Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Ultimate Job... Life Guard

Wow!  What a weekend!!!  I'm not even quite sure where to start today so how about I begin with a huge THANK YOU to everyone out there???

On Saturday the blog hit 5000 page views.... WOW!  If anyone is keeping track (OK, me!), that's in 101 days.  Incredible!!!

I remember when it was coming close to 300.  I was at work that night and all I could think about was when it was going to happen.  Tonight?  Tomorrow?  I simply couldn't imagine such a huge number.

And then when it hit 1000 page views, I cried.  I couldn't believe it.

Now it's 5000 and I am still in disbelief.  This blog would be nothing if it weren't for all of you who read it, post it, pass it along.... 

You have made My Name Is Not Autism what it is today - 5100 page views in 335 cities, across 14 different countries.  Amazing....

So thank you, my friends.  Thank you.

Enough of the love fest.... on to Sean....

Like I said, I don't even know where to begin today.  So many things bopping through my head....

I just dropped him off at school.  Yes, I remembered his watch!  And, with the temperatures soaring into the upper 80's, I also remembered the deodorant.

Yea!  A good day for me....

He seems off this morning and I'm not sure why.  Carissa is euphoric over heading into the final stretch of school.  Nine days and counting...  Sean, however, seems exhausted with the idea of returning to the rigors of academia. 

Other than gymnastics practice and a graduation party on Saturday, we kept his extended weekend fairly low-key.  We gave him plenty of computer time - although he was certainly annoyed when someone else needed the desktop to complete a task.  His only chore was picking up the dog poop in the yard - something that he had to be rushed through on Sunday before the storms hit.  Ever since Whizzer died last year (my 14- year old, black Siberian Husky mix), Sean has encountered his own recession.  At ten cents a pile, and his supply cut in half, he has found his job not as financially rewarding as it once was.

Once the storms passed on Sunday, the sun and heat emerged for Memorial Day.  The local pools were open and Carissa asked if we could go swimming.

Having stayed up past 2 am on Sunday night/Monday morning to watch a movie with Rich and Ashley waking me up at 6:30 am, I was more in the mood for sitting on my butt than splashing around.

However, Rich came up with an excellent solution.  He would drop Sean and Carissa off at the pool for some much-needed away time from the parental unit, and then meet them there an hour later with Ashley.  I would get mommy-time to relax, nap, do whatever I please.

Sounds like a win-win to me!!!  I take them to the pool almost every day during the summer so skipping out on one trip would not cause an un-recoverable deficit for my tan.  Besides, there is nothing better than torturing oneself by doing intervals on the exercise bike while watching a Barry Manilow concert on DVD.  I am all about mommy-time!!!!

Dropping the kids off at the pool is something that we started late last summer.  And it was Carissa, not Sean, that was able to visit the pool first with her friends.  Of course, I was nervous but I work for the park district... I know a number of staff.  If Carissa was going to misbehave, I was going to hear about it.

Letting Sean go with Carissa was something entirely different.  Will he pay enough attention and stick by her?  Will she stick by him or ditch him at the first sight of one of her friends?  Will they get along?  Will they conspire to be unruly?

"No toilet bowl, no deep end" I would say as they would leave.  The "toilet bowl" is a big, swirling, dump you into the drink, kind of attraction.  I've done it once - and was terrified to find myself completely disoriented under water.

They would answer "I know, I know" and leave me at the car with hardly a glance back.  Off they would go, practically giddy to be without the ever-watchful eyes of mom upon them.

Even though I was a wreck while they were gone, they had a fabulous time.

Thus, a new age of independence was born.

Years ago, could I have ever imagined a day where I would drop Sean off with anyone at the pool?  Could I have ever imagined not being there every single second of his world?

No.....  I couldn't.

And while I watch Carissa grow and become more independent... wanting to go here or there with her friends... I don't have the luxury of an established break-in period that I should have had for a second child.  She has overtaken Sean in spreading her wings and concurrently shredding the apron strings.

I'm glad she's there.  She will probably be more of an influence on him growing up than me.  Sean will see what Carissa is doing and want to do the same.

Of course, that will not always be a good thing.  So I guess I get to keep my job of overbearing mom for a little while longer.

It is, after all, just the pool.

It's not like he's driving... yet.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Writing Angry.... Not So Much

I wanted to post yesterday but Rich said I shouldn't.

"You're angry.  You don't write well when you're angry."

"Oh.... how do I write then?" I asked thinking of how many bouquets from the grocery store this was going to garner.

"You write angry..."

Hmmmm... I thought I was simply being real.  A good days, bad days kind of thing.

I was exhausted and overwhelmed so I did what needed to get done and went to bed early (if 12:45 am can be called "early").

Yesterday was all about details.  Details, details, details.  Our lives revolve around details - no different than parents of typical kids.

But when we forget one, it could lead to a meltdown, a bad day, a loss of goals.  It could mean the difference between integrating now or integrating later or possibly never.

Thus, details - even the most minute - take on an Everest-sized significance.

Today it's 10:30 am and I just cracked my second Pepsi and my car is on E.  It's going to be a long day.

But it will be nothing like yesterday....

I was up and running long before I usually am.  Sean had a recipe contest/demonstration speech to do at school.  I couldn't cook well if Julia Child was cloned into my DNA.  Thus, Sean decided to demonstrate how his mom makes microwave popcorn... as opposed to how Dad makes real popcorn and starts a kitchen fire.

The premise was actually quite amusing.

But it meant me making bag after bag of microwave popcorn and portioning them off into individual Ziplocs for the all the tasters before 7am.  Popcorn for breakfast, anyone?  Then came the toughest part of the task - at Sean's insistence - cramming all of it PLUS books PLUS his lunchbox into his backpack!

So much for fluffy white puffs....

While I was pretending to be Orville Redenbacher, Sean was getting dressed.  It was cold - lower 40's - so I pulled out a pair of red sweatpants for him to wear.  He has other colours - black, gray - but the red ones fit him well and I figured he would ditch them for the shorts that I knew he was going to wear underneath as soon as time allowed.

If he's going to lose something at school, I'd rather it not be his good clothes...

I let him choose his shirt...

He came into the kitchen wearing his favourite t-shirt....  The green one.

Christmas once again...

Back again to the bedroom to help him pick out a shirt.  Deodorant?  Not until I tell him...

All this is going on while I wake Carissa up and do my best to not forget any of the details of her life.  Manning the school store means she'll have to be dropped off early.  Don't forget the permission slips for French and chorus - the two specialty classes she'll be taking when she attends the junior high in the fall.  Oh, and the big 5th grade outing to the water park... don't forget to put that slip into her backpack.

Her school has a full day of workshops at the end of the year for the children - cake decorating, soccer, kite making, meet the police dog, etc - and I have been one of the helpers preparing things at home.

The bag containing the last of those projects needs to go to school and be dropped at the front office.

Yet another detail.....

It was a maddening morning but everything was falling into place.  You would think that much could have been achieved the night before but I had to work late.  Not everything can be done or discussed before going to bed in my world.

Thus, my morning...

Like I said, it was frantic but things were coming along.

And then I dropped Sean off at school.  He slammed the car door and then fast-walked through the rain.

We left his watch at home.


With the integration meeting for the fall a mere 24 hours away, all I could think of was Sean getting in trouble for running in the halls because we had forgotten his watch.

"Please don't..." I said aloud in my car as I drove away.

I don't know who I was more angry with at that moment... myself for forgetting a detail or the details themselves.

My mind was spinning.  I decided to call it a day and do something that I didn't have to think about.

Laundry and dishes... here I come!

Sometimes when Life is so full of unknowns, getting that last bit of laundry folded and put away, or the last dish dried and in the cabinet, can be oh so satisfying.....

As it turns out, everything went OK.  The speech was amusing.  Papers were turned in on time.  The day of workshops proceeding as planned.

And integration is.... well....

A couple of hours ago, we learned that Sean will be going full-time to the junior high come August.  It's well ahead of schedule and certainly something that, at times, we didn't dare to dream.

I guess then the worry and anger of yesterday were all for nothing.

But, actually, they were for something....

I got my laundry and dishes done. 

Sometimes, you have to wonder... Who could ask for anything more?

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend everyone!  See you next week....

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

One Less Unsolved Mystery

Hi Everyone!

Here is the blog version of an update show....

Sean's picking of the skin on his arms that was so - might I say - brilliantly solved by myself with the act of giving him three quarters to put in his pockets has come back.

Once it was shorts weather, the tell-tale marks began to appear.  At first, it was a few on his arms and some on his legs.  While his arms aren't nearly as bad as they once were (hundreds and hundreds of marks), his legs are now taking the brunt of his habit.

I'm not sure exactly what to do.  With 12 days left of school I'm reluctant to attempt any kind of intervention.  Could it be stress and they will disappear with the lazy days of summer? 

I do catch him every now and then picking his skin at home.  But, for the most part, I think it's related to school.  Maybe it's not so much due to the rigors of academics but more likely, it gives him something to do during the down time that he has.  He claims he picks alot on the bus.  He has a book to read and a notebook and pencil to capture his thoughts.  Yet, he chooses to pick.

I don't know what to do at this point.  I will keep you informed of how he is doing or if genius strikes again and I come up with a solution.


The verdict is still out about whether going without the melatonin at night is proving a plus or a minus.  I'm not quite sure when he's falling asleep.  Last night, in particular, I heard him fussing about after 11 pm.  In my world, that's fairly late on a school night.

Giving him some say when it comes to making decisions is definitely something that we prefer to do.  And I certainly don't want to force anything upon him. 

Overall, I think it's going to be OK.  Is he sleeping as much?  No....    Funny thing though, I think he's less grumpy at night.  Maybe the melatonin was making him so sleepy that he was short-fused at bedtime.

With summer just around the corner and the culture of the house being more night-owl than early-riser, it will probably be next fall before we know if going Melatonin-free is for the best.

Until then, I'm keeping them on hand....


Going to junior high has had its own set of growing pains.  Who knew we needed note cards for an oral report?  I was just short of livid when the mid-quarter progress report came home and Sean was getting a 'C' in his newest class.  A couple of emails later and it was determined that Sean had not handed in an assignment.  I'm not sure what he was thinking since it was in his folder the entire time.  After handing it in his grade went from a 'C' to an 'A-'.  Sean's thoughts on the change? 

"I never knew that skipping an assignment would mean so much."

It's all a part of learning - not only for him, but for us as well.


On a final, funny note.... I have learned the mystery behind the 3-year old stick of deodorant.  In the Funky Town post I wondered how one single stick could last so long...  It turns out, he's not using it!!!  At all....  You would think that a college-educated woman would figure that out sooner than I did.  But I assumed after instructing him day after day for a year or more to "deodorize" (short speak for "put your deodorant on") that he would have had the habit ingrained and I would no longer have to remind him.

So I stopped....

And so did he.

Sean walked past me the other day and the air that wafted by was.... unique.  I said something to the effect of...

"Don't you put on deodorant every day?"

And Sean said, "No."


"Because you don't tell me to."

Oh, the ugly head of Autism and it's literalness has reared itself once again... and this time it stinks!

I took him into his room and attempted, between all the squirming and giggling, to demonstrate how to put on the deodorant.

Will he ever get it?  Again, I don't know. 

He finally knows that he has to wear underwear to go out.  Did it really take years for that one simple thing to make it through to him?

Gosh, I know that I keep saying "I don't know" but it's true.  I don't.  I can't remember every detail, recall every event.  And even if I could... and I had the answers yesterday...  Would those answers still work today?

I don't know.

And that's probably more about being human and individuals than being autistic.

Because Life would certainly be boring then.  Don't you think?

A Castle In A Land Not So Far Away

I am completely on edge today.  I’m not sure if it’s been the frenetic pace of the last few weeks or a much deeper, closer to the heart thing.

The month of May has been rough.  Fundraisers, scouting events, end-of-the-year activities, preschool graduation…  It seems as if I have had little time to let my hair down.

When you have kids in school, May is not about living… it’s about surviving.  It’s the Mom (or Dad!) in the Minivan who is the ultimate Survivor… and we don’t have to eat bugs to do it.

We get through one day after another, one packed lunch at a time.  Rarely do we have a chance to quiet the chaos.

But today, I took some time for myself.  I left the scrunchy at home and literally let my hair down.  I went and got a haircut.  My friend has done my hair for the last 20 years.  She is well worth the half hour drive north.

Ashley, however, had little patience for mommy’s pampering and couldn’t wait to get back home.

In fact, the entire return trip she sat in her car seat and whined and cried. 

It was when I drove up the off-ramp of the expressway and said, “Ashley, look… castles” I realized that I was re-living a Sean moment.

We dreaded taking Sean anywhere in the car when he was younger.  He would scream and scream. 

Baby can’t sleep?  Oh, take them for a ride in the car …

Yea, right.  NOT!

Having him face backward in the car was equivalent to torture – for both of us.  I remember sitting next to him and trying to breastfeed him while Rich drove. 

We were desperate and would try anything….

When he was old enough to be turned around, we thought he’d calm down.  Sean could now look out the windows and we could spend quality time in the car playing I Spy or looking for cars that were blue or red….

Ummmm…. Not so much.

Most times it was unbearable. 

Nothing soothed him.  Sean didn’t want the music on.  We couldn’t even talk.  Our time in the car was all about being quiet and getting from Point A to Point B as fast as the law would allow.

The “castles” became our first glimmer of hope.  They are the cone-shaped buildings where our village’s salt supply is stored and are the first things you see when you come up the expressway off-ramp on the way home.

“Look!  The castles!”

Then one day, Sean looked.

And he quieted down.

A running commentary of landmarks began to build.

IKEA, the old library, the junior high…  all meant to assure Sean that our journey home was soon coming to an end.

But none meant more than the castles.

Even though they are a couple miles from our house, they always meant “home” for Sean.

They were the first things that he recognized.  For years as the crying continued, they were the bastions of hope to which we clung to – drove to - for the calm that would result.

I don’t know why Sean disliked the car so much.  Was it the vibrations, the noise, the other cars whizzing past so quickly?

Who knows?  But it’s been awhile since I called out to those castles to save me from a crying child.

Until today… when they not only caught Ashley’s attention, but also reminded me of how far Sean has come.

He was so far away from us for so long. 

But now he’s almost home…. 

We can see the castles. 

Sean, you’re almost home.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The End Is Near... Of Being 12 Years Old

Another weekend gone…. 

And no, I don’t know where it went!

Sean turned 13 on Saturday.  What a day!  Turning 13 and the world possibly ending – two momentous occasions crammed into one 24-hour period.

Or so we thought….

As usual, Sean had gymnastics practice in the morning.  I was exhausted and not-so-secretly hoped that Sean was sleeping in on his birthday.  The sound of Cheerios hitting the bowl let me know that he wasn’t.


I’m a little foggy on the details but I think I owe Rich $10 for getting out of bed and driving Sean to the gym.

Rich even ran some errands and brought home bagels.  Bonus!!!

After Sean arrived home from practice (again, thanks to Rich… I could be up to $20 now), we watched the minutes tick by and allowed him to open his present at exactly 10:21 am.

The time is significant for two reasons…. First, that is the moment he was born.  And second, if the world was going to end at 6pm EST, then we at least wanted Sean to get some playtime in.

Sean was eager to open the skillfully wrapped-in-the-day’s-sports-section gift.  Could the box contain the coveted Blitzkrieg 2 videogame that he had researched and decided upon to be the gift of the year months ago?

Ahhhhh, that would be a “no”….

Sort of.

Instead, it was a shiatsu neck massager with heat!  Woo Hoo!!!

Not exactly on the top of any 13 year-olds’ must-have list but invaluable to a family that is plagued with daily pleas to rub one’s neck.

We must have trained him well to deal with disappointment.  Sean took one look and said “Geez, thanks.”

Good job, kid.

We let him stew for about ten minutes and then we directed Sean to open the box so we could plug the massager in and check it out.

The look of puzzlement as he opened the box to reveal a package of beef jerky was priceless.


Then the smile crossed his face and he knew he had been duped.

Yes, there indeed was a shiatsu massager in the box, as well as two packages of beef jerky, the entire series of Ed, Edd & Eddy on DVD, a videogame that I can’t recall the name of, and, of course, Blitzkrieg 2.

Sean was shocked and one very happy 13 year-old.

Now, as you might expect, the pleasant mood did not continue for the rest of the day.

Even though it was just the two grandmas, people came over.  And going out for the bike that one grandma bought?  Well, that was ‘going somewhere’ on a day when Sean simply wanted to park himself in front of the computer screen and go nowhere.

He was off.  He was grumpy.  And, if you didn’t know his tone, he was rude.

But it was Sean’s day and we needed to give him some slack.  As his parents, it was not only our job to make this day special for him, but also to get him through.

And get him through we did.

As the clock passed midnight and Sean finally fell into an exhausted sleep, we were all happy to have, in the end, a very successful day.

We survived.

In fact, the whole world did….

A day to celebrate indeed!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Found Focus

At the end of yesterday's post I wrote about dirty clothes in Sean's room.  Last night Rich asked, "How did you go from talking about ham sandwiches to dirty clothes?"

I guess that's how my mind has been this month (notice I didn't say "week").

Scattered.  Unfocused.

In other words, completely unlike Sean.

Ashley is 5 years old and very demanding.  I try to sit and write while she's playing quietly but inevitably, the call will come for a popsicle, a tissue, a "mommy moment."

I couldn't focus on something more than 10 minutes if I wanted to.

So it was yesterday, nearing the end of my post, that "M-o-m-m-y" (she's beginning to spell) rang out from the bathroom.  After I attended to her, I walked past Sean's room.

It is then that I spied the pile of dirty clothes.

A more-than-frustrated sigh escaped from me and my only thought was, "Did I not tell him to get his dirty clothes and he came out with an armful?"

I gathered the pile up and dumped them in the washing machine.

Yet another battle to be fought....

And this one doesn't have anything to do with ham sandwiches, Sean's texture issues, and my own mommy guilt.

It's about the literalness that comes with autism.

You see.... I told Sean to get his dirty clothes out of the cubby in his loft bed.

I did not tell him to get the clothes that were on the floor.

Therefore, he didn't....

Was I angry with him yesterday?  For a split-second, yes.  And then I realized what I had said... and not said.

In my unfocused, over-tired, overwhelmed world, I had forgotten.

Thus, the battle that rages on is not with sandwiches or dirty laundry or getting a grip on my life.

It is with Autism.

So bring it on Autism.  Bring it on. 

Give me what you got because I got more....

I have the love for my son....

And that is the most powerful weapon of all.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Dagwood Defeat

16 days left....

I pack Sean's lunch this morning and think....

32 granola bars.  16 bags of carrots.  32 Hershey Kisses.

Over the years, little has changed.  Bottle of water, 2 granola bars - 1 crunchy, 1 chewy, 2 Hershey Kisses, a bag of pretzels, a container of Wheat Thins, and a clementine/orange.

Sean may go through a phase where he wants a French roll, a bag of spinach, or...the ultimate challenge for me.... a ham sandwich.

I think he finishes most of his lunch.  Years ago I got a call from school saying that he was tossing his sandwich every day.


I have a strict rule with the kids.  Anything uneaten has to come home.  I simply want to know.

You can say I'm a control freak... but I'm a mom.  I think the terms are interchangeable.

But back to the sandwich....

Sean has a 'thing' when it comes to sandwiches.  Actually, he has so many 'things' that I have given up on trying to appease him.

He was never a sandwich kid when he was little.  I don't think he liked the texture of the bread and sliced meat simply grossed him out.

I remember one day buying a variety of luncheon meats and breads at the store.  I was going to have the ultimate sandwich taste-off.

Fail.  Fail.  Fail.

A growing boy can only survive so long without a sandwich for lunch, right?  A few years ago I insisted that Sean begin taking a sandwich.  He does, after all, eat sandwiches on camp outs with the Boy Scouts.

I don't go through all that much bread and with the weather out here, things tend to mold fast, so I freeze my loaves.  I bring out a piece or two, make the frozen sandwich, and by lunchtime at school it's all good.

While I wrote "make the frozen sandwich".... for Sean, it's much more than slapping a piece of ham between two pieces of Wonder. 

No crusts....

OK, most kids are like that...

No meat over the sides.  EVER.

You might think, "Hey, cut the crusts off and you'll be fine."  But, no....  that would leave the meat too close to the edge.  It might pop out and then Sean would literally have to gag.

Yep... literally... the kid has an amazing reflex!

Thus, most mornings you would find me cutting up the slice of ham and placing the pieces on the bread like I was playing a game of Tetras.

All for my kid.

And then the call came.

Sean was tossing them out.

At least it was better than the note home I received one day informing me that Sean threw out his sandwich because he thought the bread was moldy.

I was mortified.

And it was a brand new loaf.  I thought I would try something different and give him a treat - fresh bread.

I should have known better.  I really should have....

But alas, after this latest ongoing toss-fest that he was having with our grocery budget, I decided to call it quits.

No more sandwich.

The mommy guilt was definitely present.  How could I?  I'm starving my child...  But I have to be realistic.  The kid simply doesn't want a sandwich from mom.

Oh, well....

This battle is over.  Sean has won.  I will take my Wonder and head back into the kitchen.  Defeated.

And then I go into Sean's room this morning.  I spy a pile of dirty clothes stuffed in the corner.

I know my memory is failing, but did I not ask Sean to gather his clothes before school today so I can do laundry?


Sean may have won the Battle of the Bread but I will win this war.

Game on.  Bring it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pomp And Celebration

This morning Ashley graduated from preschool.  Of course I cried.  The moment the song began the eyes welled….

I made it…. I’m the world’s greatest…. sang R Kelly.

I tried to keep it together and concentrated on holding the video camera steady.

My little girl…..

It doesn’t seem so long ago that Sean was the pint-sized graduate crossing the stage.  Almost a decade and a hundred pounds ago… but it could have been yesterday.

But it was actually a lifetime ago.  A lifetime filled with a new vocabulary, new routines.  A lifetime we never envisioned when the doctor said, “Congratulations!  It’s a boy.”

It was, in fact, a life without Autism.

Remember those days?  Remember the worrying?  The sense that something was…I don’t want to say ‘not right’ because that just sounds negative…. but amiss with our children?

The first day of preschool the idea that Sean wasn’t like the other boys in his class hit me like a sledgehammer.  You always worry and wonder how your child will get along with others.  Hopefully, they won’t be the biter of the class or the kid who won’t disengage from his parent’s leg.

My kid….my Sean… was the kid who played by himself.  While the other boys were running around in the field waiting for the school doors to open, Sean stayed by me.

Shy?  Perhaps.  My husband is shy.  Why not?

Even in the classroom, Sean preferred to play alone.  He would play in the pretend kitchen area, cooking and making noises.  Then he would stop.  He’d beat himself Tarzan-like about his head and chest.  After a few seconds of this, Sean would stop and go back to playing as if nothing had happened.


“Nothing” is what the professionals I reached out to said at the time. 

“Don’t worry about it.  He’s a nervous child… a toe-tapper, a pencil chewer.”

“It’s nothing…”

No, it’s something.  And it’s called “stimming.”

I had to learn what it meant.  The professionals should have known.

Then again, they aren’t the parent.

Parents know. 

We knew…..

And for years and years, doctor to doctor, waiting list to waiting list, we fought to have what we knew be heard.

Then, finally, it was….  at the end of Sean’s first grade year.

We were not devastated when those words were spoken aloud and drifted over the conference table towards us.

We did not mourn the person that Sean would never grow up to be….


Because we knew….

Just like Ashley today… like Carissa before her…

Just like Sean so many years ago...

Whether they crossed the stage or not, stood up straight or fidgeted, waved to the crowd or cried in fear….

We knew that our kids were the world’s greatest.

And they still are.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Going Without

Happy 3 Month Anniversary!!! 

Here's the stats... 4190 page views, 12 countries, 319 cities.... VERY COOL!!!

I tell my friends that it's all still very surreal for me.  I'm a mom in jammie pants driving carpool in my mini-minivan.

I can't believe it....  I am so blessed by all of you.


OK, enough feel-good moments....

Sean has decided to stop taking his melatonin at night.


Remember how I wrote yesterday that Sean is growing up and becoming his own man?  Well, I guess that involves making decisions from what he wants for dinner on hodge-podge nights to ultimately whether or not he wants to take a sleep supplement.

He's been toying with the idea for a couple of weeks now.  I'm willing to give it a go once summer arrives and sleeping (or not) won't be so critical.

However, with 18 days left in the school year, the most crucial time for him, Sean has decided to stop taking the supplement that has helped him fall asleep for the past five years.

Of course I worry about the change.  Melatonin was a godsend years ago when someone made an offhand remark about it.  Sean was 8 years old and had yet to sleep through the night.  It took him hours to calm down enough to sleep.  Actually, it was probably more due to exhaustion than anything else. 

We tried everything..... different blankets, a special heavy blanket (it weighed 20 pounds), different beds, taking a bath, not taking a bath, the tv on, classical music... We even bought a fish tank with a bubbler.

Nothing worked to get him to sleep faster.  He was anxious, afraid.  I'd have to be close enough for him to be touching me... with a foot, a hand....anything.  When he got his loft bed, I'd get a pillow and blanket and lay down on the floor.  He would call out my name to make sure I was there.

Like I said, he eventually fell asleep.

But he never stayed asleep.

Sometime during the night he'd call out and one of us would come running.  The pillow and blanket would come out and once again, sleep would be our ever-elusive prey.

I don't think we lived through that time. 

We survived.

And now he wants to stop.  He tried it a few times over the past couple of weekends but now he's ready to go completely without.

He claims he's doing fine.  Sean loves the large, oscillating fan that we bought for his room.  He can turtle under his blanket all he wants now and not overheat. 

He gets about 8 to 9 hours of sleep at night.  I guess that's good - can't really ask for anything more.  The majority of adults would be envious....  And, it could all change once he truly hits the teenage track.  He might be sleeping until noon then!

So we'll see.....  I hope it works out.  I don't know if it will and now is certainly not the time I would have chosen to change the routine.

But Sean is becoming more independent.  That's a good thing.

And maybe this will be, too.

I'll let you all know.


So no one sues me.... This blog is for entertainment purposes only and no medical advice is given or implied.  This is a story.  Please, consult a physician.  Thank you.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pancakes and Pretty Girls


Ahhhhhh, if only I were really hearing that while staying in a hotel in an exotic locale....

But, alas, I am here outside of Chicago and my two favourite Aspie's of reality tv have essentially been voted off the island.  American Idol's James Durbin came in 4th.  While not winning, I'm sure he will have a stellar career as a result of the exposure.

Zev & Justin, as well, did not win Amazing Race.   In fact, take a guess as to what place they came in - and the first 3 don't count.  Yep.... 4th!

Kudos to the guys for going for it and making us proud!!!

Now on to the blog....

What a weekend!!!! 

We try to keep weekends relatively stress-free for Sean.  He knows he has gymnastics practice every Saturday morning.  And though I moan about waking up so early on a weekend, Sean doesn't mind it at all.  In fact, he looks forward to it.  He loves the pounding, the jumping, the running...

Other than practice, we avoid must-do's as much as we can.  Sean's week is difficult enough.  He attends two different schools - being transported between them in the middle of the day.  He has therapy during the week after school.  He has Boy Scouts.  And then he has to get hauled around by me to whatever events his sister's might have or come to my work and wait in the babysitting room until Rich can pick him up.

It's rough for a kid who simply wants to come home after school every day and decompress.

Sean needs his down time....

However, taking this weekend off was not an option.

I felt working at the food pantry on Saturday restocking their shelves was important.  It was being part of the community, reaching out, helping others.  I was hoping that it would be a good experience for him -  physically, emotionally, socially.  And it was.... it was great.

He worked really hard and one day he's going to realize what a wonderful thing he did.

On Sunday, Sean's Boy Scout troop was having a pancake breakfast.  Not going is not acceptable.  Sean signed himself up for a 2-hour shift earlier in the week.  I was surprised when he showed such initiative.   I know I shouldn't be... he is, after all, growing up and becoming his own man (sigh).

At the event, I was working a game for the kids - pull a lollipop for a quarter and get a prize.  I wasn't able to hover or even spy on him like I usually would.

Dang, foiled!

Again, Sean worked hard.  It appears he was the jack-of-all-trades.  If someone needed a new pot of coffee, Sean was there.  If you needed a mop and bucket, Sean was there.

While he may not have been joking around with the other boys or interacting as much with the public, Sean was still participating and trying his best.

He was doing this all on his own.  What an amazing accomplishment!

And then he did something that practically made me fall off my chair.

My friend and his daughters came in to eat.  They were the ones that had dinner with us a couple of weeks ago.  As routine, I asked Sean if he remembered the girls' names....  He never remembers names. 

Until now....

I was shocked.

I think girls have entered his world.

Now I'm really in trouble!

I think I better go back to hovering and spying....


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Making A Difference

1:24 am Sunday morning....

You would think that I'd have enough sense to go to bed after a long day but no....

What a crazy day....and what a great day for Sean.

And, what a great day to be Sean's mom.

We're in the final weeks of school, final weeks of extracurricular activities...  Thus, it's a concert here, a field trip there....always a bump in the road around every corner.  The schedule changes are tough on everyone but likely affect Sean the most.

Even these past few weekends have had their must-do's and this one was no exception. 

Today (or shall I say "yesterday"?) Sean had to perform some community service hours with the Boy Scouts.  We signed up for the entire 3-hour commitment.

I had never stocked a food pantry before, let alone know that one was less than a mile from my house.  I've seen food banks on reality shows and other programs but knew almost nothing about which we were to dedicate our Saturday afternoon to.

Sean accepted the idea of going when we told him it was time to get ready.  He even tried to scold me when I said I'd be ready in five minutes and wasn't....

I knew little going into the project other than we were going to unload and sort what the local postal carriers had picked up in a food drive...that's it.

When we walked into a not-so-large room filled with roughly twenty people and a dozen or so tables, I was not in the most positive frames of mind.

Chaos... even the controlled chaos that it was.... was still chaos.

And I knew Sean wouldn't be able to handle it.

We tried sorting for the first shipment but things went too quickly - even for me.

While waiting for the next load to arrive, I pulled Sean out into the hallway and asked someone what jobs there were to do today.  One of them was unloading the trucks and putting the boxes of food onto carts.

Sean jumped at the chance and I thought it was a perfect fit.  It was outside, away from the chaos.  He could take breaks in between shipments.  And, Sean really loves doing anything physical - labor included!

For the rest of the afternoon I simply let him be.  I concentrated on my task.  He concentrated on his.  Somewhere along the way I asked one of the gentlemen how Sean was doing.  He said that Sean was doing wonderfully...jumping into the truck and hauling out the boxes of food - an estimated over 2 tons worth.

It rained most of the time we were there.  Sean was soaked but he only asked what time it was once.

He never complained.  He did his job.

And, today....Sean....my son... made a difference.  

It was a great day indeed.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Glad Friday the 13th Is Over

Good morning everyone!

Blogger was down for a bit (ok, more than a bit!) the other day.  It had to erase posts for Thursday and then prevented me from posting most of Friday.

I hope things are back to normal....

I have to get out there and earn my keep right now but I will  post sometime today.

Enjoy the day... and be safe!


Thursday, May 12, 2011

"Second" Chances

Seriously, Sean?  Seriously?

Running in the hall?  Again?

Like a mother's instinct, I knew... 

I knew when I saw him bolt out of my car Tuesday morning.  Monday was fantastic.  He walked at my pace (slow).  I was thinking that he may have finally gotten it...

Turns out, Monday he was just tired.

Twenty-one days left of school.  Gosh, I remember posting 40 not too long ago.  We're getting there. 


When I got the call from school that he was running, I was livid.  And I was embarrassed as well. 

You begin to think.... Do I stink that much as a parent that I cannot get the simplest rule through my son's head?  We've been working on this since the first days of school!!!!

How many times do we have to have "the talk"?

How many times do we tell him to slow down?  To follow the rules?  To not be so anxious?

How many?

I think it's about 159 and counting....one for every day of this school year.

He's in such a rush.... to get from one place to another, to finish his homework, to grow up...

I know I can't keep him as my baby forever.  But slow down, Sean.  Slow down....

After yelling and a page of  "I will not run in the hallway," we went to bed.  Exhausted.  Frustrated.

In the morning, I grabbed my favourite watch - a big, black-banded chunky men's digital - and gave it to Sean. 

I told him to keep track of how long it takes him to go from class to class.  His passing periods are three minutes long - no locker visits allowed.  He should have more than enough time.

And then after school, the girls and I met at the junior high.  We walked his entire schedule at my pace....painfully slow according to him.  One minute, forty-five seconds without the shortcut through the cafeteria.  Fifty-five seconds from math to English.

More than enough time, Sean.  More than enough.

Will it help along the way?  Will time pass more slowly now that he's counting every second?

I don't know.

I do hope that it gets us through the next 21 days.  That's all I want right now.

21 days..... give or take a second or two.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tastes Like Chicken

Good morning everyone!  I'm still out sick so while I recuperate and/or get my life back together :-) please enjoy the 3rd and final installment from my guest post with http://www.actingbalanced.com/ for Autism Awareness Month....

Enjoy and I'll see you all tomorrow....


Tonight I made my 12 year-old autistic son cry due to what I decided to make for dinner.  

It was supposed to be special – just for Sean.

Oh, indeed it was…awfully special (pun intended).

Sean doesn’t like chicken breasts.  He loves legs.  Don’t know why.  He just does.  My normal meal plan consists of baked chicken breasts and rice.  Half the time I will give Sean a pass and make him a separate meal.  Other times, when I am in my “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit” mode, I insist that my food-texture-sensitive son at least eat the chicken.

This week I decided to throw my semi-health-conscious menu out and make the children not only tater tots and French fries (baked… couldn’t be that wild and crazy!) but fried chicken as well.  I had chicken breasts for the rest of the family and made a note for the grocery store to pick up some legs for Sean.  I bought a value-pack because I was absolutely certain that this dinner was going to be a hit.

The legs were huge and fresh.  Perfect.

The making of the dinner went as planned and the kids sat down to eat.  The chicken and the “crunch” and color of the crust were nearly info-commercial worthy. 

Sean took one look at his plate and said, “I thought we were having fried chicken.”

“Yes, Sean.  This is fried chicken.”

“I thought it was going to be from Jewel.”

To this my husband Rich replied, “Technically, it is.  We bought it at Jewel and we fried it.”

“No, I thought it was going to be from Jewel’s deli.”

We throw in the towel knowing we can’t win this exchange.

Sean then took a few bites.  I could see the scowl on his face.  He clearly was not enjoying it.  I gave him a few minutes to try and muster through.

He complained it was too juicy. 

I cut it off the bone and tried to dry the meat with a paper towel.

I succeeded in only making a mess and now the chicken looked truly disgusting.

Sean tried to please me.  He took another bite and I saw the tears begin to well.  I got out of my chair and walked over to him.  I stood over my son and put my arms around him, resting my cheek on top of his head.

Oh, how far my Sean has come.  Years ago he would have melted down right there at the table.  He would have gagged.  He would have cried openly.

Now my son was trying to please me… make me happy.  He was hiding his face and letting my shirt catch his tears.

“Sean, do you want a hot dog?”

He nodded his head and I could feel the relief as his body relaxed.

Tonight, the food may have been a major failure, but dinner - and Sean’s attempt to cope - could not have been more successful.

Monday, May 9, 2011

God Bless the U.S.A....And the Fruit of the Loom Guys

I should be happy this morning...  Had a great day yesterday.  Slept fairly well last night.  Carissa did not upchuck on the carpeting after informing us that she felt sick at midnight.  And, during this morning's drive to school, the road construction did not cause me to back up the length of a block or do one of those 3-point turns that I loved so much in drivers' ed.

Sad, it takes so little to make me smile.  Thus, a good mood should be overwhelming my senses right about now.


I had an argument with Sean over saying the Pledge of Allegiance and respecting his country.

I know... not exactly what you want to do at 7:34 in the morning but in my world, that's what happens. 

I wonder if mornings with "typical" 12 year-olds ever get like this???

It all started with Sean questioning the reason why he had to say the Pledge every day at school.  I didn't have a tangible reason to give him.  Memorization?  Filler for the first few minutes of the day?  I couldn't come up with something that Sean could understand - or more importantly - accept.

Sensing he might be simply anxious to get through it and begin his day, I told him that as adults we hardly ever say the Pledge of Allegiance.  In fact, except for Boy Scouts where it's said every week, I'm not sure exactly when the last time was. 

I also told him it was about respect. 

Which brought us to the next topic.... our country.  He came up with his version of a joke about the government not trusting its citizens and then forayed into the country not deserving respect.

I looked up at the clock and sighed.  It's just too early for me to be this "on."

Not wanting to get into a debate about the current government with my son, I chose to keep it non-partisan and go with.... Your country and your government officials are two separate entities.  You don't necessarily have to respect the job that the people are doing, but you always have to respect the country which gives you the right to do so.

Hmmmm.... not bad.  I mentally patted myself on the back.

I think he knew from my tone that I was perturbed with him and he quickly exited the room.

I'm all for my son questioning things.  I think it's one of the best ways to learn.  However, he is so stubborn and fights against the smallest, most "normal" of things, that I can't help but get frustrated at times.

Why should the issue of wearing underwear every day cause gray hairs to sprout from my head?

Maybe I can go with the angle that the country gives him the right to go commando.  He would certainly respect that.

Then again, I'm the mom.

And what I say goes.

So put your skivvies on and say that Pledge, Sean... because I said so!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Dream Come True For Mom, mom, mom....

Having had Ashley sleep with me last night, I awoke at 6:16 this morning to find the plastic baggie containing her first lost tooth adhered to my belly and my fingers clutching two quarters under the pillow.

Oh, to be a mom....

Mother's Day is simple around here.  Carissa made a coupon book promising, amongst other things, a one-hour massage (massage-er not identified - probably Daddy), Ashley gave me a pin she made in preschool, and Sean brought me breakfast in bed.

So cute.... and this time Sean did not make the Rice Krispies with milk the day before and hide it in the toy box.

Like I said... Oh, to be a mom.

I remember the day I became a mom.....

After 25 hours of labor, an emergency c-section, and a complication that dropped my heart rate to next to nothing.... I became a mom.

Sean's mom.

Nothing was more important to me than that little six pound bundle that looked like E.T.

The 60 extra pounds I carried, the spider veins, the stretch marks....  nothing mattered except him.

I had always secretly wanted to be a mom - even when I was in college and fiercely professing not only my independence but my desire to not succumb to the 2.5 children, white picket fence, and minivan lifestyle.

Deep down, I couldn't wait to hear a little one call me "Mom."

And then Sean did.... alot.... over and over again.

He would sit in another room - isn't it always the furthest room from you? - and call out "Mom, mom, mom..."  An endless stream of moms would have me running to the room to answer his every need.

I'd get there and the moms would continue as if he was unaware I was there.

I would ask, "Sean, what do you want?"

He would only go on with "mom, mom, mom..."

Overtime I grew accustomed to it - knowing the difference between wanting me and saying it merely to say it.  It was akin to knowing your baby's cry.

I never did figure out why he chose "mom" as his vehicle by which to stim by.  Only once do I ever remember getting frustrated and asking him why he called me all the time.  It was, after all, my dream....

Eventually, sadly, it stopped one day.

But I'm still his mom...

And I'm also Carissa's mom and Ashley's mom.

Hardly anyone knows me as Frances and I'm fine with that.

Because I'm a mom... and there's nothing better in this world to be.

Happy Mother's Day to everyone out there.  Be safe and enjoy your day!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Inner-Change on the Highway of Life

The sun is shining after countless cloudy days.  No hint of frost is seen..

Morning has broken early for me today.

I'm not sure what stirred me.  It might have been the late-night Pepsi I consumed after work (yes, my failure to turn my back on the caffeinated wonder has been well-documented) or the overwhelming guilt of not filling out Carissa's registration papers for the junior high.  Technically, they're not due until May 13th but her mommy-guilting skills are becoming so sharpened of late, I fear a car - or at least a pony - is in her future.

Alas, there I sat at the kitchen table, pen not so firmly gripped and glasses on (only because my eyes are tired - it has nothing to do with my advancing age!).  It was 6:44 am.

Who does that???  Who has their act together so early in the morning???

I am truly beginning to wonder who I am.....

My hopes of having some quiet time were squashed by the sound of Sean jumping out of his loft bed.


Thumping and drawer slamming ensued.  His "morning" echoed throughout the house.

"Sean, your sisters are sleeping," I whisper-yell while making a PacMan action with my hand.

Multi-Grain Cheerios and milk with chocolate Ovaltine are consumed within seconds and we commence with our morning chit-chat.

For once it is not about the game Attack that they are playing at school.   Miracles do happen!!!!

Sean is in a contained classroom at his day school.  He only has 7 to 10 kids in his class at any given time and he's been with them for years.

However, due to his attending the junior high in the morning, he misses out on gym.  Since physical activity is so important for kids, the day school has accommodated him by placing him in another teacher's gym class in the afternoon.

Sean and I discussed this morning some issues he had the other day in gym class.

He rattled off a few names of his new classmates as he was speaking.  I was shocked....

Sean doesn't even know the names of his teachers at the junior high or of his fellow boy scouts that he's seen once a week since 5th grade.

Names - and faces - have always been simply one of those things that has been lost along the highway of Sean's brain.

He knows names.... 


And then later, when I dropped him off at school, I said, "See ya" to him as he exited the van.

"See ya," he said back to me.

I stopped the world for a moment.

Was that a hint...albeit minuscule... but a hint of inflection in his voice?

Yes, I do believe it was.

A smile crossed my face as I pulled away from the school.

I drove off and turned down the thermostat on the car's heater.

It's warmer today.  A sure sign that change is in the air.

Don't you agree?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hit The Showers, Kid

The phrase “Can you hear me now?” has taken on new meaning in the Lehning household after yesterday.

Sean had participated in a reading program at his day school.  If he read so many minutes or so many books, he earned a field trip to a baseball game.

Yesterday was the day….

We’ve been having the worst weather in the Chicagoland area… rainy, cold, windy.  The fact that we awoke to a day that was none of those made us feel like winners before the first pitch was thrown.

Of course, any change in schedule for Sean involves multiple calls and emails for me.  True, he was currently attending mainstream classes at the junior high and therefore, should have missed the trip.  However, this was a prize that Sean had been working towards for several weeks.

Thus, I was determined to make sure Sean got to the game.

Emails went out beforehand to verify dates and times; a phone call to the bus company to verify that they would pick him up at home on the morning of the game; another to the bus company when they were late; a call in to the junior high to excuse him for the day; and finally a call into his day school to let them know that the bus had arrived.

After all of this, Sean was finally on his way.

Seven hours later he was home safe and sound with a new t-shirt in hand.

“Sean, how was the game?”

I prepared myself for some version of “great.”

He walked over to where I was sitting, bent down to my ear and said…

“It sucked.”

He then told me about the zero to zero tie and how he had to sit on a wet seat.

Oh, and he made sure to tell me that he would have rather been in school.

Gratitude…gotta love it.

I had an important meeting that night and having worked out during the day, I decided now that all of my chickadees were home I would take a shower.

Showering without interruption is simply something I can’t do.  Ashley… expected.  Carissa… not so much.  Sean?  Is that Sean I hear at the door?  Is he crying?

“Sean, come in.  I can’t hear you.”

My son opened the door and was sobbing.  He’s convinced that the boys yelling next to him at the baseball game have caused permanent hearing loss.

Yes… permanent.  Sean is absolutely convinced.  He’s screaming.

I try telling him that his father is a Metallica fan and that after every concert Daddy’s ears act a little strange.

Sean will neither listen nor stop his tirade against the boys.

“Mom, you don’t understand!”

I grab my sea-themed shower curtain, hold it tight against me, and poke my head out to see him.

“Sean, it will be ok.  Talk to your dad when he gets home.”

Sean ignores me and walks out of the bathroom still upset over the damage the screaming boys have done to him.

For a moment I panic and try to figure out what I can leave half-washed to go calm him down.

And then I realize that he closed the door.

He closed the door…..

With that one simple thing, I knew he’d be ok.

He was going to get through it on his own.

Yep, that's what I said. 

Can you hear me now?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dinner & Laughter... The Story, Part Two

Before I start Part Two....

"Intense sexual attraction"

"Teenage pregnancy"

Sean... do you really, really think I want to talk about things like this at 8am????

My boy is growing up and I have no idea what to do!!!  HELP!

OK... on to Part Two.... THE BIG DINNER....

I felt very European walking through the grocery store with my basket in hand and shopping for balsamic vinegar and trying to figure out the difference between Bay leaves (which they had) and Basil leaves (which they didn't).

As the evening was approaching, Rich told me that I needed to have a talk with Sean.  I had to explain who was coming over and about how long they were going to stay.

I went into Sean's room and proceeded with said chat.   I then asked him why he didn't speak with my friend's daughter K yesterday.  They attend the same junior high and love the same book series.

"Who's she?"

Seriously, Sean?  Seriously???

"She's the one that was doing the tumbling on the mat last night.  You spent two hours with her."


Dinner went pretty well.  My friend and I couldn't time a doggone thing so when the potatoes were ready, we ate them.  When the bruschetta was perfectly spiced, the same.

When the chicken was finally served, Sean picked it up in his hand, took a bite out of it and then put it back down - not on his plate - but onto the serving plate.  After depositing his mouthful of potatoes back onto his plate, he moved over to standing by the garbage can to finish dinner.

Hey, you have to be happy that he tried.  Good job!!!

The rest of the evening was filled with laughter and making homemade pretzels. 

My friend's eldest daughter is awaiting her prom invite.  I guess the poor boys of today can no longer simply ask a girl.  No, in modern times it has to be a production that either rivals or bests the most exquisite of marriage proposals.  Not knowing she already had a date lined up I asked...

"Do you have your sites on anybody?"

From the adjoining room where he escaped to play computer, we hear...


Everyone burst into laughter.  The timing was impeccable.

Hey, appropriate response!  Good job again Sean!!!

He put cinnamon on his hot pretzel.  He learned the names of my friend's three daughters.  He tried new foods.  Although he opted to play computer, he did not head for his room and stayed instead within the vicinity of the party.

We laughed.  We joked.  We ate.

I think we all had a great time.

Even Sean.

And that makes for a most successful night!

Have a great day everyone!  Be safe out there.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Two Nights, Two Dinners, Two Stories... Part One

A bit of housekeeping....

I'm not one to ego-stroke but I think it's incredible that two contestants with Aspergers have made it far into their respective reality shows.

Zev from Amazing Race is a hoot.  I couldn't be prouder of the way he's handling everything.  His teammate Justin is a real sweetie and takes it all in stride.  The other week it was Zev who coached Justin through a difficult task.  If you catch the show, you can't help but be "fon - due" of him as well.

On American Idol, James Durbin is still in the running.  I don't watch the show - not a single episode (my apologies to the network) - but I think it's great exposure.  The kid is obviously very talented and inspiring.

I wish both men the best of luck!!!!

I know, I know... I'm forgetting Parenthood.  But then again, it's not a reality tv show.   I still haven't watched the "you have Aspergers" episode like I promised.  I'm sorry.... I just don't know what my hang up is with it...  Guess I got issues :-)

Ok, ENOUGH.... on to the blog....

Wow!  What a weekend!

Wait... can I parent-brag for a moment?  Sean's parent-teacher conference for the junior high was Thursday night.  I had to work but Rich went.  He called me as soon as it was over.

Cautiously optimistic, I asked him, "So.... how did it go?"


Gives a whole new perspective on the question, "Who's your daddy?"

Like Father, like Son....

Ok, so back to weekend.....

The kids and I brought pizzas over to my friend's house on Friday night.  My friend and I months ago planned a semi-French dinner for this past weekend and I needed to learn what went into the chicken marinade because I have no idea what a "pinch of this" or a "bit of that" mean.

In other words, I'm pretty clueless when it comes to cooking.  Scratch that... SERIOUSLY clueless.

So with pizzas in hand, I arrived with my three kids at his house.  Going over to someone's house with my children is not something I normally do.  I was nervous about how all the kids would blend together and get along.  After a fairly uneventful dinner, the kids headed outside to play.

Ashley and Carissa chased each other around.  Sean "monologued" and explored the yard.  And my friend's daughter - who is age-wise between Sean and Carissa - practiced her tumbling on a mat.

"Cooperative play" this was certainly not.

In the meantime, Rich arrived at my friend's house.

After about an hour, the kids headed inside.  It wasn't long before Sean walked into the room and asked, rather loudly, "When are we going home?"

"Soon, Sean.  Soon."

"How long?"

"We'll stay until 8:15 pm."

We all chuckled over the exchange.  It was, after all, expected.  Sean is famous for walking into the middle of the room during my parent's anniversary party that we were hosting at the house and shouting, "When are you all going to leave?"

Nothing clears a party faster....

Quarter after eight was still about 20 minutes away.  I'm sure it seemed like forever to Sean.  He would come in and check the clock.... count down.

"Four minutes."

At 8:17 pm we knew we better pack up.  Obviously, Rich and I were in separate cars (he had been coming from work) so I was able to send the kids home with  him while I stayed and visited a bit more.

Overall, it was a great evening.  The kids got along.  Sean handled the new environment and the added people and noise well.  I thought it was really, really successful.

On Saturday night I was going to host my friend's family at my house.....

But you'll have to wait for that story....

Until tomorrow, my friends...

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Won't You Take Me To Funky Town?

Good morning everyone and happy May!!!

In honour of all the spring cleaning that should (hahahaha) have been done already, I'm posting this article.  I wrote it as part of my guest posting stint for Autism Awareness Month on http://www.actingbalanced.com/.

Enjoy the day!


My son Sean is weeks away from becoming an official teen-ager.  However, puberty came to town a long time ago.

While he may be autistic, when it comes to being ‘a boy’, he is as typical as can be.   His once tidy room is slowly being taken over by some mysterious mess monster.  The concept of  ‘away’ applies more to the family as in ‘go away’ than it does in ‘put things away.’  Clothes are strewn about.  Undoubtedly they will be worn again and again before making their way (on their own legs!) to the vicinity of the hamper.  Notice I said vicinity, putting clothes in the hamper is the home version of playing horseshoes.  Close is good enough.  As for hygiene… well… that’s another thing altogether.

Let’s just say that when the ‘funk’ starts wafting into the hallway and displacing the air that I breathe, it’s time for an intervention.

First is the cubby on his loft bed.  It’s an extra space that runs the entire length of the bed.   He likes to keep his treasures in it as well as various pieces of previously worn clothing.   It’s up high and even though I think of myself as fairly agile, climbing into his loft bed day after day to excavate is not something on my list of things to do.  How many t-shirt-and-shorts combos will there be?  Two?  Three?  A record six? 

Down they come.

Now it’s time for Sean….

You just can’t tell Sean to take a shower.  He is, after all, autistic.  Taking a shower for him means standing under the stream of water for 60 seconds…or less.

For 12 years old…bordering on 13… that is not going to cut it.

I had forgotten how literal he took instructions until the day when he did, in fact, walk out of the shower shortly after entering.

I joked, “Did you use soap?”

“No, you didn’t tell me to.”

Ha, ha, the joke was on me.

He headed back to the shower with me calling after him, “Don’t forget the shampoo!”

I shook my head.  Oh, that boy….

Thankfully, Sean is a master at brushing his teeth and flosses more than ADA recommended.  Four out of five dentists would agree….

Sean’s autism means that he will tune you out faster than a teenager getting caught sneaking in after curfew.  It’s not intentional.  It’s merely a fact due to how he processes things.  Therefore, we have to keep our instructions simple.  “Brush & Flush” means brush your teeth and use the toilet.  “Deodorize” means put on your deodorant.

I swear Sean’s been using the same deodorant stick for three years now!  Does it even touch his armpit or is he playing me by going through the motions?

Again, that boy makes me wonder.  Sean may be autistic but in many, many, sometimes smelly ways, he is as typical as can be.

Brushed.  Flushed.  Deodorized.  Officially de-funked.

Sean and his world are clean.

For now....