Autism FAQ: Which battles are not worth fighting?

Plaid on plaid on plaid

"I'm ready," called Matthew from his room, just as our family was getting ready to leave for a "fancy" family celebration. He emerged proudly, wearing garden boots, a nice pair of pants, it's top button strained by three plaid shirts (one thick flannel) layered and tucked in. This look was not going to work, but Matthew didn't back down without a fight. "I like plaid, and I shined my garden boots." When you’re a parent, you become programmed to make the most of teachable moments from … [Read more...]

Lightening Up

Lightening Up

News Flash! Being the parent of a child with autism can be stressful! You know what I'm talking about. Sometimes you just need to lighten up. My story... Matthew started making signs when he was 13. When it was my turn to host the Book Club meeting, he would tape a “welcome book club” sign to the mantle of the fireplace, and my friends smiled politely. When we ordered pizza, the delivery boy would find a sign on the door that read “large cheese pizza welcome.” During this same period, I … [Read more...]

Autism FAQ: How can I motivate my teen/adult to exercise?


15 strategies to motivate teens/adults with autism to exercise At Matthew’s IPP Meeting last year, (Individual Program Plan–more about what that is HERE) we got on the topic of recreation. What does Matthew like to do in his spare time? What does his social life look like? What goals should we set for the future? “I would love it if you could get more exercise, Matthew” I said, glancing at the belly that my  handsome 27 year old son has developed in the last few years, “Not just from doing … [Read more...]

I’m happy for you, be happy for me.


I ran into Sam (not his real name) the newlywed son of an old friend of mine, at CVS. He is Matthew's age (28) and I had not seen him for a while. Sam was always a cute kid, but man oh man, he is now a magnificent adult--tall, handsome, confident. He was dressed in his investment advisor clothes, which made him look all the more impressive. How is married life, I asked him and he told me it was great and that... he and his wife were expecting! Oh my gosh! Congratulations! Your mom must be so … [Read more...]

Autism: Understanding forgiveness


I was really, really nervous. During a visit to the east coast the first week of May, Matthew and I stopped by Camphill Soltane, the college program for people with disabilities that he attended in his late teens and early twenties. This was not just casual homecoming for Matthew. We were here because he wanted desperately to apologize to, and to seek forgiveness by Tom, a mentor and friend who'd been the subject one of his most threatening outbursts. The confrontation happened during an … [Read more...]

Autism FAQ: What to do when people aren’t nice

Teaching people to be nice

Question: We were at a family gathering, and my aunt refused to sit next to my child at the table. I was so hurt, I just lost it, which made things worse (to say the least.) Any ideas for how to handle these scenes in the future? Yuck, I am so sorry. Let me tell you how I learned from a similar situation. Matthew was about 21 and the two of us were flying from California to Pennsylvania after Christmas break. I was exhausted from the holidays (like most parents) and  was on edge because … [Read more...]

Choosing Mom

Grandma's house

I was lonely. I had a newborn and a  2-year old, and my family had just moved to a small ranch house in Lafayette, a suburb of San Francisco. Luckily, we were just twenty minutes away from my parent’s house, which was great, because my parents loved spending time with their grandsons, and I cherished their company. I visited mom two or three mornings a week while Dad worked, and we’d watch the boys roll around on the grass while we laughed and chatted, sharing lunch before I drove home, … [Read more...]

Autism, parenting, and learning from my mistakes


My son Matthew is approaching his 28th birthday. That would make me a well seasoned autism mom who has learned from doing and  making a zillion mistakes along the way. Here is a partial list of key mistakes that I have learned from: Stressing math and reading at every IEP meeting. What good was math and reading if  Matthew couldn't connect with his teacher and his classmates? If I could do it over again, I'd encourage his teacher, his aide, and everyone in his therapeutic circle to engage … [Read more...]

Spread the word to end the R-Word


The R-word is the word 'retard(ed)'. Why does it hurt? The R-word hurts because it is exclusive. It's offensive. It's derogatory. The "Spread the word to end the R-word campaign" asks people to pledge to stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people. Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions. Pledge today to use respectful, people-first language. Will you pledge your support? Click Here My … [Read more...]

The Messenger

Do you remember the person that gave you the news? In this story, and excerpt from A Regular Guy: Growing Up with Autism, I share my reaction to mine: Wanting to leave no stone unturned, I followed the advice of the presumptuous mother in the speech therapy waiting room and scheduled Matthew for an evaluation with a developmental pediatrician just a few weeks after our initial meeting with Dr. Hoffman. “Isn’t this overkill?” asked Peter. “He was just tested by Dr. Hoffman. All this … [Read more...]