Monday, December 31, 2012

Inexplicable Quotes

No, I have no idea where this stuff comes from or what to make of it all, and this represents just a small sampling. Just laugh. Happy New Year. 

"Mama, have you ever heard of a perfume called Vanilla Death?"

"We have to propel all the insects in the animal species away from our house."

"Mama, what is the difference between you and Usama Bin Laden?"

"Right now I want to talk to you about propelling things." 

...And one from my girl, Peaches:

"Watch me dance! Gum Gum style!"


I forget obvious things sometimes.

I think we all do.

I forget that wherever you go, there you are. I forget that my magical thinking does not, in fact, determine the spinning of the planets. I forget that you don't really "know" the life or experience of someone else just because you read their FB page -- or their blog.

And I sometimes worry other people forget too.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I use social networking in the way that works for me -- I put the worst stuff here on my blog without our names on it and the best stuff on Facebook, which gets back to my mother even though she doesn't even own a computer -- and I feel like it's all honest, it's all sincere and true, but it's all just individual slivers of complex life. Now, that last long sentence might seem obvious, but since I forget obvious things, and I thought it might be worth sharing.

We can't compare. Our experiences are our own, and they aren't simple, and there is almost always a good and a bad and many, many shades in between, and myriad ways to see it all.

Here are some more obvious things I consider worth sharing, and remembering:
  • Autism is not just one thing. It is not good or bad, it is just part of a person, and part of my son, my beautiful son, Rooster. 
  • Guilt and envy are completely wasted emotions that bring no rewards and look very ugly in the mirror, while love and joy are jackpots that radiate beautifully from whoever embraces them. 
  • Life is short, so the best way to savor it is to be present exactly where you are, and look for the good. 
  • If you stumble, struggle, suffer, or vent, you are not a failure, you are a real person; just try to get back up as soon as you can, and do what you can to keep your sense of humor.
  • Despite the shortness of the list, these can all be hard things to remember, so it's good to write them down and re-read them when we need them. 

Happy New Year from Casa De Rooster and Peaches

Friday, December 28, 2012

Informal Education

During his vacation, my son has:

  • made his own "movies" using ToonTastic (incredible app!)
  • read more than one dozen books (all the while asking me about new words and trying them out in his own sentences)
  • helped decorate for Hannukah and Christmas
  • played more with his sister than I ever remember, taking turns and sharing and using imagination
  • gone to the park and made new friends
  • learned new games
  • practiced typing on my laptop
  • done chores and helped in the kitchen
  • visited tide pools
  • practiced his math with me with less resistance than usual
  • spent quality time with relatives
  • slept soundly
I wish his school could reach him the way this vacation seems to. 

I am an educator, so I never mean to sound disrespectful of schools, teachers, learning or learners. However, what I witness as a parent is that the various societal pressures have been misplaced upon our kids, particularly ones, like my boy, who have autism, and I admit that there I days I fear my son's school does him more harm than good.

I am grateful that we have another week to learn and grow and rest and love at home together.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

This Little Light of Mine...

You can say what you want about Facebook, social media, and the rest, but if you want to know the best holiday present I could have asked for this Hanukkah and Christmas season, it is this:

Check it out. 

Autism Shines is a Facebook page full of love. I liked, joined, dove in, and every day I am greeted with friends I have not met, families who are different like ours is different, a wealth of future peeps for my little (but ever growing) Rooster.

Joy to the world...
Autism Shines.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Never Having To Say You're Sorry

Recently my daughter was invited to a birthday party where it felt comfortable to bring my son, too, even though he was older than all the other kids. Sometimes he plays best with younger kids, but on this day he found himself most interested in a mom. He stuck to her like glue. I began to notice that she might have enough on her hands with her own two kids, and I tried to get him to play with me instead, but it was a tough sell. He continued to interrupt her quite a bit and I was running out of ideas and feeling awkward, so I blurted out to the mom, "I can get him to take a walk with me, I am sorry you haven't been able to finish your other conversation."

She used exactly the perfect inflection and mannerism when she said, "Hey, look. You never have to apologize for your son. Don't worry about it." It was exactly right and just what I needed.

You know why she is such an awesome person? Well, probably because she was born that way, to some degree, but also, I think, because she already knew someone with autism. She knows someone, and so she gets it. Knowing wonderful families with kids on the spectrum opens people up, opens their hearts, and it reminds me that my family needs to stop hiding as much as we do. When I am "out there" with our family, our experiences, our truths, I make it easier for other people with autism.

That's all.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


It's harder to write lately. It's harder to write because I have too much to say.

Ideas roll like snowballs, growing quickly, no top or bottom or start or end, but I want to spend time on each snowflake, and it's impossible. It's all too much.

So I consider saying nothing.

But I noticed more visitors coming here, and I thought that even when we have nothing much to say, we come together in communities like this to feel less alone, to say: I am here. We are connected. I also do not know what to say, so we can sit quietly together. We can contemplate the snowflakes for now. We can find our words whenever it is the right time.

I believe that you, of all people, will understand.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


In the wake of the tragic events in CT, I have found it hard to process and articulate thoughts this weekend, beyond simply expressing my tremendous heartbreak and respect for the community of Sandy Hook.

I am glad that others are able to find more words, though.

Jill, a fellow blogger, wrote something on her blog that she said others could share, so I am. Thanks, Jill. Her original post is here:

Below is what she said.


Dear Community:

There has been much discussion online and in the news about the connection between the Connecticut school shooting and the fact that the shooter may have been diagnosed with autism. As our families and our community discusses this issue and tries to find a reason for this heartbreaking tragedy, I feel that it is very important to remember the following: There is no connection between planned, violent behavior and an autism spectrum diagnosis of any kind.

Autism is not a mental illness; it is a developmental disability. Many autistic people may have emotional regulation problems, which are impulsive expressions of frustration and anger, that are immediate and disorganized. They may lash out with threatening statements or behaviors, but these behaviors are impulsive reactions, they are not deliberate or organized plans. Once the situation has been diffused, the behaviors will stop. What happened in Connecticut required methodical planning of a deliberate and tremendously violent act; this is not typical behavior of an autistic person.

Right now we are all struggling to find a reason why this kind of atrocity would happen, and we can speculate about the mental state of the shooter; about gun control laws; about the current state of our country’s mental health system, or about whatever else that might help us make some sense out of this. Please know, and please tell your children, that even if the shooter was autistic, autism is not the explanation for this tragedy.

If anybody has any questions about autism, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you very much for your time,


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday Music

In kindergarten, my son could barely manage to be on the stage for the holiday show.

In first grade, he was there, hidden in the back row, not very present. I doubt he did any singing.

In second grade, an aide helped him participate a little, mostly he spent his time on stage pointing at me and trying to have a conversation with me even though he was on the farthest bleacher and I in row twenty.

Yesterday, I left work early to make the trek across the chaotic city, not sure what to expect. We had practiced and practiced and practiced, but I knew that:

processing issues
sensory issues
attention issues
impulse control challenges
and, of course, autism

would make the actual show much harder than any rehearsal.

I thought I was prepared for anything.

Not really, though.

I was not prepared for how grown my son looked. I was not prepared for him to beam at me, but not need my help at all. I was not prepared to see him dance -- WHILE SINGING -- and WITH A GIRL. I was not expecting to cry, not anticipating happy tears.

I have loved my son since the day I knew I carried him, and I don't love him more or less based on his "accomplishments," but when he sang that Hanukkah song? Well, I was just bursting with love. So much that I have to borrow the words my grandma used to say to me: Rooster, "I'm so proud of you, I could bust."