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...]

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

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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.

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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

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...]

Autism, parenting, and learning from my mistakes

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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

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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...]

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...]

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...]

Getting back on track

 You may have noticed that I have been relatively quiet for the last month or so. I've been sidetracked in a big way by the extreme tension in the autism community. It's hard to say anything, however benign, without someone countering it with an argument or a jab. So I've been quiet. But it is time to get back on track. "People with autism are radically different from one another and members of the 'autism community,'whether caregivers or people on the spectrum, have very different points of … [Read more...]