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?

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Dear autism,

So a daycare center who shall remain nameless decided that since my kid required more work than the others I should pay MORE MONEY!!  REALLY?  So on days when little Sally typical screams all day does her mom have to fork over extra for the hours spent NOT tending to all the other kids?  Now before we all get up in arms about me beating up on the childcare industry let’s get a couple of things out in the open.  First, the whole idea of daycare sucks anyway right?  You drop your children off for other people to spend the whole day shuffling your precious cargo from activity to activity while you spend all day doing a job you may not really like anyway.  I know there are some people who LOVE being care providers, but let’s be honest for a second here…for a lot of people its a JOB!  Now add a kid who runs, screams, and stims all day, and it’s a REALLY difficult job.  I know better than most that it’s no walk in the park.  But if you advertise rates for childcare, you don’t get to change them for my kid just because he’s got autism.  That’s called DISCRIMINATION!  I’m pretty sure that’s illegal.  Scratch that… I’m positive it’s illegal because I called my provider law firm and asked.   Now at this point I have a few options.  Ponder with me….

1.  Yell, scream, point fingers and make a general raving lunatic of myself in the direction of the center director.

2.  Whip off a stinging narrative laced with words that can’t be printed in the public domain and send it to the media (ok I’ll delete all the profanity before I send it, but the act of writing it will do WONDERS for my mental health).

3.  Remove BOTH (yep I pay them to care for my typical kid too) of my kids from their care and hope they really miss my money.

In the end, I’ll do what most of you would probably do.  Give them a piece of my mind on paper, remove my kids, and send a few watchdogs in their direction.  To be honest, that’s all I’ve got the time, energy, or resources to devote to this.   Now I’ve got to start the process of finding a child care provider for my auti-angel again.  Do you have a great resource to share?  Do tell…

Savi's smile
Savi’s smile

Dear autism,

 
Rocking chairs rock!  (pun only partially intended)  There are so few things that I can actually tell give Savi joy.  He’s non verbal and notoriously hard to read.  But on this day, I knew without a doubt that he was happy.  I wasn’t even really mad when he removed the two bars shown in this picture about 20 minutes later.  Doesn’t everyone like to redecorate?  You should let us have more days like this together…don’t u have relatives in Antarctica to visit?  Stay as LONG as you’d like.  Really!
Enjoy Life Rice Bar

GFCF can work huh?

Dear autism,

Savi loves chocolate.   Much more than the average bear.  So when we decided to go GFCF the transition was painful to see, and hear, and feel, and (I think you get the point).  So it was with great fear and trepidation that we decided to give him this CHOCO bar.  I mean surely a kid who has fiercely rejected EVERY “alternative” food will become irate if I try to pass off the good stuff right?  It will probably end in an exercise to see how fast I can clean off of the walls, and the floor, and the ceiling, and the cabinets, (some of my readers can TOTALLY relate right now).  But he was starving and I was desperate, so I handed it over and took cover to await the fallout.  He sniffed it very suspiciously and circled around it like a honeybee in pollination mode (Disney’s Bee Movie lately anyone?).  Then, miracle of miracles, he took a bite! And another, and another; HAVE MERCY he’s EATING something!  NO NO, he’s eating THAT BAR!  I scooped him and the remaining bar up, waddled to the car (I was about 8 months pregnant at the time), and literally FLEW to Whole Foods to buy a case.  Now friends, (and autism) here’s a coupon for 75 cents off.  May you have many happy GFCF (and soy and nut free) memories too!

enjoy life foods – gluten free, soy free, dairy free, nut free, casein free : chocolate bars : boom CHOCO boom™ crispy rice bar.

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: http://kc.vanderbilt.edu/triad/training/.  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!

1st day home

1st day home

Dear autism,
I was thinking back over the last three years today.  This picture is of Savi’s 1st day home from the hospital.  Who would have thought we’d be where we are today?  Back then I didn’t even know what autism was.  I just knew that I had another perfect little baby and big bright dreams for his future.  Today those dreams have changed a little, and that’s ok; we are flexible.  But they aren’t any less big and bright.  I can’t wait for him to say his first words, drive a car, go off to college, get married, and give me grandchildren.  Now his life may not play itself out this way, but heck his typically developing sibs may not either!  Today I’m grateful for my boy JUST THE WAY HE IS…and you can never take that away from me.