault? Not you. Not the person who didn't care enough about the safety of the children on that bus, as it inconvenienced you for all of five minutes if that. And I am sure you are the type of person that curses and swears when you get stuck behind the bus or the person who thinks its ok to not stop when the bus is flashing it's lights.

So I hope that one day, if you have children or children in your life, that you love as fiercely as I do my children that you hope to god they make it safely back and forth to school. Whether or not they take the bus. As your complaint about my son's bus inconveniencing you on your daily drive, because you are impatient and can't wait for a child to get off a bus safely, shows me just what kind of person you are. One that needs to slow down and be considerate to those who are around you. And then maybe, when the tables are turned and we have to wait for you, you just might get a dose of an impatient person. Good luck with that.

Very Respectfully,

Mother of a Bus Rider.

Monday, September 8, 2014

When is it going to start being an issue...

By now most of the football loving nation has been aware that Ray Rice, the running back for the Baltimore Ravens, has been cut from the team, due in part because of a video that depicts him punching his then fiance out as if he was in a boxing ring and he was going rounds with Mike Tyson.  I am deeply sadden at the way this has all been reacted to and how poorly it has been taken care of.

Mr. Rice is just one of many superstars that have gotten away with something that is illegal. Since the dawn of time, domestic violence has been looked upon as something that can be swept under the rug, ignored like the make up that covers the bruises. But this is now something that even the NFL and other organizations cannot ignore.

As hard as it was for me, as a survivor of Domestic Violence, to sit and watch a man in a very small space, knock out his woman, like a neanderthal, failing at the attempt to drag his woman back to his cave, I can't even fathom what its like for her. Janay Rice, now has to sit back and see all the comments that condemn her because that video pretty much killed her husband's career. She is now the ending joke to asshat reporters on FOX news, who have no idea what its like to be abused by their spouse. But the sad reality of it is this, there are millions of people out there who are abused by their spouses, every single day that are sitting in their own misery watching this play out. And like a shitty play by play that gets repeated, most of us who did manage to find the courage to walk away, are sitting here, know exactly why Janay Rice went ahead and married him anyway.

I am not going to sugar coat things or make domestic violence look even remotely pretty. Because its not. It is an ugly, rage-ful, controlling aspect of certain human beings that need to feel better about themselves. And for us people that find their way into their web, it is a struggle to get out of. Not only are you griped with the fear of pissing this person off, but you have absolutely no self worth to say to yourself that you deserve better. This person has beaten you down both emotionally and physically. To the point where you start believe them, when they tell you that you deserve nothing better except what they are offering. They break you, until you are nothing but the shell they can control. So when you sit there and ask "Well why don't they leave?" Its not as easy as getting up and walking out that front door. You first have to find within yourself the courage to do so. You have to find that part of you that still makes you, you. But when you find that, whether it be instantaneous or if it takes awhile, you then can start realizing that you are worth more than just someone's control thing.

For all the Janay Rices out there, You are not alone. Not for one second. There are places you can go. There are numbers you can call 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 ( National Domestic Violence Hotline)that will help you and keep you safe. It isn't going to easy and it is going to suck a whole lot of shit. But know that there are people out there that will be there to catch you if you fall.

I needed to write about this. Domestic Violence is never ok. Not Ever. It is never, ever ok to even joke about it. And for those who seem to feel some sense of sympathy for Mr. Rice, I want you really take a long hard look at the man you seem to want to support. The man that almost got away with beating the shit out of his wife. Eventually, it will all come back to haunt you.

As for the NFL and other big organizations, the fact that you are now just making a stand about this, is truly sad. Because if that video hadn't shed some light on the misogynist game you all play, I am willing to bet that you wouldn't have players to play your game.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Standing on the outside, looking in...

It is not a big secret that people with Autism have a hard time trying to find their footing in the social sphere. Either their stimming or social awkwardness tends to put people off. Which very quickly makes them the targets of the bullies of the world. But has anyone ever asked a person with Autism what it is like to try and navigate through this world that doesn't fully understand them, yet let alone accept them?

I ask these questions, as more and more stories are becoming news worthy of bullying those with special needs. As a parent of a children who are special needs, I often wonder what its like for them trying to make friends or trying to fit in to clique. Imagine standing outside of a place that you so desperately want to get into, not having the tools or the courage to either get in or walk inside. They try and try to find a way in, but in the end it is unsuccessful. Watching your ASD child go through this is heartbreaking, as you know just what kind of special person they are. In fact its quite painful.

Watching my daughter, especially trying to become her own person in a world that doesn't understand her, is both terrifying and enlightening. It is a learning experience for her as much as it is for me. I remember when I was her age and the cruelty of the children in my class towards those who were different. It was a different time, but attitudes remain the same at this level. For her, I see the emergence of self awareness. Knowing who she is, but with that comes the vulnerability of letting the outside world see her for who she is. Watching her try to figure out why she is excluded from things. Or why she gets dropped when a cooler kids comes around. I can see those gears turning inside her head, but she has that look of being on the outside looking in. That sense of maybe this is not where I belong.Trying to find people who will stick by her.. I know in time, she will find her own tribe. The people who will love her for who she is. The people that will see past what makes her different. The people who call upon her to share in laughter and friendship. But right now, she is trying find a way in. Trying to find those people who will open the door and let her in. As she is learning how to deal with the social sphere of being an Autistic, I want her to know that she is important. That she is worthy of people who accept her and see past the autism. It will be a hard lesson for both her and I to learn. It doesn't stop with just my daughter, even though, my youngest is still young, its how the world accepts him that I worry about.

Children with Autism, are misunderstood. Society sees the meltdowns, the over stimulation, the delays or every other thing that is associated with Autism. They see the non verbal child as dumb or unresponsive. But what they don't see, is this child that is full of life. Full of love. Full of so much to offer as a human being. They are unforgiving to those who shun them, for all they want to have is companionship. A friend.

Teach your children what it means to include and accept someone that is different from them. Children learn from example. Even though my children may seem different from the rest of the world, they are taught to see everyone as an equal. No one is less of a person because of how and who they are. They are still human beings with emotions and the ability to feel. Just because they might not have the tools to express fully how they are feeling doesn't mean they don't feel sad or hurt when you treat them differently or negatively.

Do me a favor... 

I want people to imagine standing outside a place you really want to go into. A restaurant or a store, whatever that place may be, and for what ever reason you are not capable of going into that place. And as you are standing outside trying to look in, what do you feel? That desire and need to go it but can't. Sense of defeat and sadness right? Damn I wish I could go in there. Looks fun. That is what it feels when you exclude a person from your social sphere. And sadly, that is what many ASD children feel like when trying to fit in. Be that person that opens the door and welcomes them in, to place that is supportive and accepting.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Game Changer..

When we have children, we have  plans. They are not even out of the womb and we have plans.God did we have so many plans. To think back, we parents started planning our future and the little human we carried future the minute we found out we had created something wonderful. We had all these hopes and dreams that we wanted for our little ones. Maybe the next President of the United States or that professional sports player. Or maybe just a decent human being that we as parents could be proud of in our old age. All these plans that we put into place when we started having our kids. So what happens when you have something that puts roadblocks in front of your plans. Those little things that life throws at you, just to make things interesting.

I am not going lie or sugar coat things, that when a parent is sitting in a doctor's office hearing news that will forever change not only their lives but the life of their child, that there is a range of emotions that occur. No parent wants to hear that there is something ultimately wrong with their child. Whether it be a disease, a syndrome or a disorder. It doesn't matter how big or how small this "thing" is, its a game changer. You look at this child, this sweet, sweet child and all of us think to ourselves, quietly, Why them? Why does it have to be them? We have our periods of disbelief. That we can't fathom, just what this means. And there are some of us, that refuse to acknowledge what is going on. We see those plans that we hoped and dreamed about flash before us and they are almost like watching a balloon float into the sky. We try to grasp at it, but it is beyond our reach. We are all but lost to our emotions and that sense of dread. Most of us grieve, not for the child, but for what the foreseeable future will hold for them We grieve for the battles they will have to fight, as we know it is a cruel, cruel world out there. These feelings are very common when parents get news about their child, that alters the way they will have to live their lives. Its ok. Its ok to be angry. Its ok to be sad. Its going to be hard, but you will get through this. 

At times, when we get news about our children we want to know everything there is to know about what is affecting them. And we want to know how we can fix it. But for some, it isn't an issue of fixing it, its the way to live with something. Its how to adapt. Work with something rather than against it. Sometimes that means more doctor's appointments, medication or just changing your lifestyle to include every aspect of your child. Beyond the labels, there is still this child that needs to grow and prosper.

The important thing is when you get difficult news that concerns your child, is they are still the same child that you look upon with wonder. They are still the same child that pushes your buttons. They are still that little human, that made you parents in the first place. And without them, you wouldn't know what its like to be selfless or compassionate. They are the ones that teach us how to fight.

 You haven't stopped being their parent or loving them any less. Now instead of playing that one game you know the rules to, you are playing just a different game, with slightly different rules, but the team is still the same.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Jealous Parent...

I will be the first one to admit that from time to time I get jealous about things. I am, after all only human. I know that there are certain things that are beyond my control when it comes to the life that I live. This is a natural feeling. We all get jealous over the things that could be, the things we want or the person we all want to be. Anyone who sits there and says they don't get jealous, is lying to themselves.

For a lot of us parents, our jealousy is harboured through our children. Mainly because they have been pushed to their limits, whether it be through sports, academics or even lifestyle. But for some of us who have children that aren't quite part of that world, our jealousy is a bit different. It isn't a competition for us to see who's child is better at what sport or who got all the scholarships.  For us, its those moments when we have gotten to the point of no return with our children, when the stimming or the perservations are so bad, that we have that guilty, that very guilty thought of how we wish it could be different.  To have that one day where we don't have the world staring at us or telling us off.  To have that one school year where it isn't such an uphill battle with your child's educators. Or even to have that one thing, whether it be sports, a club or an activity, that your child is accepted into, disorders and diseases put aside. That guilty little thought does not make us bad parents. It makes us human. It shows that we want better for our children.

I think a lot of us special needs parents often look at things like dance, sports or band, as something we longingly wish our children were a part of. In a way we are sort of jealous of the fact that most children can do stuff like that and not have worry about their stimming or inability to relate socially with their peers. And for us parents, its hard to watch. We get that tinge of jealousy. As we want our children to have something like that. Now don't get me wrong, I know there are groups out there, that accept special needs children into their organizations, but they are very few.

The simple little things in life also strike a chord with us. Date nights, a dinner out (without the stares) or even getting the four things we need from Target. We don't mean to be jealous, but it would be nice if we could get out and do those things with the peace of mind that someone we trust is looking after our kids. Finding a decent babysitter that understands what it takes to look after special needs children are slim. Most of us are begging relatives or family friends who understand to come out to look after our children. There are some nights that we wouldn't kill just to not have to worry.

I write this and I want people to know that its not a personal kind of jealousy. Its more of a "Gee, that would nice.. " kind. Most of parents are happy to see things go according to plan. We love to see children succeed. And in the end we do count our blessings. We cherish our children. So please don't be upset with a special  needs parent who might be a little envious of your good fortune. I guess just be a little understanding that we struggle. Sometimes days at a time or hours in the day. And maybe after talking about the good things in your life, ask the special needs parent if there is anything you can do to help.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The day I told Autism to F*CK OFF...

I know that I am going to get a lot of flack for the title alone. But please hear me out. I, like many other families out there, either are struggling with how to correctly care for our autistic loved ones or dealing with the outside world's prospective of what living with Autism actually is like, are tired. Tired of a lot things that get associated or even our reality when it comes to Autism. That doesn't mean to say that we dislike or hate our loved ones, but its to say that we are run down, tired, exhausted and quite frankly just a tad annoyed, again not at the person, but the disorder. Autism, like many other things that a human can have, has its moments of "WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT??!" We can hate a disease, as we see what it can to do people we love.  So with that, the day I told Autism to fuck off.

Anyone who reads my blog or follows me on Facebook and or Twitter, knows that I am a mother of three very awesome children. Three amazing little persons that I am truly in awe of.  But as a parent, especially looking at the two that are on the spectrum, I see their struggle with trying to find themselves. Trying to navigate through this world, that is magnified beyond my own comprehension. I see their struggle just to feel part of a group, no matter how hard they try, there is always going to be a time where they are not going to be accepted. I see their struggle just to try and understand tasks that are put in front of them. Things that can be so basic to you and I, are some of the toughest for them.No parent wants to see their child struggle, and yes I know that struggle is a part of life, but its two fold for those who have Autism. They have to work harder more than the average person.

I always say that life is what you make of it. Its going to be challenging at times or it can be breeze. Most of us special needs parents are presented with a nice wide range of difficulties when we try to make sure our children prosper and grow. It doesn't matter where we are or who we are with, since a good portion of  the general public refuses to educate themselves, we are always going to be up against those who feel the need to cast the stares, whisper under abated breath or even have the balls to come and tell us our children need to be institutionalized. No one is going to do that if your child isn't stimming, flapping their limbs or screeching like a banshee because they can't help it. No one is going look at you twice if your child is sitting quietly in a stroller. For some reason, its ok to do that to parents and caregivers of those who are Autistic.

As a parent of special needs children, I am well within my right to be annoyed and angry at something that causes my children strife. I am allowed to feel the way I do, as I am the person that eats.sleeps and breathes what causes my children to struggle. I know in my heart that it isn't my children's fault that this is the life they were given. But god damn it, in my sleep depraved state, I am allowed to not like disease or disorder my children have.

So on those days, where the ignorance is running high, I am working on maybe 2 hours of sleep, the stimming is off the charts, the perservations and the scripting are enough to make a saint lose their patience and I am holding it together with a cup of coffee, a prayer and the strength to know this too shall pass, yeah Autism can fuck off.

Again I will state, that I love my children with every shred of my being.  I will go to the ends of this god forsaken planet in order for them to have a fulfilling life on their terms. It ain't going to be easy  and the path is going to suck, but that is my job as a parent.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams: Why his passing means so much..

It isn't a well kept secret that  Hollywood with all of it's glamour, lights and sparkle has it's dark corners. It's stories of scandal, drugs and infamous torrid tales of jealousy and murder. But there are few good gems that have come out of the celebrity mish-mash.  The ones despite their own demons, still try effortlessly, to use their fame for good. One such wonder was Robin Williams.

As many of us are still in shock from last night's announcement, I, myself, am floored. He wasn't just a man of many comedic talents. Yes he was a funny, funny man and earned the right to be called the King of Improv.  His talent wasn't just thinking on the fly. He had brought so many great performances to our screens. From John Keating from Dead Poets Society to Hector from Being Human. But it was Perry from The Fisher King that resonated with me. He portrayed a man bound by mental illness, but who managed to help another from the depths of suicide and depression. A relationship that both helped, Parry and Jack. In a way, his experiences in life and being so open about them have helped so many with their demons. In my mind it was one of Mr. Williams best roles. Which says a lot as there are so many.

The passing of Robin Williams is a tragic loss. Not just to Hollywood, but to the many people he helped. From St. Jude's Hospital to doing USO tours. He was one of the biggest champions for mental health. He battled his demons on a very public stage. He didn't shy way from admitting that, he too, was depressed or that he had used drugs to self medicate. If anything he wanted people to learn from him. If not from his public battles but from the roles he took in life.

Like so many tragic deaths that happen in the Celebrity world, its the ones that touch our lives in the most honest ways, that have the biggest impact. Robin Williams' death hit like a wave. A wave of sudden sadness. For those of us who suffer from depression, anxiety or any number of mental illness, we know the pain Mr. Williams had felt. We know that point of no return. If anything should come from this man's passing, it should be more education when it comes to Mental Health. It should be that people aren't always what they seem. The funniest man in the world was also the saddest.

Mr. Williams, I hope that the pain you felt inside your heart has lifted. I hope that you are now able to soar. I hope that when you look down upon us, you will see the light you have given us. Through your generosity, your smile and your immense talent to bring love and laughter to the world that solely needs it, we are grateful for the gifts you have given us.

"It begins with the king as a boy, having to spend the night alone in the forest to prove his courage so he can become king. Now while he is spending the night alone he's visited by a sacred vision. Out of the fire appears the holy grail, symbol of God's divine grace. And a voice said to the boy, "You shall be keeper of the grail so that it may heal the hearts of men." But the boy was blinded by greater visions of a life filled with power and glory and beauty. And in this state of radical amazement he felt for a brief moment not like a boy, but invincible, like God, so he reached into the fire to take the grail, and the grail vanished, leaving him with his hand in the fire to be terribly wounded. Now as this boy grew older, his wound grew deeper. Until one day, life for him lost its reason. He had no faith in any man, not even himself. He couldn't love or feel loved. He was sick with experience. He began to die. One day a fool wandered into the castle and found the king alone. And being a fool, he was simple minded, he didn't see a king. He only saw a man alone and in pain. And he asked the king, "What ails you friend?" The king replied, "I'm thirsty. I need some water to cool my throat". So the fool took a cup from beside his bed, filled it with water and handed it to the king. As the king began to drink, he realized his wound was healed. He looked in his hands and there was the holy grail, that which he sought all of his life. And he turned to the fool and said with amazement, "How can you find that which my brightest and bravest could not?" And the fool replied, "I don't know. I only knew that you were thirsty."- Parry, The Fisher King (1991)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The very tip of the Iceberg. Just barely scraping the surface

We all know the anatomy of an Iceberg thanks in part to the Titanic. Where you have this beautiful, floating body, just slightly skimming across the surface of icy, cold waters. What you really miss, is the body of the iceberg that is below the surface. It is this massive portion to that majestic ice castle above. No one ever sees the fully epic grand scale of an Iceberg. They just see what is on the surface.

Humans are much like those floating majestic ice palaces. We seem to have this way about us, where we present ourselves with a facade, much like an iceberg. Not saying we all have an icy way about us, but beneath our forced smiles or seemingly healthy nature, we have our own epic mass that is hidden. Who we are and what makes us, well us, is much like that convoluted, hidden portion of iceberg. The complexity of it can be the same. Uncharted, unexplored but yet it can be a dangerous place.

When we look at each other, we only see the surface of that person. That marginal tip that is exposed for the world to see. Its when you start to take a closer look at someone, that's when you start to realize the complexity of that person. You get know who that person is, besides what is just on the surface. You begin to understand what makes them, them. There are so many times where people are misjudged, as other have only seen what is on the surface. These assumptions are very dangerous and harmful, just like the sharp edge of an icy shelf.

When you see someone, don't always assume that they have their life put together. Don't assume that just because they are able to walk down the street, that things are happy or that they aren't in pain. Everyone, and I mean everyone has their own icy shelf beneath the surface. Doesn't matter if it is visible or not.

Like the Titanic, people assume that their judgments are valid and sound, when in fact its always the opposite. You may not realize until its too late, that you have just barely scraped the surface to someone's nature. Think about your words. Maybe that harsh criticism to the parent in the store about their child misbehaving, is you not knowing that child has Autism.Or maybe insensitive remarks about how you wish your partner would just go away are said to a military spouse who's significant other is deployed. Or maybe that look you give someone who has a disfigurement, you don't know is a War Veteran. Sometimes you can just look at someone and not know they have an invisible illness, that prevents them from doing certain things or that cause them great pain with inside their bodies.

When you are out in the world, take a good look at people. Open your mind to the possibility that the people around you, only give you a portion of who they are.

Much like an Iceberg, most of us are only scraping the surface.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Of Course it needs to be fixed, He is deployed. A Military Wife's tool box.

I am not the type of person that can sit back and twiddle my thumbs when there is a job to be done. I guess that is one of the reasons why I suit the military spouse lifestyle so much. It seems to me that every single time he goes out, the house, car and every appliance with their 7 year warranty that has just expired has all of a sudden either stops working, breaks or falls apart.  It never fails. Now I am pretty handy when it comes to the toolbox. I know the difference between flat head screwdrivers and a phillip head screwdriver. I was fortunate enough to have a father that taught me that painting and fixing things isn't just a skill set for boys.

From the time I could remember, my father was always including me with home repair projects. Whether it was teaching me at an early age to hammer a nail in correctly or to never overload your paint brush when you are painting. Even to this day, he still teaches me how to do things. And because of that my "Woe is Me" mentality goes down a notch. I don't have to worry if the toilet explodes or if there is a hole in the wall, thanks to a certain over zealous four year old.

I fear that girls and young women aren't learning how to get things done or even know their way around a hardware store. For us military wives, (sorry military husbands, but most of you know terms like PVC, particle board, and what a caulking gun does and could do home repairs because you are most likely taught..), unless we had some one teach us, we are kinda left out in the dark, literally, when something happens to the house and our spouse has been deployed. We can either hire someone(which is expensive) to come fix it or throw ourselves at the mercy of neighbours to come help you figure something out. So what are we supposed to do? Educate ourselves!

If it is one thing I have learned in the 12 years of marriage, where most of it was spent not having a spouse around, is to learn how to do simple things. Like using a drill correctly. Or knowing what kind of paint goes on the outside of the house as oppose to the inside of the house. Besides picking my father's brain every single time something falls off the ceiling, I have discovered YouTube has a vast amount of DIY videos. Stemming from how to replace your toilet wax ring to how to find your GFI sockets in your house( those are important to know, in case half your house doesn't have power!). Type in whatever project you doing, and yeah there will be a video with step by step instructions on how to do it. Another good resource is the Men and Women who work in our hardware stores. These people are awesome. I can't tell you how many times I have walked in and asked, "Hey, I am currently trying to fix X, Y and Z, where can I find the materials I need." and 9 times out of 10 they will be happy to help you as they would like to see you back for your next project.

So gone are those days when we used to live in the house falling apart around us as we wait till the spouse comes home or paying out too much money for an overpriced contractor. We, the Wives need to show that we can get stuff done when the men are away. They don't need to worry that they will be coming home to rubble. So take charge, you can get your hands a little dirty( I just ruined a perfectly good manicure putting up a bay window :) ), and being able to say... " I got this!"

I thought I might include what every Military Wife should have in their tool box:

Hammer, one big and one small
Screwdrivers with interchangeable bits
Box cutter and a craft knife
a small scraper
Long nosed Pliers
An adjustable wrench
An Allen wrench
a yard ruler and tape measure
Nail and Screw Packs
A level
Duct tape
Electrical tape
A staple gun
A tub of Polyfill (the type that turn colour when it dries.)

This isn't just for us military wives..but for anyone that would benefit from it.  Everyone should have some sort of basic tool box. Of course there will be projects that will require help and if you think the project is too big for you to do by yourself, Please ask for help or contact someone who can. The last thing I would want to happen is someone trying to re do their roof and say.. " Well that crazy lady who writes over at Spouse, Kids and Special Needs..said I could do it!!!" Always, always use common sense and safety is always first!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Do Us a favor, please don't feel sorry for us..

Dear Everyday Person,

I know what you are thinking when you see my children out in public.I see your stares and hear your whispered voices when you see my children get excited and stim or when they are over stimulated and just can't control themselves. And I know that in your heart you are not trying to be mean. That its just different and its not what you are used to seeing when you look at children. And those whispered voices, I would like to think that it is just you trying to process what you are seeing. We see the pity in your eyes and the concern in your voice. Please Stop.

Please stop feeling sorry for us. We don't want pity. We don't want to hear " I don't know how you manage"or "I don't know how you do it". We do it, because we must. There is no other option for us. Its called being a parent. And a good percentage of parents out there would do anything for their kids. Does it seem a bit trying at times? Yes. But again that is parenthood. Even the best of kids, have their days where they seem a bit out of sorts. Autistic Children are no different. Yes it does seem that the noise, bright lights and the hustle and bustle of everyday seem to ignite our children, but its not out of fear or discontent. Its how they feel, hear and see this world. So that concern that you have that we might not be good parents to our children because we let them just be them is for not. The best thing you can do for us is just accept our children.

When you see us out and about, do us a favor. Accept us as a part of society. Don't shun us or be sad for us. Pity is not what we want. Acceptance. Love our children the way we would yours. Accept our children as we would yours. Just because our children look at the world from a different angle, doesn't make them any less a child.

Take the time to notice how beautiful our children are. Look past the stimming. Look past what makes them different in your eyes. See that they are just as every inch awesome as the next child. Our children deserve to know they are loved and accepted just as yours are. Be that person who lets a Special Needs Parent that their child has lovely eyes or beautiful smile. That is what makes our day. Knowing that someone accepts our child for what they are, a child.

Yours Very Respectfully,

A Special Needs Parent.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Drawn to the Majestic Waters...

By now its not a big secret that the vast majority of  Autistic children are drawn to water. From the smallest of puddles to those vast open bodies of water. There is something that water has that is so appealing. The way it moves or the way it reflects the world or maybe its the calmness of it, that settles even the most active brain. But to those who are drawn to it, it can also be this very majestic prison. 

We lost another young life this week to that wet grave. Each time we loose a child to water, it heightens our need to always protect and guard our own. Before anyone says that a parent who has lost a child to drowning is a bad parent, needs to see what we all go through when it comes to making sure our children are safe. The thing is people often forget that an Autistic child is smart. They forget that just because a person is non verbal or appears to be within themselves that they don't understand how things like doors or locks work. Most of the time we hear that the parent states they have their house locked up tighter than Fort Knox, but yet the child still manages to get out.

For me, I have three children, who all love water. Especially my two that are on the spectrum. We go to the pool almost every day. As soon as I open the gate to the kid's pool, my four year old is already in the pool. Like a fish, water is his world. As I watch him float, as that is his favorite thing to do, I am still on my guard. Watching him be at peace for a moment in this little boy's life. It is the only time he is not a spinning top. But as I stand over him, I wonder if this is some sort of nirvana for him. If the water for him is when he can rest his racing movements and thoughts. I am left wondering if this is why so many autistics are drawn to the majestic waters. For some piece of mind.

Its too bad that places like the YMCA or local swimming pools don't offer swim lessons specially for children with autism. Teach them how to float properly or how to stay afloat. Now I get that teaching someone with autism has it's challenges, but we have already proven that they are smart and that they retain information. Is it going to take some extra care and time? Sure. But if you are a person like most of the teachers in these children's lives, it is worth it. If you are a swim instructor who wants to try and make the world a better place, than this might be for you. I know that there are programs out there, but you have to do a serious searching to find them. I know organizations like Autism Speaks and the National Autism Association have their own campaigns to raise awareness about children with autism and water. But what if they could sponsor some swim lessons at pool or maybe help train people who could teach autistic children to swim.

In the span of a couple of weeks, I have managed to teach my little fish how to float on his back like a star fish. It took time and patience, but we did it. It doesn't take much. I just didn't want my child to become yet another statistic.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Fighter within us .

If you had asked me couple of years ago if I was a fighter for anything in my life, I would have laughed. I am a person who avoids conflict like the plaque. So the idea of fighting for anything was a foreign concept.  But over the years things have changed. Things in my own life that have forced me to want to fight as well as things going on in the world. For me though, I don't consider myself a fighter, but more of an Advocate.

I bet that you didn't know that as parents, the minute we become parents, is when we start being an advocate. We are the voice for our children. In every aspect of their lives. When you walk into a doctors offices, when you are sitting in your child's classroom for a parent/teacher conference. Whenever there is a time that you have to be the voice for your child, you are advocating for them. It doesn't take much.

I know there is this stigma that surrounds Special Needs Parenting. We are portrayed as these angry, loud and obnoxious people who are constantly fighting all the time. Whenever I am faced with someone who has that misconception, I always ask, regardless, if your child was special needs, would you do everything in your power to make sure they grow and prosper? And the answer is always yes. Most don't realize that they advocate for their neuro typical child every single day, just like the special needs parents do. The cause is just different.

Parenting is just one thing that most of us can identify with. Why? Well we all have children. But each of us have things going in our lives that we think are right and wrong. Often times we are fighting just to have our voices heard.

There is a reason why I fight hard for certain things. I want my children to grow up in a world thinking they can achieve anything through good, honest hard work. I want them to grow up knowing that it doesn't matter what you have or how you got to your destination, that people are going to accept you as a human being. As that is what they are. I fight for the rights of people who don't have a voice. For me there are so many things in this life that has been given to me, that are worth while.My children, my lifestyle, family and friends.. the list goes on.

So when I look back at the person I was 10 or 15 years ago, who was the meek, mousy person. I laugh. That person would have never thought in a million years that they would be fighting for the rights of others, let alone advocating for those who need a voice. Think about it.  We all fight for something in our lives. Our Children, religious freedoms, civil rights, oppression, racism. What ever it is in your life, you will tap into that fighter within you, even when you don't think it is in you to begin with.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Autistic Deployment.

I write about a lot about military or autism, as those are the two main components to my life. Every day those two things intertwine. I can't have one without the other. It is just my way of life. A very chaotic life. I know that I am not alone, trying to muddle through this lifestyle. Which is one of the reasons why I write.

 I sit here in my sleep deprived state, watching my children, who have been up since o'dark thirty, just how does this lifestyle work for them. For us adults, we process things differently then children. Autistic or not, children see the world differently. For us, since the children have been born, we have had three four major deployments. This doesn't include any of the small ones. I am talking 6+ months gone. Each deployment has been different. At various stages of life. When they are young and small, they don't understand distance and time. For them, they just know that a parent is missing. I know that my eldest is fully capable of letting me know how he is feeling. I know when he misses his father and I know what he is upset about it. As look at my other two uniquely different children, I can't help but wonder just how this might seem to them.

The past couple of weeks, with my husband home on R&R, I have seen some good memories being made. Especially with our two autistic children. Memories that my husband got have with his children. But they were also memories that my children got to have with their father. I think in a way it was beneficial for all of them. My autistic children may not be able to express how they are feeling in regards to their father, but that doesn't mean they don't experience the range of emotion that comes from making those memories with their Dad or those emotions that follow when he has to leave. It when you see the joy on their faces, when they see him. The love that they express when they are near him. That raw sadness when he has to leave.

In their own way, they deal with this military lifestyle. Like any child, they will have their moments. I look back at the past deployments, I remember just how they coped. For them to find understanding, it was done through different means. Whether it was always putting Daddy in drawings, asking 20 bizillion questions about him or even trying to initiate the type of play Daddy normally does. I have found that my unique children have their own ways of coping. Sure it doesn't fit into how the rest of the world does it, but it makes sense to them. 

I think that special needs children get lost in the flag waving, support the hero, military children are the bomb, mentality. People assume that they are unaware of what is going on. That they don't understand what it means to miss someone. When my husband was in Afghanistan, people thought my daughter didn't have a clue that he was gone, simply because she didn't talk about it, where my eldest did. But if you look at all of her art during that time, it didn't matter what the theme of the art work was, there was always her Daddy drawn somewhere in the background. Even with my non verbal 4 year old, it has been said to me.. " Well he probably doesn't know that his father is gone". I bet he does. Do you know how I know? Every time he sees a picture of his father or hears his voice, that little boy's face lights up like a Christmas tree. He might be able to express how he is feeling, but it shows that he misses him.

I guess what I am saying, is don't discredit these children. As they experience deployments or absences in their own right. What would be nice is if all those organizations that do things for military children, would do something for those who are special needs. It doesn't have to be much. Partner up with an EFMP coordinator. Get something going for families with special needs, who are going through deployment. I know that some areas to have social mixers for special needs, but not every place does. And when you see a special needs military family out and about, remember that every child in that family is going through the same range of emotions of having a family member deployed.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Remembering Those Times..

As I sat at the last IEP meeting for this school year, discussing, finalizing and making sure my child's next school year is going to one that is supported and sound, I couldn't help but reminisce about how things used to be. I do this every year. I always try to make a point to talk about how this child started out in this wonderful world of Autism.  I go back into the recesses of my brain to get back to the time when everything was a fight. Where as a parent, I looked at my child and wonder why people didn't want to help. Its funny, as it would have not taken much to get the ball rolling for this child. What was a consult to a specialist going to be worth just to set my mind at ease. That I wasn't going crazy and there was something going on with this child.

As I am listening to my child's SpEd teacher go over the demographics of the IEP, I am remembering a time when I was begging and pleading with my child's Doctor, just to get something. I honestly didn't care if it was a referral to a Gastrointestinal Doctor. I honestly felt that my maternal  instincts had been ignored. I remember throwing myself at this Doctor's mercy just to give me something. It took a year for this doctor to finally refer me to someone. Rather out of compassion, but annoyance, we got in to see a speech therapist. Finally something. From there we were put in touch to a developmental pediatrician. That is when we got the diagnosis. I knew what it was going to be. Intellectually, I accepted it. But my heart refused. From there we were put into a shitty school system, a psychiatrist that seemed to be crazier than a bag of hammers and wonderful world of judgement and ignorance.

I am flipping through the IEP, remembering where this child was when she started school. A 3 1/2 year non verbal, un potty trained shy child. One who hated loud noises and crowded areas. A child that would scream bloody murder when we had to go to the commissary. Or not play with the other children, because she didn't know how to. A child that was so scared of water, bathing was almost impossible. I remember sitting at my first IEP meeting, not knowing what to expect. It wasn't until her second that I wised up. I didn't let them bowl me over.

Looking at the part on whether or not this child qualifies ESY, I remember those summers where we couldn't do a lot because of this child's needs. The fear of water or fireworks. Unknown places and faces would set this child off.And of course there were the people who didn't get it. The ones who thought it was funny that this child flapped their arms wildly or the ones who thought this child needed to suck it up when it came to things they feared.

I remember all of this, as it is important to look back at your children's progress. Whether it be leaps and bounds or small baby steps. I look at this child's IEP as way to remember the struggle they once had. Sure it is always going to be a fight, but it shows you the strength these children have. It shows when faced with a challenge they face it head on and prove to the world that they are fighters. Along the way they are going to have a lot of people in their corner cheering or sometimes its just a few. But either way you are going to be that constant cheerleader.

I have three kids, that all have IEPs.This is just the story of one of them.  And each time I am sitting at their IEP meetings, I look back at where these children were. Through the times where they struggled and the times where they triumphed. I know that as long as the equation is right, these children will continue to grow and prosper in the own time. And when they peak, watch out world.