Saturday, December 22, 2012

No Homework- A guest post by Bubby

This piece was originally written by Bubby, my 11 year old autistic son for a school creative writing essay.  He worked really hard on this.  I know creative writing is very difficult for him, but I thought he did an excellent job with this one, so I wanted to feature it here on my blog.  

For more information about creative writing and why it's hard for some people on the autism spectrum visit this awesome article shared with me by Leah at 30 Days Of Autism.

         No Homework                    

Wouldn't it be fun if we had no homework?  I think all kids would agree. Would you like no homework?

We get more time to play at home.  The games we like, instead of homework.  The next reason is we work hard all day, so I need a break.  Finally, homework gets people upset, and people don't like to cry.

I hope teachers would stop giving students homework. We would be much happier!  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Defining #Autism

It is with a heavy heart that I sit in front of my computer composing this blog entry about a subject I never thought I'd ever have to address.  My fear is growing by the hour since the awful tragedy in Sandy Hook Connecticut took place, as most people's have.  It is the realization of one of our worst fears when someone commits heinous acts of violence against small children in a public place at random.  We didn't know it was coming.  We don't know why.  It is senseless and without meaning.  This person's actions leave behind a trail of sorrow, pain and fear.  Many lives will never be the same, forever altered by the their loss, whether that loss be of a loved one, or of the the feeling of safety that was taken from them.  We as humans scramble to try to make sense of this occurrence.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

#Autism Is

Autism is..... A squeal let out on a high EEEEEEEEEEE

Autism is...... A look sideways at something unique

Autism is..... A feeling of awe from a deep touch

Autism is..... knowledge gathered, like an expert

Autism is...... A line of cars colorful and bright

Friday, November 30, 2012

Speaking About #Autism- Rising Numbers and Funding

Yesterday was the House Committee Oversight and Government Reform  on C-Span discuss the riding autism numbers, and funding. I was deeply saddened by 70% of what was discussed and quite shocked at the outdated attitudes our government holds about autism.  I saw  many of speakers liken us to AIDs, cancer and repetitively call autism a disease.

There was some good testimony given by a few speakers. Dr. Alan Guttmacher, MD (Director, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentNational Institutes of Health)
did a very nice job speaking about how we need to focus on the needs of people with autism now. He mentioned very specific things that can be done,as well as organizations that have made a difference in the lives of autistic people and their families, including those that are run by and for autistic people.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tackling My Food Anxiety

Here in the US, yesterday was Thanksgiving. It started out rocky with me dreading the social gathering of my husband's family.  I knew that I would be okay in the end, but getting there was harder said than done. My anxiety built all morning, as every minute ticked by.  Despite the positives of the morning so far I was feeling more and more on edge. I had an opportunity to sleep in a bit, and wake slowly as my husband made breakfast for the kids.  I could not feel calmer, but one thing that was different than years past, I knew that I was being irrational.  I knew that I would be okay in the end, if only I just pressed forward and kept a positive attitude.

The other part of the day was that was difficult for me was that Thanksgiving is a holiday about food.  It's all about food and as many of you that follow my blog may know food is something I have issues with..  I was almost paralyzed in fear of the thought of eating all that food. Some of my thoughts were:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Why I Hide In The Atheism Closet

For many years my favorite song has been 'Imagine'  by John Lennon.  I seem to find that it is on many people's list of favorites.  It was brought back (as if it ever left) by A Perfect Circle, which is one of my favorite bands.  I can listen to it for hours, back to back.

I like the song for all of it's lyrics. I am an atheist. I don't believe there is a God. I don't think there is an afterlife.  I think today, right here, right now is all we have. I tried to be a Christian.  I tried Wicca. I tried several differently philosophies and have come to atheism, with a hint of Buddhism (which no deity is involved with) to be where I have comfortably settled. After researching, living and trying out different ideas I am pretty happy with being where I am. So, you may wonder, why is it you never talk about it?  Are you ashamed of your stance?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Choices +Actions= Values A simple way to explain values to teens

I sat in the living room listening to my husband have a frank chat with our daughter last night about some of her recent behaviors last night.  I didn't intervene. I let him take the wheel.  This, I knew to be beneficial for them.  I don't always need to be the enforcer or the one who is solving the problems.  The issue is, if I am letting him solve them, I have to respect his process, which is often different than mine.  I may not have gave up that much control with Bubby, because he doesn't always understand Bubby the way I do. However, CJ is her father's daughter, for sure.  She may look like me, but she has his personality.  He understands her in ways I do not, as well as can read between the lines in ways I don't know how to.

There was a point I wanted to make, though. I did exercise all of my self control to not interject it.  I kept it 100% to myself, until now, because I will likely share this with them. lol

That point is:

There is no good or bad.  There are only choices. You make choices based at any given moment about what you value. Your values are not what you believe is right or wrong.  Your values are what you express by your actions. 

Right now, I am choosing to blog while I have lunch, instead of eating quickly and getting to my housework.  My actions are saying that, to me, in this moment , I value this blog over the 20 minutes I could be spending elsewhere.  It's not right.  It's not wrong.  It just is.  I will have consequences for that. Some positive,ie, I may help my daughter or someone else understand themselves, their choices and what matters to them most. Their are negative possible consequences,ie; I may not get everything that I need to done today.  By choosing this I am choosing those consequences.  Both the good and the bad.  Those were my choices, those are my consequences for my decisions and I am responsible for them.  We all do this everyday.  Every decision we make is a reflection of what we value and we have the ability to change more about our lives than we ever imagined if we stop and make our choices mindfully.  What we eat, what we wear, what we say, what we share, what we keep, these are all reflections of who we are and what we value. We aren't the past, or the future.  The only thing we can control is the present and we do that with our actions.

When I think of this concept part of the lyrics from The Dark Side Of The Moon-Eclipse come into my mind as an example of what I mean:

All that you touch
All that you see
All that you taste
All you feel.
All that you love
All that you hate
All you distrust
All you save.
All that you give
All that you deal
All that you buy,
beg, borrow or steal.
All you create
All you destroy
All that you do
All that you say.
All that you eat
And everyone you meet
All that you slight
And everyone you fight.
All that is now
All that is gone
All that's to come
and everything under the sun is in tune
but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Is This Offensive? Weigh in!

I think most of us in the special needs community will agree that the words we use are very important. There have been epic take downs of celebrity tweeters who misuse words that we have come to know as a diagnosis for our children, ourselves or someone we care about.  We advocate about being sensitive to others by choosing to use our words carefully and without malice.  So, we all know that the use of the R word is considered offensive, but what about the terms we used to use before the R word came into standard diagnostic use?

Do you know what those words are? I didn't, until I read something about it on Homestyle Mama (with a side of autism) page .  That was several months ago, but it has stayed with me, as I have tried to evaluate what the information meant to me and what, if anything, I wanted to do about it.

Here is some snippets from the this page that I have copied and pasted:

"Specifically, those who have an IQ between 0 and 25 are idiots; IQs between 26 and 50 are considered imbeciles; and those who have an IQ between 51 and 70 are considered morons.
These terms were popular in psychology as associated with intelligence on an IQ test until around the 1960s.  They were then replaced with the terms mild retardation, moderate retardation, severe retardation, and profound retardation.  In addition to this, other factors besides IQ are now used in diagnosing these levels of mental deficiency."

So you may think, hey, but we don't use those words anymore to diagnose people, so what's the problem? Well, one issue is that the people diagnosed with these conditions prior to 1960 who are still alive (and I know of one family member that is) probably still carry this diagnosis in their file.  They are still labeled as one of those words, as well as this fact:

" In Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Ohio, idiots don’t have the right to vote."

And this fact as recent as 2007:

" California, idiots are one of six types of people who are not capable of committing any form of crime.  In 2007 the term “idiot” was replace with “persons who are mentally incapacitated” in the California legal wording of the penal code on this issue."

This part of the article is the crux of the matter to me:

" Ironically, the term retarded was used to replace the terms idiot, moron, and imbecile due to the fact that these terms gradually became thought of as derogatory.  This obviously only worked for a while and now “retarded” is itself considered a derogatory term.  It seems any word that basically means “low intelligence” is fated to be thought of as derogatory eventually.  So it’s only a matter of time before politically correct terms like “mentally handicapped” will come to be derogatory themselves."

How many times can we keep changing terms that we use to describe or diagnose those with intellectual disabilities? I know that I never use the R word, as I do find it highly offensive.  I have a child that has that word sprinkled all over his first report at the developmental pediatrician.  I'd never mock him that way. But,should I not also ban the other words from my vocabulary as well?  They are mocking others, too.  They are offensive to the mothers that lived before us.  There are still people alive that have that word in their reports from when they were children.  How long will it be before it will be acceptable for people to begin using the R word again to describe bad, or "dumb" things?  Should it ever make a comeback and if not, then would it stand to reason the others words are disrespectful, as well?

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Never Quiet Mind

I know a lot of my autistic blogger friends have been writing about special interests lately.  I have thought about doing a sort of post about it for awhile, but one has never materialized in my mind, or at least not in a way that has produced results.  I think about things to write about all the time. So much so, I have considered trying to make it into an actual career. I am always flowing with ideas to and topics that I want to discuss. This is because I never stop thinking.  My mind goes and goes.... So, what leads to this?  What does this feel like to me?

It is like I have a deep need for knowledge. It's more than a passing thought of I'd like to know more about X, or Y. No, it is way more than that.  I feel a drive that is not containable.  When something peeks my interest I feel such an overwhelming desire to know more about it that it is more important than most things to me.  It is a constant battle for me to get things done that I know needs done, while allowing myself the time that I need for researching and reading.  These interests can last a day, or years.  Sometimes, I have mini-interests that I research for an afternoon.  I will spend a couple of hours, or even a few hours over a course of a couple of days looking up information about an obscure topic that really has little bearing in my life.  At least, not enough to warrant that much time spent, according to most people, anyways.

I collect all of this information in my mind and it sits there, interconnecting with all of the other information that I have learned.  Once I read something, I rarely forget it.  I will remember it forever, as well as have the ability to link it up with new information in a way that allows me to have a broader understanding of how everything works.  Sometimes, I have facts that I know that I don't even know how or why I have that knowledge.  I just know it. 

Examples, of some of my search history on my computer,

*BMI charts, weight loss programs, and exercise programs. I know way more than any average person about all those things.

* Topographical Agnosia and well as directions to get to anywhere I ever have gone.

*ICD code for Aspeger's and autism-Autism is another big one, as well as other related disorders. 

*Craft project ideas for Halloween treat bags

*Dog related stuff.  Hours and hours of research about what kind of dog we have as well as how to train him.

*Post mordem photography- an afternoon of research into this little tradition.

* Lyrics to songs I like- lots and lots of those.

 *How to prepare squash, and every other thing I've made recently

*How to....get glue off of jars, train a dog, tell if _____ food is any good, cook _______ food, make _______ thing, fix __________,  Just endless How to's in my google search bar history.

To be clear here, I know that other people look up stuff on line.  I know that's not abnormal or odd. What makes it a bit so for me is the time I spend doing it.  I almost never go to one Google page of results and be done with it.  No. I read pages upon pages of information, sometimes, even taking it on a long string of unrelated topics, eating up my time and filling my brain with info that us probably not all that useful in a practical sense.

But, in truth nothing makes me happier than when I am learning.  It is the thing that makes my day good.  It is the substance I crave. I always need to know more. I am thirsty for information from that minute I wake up till the minute I go to sleep.  I can't think of  how awful life would be if I suddenly couldn't read anymore. If I suddenly lost my ability to be able to explore every little nuance that gets my interest.  My mind doesn't stop. It's always absorbing and needing more to digest.  It is an obsession, but one that is happy and harmless.  In this bliss I often forget that others don't feel this way. It's hard for me to comprehend that others find learning difficult, or boring when I look forward to it everyday with a childlike sense of joy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Where Am I? Confessions Of A Place Blind Aspie

I have been working on this post in my head for a long time. I go back and forth on how to present this subject. It's one of a very delicate matter that carries with it a lot of sensitivity to me. To be honest, I have not wanted to talk about it, as I was afraid I'd be told I was just being exaggerative or that I need to stop making excuses for myself.  I hide this secret inside of me away from everyone, because I feel ashamed and like I have no assistance in making it better.

So do you want to know my secret-y secret that I hide away from anyone and everyone that I can?

Topographical Agnosia    Or Place Blindness.

What is place blindness?

Taken from here:

"Often confused for being absentminded or lazy, people with topographic agnosia have no innate memory for places. Just as a person with face blindness has a short-term memory for faces, the person with place blindness has a short-term memory for places. This means, that a person living on a street for five years would not be able to recognise the other houses on the street or in the neighbourhood if seen out of context. In testing for place blindness, a husband asked his place-blind wife to keep her eyes shut while he drove around their neighbourhood. He stopped in front of a house four houses down from theirs and asked her to tell him if she had ever seen it before. She hadn't. Despite their many walks in which they had passed it, she had no memory of it. Topographic Agnosia also explains why a person who loved hiking and being out-of-doors would never go by herself and couldn't remember the individual hikes. Unless they included waterfalls or a unique bridge or old growth, all the hikes looked the same to her."

This means, that to me, every time I go somewhere it is like the first time, even if I have been there many times before.  If I go somewhere everyday and get a strong sense of landmarks committed to memory, then I will be okay, but if I skip several days  in a row my memory will begin to erase itself and I will have to re-learn the route. This means that if I were brought into an unfamiliar area I could not find my way back home from which I just came minutes before.

It is not just limited to driving.  I get just as lost on foot, as well. If I go out different doors in a big building I cannot find my way back to a parking lot. I did this one time when I dropped my daughter off for practice at night at an unfamiliar part of the school. I must have accidentally went out different doors and I spent 45 minutes walking around the block and the school until I finally had to ask someone which way the parking lot was. It was humiliating.  Or, the other day I went with Beans to his Halloween party. The teacher wanted him to participate with the mainstream 3rd grade class, so him, his para and I went to the classroom. I had been to this part of the school a handful of times over the last few years. He (as I predicted) became overwhelmed by the noise in the classroom, so his para asked me to take him back to his classroom while she gathered up his treats. I thought no problem, right? Yes, problem, Upon exiting the room I had not remembered to consciously note any landmarks. I had no idea which way was which. It was essentially to me as if someone had picked me up and sat me down in the middle of an unfamiliar, foreign environment, even though I had just came from that hall not seconds earlier. I stood there trying to remember anything that could help me navigate my surroundings, then pondered if I could make it back on my own, so I tried one direction hoping I get a glimpse of recognition on the other end of the hall, but no, so I thought the safest thing to do was to wait for his para to come out of the room before I got us both hopelessly lost in the building!

I find driving difficult as it is. It's hard for me to multi-task in the way of paying attention to so much stimuli at once. Add place blindness on top of it all and I am hard pressed to go anywhere new or with high traffic. So many things need to be done before I can even attempt to go anywhere I am not familiar with.  I used to rely very heavily on my Garmin, but that was in my purse that was stolen a couple months ago. That navigation system was my safety net, my saving grace.  Now, I'm back to the old days where if I get lost while driving I have to call for help while trying to describe landmarks, because I don't remember streets and I have absolutely NO idea where north, south, east and west are.  These things are way above my ability to even comprehend how others know them.  So, the thief that took my purse has no idea, nor probably cares about how much of a predicament he put me in.

Other coping skills include:
*heavy use of google maps where I can visually get a sense of what the destination looks like.
*written directions with lots of landmark info written in, like when there will be a stop sign, what the destination is by ect
*how many stop lights I have to go through, so I don't panic and think I've gone too far.
*a back up route, in case the one I have is blocked for some reason
*lots of extra time in case I get lost
*someone to go with me
*No night driving unless it's an emergency or only a few blocks

This issue is by far the most damaging to my life. This issue is the one that drove me to get a diagnosis, because I was hoping that there was some therapy, help or assistance for it.  Not only was there not any, but I got the usual agoraphobia/generalized anxiety  excuse tacked onto my Asperger's diagnosis, which was very upsetting to me, because I really wanted help with this.  The clinician was not only ignorant of the disorder, but insisted that it was my anxiety that was causing to me to have these issues.  I insisted that getting lost most definitely causes anxiety, but it is not caused by anxiety.  I was offered social skill therapy and that was virtually all. I left depleted and misunderstood, even more so than I was before going.

So, I try to make my way through as best I can.  I hope by sharing this I can help others who are out there suffering in silence.  It is estimated that up to 1/3 of those with Asperger Syndrome have place blindness.  I know that I can't be the only one and I know there has to be more research done on this difference to help people like me understand the way we perceive visual/spatial information, but the only way that is going to happen is if more people are aware it exists in the first place.

More info on Topographical Agnosia:

Getting Lost

Monday, November 5, 2012

Daylight Savings and 12 Black Rainbows

Yesterday was the first day in Daylight Savings. People always get pretty worked up over still having to turn our clocks back and forth, "in this day and age".  I am beginning ti suspect that I am the only person that not only doesn't mind it, but sees a point in it as well as enjoys it.

Hear me out.

I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. I like the sun. I need the sun.  I want to soak up as much of it's deliciousness as I possibly can every day between November 1st to April1st.  Those months are hard for me.  If we change our clocks to a time where we are awake more and utilizing more hours of sunlight I get more of a chance to do that.  I also don't like it when my kids are walking to school in the dark, so I am okay with them going an hour later in fall, and winter in order to achieve that.  I also think it is better for energy conservation if we can use as much natural light as possible. Even an hour a day is a big deal when we consider the masses of people that are using less electricity to light their homes for that time.

Since this is a kind of off-topic fun type of post I thought I'd share a song that I ran across this morning as I wrote this post. It's by one of my all time favorite bands Type 0 Negative. The lead singer had bipolar and was very prone to severe depression.  This song is about that depression and since I talked a bit about darkness leading to depression in this post I thought that this might be an appropriate video:

Idle hands may be the devil's work
Unbridled minds you see are so much worse
Too much pity spent and wasting time
Irresponsibility not my only crime no

Obsessive thinking, depressed drinking
The person i once was, he's dead
Exhume the past this time or be my last
This is my final quest to remove my mask yeah

Don't be afraid as she pulled down the shade
Said there's nothing to fear but the monster is here
So just tell me the time, be it quarter of nine
Since the sun's gone away, now the creature will play

Ice blue eyes follow me everywhere i go
Making my heart appear as lead
I hate to wish it but I'll tell you though
That i'm quite ready 'cause I'm already dead

Don't be afraid as she pulled down the shade
Said there's nothing to fear but the monster is here
So just tell me the time, be it quarter of nine
Since the sun's gone away, now the creature will play

Don't be afraid as she pulled down the shade
Said there's nothing to fear but the monster is here
So just tell me the time, be it quarter of nine
Since the sun's gone away, now the creature will play

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Birthday Bubby!

Tomorrow, November 2nd is Bubby's 11th birthday. I made this post so that he could see all the people that follow my page and know all about him. If you would like to sign his virtual e-card here, and wish him a happy birthday please do so in the comments section. Thank You!

Monday, October 29, 2012

#Autism Uncensored

Today I was asked a question about swings on my Inner Aspie FB page.  I have lots of experience in this area, as we have purchased a few different types of swings for our boys. I thought it would be nice for  if I were to go through my photos and post pics of the boys using the swings and give a description of how they worked for us, and why.

As I was searching through photos from the last 4 years I noticed something. I kept thinking, I will need to crop this one if I use it, so that the mess Beans makes doesn't show, or even bypassing pictures, because I didn't want my my messy house to be on a page with several hundred people looking at it. I was trying to censor my life on a page about autism, when the censored parts were a part of life with autism. How does that make sense? I thought to myself, no. My page is real. It's not a magazine cover. My boys swinging on their swings on a regular day in a house where autism lives is messy. Beans has never (and may never) exit the toddler stage where they carry random objects around.  He has to have something in his hands all the time.  Even when he leaves the house, he almost always carries something with him. I don't know why this is, but I've see it happen with a lot of very profoundly autistic people, as well as those with intellectual disabilities.  I think it's a comfort thing. So, on any given day, if you were to drop by my house you'd see random objects strewn about the floor with no rhyme or reason, until we pick them up before bed, to begin again the next day, This is a house where autism lives. I used to try to hide it. I used to try to keep it immaculate. I used to try to minimize it, or corral it. Not anymore. This is a place where we live. My attitude is different now. My attitude is about making my boys comfortable and happy. I do this by not censoring who I am or who they are.  On my blog and on my FB page I am authentic.  I don't hide away the struggles. I don't pretend they aren't there. I don't gloss over anything. I also don't advocate feeling shame over these differences that autism produces.  For me to have selected only 'acceptable' pictures to post where I felt the environment was perfect that would not be what I say I am about. I would be saying one thing and doing another.  So, with integrity, and with authenticity I open my imperfect life up to the public, so that other parents out there can see it displayed without fear and shame and maybe they will stop thinking about how much they don't measure up to other parents with perfect houses and perfect days. (Honestly, there really is no such thing anyway) We can be okay with our mess, and with our differences on the outside, so that we can be okay on the inside, as well.

I sincerely believe that the more we can let others see the parts we find unacceptable about ourselves, the more we see each other reflected during those moments.Those moments where we are being truly authentic, and without reservation or prejudice are the ones that shift our perceptions about who we are, who are children are and what really matters in the grand scheme of life.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Change-How my brain processes it

 Edit: I just want to add that this is just a description of a temporary situation. I'm not in any distress right now and while I appreciate everyone's concern, I'm not in any need of support at the moment.

I feel my ears get hot and my jaw clench. My heart is racing and my eyes are are getting blurry. This is either anger, or anxiety. I am unsure which. All I know is, something unexpected happened. My regular routine was changed and I was not warned. I don't know how to take this. It feels personal. It feels like a big promise broken.  My pride feels hurt. I feel disrespected. I know that it's not that big of a deal, but it feels like it is. You tell me it's not, and that makes it worse. That makes it insult to injury. Now, I am most certainly shifting to mad. Anxiety doesn't feel this defensive, but it does feel threatening. I felt threatened, and now I feel like I have to defend my right to feel the way I do and be the person I am. I wasn't the one that made a last minute change. I am not the one who isn't making sense. You are. You changed it all without warning. You changed it all without explanation and now I don't know why. I need to know why. Is it me?  Is it something I did? Why do I feel like crying now? I must know why I am about to cry. I feel let down. I feel like I need a moment to regather my thoughts. They are racing. I think I asked you why you did this and why you changed your plans, because you say I did, but your answers don't make sense to me, so I will keep asking, until I tell you to leave me for a minute, if I remember to tell you this. Sometimes, when I am this upset, I forget. I forget to tell you that I need a minute. I ask you the same things and you get upset, which makes me more upset. Now, I know it's personal. Now, I know I need a break.  Now, you are mad, too. Now, you are telling me that I am illogical. I hate it when you say that. I don't think I like you right now.  Your words are overwhelming me with their force. I want to talk back, but I can't. Maybe, I could, but I know I shouldn't. When I feel this way my words are everywhere in anger. I just want to know why you acted different. Why did you do something out of the ordinary when we always do it in this order? Why can't you answer me with more reason? When I do things out of order I always have a reason. It's never because I felt like it. I feel like I've been lied to. I am angry. I need you to fix this, but you can't, because I am already upset. I need to be alone. I need to be in quiet. I need to know things are okay. I need to know that I am okay. I need to remember that life exists outside of this very overwhelming moment, even if it feels like forever is contained in this now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Learning To Float In A Sea Of Chaos

The other day I shared this photo on my page:

I found it on FB and thought, oh... this is me. This is a perfect example of where I am in my life. Not that I am this martyr that just gives to all and gets nothing. I don't really view my life that way. I don't feel that I take on more than my fair share.  I do think that I sometimes have more on my plate than I can swallow at once and that is an issue, because it's as if I keep putting more and more back into the fridge for the next day, but the leftovers never get quite gone. Sometimes, I clean out my fridge and am happy for that feeling of things being pretty taken care of for a bit. But, then there's the other times. The times like now, where every morning I open my fridge and I see leftovers from 3 weeks ago that I needed to take care of, but I didn't. They're still there, rearranged and prioritized.  I am feeling overwhelmed. I need to answer emails, and blog replies. I have important phone calls to make and errands to run.  I have conferences to attend and volunteer work that I don't know why I sign up for, but I do. (Okay, I do know why, because I sometimes want to give back and do something more than just dishes and laundry.) I have an IEP coming that I need to prep for and more than one child with issues that needs my attention at school. I can only do so much in one day.  I only have so much time and energy.  This week my fridge is overflowing with leftovers.

Just while writing this I had to get up and chase our new dog (who I am also training) down the alley, because he found a week spot in our fence (that I totally told my husband about, but he insisted it was fine) and had to stop writing to answer texts from Bean's teacher. My husband and I are in a stalemate, because he doesn't agree with the way I want to train the dog. So, there's a lot of tension there. I am bossy. I am controlling. I am working on not being so much so, but it is in my nature to know what needs to be done and do it.  Part of that is working on letting someone else take care of the leftovers,sometimes. Even if they don't do it my way. Even if things don't all get done. I know this is life. I know I will be here again and again. I will get much of these tasks done and then after a short resting time, things will get hectic again. Life has a way of being this way, especially when you have special needs kids to tend to. I sometimes run out of steam, but I always get it done.  I know that I do. It's hard to remember when I am in the middle of it all drowning that I will sink faster if I flail around fighting.  I have to remember to stay calm and float naturally. Not easy when it all seems so urgent. I have to remember to stop perseverating on what I'm not getting done and think about what I did. The first will bring me to a standstill, while the other will help me see what I accomplish. It's hard to have a good perspective sometimes, but worth it, emotionally.

All in all I think I am doing good with being calm and looking to the bright side. A vast improvement from where I was even a year ago.  I am still drowning in it, but I am able to be calm, delegate, and prioritize. as well as not feel like a failure when I can't meet every deadline or commitment.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Managing Negative Behaviors With #Autism & #ADHD

I am a member of a lot of autism pages on FB, and I read a lot of autism related blogs, ect.  There is a recurrent theme that I see played out everyday. It's hard for me to address it as a general concept because I don't do general concepts very well. I am a detailed thinker.  I am going to try, because this subject is very important to me.

I'd like to discuss the way I see parents handling their child's 'behaviors'. I really dislike that word,  behaviors. Let's call it responses. That's what they are. Everything a child (and let's face it, people in general) does is a direct response to a trigger. The trigger can be negative, or positive.  It can be physical, something that can be felt with the senses, or private, something that is only evident to the person feeling it, but nonetheless just as valid.  Since a person who is on the spectrum senses the world differently parents have to parent differently. I think this is a hard thing for parents to know how to do that. It's even harder for other caregivers, such as teachers, who may not have any experience with your child before suddenly noticing what appears to be 'naughty' behaviors    responses.

Let's go with a common one that I hear almost daily.The following is an example only, and does not represent any one person.

 Little Johnny walked up to James and punched him. When the teacher saw, she thought to herself, "oh, here we go again! Johnny is such a brat. I am tired of him. He needs some serious discipline. I'm going to let him know he can't behave this way. His parents really need to do something about him. I'm going to let them know about how much I don't appreciate their child's behavior in my classroom!"  The teacher doesn't understand Johnny's autism. She thinks he's naughty and already has that biased in her mind that he is, which means she's always on the lookout for behavior to correct from Johnny. She feels compelled to let him know that his tactics will not work in her class. Any positive behavior is now overlooked by her and negative behavior is exemplified. She relentlessly calls and emails Johnny's mother, who feels embarrassed that her child is misbehaving.  Maybe, she feels angry that the teacher doesn't handle it very well, but since in our society having a child that acts out is seen as parental failure Johnny's mother feels powerless.  She sees this situation as a reflection on her parenting ability and allows the teacher to talk down to her, back her in a corner and influence how she deals with Johnny when he gets home.  Johnny's mom makes decisions based on her emotional reaction to the situation, which is to punish Johnny for misbehaving.  This further frustrates Johnny.  The cause of his behavior is never addressed, he learns that he is always to blame, so he acts out more. The cycle continues until he's an adolescent and now angrier than ever is physically intimidating his family. Johnny has never been given the right supports to deal with his autism and his emotions. He has learned that he is always the bad guy, the wrong one, and that no one has his back. He acts like he feels, which is out of control. He lost the game before it even began.

Sound familiar? So what can you do?

*The first thing to do is to learn as much about autism as you can from those who have it. If you're here, there's a good chance you're already doing that.

*Make a decision that you will try to objectively view every behavior your child has as a direct response to something.  This means, try to get to their level and see through their eyes. It is unlikely that they are doing anything to just upset, or manipulate you. Get that out of your head now. Every behavior is a communication about a need. It's your job to figure out what the need is.

*Which brings me to the next part. Put on your detective hat. If you can't automatically figure out what your child keeps getting upset about, keep a behavior journal. Write down any emotion changes in a chart.  See if there are any patterns.

*Put on your advocacy hat. Don't let school officials talk you into the corner.  Be confident. If you struggle with this, find someone to help you.  I have not gotten one call from the school about either of my boy's behavior. They know that if they did, I'd demand a Functional Behavior Assessment and call a meeting. I would be in the classroom observing (which I do time to time anyway) to see what supports they need to be more successful.  The school staff know this. They know I expect them to support and respect my kids and will have to deal with the business end of a advocacy lawyer if they don't. 

*This point may raise a few hackles.  I'm going to put it anyway. It's what I truly believe. If the school can't get it right, or other program, then don't continue to send your child there. Sometimes, you can make the school or other program comply by law for certain things, but you can't control how they talk to or treat your child. My youngest qualifies for Extended School Year. I dislike the staff and have a strong feeling that things aren't always positive and on the up and up there. I don't send him.  He needs it and it's great for me to have that break, but it's more important to me that my son is treated well, so he does not attend summer school.  I never want him to feel like my needs come before his, or that I won't go out of my way to keep him safe.

*Do not punish meltdowns. Ever. Remember that a meltdown is a direct response to something. Solve the problem, and the behavior will go away.

*Learn about Positive Behavior Supports and how to be a consistent parent.

*Learn about sensory issues and how to help your child with those.

*Keep things on a routine as much as possible. Use visual schedules or written ones if your child needs it.  Remember that transitions are hard for us.  Count down before sudden changes. Example: "We will be going home from he park in 10 minutes" "We will be leaving in 5 minutes.." ect.. Don't just suddenly decide that things need to happen, then wonder why your child is suddenly aggressive, eloping, or crying.

*Learn about Executive Functioning issues. Use some of the strategies mentioned in the paragraph above to help your child best process information and prioritize time.

All of these things, if done for the ASD person, will provide an optimal level of support, and when ASD individuals are properly supported you will automatically see a decline in behaviors

Monday, October 8, 2012

Life Pre-Autism

I found this picture while I was cleaning today. It was taken about 8 1/2 years ago while my grandmother was visiting. She wanted a family picture. I tried to tell her I didn't think we could really get my kids to sit and take one, but she insisted. At that time, autism wasn't a term I knew anything about. This is life pre-autism. Not necessarily pre-autism symptoms. Just the label of autism. All the trials were there, though I had no name for them at that time. In the background of the original pre-cropped picture you can see around the corner into my boy's room. You could see that there were toys and things laying everywhere. This was because Bubby used to disassemble his entire room everyday, several times a day. He emptied every shelf and every drawer. I would clean it up and the next day he did it again. This was my reality. I knew he was a handful. No one would watch him. Every sitter would call my husband and I before we were even finished eating while out on dates. They could not deal with his energy and his fits. He was likened to the Tasmanian Devil on Looney Toons. I would agree with that assessment at that time. I learned that I could not trust others with my high spirited little guy, because they thought he just needed some discipline. Relatives were not nice to him, as they thought him to be spoiled. Beans is laughing and Bubby is screaming. Bubby screamed all.the.time. We have very few photos of him before the age of 5 where he wasn't screaming. Beans was pretty happy most of the time, regardless of what was going on around him. His mood was not determined by environment. As a matter of fact, as he grew I noticed that he didn't respond to much in his environment, at all. In this moment, this was my life about 1 year pre-autism. It was a quiet kind of chaos. You can see it in my face the way I am trying to hold it together through my exhaustion. It's a bit of a sad memory for me, as I wish I could reach out to the younger me in the photo. To let myself know that my kids are different, but okay. That I was different, but okay. That I was not the failure I feared myself to be. My confidence was shaken by what I didn't know and didn't understand. I wish that I could have gotten some of the support I needed back then. That's why I try so hard to do as much for the autism community as I can. I want to help other young parents out there that are as lonely, and scared as I once was. All parents deserve a place to go where they can get the answers and support they need.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Blissfully Active #Asperger Brain

I have spoken before on my FB page about the inability to really feel boredom.  

Let me clarify for a moment what I mean by boredom. As defined by Merriam-Webster;  the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest. 

This is different than the feelings I might get from say, melancholy, or restlessness that is borne of impatience (stuck waiting for something/someone for example), or discontent, which can be like restless.  These moods are directly related to situations, or limited ability to do or be something else. To me, boredom is by definition, lack of interest in anything anywhere no matter what.  I don't get that emotion.  This was first brought to my attention while I was attending social skills therapy with my son as a follow up after diagnosis. We were working on facial expressions in a mirror. We were told to make a bored face. I couldn't. I had no background for that emotion. Bubby did, but I know from experience his 'bored' means something is too hard and he doesn't want to do it, so he announced that it's boring, or he's impatiently waiting for something. I don't think either of those really qualify as bored. The therapist insisted that I had to be bored sometimes. I said I didn't. Even when there was nothing to do physically there is always something I can think about that's interesting to keep me occupied.  My mind is never dull or out of ideas.  I have so many that it keeps me up at night. I have so many plans and thoughts that I am unable to do half of what I think about.  

I saw this photo and I was instantly in love with it. It really resonates with my active mind and inquisitive spirit.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Ultimate Self Accpetance Test

Yesterday, I saw this image:

 I posted it on my FB page and to my surprise a few people responded with reservation, or flat out 'No' to the question in the image.  I'm unsure of what to make of that.  If you follow my blog you will have seen that I struggle with depression and it's side kick low self-esteem.  It's something that has plagued me for as long as I can remember.  However, I can say with certainty that I think that I am a good person. A person that is worthy of friendship and love.  I think of the qualities that I think make a good companion:

*Reserved (at least not overly loud and boisterous)
*Understanding of other's struggles-even if they are foreign to yourself
*Down to earth
*Strong work ethic
Just to name a few. I think that I embody those. I actually spend a lot of time thinking about how I come across to others and whether I am putting an image out there that I can be proud of. I try to be a person that if I met myself I would want to be friends with.  This is the ultimate in self-acceptance. If you can't be friends with yourself, if you can't like yourself, or hold your actions in the light of esteem, than how can others? Why would you not want to be friends with yourself?  If there are specific reasons, those can be changed once you identify them. If you just feel uncomfortable with the idea, then it's time for some deep soul searching. We have to be comfortable with who we are to be truly fulfilled. That is just a given. If we can't be comfortable with our inner self, we can never be fully grounded.  We risk spending a life running away from our shadow, fearing alone time. 

What qualities do you think makes a good companion? Do you feel that you posses them?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Neverending #Gratitude List

I was thinking the other day that it would be great to compile a nice list of those small, delightful little moments we encounter in our day that really make things great. The little things that make us smile and feel grateful to be alive. I asked my FB page this question and these are the responses that I received. Feel free to share, and print out to hang in your everyday workspace help remind yourself and your family that everyday is an occasion to be grateful. Also, if you would like add something to the gratitude list, please leave a comment and I will edit the post to add it in. The gratitude list can't ever be too long!
*The ones without a name attached are mine.

1. The First cup of coffee in the morning.

2. Climbing into bed with freshly laundered sheets.

3.Hugs and kisses from my girls~Kimberly W.

4. When my kiddo crawls into bed with us in the morning and snuggles up for a little while and tells me his dreams.~ Summer L.

5. A favorite meal~ Jaclyn R.

6. When we tell our son its bedtime and he grabs me, pulls me into the bedroom, and pats the bed. Its his way of telling me he wants to cuddle.~ Kristen D.

7. Snuggle time! In the last 10 minutes before he falls asleep my son curls up with me. That is the time when he is able to tell me about his day, about something he wants, about what fascinates him. I learn more about my son in those precious 10 minutes than at any other time.~ Kim G.

8. My 5 year old will put his hands on the sides of my face, tell me I'm pretty, and give me a smooch.~ Nikki H.

9. Reading bedtime stories to my 4 year old. My ten year old Aspie does NOT do fiction, so he isnt into "bedtime" stories~ Amanda F.

10 .When I have true, perfect silence.~ Zed L.

11. "Just because hugs" from my children always make my day better :) ~ Amy G.   

12. Rainbows!! Can't get enough Rainbows! ~ Sue K.

13.My first cup of coffee in the morning, on the porch listening to the birds and watching the sun rise. :) ~ My Awesome Aspie 

14. The perfect song, the perfect book, the perfect poem... or when walking outside in the midst of trees, seeing the full moon. (I will have to stop now because I just realized I have a bunch of things like that about nature that make me feel like sighing a great big happy sigh.~ Ad L.

15. One day my son turned to me and said, "Of all the mom's in the world you're the Charlie Browniest." I think that was his way to say, I love you. I love those random thoughts out of the blue.~ Jennifer C.

16. i have a few: Seeing my son inventing his own games and enjoying himself, sitting in the sun in our garden with my husband and son, drinking a homemade cup of cappucino in a quiet house. :)) ~Aspegermoeder

17. A Red Velvet Cupcake at the end of a stressful day. Melts it all away.~ Confessions Of An Aspergers Mom

18. Morning coffee as the sun comes up : ) ~ Nick's Page for Autism Awareness

19.A song that comes on exactly when I needed it to! ~ Autism Answers 

20. Getting messages from close friends. ~Katherine R.

21. When my Aspie son corrects himself. I might be right next to him and he'd yell, "Bring me ORANGE JUICE!" He would then hesitate and add, "Oh, excuse me. May I have orange juice please?" Making respectful requests in our household is an issue, so this feels wonderful! ~ A Quiet Week In The House

22. Wells Getting a phone call or text from that special someone to ask how 'my' day went. :) ~ Tanya W.

23. The sound of my children's laughter ~ Confessions Of An Aspergers Mom 

24. Diet coke seriously ~Shelly S.

25. Hearing "You're the Best Mom ever " from my 21yr old son !! He's the best son ever. I really love him so much & very grateful God sent him my way !!! ~Mary Beth S.

26. Being silly and music :) ~Ngie P.

27. Squirrel watching, rainbows, sunshine and cool breezes, unexpected humor and uproarious laughter, playing patty-cakes or tossing a ball back and forth, bouncing on a trampoline - the last 3 make me smile and laugh every's automatic/can't help it! :)  ~Audra C.

28. Knitting and being creative. It gets me up in the morning!. ~Alida V.

29. Waking up.~Janorah F.

30. Sunshine on my face, first thing in the morning. Or a 'love you' message from my daughter. ~Penni W.

31. Endorphins from exercise. Aaahhh. :) ~Audra C.

32. Sitting on your porch watching it rain. The smell after it rains. Seeing the trees turn brilliant colors in the fall. The refreshing feeling you get when you get a drink of iced tea on a super hot day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why Spanking Is Harmful

It seems that a week can't go by where there isn't some thread on a public page on Facebook where people are voraciously arguing over Corporal Punishment.  From what I have gathered those for it are in the minority. You might not know it, based on their reactions, but I always find that to be a good indication of how valid one really think their opinion is. If I know my actions are noble I won't feel the need to get over the top defensive if someone doesn't agree with me. I don't need them to tell me I am right, or agree with me to feel validated. If I feel confident in my own decision, then I will be able to have a civil debate about why I think the way I do and be okay if I can't sway the other party to my 'side' as it were.

So, what does science say about spanking? One recent study showed a clear association with

 "the proportion of illnesses such as depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse as well as personality disorders that may be attributable to physical punishment".

 Another states
" Despite American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations to the contrary, most parents in the United States approve of and have used CP as a form of child discipline. The current findings suggest that even minor forms of CP, such as spanking, increase risk for increased child aggressive behavior. Importantly, these findings cannot be attributed to possible confounding effects of a host of other maternal parenting risk factors."

Those are just a couple of the studies that have shown that spanking isn't beneficial to any child for any reason, for any age. I can't find one study that says it is. If you have one, please share it with me. The interesting thing to me is, even though it is not recommended by any expert that knows anything about child development, the studies say parents continue to do it anyway.  This leads me to believe that we don't have enough information and know how to discipline differently. As humans we do what we know, even if it's not effective. We're creatures of habit and tradition.

My other issue with hitting kids (and make no mistake anytime you spank your child it IS by definition hitting them) is that it's illegal to hit anyone else, so why are children not afforded the same right?  If your spouse, neighbor, or waiter pisses you off you aren't allowed to hit them. Even if they lie to you, steal your stuff, or otherwise do something off the wall morally wrong. You are not allowed by law to hit them unless it's to defend yourself from harm. If you do, you can be arrested for assault. So, why is it okay to hit a little defenseless person?  What if you do it just enough to hurt them, and teach that neighbor of yours you mean business? Is that legal? No. So why is it legal to do it to a child. Hitting is hitting.

Before, all of you think that I am on my high horse, I will admit to using spanking a handful of times with my 2 oldest. I stopped, because it seemed not only ineffective, but it seemed to make their behavior worse. I set out to find another way. 

Different things work for different kids. All kids respond to some form of positive behavior reinforcement . Maybe, some need more redirection, frequent rewards and support than others, but they all respond to it.  No matter how stubborn, ornery, or different you think your child is, I guarantee you they will respond to some sort of positive behavior plan.  Everyone does. When we don't go to work our boss doesn't come over to our house and hit us. We simply pay the natural consequences of that decision.  I try to mirror that as much as I can with my kids. I try to relate any punishment or reward to the actual behavior itself.  If they don't do their chores, they won't get their stars on their chart, and they won't have money. The same with if we don't earn income. I don't buy them a lot of stuff. If they want toys and games, they have to earn it themselves. They don't throw fits at the store, because unless it's a special occasion they aren't expecting a toy. When I say no, I mean no. Every time, always. You throw a fit about my answer, you lose privileges. Consistently. I don't yell.  I don't threaten. I state my expectation and they know I mean what I am saying, because I am consistent in following through.  A lot of the time I see kids having bad behavior, because the parents reinforce it. Do you go back on previous no's, because you don't want to hear the whining? Do you let your child behave badly until you finally explode and yell, instead of getting the situation taken care of immediately?  Are you inconsistent on rules? Letting them sometimes do things that are against the rules, because it's easier for you in that moment, than to exert the energy to correct them?  When they fail to do something in real life, say at school, do you rush to bail them out, or do you let them handle the consequences of their own behaviors?

Conversely, when your children do something right, do you tell them? Eg; "great job making your bed, getting a good grade, helping a friend.."
Do you always stand up for them when it's warranted showing them that you have their back? Eg; The school is treating your special needs child in a way that is unfair, so you put your own feelings of shyness, busyness, ect... aside and take care of the matter.
Do you allow them times and space to be them, instead of micromanaging their time and activities?  Eg; allowing them time to watch tv and be on the computer without huge time constraints,  ect...
Do you allow them the individual freedom to choose, even if it's you don't agree with their decision (age appropriately, of course)? Eg; Allowing them to choose their own fashion, sports, friends, ect..

These are all examples of fostering a child's well being in a sense that allows them to feel good about themselves, and the world around them. When a child feels safe, secure and grounded they have the better tools to choose their behavior, rather than going on a series of impulsive reactions.

So, what is your preferred method of discipline? (Please note that I won't delete any comments, but I also won't respond to nasty ones, either)

And above all, please remember:

Punish the behavior, not the child!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Do I Know You? ~This Aspie's Experience with Face Blindness.

I can feel him casually glancing in my direction. I make a point to look away and not  make eye contact, because I don't feel like having polite conversation at the pool with strange men I don't know.  Eventually, we cross paths and he asks me how I am. I can tell by his demeanor that he's not a stranger. He is someone I've met before and should be acquainted with. I search the pool to see if I recognize his children. I'm looking for any clues that can help me here, but none come. I just make small talk and try to figure it out later. It turns out to be one of my daughter's friend's parents. I've spoken to him in the last couple of weeks. I should know who he is.

The above scenario is probably something that has happened to most people before at some point, but for me (and many others on the spectrum) it happens often. There is a phenomenon called face blindness or Prosopagnosia.  I am unsure if I fit the criteria for this diagnosis. I took the face blindness test of famous faces and scored 93%. That is above average. I have no trouble identifying faces of famous people, even those I have not seen in 20 some years. My memory is quite good in that way. However, when social interaction in everyday life is introduced to the scenario I seem to lose the ability to identify acquaintances.

As you can imagine, this is troublesome. If I run into someone, say at the store it is very likely that I will not recognize them. I live in a small town, so it is certain to happen often, just based on the statistics alone.  So, maybe you are one of the son's paras, the secretary at the school, or the bank teller, the principal that I've sat through 10+ IEP meetings with, or my neighbors.... I will walk past you as if I've never met you, unless you make the first move.  I'm certain that this doesn't help my social life, as I know that I come off as snobby. It has to be terribly confusing to others, especially the ones that I warmly chat with on a regular basis to suddenly find me oblivious to them in another environment.

I wonder if Beans has this issue, too. He always smells people upon greeting them.He reaches out and grabs your clothes, and hair and sniffs.  I think he may be trying to identify who you are by your scent.

If you took the test, feel free to leave your score in the comment section, as well as any experience you may have with this issue, either with yourself, or your ASD loved one.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Idea Of Being Spontaneous!

The other day I was shopping in Dollar General, waiting for a prescription to be filled. I had time to kill, so I wasn't running through the store doing my shopping in the usual beat the clock fashion. I typically dislike shopping and see it as a chore to get done and over with as soon as I can.  I happened into the Halloween aisle. I am one of the people that is always practical.  I don't see the point in spending money on things that aren't functional.  I am boring. My husband is the one who buys the holiday decorations and is often the one who puts them up. Most that I have come from relatives, no doubt looking to spruce my boring bare walled decor up!  

I didn't notice at the store that it's eyes are all wonky. Fits our home perfectly!
Anyway, I thought that maybe, it was time for me to be a little bit spontaneous. It was time for me to spend a few dollars on something that really has no practical purpose.  I bought a Halloween decoration for our yard.  Just a little something that symbolizes me doing something a little different, trying new things and breaking from the routine, even just a little bit.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Discussing staring, and #autism in public- join the conversation!

I shared the above image on my FB Page and Marilyn G. commented:
"Wanting to share and needing input. My autistic son was always a quiet one, so I never had to experience some of the feeling that you have. Many times I have been out in places and there has been a child being "loud". My immediate response is of concern and my reaction is to look at the child and the situation to evaluate in lightening (super mother power) speed if everything is ok with the child (I have seen a child being verbally abused in a Target to the point of tears before). I have never judged that child nor their parents during the "loud" period. But now because of so many posting saying things like glances or judgements of strangers, I feel that I can't look over to see if that child is ok, because I am afraid of offending the mother or father just for looking their way. My heart is going out to the child and even the parent in that moment, yet I feel that I will be misinterpreted and actually cause that mother or father more discomfort than if I had just not turned to see if all was ok. Is it possible that this is a real thing that occurs and some are to quick to judge? How can I feel comfortable caring?? I want to feel my heart go out, but I am concerned that just my glance would cause pain for mom or dad....where only understanding and connection is happening....not even a word spoken...not even one bad thought ever."

This was a very good question.  It forces the people that have special needs kids to answer some difficult questions about why we're offended, what if a child is in danger (meaning not ASD, but rather something is wrong) can we look to evaluate the situation, so that we ca intervene if needed?  How do others know when it is okay to look, or when it's hurtful?

I saw a program the other day called Head Games on the discovery channel about staring.  They basically set up an experiment in an auto shop waiting area where there was about 4 or 5 actors sitting around. In would come the clueless person that had no idea that the experiment was happening. They all acted friendly at first, but then gradually they all started staring at him. First, subtly, then not so subtly, then pretty much blatantly in his face stare downs by every person in the room.  In every situation the subject got up and left.  The psychologist explained that in a situation where someone is being stared at in public it automatically switches on the fight or flight area of our brains. (Most of our brains, that is... ) Humans are social creatures, so when people stare they are identifying you as not one of them. You don't belong in their group and you are not welcome. This makes the primitive part of our brain react . We get nervous, and have to figure out in a pretty quick hurry, are we going to defend our territory, or are we going to run away? This is pretty hard wired into neurotypical brains. It all occurs on a level that you're not even aware of when it is happening.  I was happy to see this episode, because my brain does not react this way. I rarely see people staring, because I rarely look at other people, and when I do I don't look at their faces.  Unless, it is balntant staring with an obvious expression of negativity I will not notice, nor will I care.  This explains to me why NTs act the way they do, and now I can understand their POV better, I can back off the judgments about them being dramatic about stupid things that don't matter. Now I understand, they can't help it.  It's how they're hardwired, the same as I can't help the fact that I don't look at all that social information that is happening around me.

Now, we understand why people get so upset when others stare at their special needs child, what can be done? Can we change the way we react to stares? Can we choose to respond differently, even with our brains sending us into fight or flight mode? Yes. I think we can. I think a little bit of knowledge can go a long way.

First, I want to point out that the majority of the people that I actually catch staring are doing so, because they know about autism and want to approach me and my family.  They want to say something, but don't know how to approach us.They want us to know they are one of us and belong to the autism community, or they saw my van sticker and want to know where they can get one.  They are analyzing and seeing if it's okay. I have that happen every so often and I do the same when I see a child/person with autism.

Sometimes, they don't know much about autism, but know that my Beans is obviously not a typical child and they want to acknowledge him. They want to include him and say hi to him, just like they do anyone else.  It's their way of non-verbally acknowledging to him and us, "I see you.I acknowledge your presence. I accept you here as you are in this public space and I support you, but I can't just say that, because that would be odd." So, they stare, often times until they feel comfortable enough to say something.

Then, you have the people that don't know about autism and don't know what to think of Bean's noises and movements. They stare wide eyed and oblivious to the fact that we can see them staring. I think this is the most common. People will look at things that are different. It's in our nature to identify differences and try to figure the situation out. I find it illogical to go out into public and expect people to NOT stare. In my life, that is just pretty much setting yourself up to be disappointed and upset, as well as making a big deal out of every public venture with your ASD child. It does not help their self esteem for you to do this, believe me, I know.  Learn to let go and be okay with others looking and your kids will, too.

Of course, you do run into the people that really believe that people like Beans should not be out in public, being noisy and messing up their idea of a perfect world. Unless they are directly interacting with you, I say ignore them.  Let their discomfort about their own personal hang ups be their own.  They have to live in their narrow world, but you don't.

So, how do you feel about staring? What would help you to be more comfortable with others that are just looking out of curiosity? What advice would you give strangers that just want to support you and give you encouragement in public on how to go about that?