Events & Great Places

Dear autism,

Summer is my favorite time of year. You can go outside in any old thing and be comfy and fancy free. Savi’s favorite part of summer is summer camp! Swimming, outdoor play every morning, less restrictions…summer is a breeze! Not so much for mama this year. We are making the big move from pre k to kindergarten and so we are spending the summer trying to develop kindergarten skills. Listening to stories, working on a communication device, staying in circle time…I’m not even really sure that school ended this year. Thank goodness for The Autism Foundation of TN. They were able to build a program that works on our goals, incorporates fun and outdoor time, and has some music therapy to boot! Savi and I are are the pool by 2 most days and home relaxing every night by 5. Maybe school should model itself after summer camp?


Dear autism,

I talk a lot about how difficult it is to take you places with the family.  This note is no different I’m afraid…

We were invited to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving since I decided to stay in TN this year instead of taking the usual pilgrimage to Chicago.  Based on this visit I’ve come up with The Top Five Things NOT to do before visiting someone on a major holiday.

5.  Do NOT wear cutesy clothes or dress your children in them.  It’s difficult to catch running kids in heels, and paying $5 to dry clean a dress you wore for an hour is not very frugal.  Unless of course you’re creating a documentary on how to get various food stains out of dry clean only clothes or doing a YouTube video on how to properly care for a sprained ankle.  In that case go right ahead.

4.  Do NOT spend the night before the big day cooking at your own house.  (No matter how delicious it turned out–thank you very much!)  You’ll be tired and cranky from lack of sleep and seriously, who cares if your kids eat pizza before and after Thanksgiving?  Ramen noodles sound like a delicious day after Thanksgiving meal.  If you’re still motivated to cook do it the day after.  Better yet, I hear Golden Corral makes a mean turkey…(and they pay people to clean up the mess!)

3.  Do NOT forget to prep your kindly hostess.   They really meant well by inviting you over, but do they really understand that you’re going to be busy following your kid around to make sure they don’t break anything expensive and wiping up the bread trail on the walls and floors of her home so you’ll be welcomed back?  (maybe)  Mention that it’s unlikely you’ll ever be on time for anything in your life and you may get kudos if you pull it off. (Then write a blog entry on how to do that so I can get some action steps)

2.  Do NOT forget to prep your kids.  Issue the routine threats and bribes about being on our best behavior and chewing with our mouths closed, etc.  You and I both know they probably won’t do it anyway, but you can describe yourself as the dutiful parent and if your threats are colorful they’ll make for good blog material one day.  My (insert close female relative here) once told me that if I didn’t behave when we went out, she’d tie canned goods to my earlobes and hang me upside down off the Brooklyn Bridge.   I don’t remember if it was effective on that particular day, but it did make this blog so there you go.

1.  Do NOT under any circumstances take your children anywhere that is more fun than your house or where they have cool pets.  My hostess brought out a guinea pig to entertain Savion who was totally unimpressed.  He much preferred to smear bread along the banister and jump off of the stairs repeatedly.  But that youngest girl of mine had a FIELD day screaming “The baby pig has a great big butt!” while running up and down the stairs for two hours.  Did I mention that my hostess had family in from out of town?! 

 What a sight we must have been…45 minutes late, 2 year old girl screaming about pig butts, 5 year old smearing bread around and exploring dog food (taste and touch), and me attempting to keep the peace, regulate non-food intake, and save plants and dishes…in heels.  All in a day’s work for SuperMoms….but then you knew that didn’t you?

Dear autism,

Veggietales live photo

Excellent Seats at the VT Live Show

If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be ASMT (Autism Society of Middle Tennessee) members. If we weren’t ASMT members we wouldn’t get awesome newsletter emails from Justin about cool stuff they are doing that are perfect for families on the spectrum. If we weren’t getting those emails, we would not have scored FREE tickets to see Veggietales LIVE in Murfreesboro last night. If we hadn’t driven the 45 minutes to Murfreesboro last night, I may have never have known that:

 A) Savion LOVES live shows! (I mean in a MAJOR way…I’m talking a limit stimming to the intermission and last 10 minutes of the show kinda love.) and

2) I can actually take all of my children to a public function with typical families without anyone spontaneously combusting, without losing any children, and still make it back home in one piece.

Score one for the not so super SUPERmom. High fives all around.  The cast was great, the 80’s songs were killer, and And quiet as kept, my 10-year-old (name not mentioned here to protect his “rep”) was videotaped dancing in the aisles to his favorite Veggiesongs of years past. But that little bonus is just between us…and the thousands of people who will buy the DVD when it’s released.

Yesterday was a VEGGIE great day!  Even if we didn’t win the 30 DVD set they gave away during intermission.  Yeah…still great.

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Veggietales Live

The Autism Checklist

This is the book!

Dear autism,

I attended at talk at the library last night that was all about raising expectations for your spectrum kid. One of the most surprising facts I learned last night was that no matter what type of intervention was used, the single determining factor of success was parent ATTITUDE! (Dr. Mark Durand, Univ of S.FL) How awesome is that? How hope giving is that? Really, how inspiring that is! I came away from the talk feeling very aware of how far I’ve come in the almost 2 years since diagnosis. I can clearly see the growth and changes in my own attitude toward autism and disability in general and in my appreciation of who my son is individually. Thank you Mr. John Shouse for inadvertantly giving me great personal insight. I also got a copy of his book, The Autism Checklist.

I cannot emphasize enough how parents should attend events like this in order to increase their understanding community. I networked with 3 new people and found out about a great family event to look forward to. Also, it was a breath of fresh air being away from all the kids for an hour. I enjoyed the recharge and got great info….I’m such a great multi-tasker! Do you have similar stories?

Dear autism,

I really wish someone had DRAGGED me to one of the Vanderbilt University workshops sooner.  It will definitely be in my guide for the newly diagnosed parents.  The strategies were right on point and the fact that the professionals were there to answer questions was AMAZING.  The networking alone was worth the time and energy.  Did I mention the FREE items they provided?  Food, PECS, small toys, OH MY!  By the way, there are FREE childcare services for both typical and spectrum kids, admission is FREE and everyone reading this should FREELY click this link:  People drove in from up to 3 hours away and were NOT at all sorry they did.  Maybe other great schools around the nation have similar programs?  Road trip!!!!!