A brief history of motherhood, autism style

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25 things about autism mothering, from the archives. (updated to reflect my current reality)   1) My husband and I planned on having our first child after two years of marriage.Matthew beat us by 2 months. 2) I took Matthew on a job interview when he was eight weeks old because I couldn't bear to leave him with a babysitter. 3) The first person that told me that Matthew, then three, was developmentally delayed was a speech therapist. She was also the first person who … [Read more...]

You know it’s really love when…

Forgiveness

I tiptoed into the kitchen a little after 6am to grab a quick breakfast before waking Matthew.  He'd been home for a week long summer break, and would be heading back to Camphill California near Santa Cruz, where he lives and works. "I'm ready," Matthew said, and I jumped. He was fully dressed and shaved, a small drop off blood dripping down his chin. He had already packed and loaded the car. We could have breakfast at Peet's Coffee, he told me, and we could beat the traffic. It had … [Read more...]

Autism: Understanding forgiveness

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...]

Spread the word to end the R-Word

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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...]

Autism FAQ for seasoned autism dads: Advice for new dads?

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I asked, and did I ever get insightful answers: Don't blame yourself or anyone else for your child's autism. Love and support them in their dreams, interests and aspirations...because they have them. Don't ever be ashamed of them...even if they are 15 years old, 200 pounds of man/boy be proud when they slip their hand in yours as you enter a public place. Grow to love the unique way they think. And realize their is a special genius inside of each one of them that will blossom if their Dad … [Read more...]

Remembering “before” autism

Do you remember the days before your child's autism diagnosis? This is my story. When I read it, I don't think "Oh, how sad, little did I know." Instead, I think "Gosh, I miss my mom." An excerpt from A Regular Guy: Growing Up With Autism Mom  and I sat in the dining room table while Matthew napped, narrowing down responses to the ad I had placed in the paper. “Wanted: Loving care for my three-month-old son, two days a week.” We set up appointments for three respondents that … [Read more...]

Autism and Empathy

Buddy

I had just arrived home after one of saddest errands or my life, euthanizing our three year old Labrador Buddy, when the phone rang. I let it go as I was sobbing, and couldn't stop. The phone rang again. It had to be Matthew, who is 27 and has autism. I took a deep, cleansing sigh and answered. "I tried calling you a minute ago, but you didn't answer," he said sternly."Have you been to Ohio?" "I've never been to Ohio, Matthew," I said, " but can we talk about Ohio later? I have some … [Read more...]

Driving with Autism…maybe

A reader recently asked how I dealt with the "driving issue", specifically when a teen with autism wants to drive but likely shouldn't. I cringed at the memory of hiding car keys while Matthew was going through this stage. After  a series of harrowing experiences, Matthew concluded that he should not get a drivers license, but he enjoys driving with his dad in our church parking lot. Some of Matthew's higher functioning peers, however, are driving. I posted the question on my … [Read more...]

A Kitchen Classroom for Children with Autism

It's a brand new school year, and if you are  the parent of a child on the autism spectrum(and anything like me), and constantly on the lookout for ways to spark communication, connection and learning, your answer might be in the kitchen. Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer,  the author of The Kitchen Classroom: 32 Visual GF/CF Recipes to Boost Developmental Skills, shares her story in this awesome guest post:   My son George, 10, who is on the spectrum, started cooking with me when he was four … [Read more...]

How this autism mom stays married

Engaged

“How have you stayed married?” asked the young autism mom, “I hear the divorce rate is high for parents of children with autism.” I have  heard that statistic in so many different versions over the years, so did my own informal poll here. There is a secret to staying married, whether you have a child with autism or not. This is PART 5 of my summer series featuring versions of my best loved blog posts about raising a son with autism. ***   There are obvious ways that … [Read more...]