Good times!

Dear autism,

NHL Sports Team MySpace Logos

Some people are visiting this note to find out how I could have misspelled Mickey and to find out how our trip to DisneyWorld was. Well I didn’t misspell and we haven’t done Disney yet…but I’d say our latest adventure was a small step for autism-kind. We scored free tickets to a Nashville Predators game from our friends over at ASMT (Autism Society of Middle Tennessee). I had never seen a hockey game and can’t say it was on my bucket list, but I really enjoy taking my brood out into the world to see what we can see and I totally count this as broadening their cultural horizons. So off we headed to downtownland and the Bridgestone Arena.

The first thing we learned about hockey is that it costs a small fortune to park anywhere near the arena. I considered hocking one of the children to pay the $20 parking fee but that would have been a waste of a ticket and Supermoms do NOT waste. So we drove around for 20 minutes and found a free meter a few blocks away. As we were piling out of the van I realized that it is winter in Nashville. I’m not sure when that happened, but I missed the memo and we had about 5 blocks to travel in 30 degree weather. The next lesson we learned about hockey is that two-year olds have lots of questions and opinions about it on the 5 block walk…and they call it “mockey”.

Mama, where are we going? What’s a mockey? I don’t want to go to the mockey! Can I have french fries in the mockey? Pick me up mama! And on and on and on, ad nauseam.

Once in the stadium and in our AWESOME row KK seats in the 117 section, mockey became VERY cool. We laughed and danced and ate popcorn and goldfish. We learned to yell, “YOU SUCK!” whenever a Phoenix coyote was mentioned by name. And we learned that nice ladies sitting in front of us do not care for autistic children pulling off their gym shoes, not wearing socks, and resting their feet on the back of her chair. Can’t say I blame her for that…unsocked toes in tennis shoes probably stink, but she eventually scooted over a few seats and turned back into a nice lady. Crisis averted.

So the predators won the game, and my oldest son got to take pictures of and get autographs from various…ahem…cheerleaders. My middle son was entranced with the jumbo-mega-tron thing, was very calmed by all the loud noises; and my baby girl danced, laughed, and ate herself silly.

I didn’t really mind that Savion randomly took his shoes off as we were waiting at a light on the walk back to the car though I didn’t notice until we were about a half block away. I did mention that it was approximately colder than a deep freezer right? It also wasn’t TOO perturbing that Sariyah screamed about half the way back to the car because I refused to carry her. We ate Taco Bell and everyone is now asleep 20 minutes after being put to bed. That mockey is all right with me…


Dear autism,

Once a year around diagnosis day, I like to take a comprehensive look at what we have accomplished in the treatment and or management of you. Last year was a whirlwind! We had ABA, music therapy, bio-medical intervention, speech therapy, social skills groups, occupational therapy, kindergarten academy, and three academic studies at Vanderbilt. Whew! Not to mention all of the assessments, evaluations, and general poking and prodding that go along with all of these. I am a proponent of aggressive intervention, but this year we are signing up for some stop and smell the roses therapy. We are coming out of the labs and classrooms and into the world. We will go to the grocery store and practice requesting and managing elopement behaviors. We will go to the park for impromptu play dates with typical peers. We will hang out at the YMCA and play borrowed musical instruments badly for music therapy and have a rockin good time. We will be less scheduled, more relaxed and we might even have money for ice cream now and again. Gluten-free sorbet in a cup of course….we’re not giving up EVERYthing.


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!!!!!

uh-oh...we're busted

uh-oh...we're busted

Dear autism,

Savi and his little big sister Sariyah are unstoppable!  While he is almost 2 years older, she is quite convinced that she IS the boss of him.  It’s great to see them playing together.  We were about 6 months into the diagnosis when she was born and he pretty much ignored her for the first 3 months except for a curious glance across the room every now and then.  Every attempt I made at showing him how to “play” with the baby or hold her were staunchly and firmly rejected.  I’ll admit it made me very sad.  But then one day out of the blue he climbed up in the rocker with me while I was nursing her and gently tried to detach her.  He then shrieked loudly startling both of us which prompted Sariyah to bop him for the first time.  (many more bops and absolute wallops have followed)  He climbed down quite unperturbed and went back to running circles around us.  But he knew she was there to stay.   They often terrorize the entire house chasing each other and throwing toys down the hallway; shrieking loudly all the while .   And you know what?  She doesn’t even care that you’re always with him…SO THERE!