Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hooters Therapy

Sean likes girls.  He’s said so.

In fact, he’s said it many times.

About every 20 minutes type of many times.

Yep, he likes girls.

The only problem is, is that he doesn’t look at girls.

Talking with them?  Having an actual conversation with them? 

Yea, right… are you kidding??

Let’s start with just looking and we’ll leave the rest for later.

Sean differentiates people by the sound of their voices.  At times his system has found its flaws… a woman with a lower pitch or a pre-pubescent boy.  But over the years his way has served him as well as can be expected.

Thus, the idea… the need… to learn to look at people fell to the wayside.

Now girls are saying “Hi” to him in the hallway.  They say “Hi” to him at his sister’s basketball games.

He’s even made the bathroom wall…. I (heart) Shawn Lehning.

Awww… if only she knew how to spell his name….

So who are these girls that have sought out the company of my handsome son by uttering one simple two-letter word?

Sean has no idea.

Why?  Because he doesn’t know what they look like.

He couldn’t pick them out of line-up interspersed with NFL players.

Heck, he doesn’t even know their names.

How crushed would the female population of 13-year old girls in Elk Grove Village be if they knew that their great love didn’t even know their names, let alone if Sally has red hair or was that Molly???

He’s completely unaware of his heartbreaker status.

So with that in mind, as well as a gift card to a local Hooters restaurant, we charged Sean with one simple task…

LOOK at the girls.

Laugh all you want but amongst all the therapies out there… all the things we parents have tried… all the hype that we have bought into… this scheme is crazy enough to work.

It didn’t.

But he did enjoy himself enough to say that he wanted to go back.

He said the food was good.


My boy goes to Hooters and talks about the food.


A bonus was when an employee noticed his gymnastics shirt and commented on it.

WOW… an opportunity for conversation!!!!  With a girl no doubt!!!!

Yea… that didn’t work out either.

As Sean summed it up, “Conversation failure.”

I look at it this way….

The total meal before gift card was $34…. A heck of lot cheaper than therapy, less paperwork hassle and it included food.

The employees were nice and friendly, very professional.   I certainly wouldn’t have to worry about them teasing him or breaking his heart like 8th grade girls would tend to do.

He did, in fact, work on his independence and communication skills by ordering his entire meal himself.

And for once Sean didn’t complain about going out of the house…especially since today was his first day off of a weeklong banishment from the computer for disrespecting me.

Sounds like a win-win situation all around, don’t you think?

This “Hooters Therapy” might just work out after all.

Now the only question remaining would be…. 

Will my insurance company cover it???


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine's Day Bully

Bullying…. You hear that word as a mom or parent or guardian of a disabled child and you go instantly to a dark place.  Your blood pressure rises.  You forget about everything and everyone around you.  You want to find out who and, to be adult and responsible and politically correct, give them a piece of your mind.

But you also want to protect.  And the helplessness when you can’t is something that you don’t ever want to bear.

Today is Valentine’s Day.  It’s supposed to be a day of love and caring… sharing one’s feelings with each other.

It’s also a day where a kid… any kid… can get bullied.

And today it was mine.

It’s difficult enough when your child gets bullied at school and they know exactly who it is.  They understand what’s going on.  They know it’s happening.

But for mine, and maybe yours as well and countless other kids out there, they don’t know or understand.

Hell, mine can’t even describe to you who it is.

Frustrating.  So frustrating.

How do you teach sincerity and trust to your disabled child?  Better yet, how do you teach them at this age insincerity and distrust???

Teenage kids are masters at lying and manipulating.  Absolute masters.

So how then do we teach our kids to know the subtle differences? 


Sean’s Life experience adds up to a few years of mainstream school, years in special education, and hour upon hour reading about things in books and on-line.

He is hardly prepared for the viciousness of the junior high crowd.

Heck, on some days, I’m not prepared for the stunts they pull or the things they say when I run into them around town.

How do I prepare him for a kid making fun of him when Sean doesn’t even realize that he’s being made fun of??

How do I go to the school and say something in the hope of protecting my child when Sean can’t even tell me anything about the boys who did it?

Sean doesn’t look people in the eye when they speak.

He doesn’t look at people at all…

Sean identifies people by voices and in the Peter Brady world of junior high, voices are difficult to define.

So what am I to do?  What are any of us parents, guardians, friends, therapists, people who care, supposed to do?

I guess we hope.  We pray.

And we teach our child as much as we can.  We have them experience Life outside of their own world as much as possible.

And we’re there for them. 

We can’t physically watch over them 24 hours a day.  We can’t raise them in a bubble or in a constant state of monitoring.  But our spirits can be with them and hopefully that little voice inside of them will help guide their way when it comes to unpleasant and unknown situations.

Unfortunately, bullying is part of growing up and it’s even worse now than when I was a teen.

And I wasn’t autistic.

We can only do what we can… and when we set our minds to it, parents and guardians of disabled children can do just about anything…

So with fair warning….

Don’t mess with Mama Bear boys... because Mama Bear is pissed.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mr. Know-It-All

Today I am taking my son’s advice and just writing.

Sean’s been begging me for weeks to post something on my blog.  Just about every day something will come up and he’ll ask, “So Mom… are you going to write about this in your blog?”

I generally answer, “No, honey.  Not today.”

But I should… I really should.

The other day he asked me what was wrong.  He senses that I am stressed all the time.  I told him that with everything going on that my mind was too jumbled to put two thoughts together…let alone, write an entire entry.

So then he told me to write about that….

Nice, I get called out on the carpet by my own 13 year old kid.

The year of 2012 has sucked.  There really is no better word for it.  Although I could certainly use a lot of other words to describe it!

My 80-year old mother hurt herself New Year’s Eve.  Then, under my watch, she found herself – and her head – being bounced out of a revolving door.

You want to talk guilt???  Let’s talk guilt.


Modern medicine and my mother’s thick stubborn skull – although it might have been that babushka she was wearing – saved her mind and spirit and she has mended quite well.

But then Smokey, my 15-½ year old German Shepard/Boxer mix, took ill.

And then she died.

It was heart breaking.  It was awful.  One day she would eat and the next she wouldn’t.

Sean… I don’t know why…. But he has this sixth sense about him.  And he’s frank about it…so frank.  Out of the blue one day, he just came out and said, “So Mom, Smokey’s…um… dying.”

“Yes, honey.  She is.”

“Oh, well that’s OK.  She’s lived a good life.”

And that was it.  No real emotion.  No tears.  No sadness to his voice.  But I knew he knew.  And I knew he understood.

When that night finally came and Smokey, surrounded by the five of us, breathed her last, Sean stayed calm amongst the overwhelming emotions of the moment.

Was he being autistic or simply strong for his family?

I needed to stay home with the girls and Rich couldn’t possibly take Smokey to the animal hospital by himself so Sean went with.

I think father and son bonded on that final trip with our beloved family pet.  Rich said he told stories about Smokey being a puppy…. and what a naughty little puppy she was!

It was only weeks earlier that Sean admitted he had let Smokey take the blame for the wallpaper being torn off the wall in the kitchen.

When they got to the animal hospital Rich took Smokey out of the car.  She was stiff…. something I wanted to shield the girls from.

But Sean… sweet Sean…. took note of it.  He said as he always does when Life actually mimics what he’s only read in books or on the computer….

“Wow… I didn’t think that really happened.”

It’s Life, Sean.  And Life also means Death.  You can read about it in books but you’re going to have to experience it one day for real.

So my son finally stepped away from the computer, stepped out of his world, and joined ours for just awhile.

It’s sad that it had to be for such a moment.

But it needed to be done.

Just like getting off of my butt, unscrambling my brain, and writing this blog.

Sometimes you have to listen to your kid’s unfiltered wisdom.

But let’s keep the fact that he was truly right this time our little secret.

Sean already thinks he knows it all.  There would be no living with him if he ever got the idea that sometimes, he actually does!